Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

The Okayness of Not Being Okay

It is unsettling.

There are things needing to be done that are undone, things needing to be undone that are done, things we know need to be changed and things we know we need to leave alone and things that are just plain fucked up beyond comprehension.

Things are not okay.

It isn't okay that people are dying of hunger when I consistently have leftovers on my plate. It isn't okay that my great-grandchildren may not even know of the "luxury" of going outside for a stroll in clean air. It isn't okay that you and my neighbor down the street and my son are suffering.

 

I think of these things and there arises a wordless desire within me to Do Something.

And then my dog scratches at the back door. He needs to go outside. So I stand up and let him out.

 

I sit back down and write about not being okay. Meanwhile, somewhere, someone in the United States just took his or her own life because they were suffering so badly they couldn't think of another option. 

That's not okay.

 

This desire to Do Something - we all have it. There is a compassion within us that feels not only our own suffering, but that of all beings across the world. Feeling that compassion amidst all of this not-okayness HURTS.

And because it hurts so much, I have a guess that we've all found ways to become a little numb. No...Perhaps I understate myself. Perhaps we are all drugged up so deeply and have been sleepwalking so long that even our dreams are having dreams. That sounds a bit closer to the truth.

We look around and look within and say, it is all too much! Too little time, too little money, too much pain...so hey, let's see what's on t.v.! And we sleep on.

 

Meanwhile, the dog needs to come back into the house. I stand up and let him back in.

I sit back down and breathe.

 

We drive ourselves mad, sometimes quite literally, with either trying to avoid it all or trying to fix it all. It seems we are in a constant state of running or sleeping. Do, do, do - collapse, collapse, collapse. 

Within it all, the suffering. This not-okay-ness. This constant awakening to the alarm, hitting snooze, and being awoken again and again by a media report about another shooting in Chicago, the death of someone I knew online, the pain of my child's broken heart.

Within it all, the practice...being okay with it all. Okay with the news of suffering, okay with my desire to do something about it. Okay with the small but seemingly inadequate moves of turning off lights when I leave the room, tiny donations to charity organizations that hopefully will get food to those starving right now, and ok with just holding my son while he cries. 

 

Okay with it all because It Is.

Okay doesn't mean not doing anything to participate in the change that is happening already. It doesn't mean going back to sleep.

Okay means not adding to the suffering by creating more of our own.

 

My 14-yr old dog is now at my feet. He often needs help jumping up on the couch these days. With us since before our marriage, before our children, before this house and this lifestyle I now know, he is still here. But soon, I know, he won't be. I lift him up as he grunts, and return to my writing.

It's okay.

 

Namaste.