As I write this on a sunny April day in Anchorage, it feels like summer has come early, and winter only flirted with us this year. I hear it has been the same all over the state and that people are very aware that our world is changing.
At work, I have been involved in a project about climate change. It is a very complex, challenging and juicy project that has us asking ourselves: how is Alaska going to navigate through these very apparent changes in the natural world? Who are we when our world, natural, social, cultural – is changing so much and so fast around us?
I did not imagine that I would ever really have to ask this question – not on the mat, not at yoga camp or at a party with my meditation buddies, but as a professional among government representatives, military, scientists and business people. Suddenly my worlds are crashing and melding into each other. I realize how much my own life is changing, though I have been too busy keeping up with all the busywork that seems to go along with it to notice very much.
So then I ask myself: how will I navigate through these times?
And I come back to the dharma that I have learned from the communities of meditators with whom I have practiced, from my own yoga and meditation experiences and from the awareness that has blossomed in me along the way.
I used to game the system, figure out how things work and then learn how to say and do the right things to feel like a winner. But the spiritual journey upended my world so that at some point, there was no system left to game. No right or wrong words, or actions, or people to please. I had to decide for myself and commit to myself, take the responsibility for whatever comes of my choices with no judgement good or bad – because there was nothing else to do.
Last week, I heard an echo of this in a talk given by General Ralston (retired) of the U.S. Air Force about the U.S. military and the politics of the Middle East. He talked about political decisions that have been made in recent years and had international consequences, and he remarked that it does nothing to argue about whether these were good decisions or bad decisions. We have the situation we are now in, and we must respond to it as it is. We can only move forward from here and work with the reality we have to work with. He also spoke of being an optimist, that although things might be difficult in the short term, that he believes we can get through it.
And this is the only way I can now imagine living in a world where the changes we are living through are becoming so vast, so fast and so complex that our minds and our intellectual sciences cannot keep up with them.
Sat nam and wahe guru.