Made it to the back half of another weekend….and a step outside of the Summer Solstice, or Alban Hefin as I prefer it. Regardless of what you might refer to this time of year as – welcome to this point in time. For me, this time of year brings back a point that I remember quite well – Cat Treadwell‘s online class on Druidry that I took with a few other classmates. Right around this point of that year was the start of that class. And it was quite a helpful resource in developing my connection to the immediate world around me. I still go back to those materials from time to time – as a refresher and a reminder of those connections.
That bit of memory brings me to where I am headed with today’s blog – personal connection. I get a handful of questions every couple of weeks or so about how to get through today’s insane roller coaster ride. With one side seeking radical change and the other side clinging desperately to what they see as tradition and “right” – those of us caught in the middle tend to feel like we are getting swept up in a maddening rising and falling tide that changes drastically from moment to moment. Now, I’m a Libra – and from what I have been told, a very typical example of one. So I can completely grok the craziness of having a constantly shifting world all around.
Now, I tend to piss off both sides of the issue with my viewpoint. Yes, change is necessary and drastically needed, particularly in the areas of law enforcement and justice. Those scales are extremely unbalanced and were built that way. That all needs to change but change the right way. Laws need to be enacted and/or corrected. That takes time, and level heads. The way law enforcement is managed is an easier fulcrum to bend. A few simple changes to policy by the Chief of Police, and things can be on the start to being amended. Altering legal precedents such as Qualified Immunity….well, that is not as simple and far more complicated than I care to spend writing about, because this blog is about making personal connection to the world around you. In other words, let’s put this slightly back on track.
I have always been an advocate for locating middle ground to start solving an issue. Even if the middle ground is merely that you and the other person or side are fans of the New York Yankees. Or that you both like Spaghetti and Meatballs (I originally typed this as “Methballs” but whatever floats your lunch meal). Once you have established that you can agree on one thing, then you can work outwards from that to try and find a compromise to the issue plaguing the both of you. Unless someone doesn’t want to resolve an issue and just showed up to argue and/or instigate. But let’s move along the lines that everyone is being square and true. Once you travel down the road of compromise, the solution is going to wind up being something that not everyone is a thousand percent happy about. For instance, confederate statues don’t need to be pulled down and destroyed by mobs. City councils should be removing these statues from prominent locations in the public and move these to museums. Here, the statues can be set up to be viewed by those that patronize the museum and contextual signage can be setup to explain the aspect of the Confederacy and the Civil War within America. (Yes, I realize that my perspective is quite American here – given that I am (a) and American, and (b) live in Texas). Those that want to see the statues survive get their way, except that the statues are placed in a very specific location that is meant for the display and explanation of History. Those that dislike the statues don’t have them in the public view on a city square or some such location. The statues didn’t get destroyed though. Compromise is the art of everyone getting something, but nobody getting everything only their way.
Ok…with my perspective noted, how do you manage your way through all of this, particularly if you are in the middle, like I tend to find myself a lot? Well, a little research to understand the multiple sides to the issue is helpful. A whole lot of patience to try and listen, as well as your own way to cut through the bullshit and the rhetoric to find the relevant information that helps you to see what the very basics of the issue are. But let’s also be a little realistic…no one wants to wade through all the yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving, name-calling and instigation to try and understand everything. When that happens to me, and it does, I remove myself from the entire situation and move on with doing things that are important to me. This means that sometimes I must ignore all of that, so that I can accomplish all of this.
Trust me, as a Libra and as a Druid, it is hard to step back from the issues from time to time – particularly when I get labeled all the nasty things that have been said to and about me. However, I also must remember, my Path is mine. No one else must walk it with me, nor do I really need anyone else to understand any single aspect of it. I walk my Path for me. Sure, that sounds selfish, but it is basically true for any person. Part of your Path can be doing for others, but none of them will walk the Path for you. They can; however, walk the Path WITH you.
Connecting with your environment? Sit down. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Then open your senses to the world immediately around you. Let’s say that you are sitting on a bench in a park near your home, wherever you are. You can hear the nearby traffic, the kids playing in the park, maybe the occasional passenger jet flying way above you, the birds singing their little melodies, the dogs barking in the distance at whatever is interrupting their day, and the grass and leaves in the trees rustling in the soft breeze. Let all of that wash over you. Then pick out one sound at a time to sit and focus on for a moment. And once you finish with that sound, let it float back to the background noise, and bring the next one to you to focus on. Keep doing that, until you can set all of them into the background and hear each distinctive voice in the symphony that you hear. Welcome to finding that connection to the world around you.
There are plenty of other ways to do this as well. Think about the food that you have brought with you. What’s in the lunch bag? Think about all of the components of your food. Where did it come from? What is it made of? Where did those components come from? Think about the packaging that makes up your food. What is it? What is it made of? Where did that come from? And your clothes? What is that made of? Where did that come from? All the people around you? Who are they? What kind of trade do they work at? What do you think they might believe? How different are they from you? How much are they the same?
I did this exercise one lazy Summer afternoon when I loved closer to the Oklahoma border. Except I did it at work. I listened to the students in the hallways of the college. All my colleagues. What did they talk about when they passed by my office? What sounds did their footsteps make? Whose laughter could I hear? Who sounded mad about something? How did they interact with me in the hallways? After one afternoon of doing this, I started to become far more aware of their moods, more aware of when they seemed to be thinking hard on a topic, and I started trying to find ways to be helpful to them. Yes, my nature. When I got fired from my job, it was really no surprise to me. Three months prior it was apparent that the way my department worked with me had changed. But I had more than enough time to gauge who they were and how they interacted with one another when I was very apparent in their surroundings, as well as when they didn’t think I was paying attention. That came about through connectedness. I learned who they were and how they were. I learned how they were genuine and how they weren’t.
Finding connection is not as hard as some folks might think. This is just a matter of opening your mind and feeling the sensations around you. The first time you do it, everything will be crazy and unorganized. The more you do it, the more you will realize what is what. You will find what is correct in the setting, and what is not. But it takes time. It takes patience. And for the most part, it takes a closed mouth. You must get out of the way to find the connections.
Do I feel connected to the protests that are going on around the country? Not really. I understand and connect to certain aspects of it, but the rest is still a foreign way of understanding things for me. It will take a lot more observation on my part to “get it”. Nor am I all that connected with the other side, those of the Trump supporters. I can grasp some of their perspective, but not a lot of it. Their concept of ideals and ethics are far different from my own – so the necessary footing for common ground is not completely there. So, I sit and watch. Not because I do not understand. I am all for the perspective of changing law enforcement and justice to be far more equitable. I have ideas of how to potentially get there. But I have insults hurled at me from both sides, so I sit. I wait. I observe. Hoping for cooler heads to eventually take the field.