I am saddened by the recent events happening in Baltimore City as not only violence and destruction are happening, but the tearing apart of communities causing anger, confusion and frustration. Most of my career was in Baltimore City, and the areas most effected by the protests and violence are the areas of which I am familiar. I do not wish to discuss the reasons for what is happening, rather, to help all of us, myself included, to process and cope with our emotions.
Those who follow me know that I am one who tries to live in the moment and to find the positive in all things. But even I, at times, find it difficult to cope with all that is happening in the world. I struggle with all that is happening in the world in regards to violence and politics and suffering, and when I see the violence come to a city near to me, it heightens my sense of helplessness.
This past March I wrote a couple of reflections on this topic, and this morning I re-read them to focus and center myself. One reflection is on looking at events from an optimistic perspective while the other reflection recalls the discussion in my mind between the optimist and the realist, with the realist outlining specific steps for coping so that the optimist may continue to find the positive in the world.
I also found this reflection (below) I wrote back in August of 2013 about keeping perspective on the world immediately around us. I am re-posting that reflection mainly for myself, but I hope it encourages, and gives peace, to those who need it today.
Have you ever thought of your place in the universe? When was the last time you noticed the small creatures around us? The other evening, while I was walking down my road, I noticed this caterpillar roaming the road’s white line.
I stopped my walk to watch its movements and to wonder what he might be thinking. But then I thought “Do I stay in the moment long enough to not only recognize my thoughts but also to notice what is happening around me?”
While watching the caterpillar I couldn’t help to think that his world is so much different from mine. Even though he was only a mile or so from my house, would he ever know that the world goes that far away? He is oblivious to the size of our planet as his perspective limits his world. And yet there was a time when even we didn’t realize the size of our planet. How alike are we to the caterpillar?
As I further reflect on my caterpillar friend, I would like to think that his life’s perspective is a much simpler one from mine. He more than likely stays focused on the present moment, hopeful and trusting that his instincts will properly guide him. When was the last time I was able to consciously focus on the present long enough to trust my instincts to guide me? There’s a lot I (we) can learn from this caterpillar.
The other day I was reading a book and came across this story from Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ which I think is appropriate to my reflections on the caterpillar:
A rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find a Southern fisherman lying leisurely beside his boat. “Why aren’t you fishing?” asked the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for the day,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” was the reply. “With that, you could fix a motor to your boat, go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats . . . maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me.”
“What would I do then?”
“Then you could really enjoy life.”
“What do you think I am doing right now?’”
As I left my new friend to his journey, I wondered where my journey is taking me. How do I change my perspective to realize that even though there is always more world out there of which I am not yet aware, the world around me is filled with potential, adventure and new friends, if only I take the time to look for them.
… continue the conversation …