A nasty kink has been terrorizing the back of my neck for weeks.
Writing from the wingback chair in my room with a board laid over the arms to hold the computer has been forcing my neck into an awkward position. After almost two years of this sort of abuse, my neck is rebelling.
The neck controls the territory between body and mind so I’m sort of at her mercy. Although I do feel bad about all the extra skin she has to deal with. It’s as if my forehead relocated?
I’m now a refugee in the dining room writing at an unfamiliar table, with a view of both the kitchen and the wine bar. Yeah, the struggle is real.
I jest only because I realize we’re all reeling from an influx of horrific news, living in unprecedented times, and yet finding humor in the midst of a tragedy can be an act of optimism.
My hope of touching on a weighty subject such as the war in Ukraine has been silenced by my ignorance of foreign politics, powerful dictators, and the struggle for world dominance.
I do not mean to dispose of the agony experienced by the people of Ukraine who are fighting for their lives because they’ve become sitting ducks in a precarious position.
From the safety of my home, I find it almost impossible to comprehend the intensity of their suffering. Families displaced from their homes, huddled in crowded shelters, nothing familiar except the fear they’ve been forced to carry, and the intense trauma created by a ruthless regime.
As Martin Luther King Jr. penned about justice from a Birmingham jail in 1963, we now understand suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere.
I read a post today from Allison Marie Conway, who recently embarked on a sober lifestyle, and has been sharing her journey in her blog (linked here). Today I was intrigued by her explanation of hope and fear.
Conway claims your hopes and fears are at war, immersed in an engaging battle between what you desperately wish could be true for you, and what you are most afraid could be true for you. For example, her desire for sobriety has been wrestling with her fear of living without alcohol. And in that conflict, we are forced to realize the truth beyond truth, our hopes and fears are two sides of the same coin.
What we want most for ourselves, for our world is what we are most afraid to go out and get.
This struck me as an extraordinary insight.
Of course, it had me thinking about my hopes and fears and I couldn’t come up with a single scenario where this wasn’t true. I want to be healthy but I have an unreasonable fear of doctors. I want to publish a book but my fear of failure holds me hostage. My desire to share resources is masked by a fear of scarcity. My fear of rejection cripples my desire to meet new people. Sometimes I’m silenced for fear of saying the wrong thing. It goes on and on.
This especially happens when our desire for strong relationships clash with our fear of courageous conversations.
Last week a dear friend from my writing group showed up to our weekly call completely naked. I mean that metaphorically of course because what she did is model for us what a courageous conversation entails. She confronted us with honesty, vulnerability, and trust concerning an issue that had come up within the group that was hurtful to her, one that shut her down and made her feel invisible.
The most important thing she said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I would not be able to stay in this relationship if I buried these feelings and did not share how I honestly felt.”
I sat with that for a while.
The thing is we all have relationships that are tarnished with buried pain and unresolved conflicts. These conflicts will not go away on their own. They will continue to fester as if a redwood sliver under your skin until the relationship is so infected, it’s incapable of sustaining or nourishing the growth of either party. And this appears to be the reality for Russia and Ukraine.
We want strong relationships but we are deathly afraid to come to the table naked, exposed, and vulnerable, ready to speak our deepest truth. It’s much easier to condemn one another than to explain how you’ve been hurt by the behavior of someone you dearly love.
Hello, if we find it difficult to maintain a peaceful environment in our own homes, or with our closest friends, how in the hell do we expect this to happen on the world front?
Like most people, I’ve been horrified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Not only the severity of the attacks but the senseless brutality, destruction, and unconscionable death of civilians (especially the children). I see it as Putin’s lust for power and sovereignty.
Admittedly, I remain naive to the underlying politics, and genuine motives of the Russian forces, but I wonder if this is true for others?
I just learned that the letter ‘Z’ has become a symbol for Russians who support the invasion of Ukraine. This “Z” drew public attention several weeks ago when it was painted on the sides of the thousands of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other military vehicles traveling along the Russian border with Ukraine according to The New York Times.
As you would expect, there is an army of propagandists paid to spread the meme on social media to give it the false appearance of popularity but this is actually a lie. I’m filled with revulsion and disgust when I compare this to Hitler’s use of the swastika to identify his supporters.
I learned that the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the “Z” came from the preposition “Za,” the first word in the Russian phrase “Za pobedu,” or “For victory.”
Which is ludicrous, in war, no one wins.
The idea of world peace is not only convoluted with fear, but dishonesty, corruption, and abuse of power which is embedded in the intricate layers of modern society. It’s rampant in governments, corporations, religious institutions, educational systems, welfare departments, medical associations, department of housing, and our public policies. You find it nestled in the hierarchies of organizations, foundations, even charities.
Trust is as rare as a white crow.
The thing is dishonesty has a trickle-down effect, infiltrating our most sacred relationships and traditions. Can you imagine what a world it would be if our leaders were able to come to the table naked, ready to communicate their deepest truth, their most sanguine hope for the world?
It teeters back to the ongoing battle between hope and fear which is now barreling down on Ukraine.
If I was honest I would say I fear this assault on Ukraine will lead to world war because Putin is not going to back down, gather his tanks, and go home with his tail between his legs. He has too much pride. I worry that the entire world will suffer drastic shortages of basic necessities not only because of this invasion but the corresponding sanctions. Gasoline is currently at $6 a gallon in my area and the forecasts say it’s going to get worse. I’m concerned about becoming embroiled in a massive recession, where the value of the dollar plummets, and unfortunately, many of us do not have the time in which to recover. And here we thought the pandemic was bad.
My deepest hopes and deepest fears are for my grandchildren. If I had the courage to speak the truth beyond the truth I would say I don’t think we have the courage, intelligence, or capacity to create a future where our successors will be able to prosper as we did. My greatest fear is that my generation will leave our descendants enmeshed in conflict, scarcity, and a world that is becoming less inhabitable by the minute.
But not all is doom and gloom.
I also see extraordinary acts of optimism in the midst of all this suffering. Polish moms leaving their baby strollers at the train station for Ukrainian moms who carried their children across the border. Numerous charities are raising money to help support and advocate for the Ukrainian people. I heard about an individual who raised $100,000 and then traveled to Poland so she could hand out cash to the refugees as they crossed the border. Medical and humanitarian supplies are being donated, people are spreading awareness, and peaceful protests are springing up all over the world.
The list of opportunities to aid and support Ukraine is vast and readily available to the general public.
Today, I watched a video of a young Ukrainian girl singing a heartwrenching rendition of Let It Go to those gathered in a crowded bomb shelter. It was innocent, lovely, and ever so hopeful. (I’ve attached the clip below)
As I reach around to massage the pain in the back of my neck I realize I’ve severely underestimated the opposing forces of hope and fear. As Brene Brown claims, it begins with a strong back, soft front, wild heart. Maybe what we want most; peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, and peace in the world are what we’re most afraid to go out and get.
I’m Living in the Gap, alone we can do so little, together we can change the world. Join me in the comments. What are your hopes and fears?
PS I survived the 50-mile ride in Solvang although the temperature stayed in the low 50s along with horrendous wind and pockets of rain.
PSS No one accused me of Not Pedaling! Not one.
PSSS A woman hunted us down at the rest stop in Solvang and invited Larry and me to join a tandem biking group on Facebook. Oh yeah, my fear and hope went into a total collision.
PSSSS Larry signed us up for a 65-mile ride in Death Valley to celebrate our anniversary in November. Should I be worried?