Optimism with Eyes Opened

Lili Zohar's picture

Of late I have been thinking of a comment Jason made last month to the year 4 class. He said that he used to be pessimistic, but that over time he has come to feel his optimism.

I have struggled with pessimism, sometimes to the point of depression and immobility. In middle school, I wondered if an asteroid might smash into the earth and end the human race, hopefully putting the planet’s future in the hands of a wiser and more capable species. Now I find myself experiencing varying degrees of hope and despair, depending upon my mood and the universe in which I am seated. Sometimes hopeful, I am also painfully aware of what we are doing to ourselves, each other and the planet with our massive abilities and relatively small understanding. It is hard to live with eyes opened.

Several summers ago when teaching on Intimacy and Differences, Jason noted that we must give destructiveness its rightful place. I like to believe that destruction is a vital part of any creative process. Nature offers hopeful examples, demonstrating the enormous regenerative effect of forest fires and volcanoes, fiery death fertilizing new life. Extrapolating, I wonder if we can come to terms with destructive tendencies that seem to be built into the human condition. Can anger be a healing force? Can violence bring productive change? What is the rightful place for human carelessness and indifference when it seems too possible that the next many decades will bring irreparable harm to many forms of life?

As I wrestle with these questions, I invite in the powerful work of ASOS and the awareness of how it has helped me. I notice these practices touching me, my colleagues and clients and those who surround us. At times, it seems Consciousness itself is shifting and shimmering, although I can’t say how. I venture that these different levels of healing relate to a quality of this work that allows everything to exist: destruction within creation, darkness and chaos within the illuminating urge, pessimism within optimism.

Each moment holds choice and therefore promise. Practice and community give me the ground to stay engaged and the confidence to keep opening. When reality doesn’t need to exclude the difficulties and challenges of being human in the 21st century, I can feel the full range, including the exciting privilege of being alive when so much is possible and so much is at stake.