“The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Thomas Homer-Dixon
30th December. I'm two days away - along with the rest of you - from embarking on the journey of 2018. On quick review of 2017, I feel the Zen saying "everything whole; nothing lacking" doesn't quite fit into this past year's review. For the phrase indicates that everything is as it should be, as is, without needing fixing. Recapping 2017, I felt the world needed a lot of fixing. True, I've had many individual blessings that I must count; mostly, coming into a job where I'm teaching content I've always wanted to (mindfulness), and being able to serve others whilst navigating the unprecedented pastures of Mindfulness and Life Skills in modern tertiary education.
But on a more collective scale, after witnessing the portrayal of negative world events (politically, environmentally, socially) via news media, social media, and reinstated through more casual conversations with friends and academic experts, I've felt sad because it appears that things at first glance are all moving backwards. And perhaps they are. But a reunion with a past spiritual mentor and friend of mine - Ricci-Jane Adams - during my current visit to Australia, helped remind me of the power of perception, and my innate ability to alter it, no matter how dismal external events appear.
Upon further reflection back on the year, my reflective attention fell on how cynical I'd let my perception become; I felt over the year my perception slide into that malaise that so often accompanies the "aging" or "maturing" analytical viewpoints that can easily arrive on the tail end of joining a corporate work force; it seems that same analytical reasoning becomes the predominant method of transaction in daily working circumstances and, I lost quickly, a lot of my more positive creative imagination. I've already made a vow that in the new year I won't lose sight of it again. And while I'm very proud to be an educator, working on new "Life Skills" courses, being part of a large neoliberal conglomerate makes you ask big questions, mostly around the future of, well, the world...and its youth. After all, in education you spend all our time working with youth who are the future of our planet. You feel their worries, fears, hopes and dreams; see their big visions and multiple blind spots.
The bigger question that arose for me during this period was: "why do I feel like I'm living in a world that's so broken?"And a sub-question to that being: "why do the positive people seem to leave too early and the negative ones tend to stick around too long?" Likely, all of us have asked this at one point, and perhaps you have also asked similar question in this past year. But Ricci-Jane was right in that what we see in the world at the end of the day is so often what we want to see. Feeling broken inside will make us begin to externally perceive our world as broken too. And vice versa. There is great power in perception, and there is great power in us to change our perception. And I for one would really like to enter 2018 with an altered perception (still realistic, of course!) that catches the power of people's potential, and the positive movements grass-roots communities on this planet that are working towards an awakened society. Perhaps this chaos in action that I was so focused on really is divine order re-aligning, laying solid foundations for us to awaken from unconscious slumber. Time will tell, but in the meantime, I think we all owe ourselves a positive entry point into 2018. Here's to mine! And here's to yours.
Happy New Year!