Ours to Lose

Robert Browning maintained that art is the “one way possible of speaking truth.” After all, each of us experiences the world through our life lens and no one else’s. It’s how we know what we know. It’s what we believe.

There is no universal truth, only its experience. And for revealing that we have art, a tapestry of truth that reveals each individual experience into one. We all have words but few make art and even fewer avoid artifice.

If you watched any of the impeachment hearings, you heard both art and artifice. Not difficult to distinguish between the two but it’s important that we do. That there is yet life in this ragged republic no thanks to Congress or to the executive branch but to career service diplomats, people like you and me.

Against a backdrop of obstruction, these patriots spoke truth to power with an eloquence that comes only with conviction and courage. As long as there is one patriot, the hope of our republic lives. But hope is not a savior nor has it ever been. It lights the way. You know, the obstacle is the path or the path or is the obstacle. Regardless, our way is through.

As a candidate, the current president bragged that he could shoot someone on fifth Avenue in New York City in broad daylight and “not lose any voters.” So far, he is not wrong, but saying that is not what impeachment is about. We have a president who would be king. Over 240 years ago we fought a revolution against all that is king and later we wrote a constitution spelling out that a president is not a dictator.

Is it the Constitution that hasn’t aged well or is it that we just cannot live up to its possibility? The light of day, the reveal of any art, is the truth of its time, no matter the dust of artifice. Art is the work of mere mortals but truth ever evolves; light reveals the what and who of existence without a moral cast–truth’s tapestry.

Ironically, there is one canvas “both sides” claim–November 8, 2016. I don’t find it an easy viewing. The country lost that night, no matter who became president. It was our election to lose and we did; we gave in to divisiveness. Diplomat Fiona Hill made that point during the impeachment hearings: the politics of party over country is the death knell of democracy. Without the diversity of diplomacy, there is no liberty.

It’s the history of humanity that truth never lasts long. It wouldn’t for it is not stagnant. Within each one of us are two wolves, one light and one dark, our “both sides.” It is ours to heed the howl of both; at our peril we deny one over the other.

It is no less true for our country. The hour is ours to hear the wolves, to separate art from artifice, to live up to the possibility of republic. It really is ours to lose.

With Two Wolves is the Wisdom of One

In these days preceding the winter solstice, it is the Cherokee story of the two wolves within that is most on my mind. As the solstice is the darkest day of the year, it is also the solstice sliver of light that reminds us life renews–no matter what. Perhaps on no other day is the nature of fear and fearlessness so apparent.

Facing fear means we sit down with the two wolves that live within us–one light, one dark—and accept that denying either wolf creates a constant battle that cannot be won only continuously fought. Each wolf is the other’s half–left vs. right, good vs. bad, this vs. that—fearlessness seeks the wisdom of the whole.

As far as I know, the Cherokee story is the only version of the two wolves that advises wisdom may be found in both light and dark. Some days feature more of one than the other but insight is born of both. When we admit we are afraid—when we sit with our two wolves–all that is left is fearlessness.

“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both” (Beyond the Conflict of Inner Forces, a post at www.awakin.org). That we have a choice is critical to remember for even in the dark of the winter solstice there is light.

Storm Clouds 081913

“Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

And yes, no one can give us mindfulness, either—I am beginning to suspect it may be the other half of fearlessness–for being mindful means we meet the dark and light of life without favoring one or the other, only appreciating the wisdom of the whole:

“When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

The here and now is the only reality we ever have; to meet it fearlessly is to live life as it unfolds in the dark and in the light.

For me, these waning days of 2013 offer more unknown than known—maybe more light than dark or more dark than light—regardless, I sit with my inner wolves, mindful of the promise of the winter solstice and the wisdom of one.

(Regular blog posts will resume by December 29, 2013).