I think we can all agree that something is off these days. We trust less and less, we lock our doors, we struggle to enter into relationships with open hearts, and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Will I or someone I love fall ill or die? Will our partners or best friends betray us? Will there be a shooting or bombing? Will there be an earthquake or a war? We are so vulnerable to disasters that can shatter our knowing of the world.
More and more we don’t know about our lives, both personally and globally. And thus we are thrust into fear and the unknown, seeking to find hope. Most of us, in finding fear and uncertainty troublesome, turn to distractions in order to avoid these feelings, and rightfully so, it can all be too much to hold. Others fall into despair, and others find activism. And when all is done and we have nothing left to do but wait and see, turning to hope is worthwhile.
Hope, someone pointed out to me, seems like something elusive to put thought and energy into, it puts the power in the hands of something potentially unreliable. To rely on hope is to rely on something you cannot really grab a hold of. Fear, on the other hand, that’s something we all have put energy into. It is easier to go to places of fear and worry. How is that fear can feel a bit more tangible when it is just as elusive and we have equally no control of it? Yet, we invest in fear all the time. In fact, in a lot of ways fear is what keeps us moving in some direction, it almost gives us some purpose. We get up and go to work every day for fear we may not be able to pay for our basic needs to be met, we stay in relationships for fear of being alone, we avoid places for fear of violence/crime, we vote for fear of the alternative candidate. Our actions based on fear, however, do not truly reflect our inner knowing. If we can invest so much in fear, I believe, we need to focus on an equal investment into hope.
This past week, I was asked what I do in uncertain times. I recalled some of the most tumultuous times I have faced in recent years. The truth is, I go into dark places, I check-out, I get anxious and do everything I can at times and then I repeat this cycle because what I do doesn’t seem like enough, so I go into dark places, check out and do again and again. Most importantly, in times like this I have come to know my greatest allies were/are hope and nature and both teach me lessons of trust.
Hope and Nature both hold a beautiful truth: all things are impermanent. Everything is always changing. Knowing that there is a possibility for a different way of being and a different experience is the greatest truth in having hope. And every day, Nature reveals the impermanence of all things through her cycles, lessons of adaptation and deep understanding. Trust is a key element to all of this. We can only wait and see what will happen and trust it will serves us and reveal purpose.
When I go out on a 4 day solo fast, or take people out on their solo fast, with nothing but limited gear and some water; all I can do is trust. Trust in nature, trust in myself and others, trust in the world to bring us all exactly what we need in order to grow and that we will all return from the wilderness alive and well. Nature watches over us as we live through the sadness and worry, all the ways we hold our past and the future. Nature reminds us to be in the now, in the liminal and numinous space. When I leave nature, I often have no idea how that time on the land will impact in my life. I must do the only thing I can do. Trust. Trust that the sun rises each day, trust that when I surrender to the flow of the river it takes me down stream to a beautiful beach, trust that if I lean on tree it will have my back. There is not much we can trust these days, and still, Nature has been my greatest ally in trusting.
No doubt we are in uncertain times, so many of us feel this in all levels of our lives. I urge you to step outside, connect to the natural world, stop doing and Be, listen to the lessons that emerge in the whispers of hope, cycles, acceptance and trust.