I thought I was alone. That is, until I read Maria Popova’s illuminating “A Reflection on Living through Turbulent Times.” I mean, I knew that I couldn’t have been the only one who felt as though I were swirling in a maelstrom of detritus and disorder. But, when one is that distracted by the inanity of the immediate moment – re-played over and over – time has a way of slipping away and pulling one down as one tries to figure out what’s going on and what’s going to happen.
Let’s just say that 2017 brought an especially virulent strain of fragmentation and chaos, and recovering from it has risen to the top of a lot of New Year’s Resolutions lists.
In her end-of-year Brain Pickings blog, Maria Popova suggests we must never lose our capacity for perspective by getting caught in what she calls “the stranglehold of our cultural moment.” Stepping away from the present moment and keeping our attention positively focused by taking the long view may allow us to leave behind the distractions of the day, thereby clearing a little psychic space “that we can then dip back in[to] and do the work which our time asks of us.” Creating a little psychic space where we can quite literally begin again to be the person we were meant to be in life.
Unless you think I may be overstating the deleterious effects of a year of disorientation, think about how you spent last year. What are your prevailing memories? What stands out for you? If we are completely honest with ourselves, too many of our days were like those writer Walter Kirn outlines in this resonant paragraph from his “The Uncertainty Principle” published in the February 2018 issue of Harper’s magazine.
There were days when I couldn’t account for my bad moods. My work was going well; my family was healthy. Yet I was still sinking into the muck. Others were, too. One friend decided to reclaim her psyche by subscribing to a print newspaper. She reads it straight through and then casts it aside, done for the day with current events. She told me she did it because her work was suffering–she could lose a whole day to panic sustained by the churn of the news. HARPER’S MAGAZINE/FEBRUARY 2018/P. 6
I’ll admit that there were too many days last year, where as writer of this blog post, pen and paper looked like foreign objects to me. Days where I spent more time throat-clearing than articulating coherent thoughts.
I realize now that the way out of chaos for me may not be so much in taking the long view (although I heartily agree and subscribe to this practice) nor in limiting my daily diet of the news (although I’m growing healthier and wiser the less news I ingest).
For me, I found the way out of chaos to be miraculously, mysteriously within easy reach. All I need to do is to choose to tune in more and more deeply to the women who have chosen to change their lives through the education and career skills training Caroline Center offers.
Every woman who steps into Caroline Center must learn as well to step away from the “present moment” – the current circumstances of her life that are holding her back from being the person she was meant to be. Every woman who steps up to Caroline Center knows that she must leave all the clamor behind – especially the negative voices in her life – so that she will be able to hear the power of her own voice. So that she, in poet Mary Oliver’s words, can “save the only life [she] can save” – her own.
Climbing out of the chaos yourself? Think big. Exercise your imagination. Nourish your soul. And, let the women of Caroline Center throw you a lifeline.