Sometimes revelations of great importance come seemingly out of the blue. Or, out of the gray fog of dawn light, driving down the road with the windshield wipers on my truck swishing side to side, in an attempt to keep those tiny droplets of water from gathering to obstruct my view. It seemed like nothing at first, just a thought, that echoed around inside my body as thoughts sometimes do. “ there is nothing wrong with you Marianna.”
It is strange when thought is delivered into my consciousness from elsewhere and I receive, rather than create it. Strange that a belief this deep can kind of skirt around the edges. If you were to ask me if I thought I was fundamentally broken just by my humanness, I think I would say no. the concept of original sin makes me gag, I mean have you ever seen a baby? There is NO sin there, of this, I am quite certain. Yet under my conscious knowing, there is a deep shame and guilt associated with being human at this time, and in this way.
My individual suffering has its own flavor, I will not say it is a unique, Rather I would imagine that it is similar in taste and texture to the suffering of many other human beings. Wondering about our place in the world and society, fear of somehow trespassing or being wrong, shame about the unhealed darkness, the bruises, and imperfections we perceive in our character. I could go on and on, but you get the point, you may even be shaking your head to say yes, yes, this is my suffering too.
The thought that came to me this morning as I drove, was not related to this particular pathology, the swirling critical mind that seeks flaws in order to find a pattern and get to some semblance of safety. This part of the mind that seems to want to tear me apart, so that others don’t have the chance to do it first. No, this wrongness that my inner self spoke of was the unseen belief that by simply being in a human body I am wrong. How could I be right, how could I be ok, when my entire species has run amuck in a crazy carnival of destruction, hubris, and greed? This wrongness I feel in so many of my days is not personal, it is collective. It is the sense brought on by disavowing the original instructions, it is the poverty of power unchecked and forgotten promises that wreak havoc beyond our ability to comprehend. All of this is true, it is not subjective, it’s not a story, it’s a fact.
And yet, we individual humans, born into this wild mess, this end-stage capitalist nightmare of sorts, are actually not responsible for this entire system we were born into. Responsible, yes. Each one of us is responsible for the choices that we make, for navigating this world with intention and heart, to the best of our ability. For paying attention, and giving thanks, and being humble. We are responsible for these things. But so much harm has happened that is not in our individual ability to control. And it’s important to differentiate between the mess we were born into and our personal actions. For we are also responsible for stewarding our one precious life, we are also responsible for joy, and for choosing a life that gives us a chance to flourish.
Sometimes I think I have learned to believe that as a member of the human race, we the lost sons and daughters of creation, we the ones who have made themselves separate and so desperately alone, that I deserve a certain amount of suffering. That we deserve a certain amount of suffering. And perhaps that is true. Perhaps some of us have already received that suffering, and many of us, all of us, will most likely receive much more. And yet, the voice that told me, there is nothing wrong with you Marianna, did not lie. I am one human, consuming food and fossil fuels, the same as all the rest. American, we are the worst when it comes to consumption. I participate in a system and a lifestyle that I actually find utterly abhorrent, but I did not create this. And I am not inherently broken by my humanness.
There is a grief that lives in me that is so large. I frequently don’t know how to live in the presence of it. It is not only mine. For sure some of it is my personal bundle of sorrow and loss, but honestly, that seems small compared to the devastation I see all around me. It’s easy to slip into darkness. It’s easy to look at the carnage we humans create in our wake and feel my heart drop, waves of pain pass through my body… forgive us… we know not what we do. Or do we? If we know, truly know, it makes all of this a fuck of a lot worse.
And here is where it seems to get complicated. Human and beautiful, complex and aware, collectively and individually choosing a path of destruction, up against forces and systems so entrenched in extraction that we don’t know how to extract ourselves from their greedy clutching claws. All this is true, and still, I am not wrong. I am an animal. Born to love and play and fuck and eat as much good food as I can find. Born to mate and birth and howl and dance. I am the living body of the earth, the very earth I poison with the fumes coming out of my truck as I drive to work. Isn’t that a total mind fuck?
I also know myself well enough to know that if I let the despair grab onto my skirt hem and pull me under I will be of absolutely no use to anyone, least of all myself. And I believe to the very marrow of my bones that a profound piece of my work in loving the world is to find and experience joy. If I am lost in the waves of sorrow and guilt, joy is not close at hand. I believe that my ancestors, all of my people back and back, through deep time, to the very beginning have sacrificed, and paved the way for me to be here in my life. It is my duty to feel joy and pleasure, to share the incredible depth of wonder, passion, and excitement that I carry in my being with me into the world. How can I live in this paradox? How can I feel the true weight of my presence in the world, and the lightness and beauty of my body and spirit?
I hold this complexity in the palm of my hand. I rub it with my thumb, I turn it over and blow on it, I hold it under my tongue, I suck on it, and spit it out again, and still, I don’t know what to make of it. I know that I am not wrong, and I know that I have done wrong. I know that I love the earth and that I abuse the earth. I know that I love my sacred body and that I abuse my sacred body. Perhaps there are not supposed to be answers, perhaps my whole lifelong all I will do is find more and more questions. And weave joy into the sorrow. Weave song into the weeping. Weave human kindness into the harsh reality of human greed. To be awake to our own consequence in this life is a demanding undertaking. To understand the is and is not-ness requires my heart to grow large enough to encompass it all. Can I do it? I don’t know. But I am willing to try. To be broken open and gathered in again and again and again. My spirit is strong and for that I am grateful. My love is strong too, and I need that to survive. I need that to give away, I need that to make it another year, feeling with my fingers and my heart through the bleakness of these times. My spirit says take heart, my love. Look to the mountain, the moon, the sky. Don’t forget who you are and where you came from. You are the daughter of thousands, you are needed and you are not wrong.