As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is […] an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. To the degree that we’ve been avoiding uncertainty, we’re naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms—withdrawal from always thinking that there’s a problem and that someone, somewhere, needs to fix it.
Here’s a very helpful Buddhist view of the struggle for change:
Hope is what propels us into action. We’ve been taught to dream of a better world as the necessary first step in creating one. We create a clear vision for the future we want, then we set a strategy, make a plan, and get to work. We focus strategically on doing only those things that have a high probability of success. As long as we “keep hope alive” and work hard, our endeavors will create the world we want. How could we do our work if we had no hope that we’d succeed?
Motivated by hope, but then confronted by failure, we become depressed and demoralized. Life becomes meaningless; we despair of changing things for the better. At such a time, we learn the price of hope. Rather than inspiring and motivating us, hope has become a burden made heavy by its companion, fear of failing.
So we have to abandon hope, all of us, and learn how to find the place “beyond hope and fear.” [….]
Life now insists that we encounter groundlessness. Systems and ideas that seemed reliable and solid dissolve at an increasing rate. People who asked for our trust betray or abandon us. Strategies that worked suddenly don’t. Groundlessness is a frightening place, at least at first, but as the old culture turns to mush, we would feel stronger if we stopped searching for ground, if we sought only to locate ourselves in the present and do our work from here.
All fear (and hope) arises from looking backward or forward. The present moment is the only place of clear seeing unclouded by hope or fear. [….] Of course, trying to be present when everything around you is crashing down is not easy, but then, nothing is these days. It takes enormous effort and discipline to keep recalling ourselves back to the present moment, especially when we see that decisions being made in the present are harming people or will have disastrous impacts in the future. Yet only in the present moment, free from hope and fear, do we receive the gifts of clarity and resolve. Freed also from anger, aggression, and urgency, we are able to see the situation clearly, take it all in, and discover what to do. This clarity reveals “right action”—those actions that feel genuinely appropriate in this moment without any concern about whether they will succeed or not.
Vaclav Havel describes hope as an attribute we carry in us always, a state of being that is not dependent on outcomes. He led his nation, the former Czechoslovakia, to freedom from Soviet rule in the “Velvet Revolution.” As a poet-playwright-activist-leader, he has given the world many choice and compelling insights. Here’s his description of hope: “Hope is a dimension of the soul … an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. … It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.”
—Margaret Wheatley, “The Place Beyond Fear and Hope”
Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly,
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need of god
Let this be a year of experimentation in all areas of our lives - with a light, skillful touch - because nothing is as fixed as it may appear. I think this is the meaning of wisdom, perhaps.
In other words, let’s see things for what they are, and play around with them a bit - always with kindness and compassion.
I wish you joy.