Breathe in suffering, breathe out peace

Dear President Trump,

Like most people, I well understand that good news doesn’t sell and thus our news outlets focus almost exclusively on bad news, the badder the better. To most news organizations you probably seem sent from the profit heavens above. There’s not a part of our collective existence you and your swampy appointees aren’t tainting, trying to destroy, or actively ruining and there’s no escape from the frantic drumbeat of the headlines screaming this or that previously unthinkable fracturing, undermining, ripping apart of our democracy, country, world. Sometimes it’s stupid embarrassing things, like you dumping an entire box of fish food in the ceremonial koi pond on your first day in Japan. Obviously there were people right there who could clean up after you, but here we are lurching from the mortification of our president not being able or willing to follow the rules of even the simplest of rituals to having to worry how badly he is going to goad and disrespect an unstable dictator with a growing nuclear arsenal in the region. The order of magnitude is different, yes, but it’s all coming from the same dysregulated, he-man, short-sighted, self-absorbed, consequences-be-damned attitude. And it is all scary as hell because no one will be able to clean up after you if you do start a war with North Korea.

You can probably tell I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by everything that’s happening and by what should be happening but isn’t (sensible gun control legislation, equitable tax reform, fixing and supporting the ACA, urgent attention to climate change, reform of racist policing and sentencing, addressing the needs of children and families, etc.).

This morning as I was stewing in angst, I remembered the practice of tonglen, a Buddhist meditation where you breathe in suffering (pain, fear, despair) and breathe out peace and love. I did it for about five minutes and for two of those minutes I felt a little better. I don’t know whether I’ll keep it up or if I’ll figure out ways to bring the core of this practice to my walking-around-in-the-world life, but I’m going to try. There’s plenty of suffering to hold and I have to believe there is still plenty of peace and love to share.

May we be safe and not overwhelmed by bad news.
May we make a point of looking for happy, good news.
May we remember it’s healthy to pay attention to both sides.
May we help one another remember kindness is everything.

Tracy Simpson

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