The world seems like it has gone mad.
For me, despair comes when I enter circular thinking in an attempt to figure out two things: 1) What the hell is going on? and 2) What the hell can I do about it? At my “mature” age you’d think I’d become wise to the futile machinations of the mind. When I’m seeking light, that’s actually the last place I should go. A long personal history with my bossy mind tells me that I’ll only experience more anxiety.
Seeking light involves getting outside of myself.
Worry and overthinking just keep me glued inside, literally and figuratively. It’s like shutting all the windows and progressively turning off the lights. I can be performing tasks, and I can be out and about, but in either scenario, I’m locked up in a dark place. When I’m seeking light, I have to find some kind of centrifugal force that takes me away from the gravitational pull of a cunning mind that commands, “Don’t look anywhere else. I have the answers.”
Finding a path out of incessant worry (there’s plenty these days).
Even in beautiful Italy. While new COVID cases in the U.S. are flirting with passing 100k a day, Italy passed 30k in the last couple of days. We’re clearly not out of the woods and our government has been meeting to craft a tightening of the bolts, aka “measures” to turn this thing around. And, as an American citizen, watching what I see as off-the-rails behaviors during the heated U.S. election, easily causes every fiber of my being to tense up (and freeze).
I may be an ocean away from the train-speeding-off-the-rails scenario, but Italy is giving me plenty of fodder for worry and anxiety.
Like so many people, I’m struggling to make sense off all the madness. We humans loathe not being able to contain something (at least intellectually) in an explanation or a reason why. Alan Watts (more on him at Wikipedia) writes about this dilemma in his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity (find it on Amazon):
“Speculative philosphy, as we know it in the West, is almost entirely a symptom of the divided mind, of man trying to stand outside himself and his experience in order to verbalize and define it. It is a vicious circle, like everything else which the divided mind attempts.”
“So long as the mind is split, life is perpetual conflict, tension, frustration, and disillusion. Suffering is piled on suffering, fear on fear, and boredom on boredom. The more the fly struggles to get out of the honey, the faster he is stuck.”
Yep, stuck is exactly where I am when I seek answers through intellectual deduction.
Seeking light and restoring my soul. What can I do?
I don’t consider myself part of a particular faith. Like Alan Watts, I’m a mongrel in this regard. But, for some reason, the 23rd Psalm has attached itself to me and it’s way better than any pharmaceutical sedative. It’s my mantra—right after uttering (internally, but often out loud when no one is around), “I don’t know anything.” It is my cry to the universe, my surrender to the things I just don’t get and won’t get through intellectual processes. Because the 23rd Psalm conjures up images of verdant pastures and a kindly presence guiding me in my ignorance, I head outside into nature. I head outside and look to the heavens.
So, on a recent evening of particularly heavy worry and dread, I headed outside seeking light that I wasn’t finding internally.
Nature delivered sorely needed medicine.
We’d taken a trip to visit family in Liguria and were staying close to the sea. So, I put on my comfy Pumas and walked and walked and walked. Man, did nature deliver a big dose of light—spectacular light in colors that astounded me. In fact, in processing the images in this post I had to rein them in. Yes, they were that incredible. While my initial steps were leaden and trudging, subsequent steps became increasingly relaxed and even light. As the evening sky over the harbor hypnotized me, I left the heaviness of hardened internal dialog. Nature was commanding me, “Pay attention!”
No further explanation needed.
And that’s why I’m closing this post now and letting you swim around in these images, hastily captured with my iPhone (sorry for the less-than-crisp resolution). I only know that I needed a big dose of optimism, a reminder that life is way bigger than I can conceive. Surrendering to uncertainty and residing in the present moment is where I find grounding and peace.
If you’ve liked this post…
I’d encourage you to read a recent post “Can You Make Peace with Yourself During Crisis?” We’re all seeking light, aren’t we?
Well written Jed, I so enjoy your insights into the unknown and also your total honesty and admittance that sometimes we are just not in control.
Beautiful Pics. Da dove vengono??
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy..
Thanks Mikel, that message just keeps coming at me. And I keep letting go! These photos were take in Imperia, Liguria. An idyllic spot to reconnect!
Jed, as I was reading and feeling, I wondered what I could say. Every one before me put it better than I can. Thanks as always for sharing. Get outside and walk,… with your camera! Take care and stay safe, Germany just started a new month long shut down today. Several local businesses no longer are. Simply shut down not to reopen.
