Living in History

Looking back at history shows us how change happens. Has it hit you yet? The awareness that we are living in history?

I’ve been nursing these ideas for a while now, looking at the symbolism of power and trying to decode how deep this shift really is. Deeper than Lake Titikaka! A week or so ago the photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Kevin Spacey sitting on the royal thrones of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip resurfaced and circulated once again. Seeing the 2002 image now through my 2020 eyes, it looked like a declaration of the rule of darkness, something mythic with long-reaching consequences. The timeline showed itself as longer than a quick news-cycle: from before that moment of the photo, when they flew with Clinton to the UK, to after that moment, when their activities became more exposed, until now, when the meaning and impact can perhaps be glimpsed.

Just so with all the circumstances of today. Long timelines. There were years and centuries building to this moment, and there will be years after this peaks. We haven’t reached the peak of this curve, and I’m not only talking about the virus. It is a curve of history. Didn’t MLK mention this? He saw, perhaps, and understood the role of individual human beings in this great scheme of history.

Is there an equal and counterbalancing lightforce in the sky? Maybe a canopy spread from some intense meditators high in the Himalayas? Or is it down to us to make the counterforce of history, by the human endeavours throughout time.

And even as we know this in our minds, the patterns unravel before our eyes. Woven centuries ago with codes for certain pathways to power, the tapestries are musty, moth-eaten and useless. We don’t want to see them anymore. The castle was built of cold stone that couldn’t warm up even with those wall hangings muffling the cries of prisoners in dungeons below. They hold the sad historic legacy: we went to sea for wealth and exploitation of all resources, human and natural. All that effort to bring us into the empty strange cubicles of a Jacques Tati office building that cuts off all human communication.

This isolation has played some tricks on me. As things seem to be opening, I’m taking my chance to look beyond my old patterns and take a breath before the grinding wheels of history take another tight turning, one more squeeze that disrupts our sense of time and place.

It is our duty as human beings to connect with our selves, our time and place, no matter how high the wind blows, and to take responsibility for the little part we each play in the events of the times. We each discover our part, and expand to include as much as we can bear. As I dare to peek at the forecast of the predicted global recession/depression caused by both the virus and shut-down, I find it difficult to imagine a return to life as we had known it before.

Any notion that there is now an opening and that we are out of the woods with Covid-19, is deeply contradicted by world news, particularly the disturbing US stats and data. We watch the US melt down before our eyes, in real time, via their own media. “How is it possible?” we say, and we are the people listening to the radio before WWII decades ago, or people in European coffee shops reading newspapers aloud in centuries past.

Feeling personally powerless, we watch the tumbling down of so many seemingly permanent structures built in the past, now breaking and falling like the ice off the Antarctic coast crashing into the warm and rising sea.

Not to forget the concurrent climate crisis. Somehow the virus erased our ability to perceive time (check Reuters TEST of TIME on this) so we may have forgotten that we were given a 12 year window to turn things around on climate change. When was that? And how can we turn it around?

In a flailing gesture, I dream of another life. Right now in British Columbia it feels like there could really be a future. We followed the science, Covid is no longer spiking, the curve is flat, there are only a few new cases - especially since our border with the US remains closed.

But I know we aren’t separate. The currents below are shifting as the winds above are changing, and we are tuning to it all without knowing what exactly it is that is happening. Instead we wait and watch and pretend that we are going along as normal, while the tension remains and we have no vocabulary for these experiences. So here I am reporting to you on all this, not as news or history, but as my own account of the experience, a personal one.

Out of the corner of my mind’s eye I saw a glimpse of an abyss, a bit darker, a little obscure and unclear. When I think of it now, it looks more like a warning than a reality. And the line blurs as I wonder if it is inside me or outside me. World events change our psychology, move through our dreams and nightmares. Does it even matter what’s inside or outside anymore?

We may have to put away the pursuits of peacetime till later. The tapestry can never be rewoven and there are no new looms to be had. Somehow we forgot how to make them. Crude, clumsy, shoddy and poor, our works can’t compare. Yet we try even though the guilds have all been broken. How could the public experiment have led to this sorry manipulation and loss?

Never mind. The stakes are high, that’s all. Maybe we can meet the current challenge with some of the old virtues like self-sacrifice and strength of will, with caring and kindness. I believe that when we fully participate in our own time, in our own history, we are not powerless: we are evolving the patterns of the time in which we live and for the future. Let’s make way for the extraordinary NEW!

Calling Mother Nature: Here We Come!!!

More thoughts on “these unprecedented times” will have to wait for another issue. Today we’re packing our things to do what so many people in British Columbia are doing this summer: cautiously travelling within our province, with masks, sanitizer and keeping a distance. I’m so looking forward to the recharge! We’re bringing the dog, loading the car, and getting out of Dodge for a little while.

Image credit: Illustration by Cecile Walton from Polish Fairy Tales

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