Holding the Tension

I’m feeling deeply saddened by the state of the world. There seems to be a rapid acceleration of discord, a black hole threatening to devour all that is good.

The day after the San Bernardino tragedy, during my regular gratitude practice, I reflected on the question, “What do I want more of in my life today?” My first thought was “joy.”

Quickly I realized that I didn’t want the sadness to go away. Sadness was a suitable emotion given the circumstances. Not to feel sad would mean I’d cut myself off from what was real, retreating into a fantasy where tragedies didn’t sully unadulterated positivity.

But sadness alone wasn’t the answer. And so I thought again, “What do I really want more of in my life today?”  Unaccountably, inspiration was the response that came to me.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I let it sit.

A couple of hours later, I had a wonderful experience of synchronicity. While talking with my colleague Beth, the topic of despair came up. Not surprising. It’s in the air. She referred to an anthology she was reading, The Impossible Will Take a Little While, and commented that it did a good job of balancing despair and inspiration. 

“Wow, that’s just it,” I thought. “Inspiration is a polarity of despair. What’s needed is to hold the tension between despair and inspiration.“

It’s tempting to stop paying attention to what’s going on in the world, or to give in to feelings of despair or false positivity. Holding the tension produces determination to do what we can, and enables us to create what is authentically ours to contribute.

What is authentically yours to contribute?

Inspiration: “The quality of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”