Hope you are well, Chip. Loads of increasing challenges here in Italy. Staying put for the time being! Stay safe. Jed
Ah…a lot of us seem to be in the same place..or at least similar ones. I have been confronting a need to “let go” certain horses, people, ideas from my life. And I have been struggling with letting go of generations of family accumulations. Realizing that I can’t help people who don’t see anything wrong (with themselves…how could they miss it!) Has been freeing in itself. And let’s me make the decisions that I need to make in that regard. So, instead of asking permission, I just make my decision…and it has been freeing!
Hi, Susan. I love what you write and what you share. Letting go…you nailed it. Accumulations, materially, and emotionally—this is such a charged topic for me, especially as I gain yet another year that takes me far away from the young whippersnapper I once was.
Brava to you for freeing yourself. You inspire me! xoxox Jed
I always enjoy your posts but this one confused me a great deal. I am also an expat living in Italy. I am saddened more and more each day as I try to come to terms with the what is happening in the US that I used to love. The Covid crisis is making everything I try to do more complicated. Will we ever get through this!!!
Hi Tish, this post was about a recent “surrender” moment and my own confusion at what is happening that I just can’t assimilate, particularly regarding the country of my birth. I plan a news blackout for at least the next 36 hours. I will take long walks, and hope! Yes, we will get through this, I believe. I hold the image of being with friends in the future, smiling, breathing, and marveling that we survived and were made kinder and wiser. xoxox Jed
Beautiful words and beautiful images, Jed. Thanks for the reminder of what is really important! This is especially meaningful on election eve.
Thanks, Joanne. I’m so fortunate to find anchor in friendships and connections that are grounded in the heart. It is always a gift to hear from you. Jed
Beautiful Jed! I always feel I receive a little gospel from your blog. Photography was incredible, and I felt like I was walking with you. It made re go back to having sushi with you in Portland. Nature is the best, and Italy sure is splendid. Take care dear friend! Love you always.
Friends are a living gospel. Together, you and I always have always moved to the most important heart places. Envisioning the day when we can walk together again. Loads of love, dear friend. Jed
Buongiorno Jed. Grazie per queste parole. Com’è sai, gli stati uniti è un posto di caos e preocuppa durante questi giorni, beh…è stato così per 4 anni. Hai ragione e seguo le tue avviso… esco per camminare oggi. Cammino, cammino, cammino e apprezzo l’opportunità passare tempo con natura. È sempre un piacere leggere le tue parole. Un’abbraccio da lontano.
Ciao cara. Sempre è una piacere di sentireti. Sì, camina, camina, camina! La pace ti troverá. Abitiamo in tempi pauriti con tante cose disturbe. Aspettiamo, speriamo per al meno un buona risultata mercoledì o giovedì. Stai sana a calma. Bacioni!
Thanks Jed for these enlightening words. I really needed this today. I have been going through some dark days 💕😘
Ciao Diane. My heart aches to know that you’ve been having some dark days. Letting go in the face of massive uncertainty just seems like too tall an order at times. I hope you can find and do the things that bring you peace and joy in the midst of all this current madness. xoxoxo Jed
Ah, Jed, this lovely new post came at exactly the right time. I had just sat down and started to write my own blog piece, one that was going to highlight the gloom and doom of this November morning. I was going to write about my father – his birthday was October 26th, the day his obituary appeared. I was going to recall moments when he (totally unintentional) taught me some of life’s most important lessons. He wasn’t a well-educated man. He wasn’t poetic of creative. He simply lived his life his own way and, towards the end of that life, he especially did just that. One of his “dementia” sentences spoke to his philosophy perfectly…..”What CAN you do? What CAN you do? ABsolutely nothing…….”. He awakened in me the realization that it’s just senseless to overlook what we already have while trying to second guess everything else. I loved these little break-throughs and will always be grateful to him for the peace and serenity that I can hang on to, especially during the days of twenty twenty. Thanks for validating all of this for me. Pace e bene.
Hi Lynn, I’m glad this “landed” at a good time for you. I, too, rest on what my dearly departed mother would say, “We shall see what we shall see.” She became a great role model in letting go, particularly in the last year of her life. Like your dad, my mom helped me to “let go.” Stay safe and keep the faith!