A few years ago, I took a trip to the United Kingdom with the college where I work. For many of the folks on the trip it was a new experience. For me, it was a trip back to England. Moreover, it was quite the experience for me. One I will not forget anytime soon. When we were down in the tube – the subway, in American vernacular – I remember seeing the signs all around – ‘mind the gap” – which referred to the area between the subway train and the platform. This notorious little no-man’s gap was where many an unwary traveler’s leg would wind up causing a great deal of embarrassment and potential pain. As I watch the gyrations of Americans over the current political state caused by the current resident of the White House, I continually see similar signs in my own mind’s eye stating, “Mind your head” and “mind your step.”
The signs that I see in my own mind’s eye are essentially visual reminders and cues to not be too caught up in the whirlwind that has become America’s favorite past time: restlessness, hand-wringing, consternation, and general panic over politics. Yeah, forget baseball and football, America’s past time is being glued to their TV sets for the daily broadcasts of the news on their preferred spin-cycle. Staying glued to those news spinmeisters is precisely what the current President wants. Your attention, complete and undivided. Even if you are completely outraged and angry – your focus is still him, what he says, what he does, what he does not say, and what he does not do. I will hand it to him; he certainly knows how to command a publicity campaign. However, I believe it is time to mind one’s head.
Peter Coyote wrote in his book ‘Sleeping Where I Fall’ – “High ideals and visionary brilliance [are] no substitute for daily practice grounded in spiritual insight.” Spending all of our time worshiping at the television, grinding our teeth and wringing our hands over what one single man thinks pays homage to what he desires the most – attention. Positive, negative, indifferent – that matters not to him, so long as you are talking about him, his words, or his deeds. I cannot speak for you, what you do or what you manage or handle within your life, but I just do not have the energy capital to spend on this person in that manner. I have many other things that need to be handled and dealt with on a daily basis. Moreover, to be frankly open and honest, I have wasted far too much of my time on things that do not provide a return of any sort. In minding my head, I need to bring my focus back to my own daily Spirituality, to the areas where I should be focusing, and not on something that lauds and flatters some individual’s narcissistic needs.
Granted, there are things that this guy does that need to have an eye kept on, an understanding of what is being done, which provides a watchful gaze on what may cross into the our own lives or the lives of the ones we love. We do need to be ready to mind the gap, and stand in the way of potential tyranny. However, we also need to make sure we do the daily things that work in our own spirituality, the things that keep us moving forward in our own lives and our own devotional practices. In this manner, we need to insure that we are minding our own heads, finding that balance between watchfulness of things that do nothing directly for others or us and those things that we need to do in our daily Spiritual practices.
For me, part of my daily routines were to go outside and recite my daily prayers as the night skies started to darken the world around me. Rain or shine, hot or cold; I made my way outside. Then one night, I did not. I remember the night quite well. It was the night of the so-called St. Louis riots. People were taking to the streets to protests the police shooting of a young black man. I stayed indoors, riveted to the television. When I finally looked up, it was 11pm and time for me to go to bed. I never made it outside. The next night, I was again riveted to the television of news coverage. And then over the next few months, I made fewer and fewer trips out to the stone circle during the evening. I knew it was not a bad thing to miss a few days here and there. Nevertheless, part of handling a daily practice is continuing the same routine as best as one can. Moreover, getting back into the same practice is becoming more and more difficult. Yes, it seems like a small thing – and it likely is. However, it is a part of my daily devotional process with Crow and Coyote, and I let too many other things get in the way.
Recently, I have been reorganizing my own life. Somethings that I gave priority and privilege to within my life needed to be set back in their proper places. It had turned into a one-way street. I poured all the energy and effort into these things, and received nothing or extremely little in return. The only people benefiting from all of this were those who showed no appreciation for what I was trying to do. Thus, the change was necessary. I started examining many parts of who I am and where I am at and came to the realization that those things that I did get benefit and return from were the very things that I had set off to the side as items that I could do later. I certainly needed to take some time and mind my head.
I use politics, the issues with Donald Trump and the issues I have with the media as a whole as examples because everyone can readily understand all of this. All of these have some reach into our lives and the lives of those we love, as well as strangers we have never met. Yet, when we pour our energy into being outraged, being angry, being depressed…we get nothing from all of that, except the warm glow of those feelings. Those that protest, write letters, make phone calls, and even confront governmental representatives over these issues can wind up feeling empty when the day is done. In addition, when you expend all the hours of your day, and ignore the aspects of your daily Spiritual life, your daily devotions and other aspects – you can feel your life spinning out of control. I know I have. I did. I continue to feel that.
Minding your step is about coming back to those things that helped uplift you. Your daily devotionals to the Gods. Minding where and how you spend your energy and time. Because if we do that, we can find that, we can do more than one thing. We can be outraged without worshiping at the television for hours on end. We can also do our daily devotionals. We can add aspects of our outrage into our devotionals, asking the Gods for advice, assistance and even inspiration. We do not have to choose how we resist over how we manage our Spiritual lives. However, in trying to combine the two, we once again have to mind our heads, to make sure that we find a balance between mindfulness and outrage, so one does not overwhelm and drown out the other.
Mind your head? Certainly. Keep an eye on your own thoughts; your own emotional state. Learn when to back off. Explore where your limits are. Push those boundaries when you can. Moreover, realize that those limits and boundaries can change daily, hourly. What you are capable of today may be more or less tomorrow. That quantity is malleable. What it is or is not is completely up to you. You know you.