Stepping Out of the Chaos

the_inner_maelstrom_by_katmicariI finished working as set costumer on my first feature film, and rather than feel my usual depleted of all energy and on the edge of sickness or post-project depression, I am mentally energized to jump back into all the good things I had started to do for myself. Which is awesome, and while I am honestly nervous about seizing control of my destiny and not having a reliable routine, life is too brief to settle.

I had another one of those profound self-reflections during the work on the film, and that is that I have always had a really easy time stepping outside of the chaos of our shared reality and becoming an observer of it. This ability used to make me feel really uncomfortable on occasion, as I would feel like an outsider for not being a part of the group (not participating in the “crazy”), and I would get really upset that I wasn’t able to fix the pain people were inflicting on themselves or others. But in the long run, this is a gift, and I have been able to utilize it so much more, which really does give me more opportunities to live a healthier life myself and to encourage others to find their own path when they feel ready themselves.

I shared my painting of “The Inner Maelstrom” above to show how chaos feels to me.

So, I wanted to offer some tips to you for practicing lifting yourself out of the stream. Even just trying to do this for 30 seconds in a stressful situation can help you immensely.

  • Turn off the guilt. Is whatever chaos going on your fault? Probably not. If it is, then learn from your mistake and stop creating chaos. If it isn’t, then don’t create more problems by internalizing it.
  • Remember not to take things personally. This goes with the above. People bubble over with anger and stress. Acknowledge any truth you can see to what they are saying, but don’t engage unless it’s to defend yourself or another in an abusive situation.
  • Take a few deep breathes, focus on the quiet spaces between your heartbeats, and find stillness.
  • Really think about the situation. Observe what is going on. Is there anything helpful you can offer to what is going on? If so, do it, but most of the time, people are creating the chaos for reasons that are beyond your control (lack of communication, lack of planning, sheer exhaustion). I am a firm believer in helping as much as possible, but you also have to protect your integrity and safety as well.

Anyway, normal organic chaos can be beautiful. I’m really talking about the disorganized extra chaos people bring to themselves and others. We don’t need to engage in that. Again, life is way too short for that nonsense in our lives.

The Shifting Sands

There is a growing energy shift taking place across the world. I can feel it, see it in the individuals around me, watch it unfold on a global scale. It is as though collectively we’re shaking ourselves like a wet dog. It’s hard to stay present and grounded while the movement is happening, and maybe that’s not the point right now anyway.

I think we need to fully experience these shifting sands. We need to be strong enough to survive the chaos that is growing and supple enough to bend when we have to. We need to acknowledge when the ground is knocked from underneath us and get back up and keep moving anyway. We need to feel the grief of the world and the grief of individuals and process that grief in such a way that we can learn from it finally. We need to find the core of ourselves and remember that in the coming months and maybe years. We need to remember…

The future isn’t certain, but we can at least find certainty within ourselves.

Musings on the Boston Marathon Bombing

I found out about the Boston marathon bombing after spending a lovely day celebrating my son’s second birthday.  And I’ve mostly been thinking about the dichotomy of my personal life and the national view, or the micro versus the macro if we want to get into scientific terms.  I worry about having brought a child into this world that seems to be on a collision course, but I also hope that my son is part of a generation that carries within it the potential for change.  That my generation is breaking the ground and planting and nurturing the seeds well enough for his generation to grow into their full potential.

The worrisome thing, for me, is that these violent acts have become normalized, a regular part of my life.  I have seen America’s “shattered innocence” too many times.  I still feel sad for the victims, and I feel anger towards the perpetrator, but I am not surprised by the bombings.  This kind of blase attitude towards violence is unacceptable to me, but I don’t know what I can do about.  And really, how much worse is it for those that have lived in war-torn lands for decades?  Where you never know if a bomb or sniper’s bullet will find you?  I think of places like that, many of them torn apart by the United States’ interest in the area, and I can’t help but see why there are many people who hate Americans.  We are so safe, so trusting, so innocent in so many ways, and so unconcerned by how our actions as a nation are tearing the world apart.  But we are also a powder keg, and the violence is going to get worse before it gets better.

You wait, there will be a cry for action.  More civil liberties will be chipped away, all in the name of safety.  Will they install cameras on the streets of all the major cities now?  Require security checkpoints for any large public gathering, including bag searches?  The calm voices of reason and research  will be drowned by the hysterical voices of both sides, screaming for more safety or for more freedom.  It will be the mess of post-9/11 all over again.  I’ve already seen people politicizing this, to the point of actually reading that someone hopes it’s a terrorist attack so people can see how bad a president Obama is.  Just disgusting.  No matter what your opinion of the man or the office is, to gleefully wish that such a tragedy acknowledges your narrow worldview is repulsive.

The last thought I have on the matter is that while I am not a proponent for using violent means to cause change or express your opinion, if you are someone heading in that direction, choose your targets with care.  If you must be an agent for chaos and destruction, do so in a way that actually causes some good.  Maybe consider cyber terrorism instead of physical terrorism that takes life and limb.  Watch “Fight Club” a few times.  Join Anonymous.  Target those in power instead of innocents.  Don’t take the cowardly way out.

I know this is rambling and out there.  I’m just feeling sore, raw, and open, like a flaky scab oozing a little bit.  You have to learn not to mind me too much when I’m feeling this maudlin.