Throughout December 2012 and January 2013, I will be posting my personal responses to the Reverb Remix. I will also be posting “regular” content during this time. Learn more about Reverb Remix here.
One Event. Reflect on a major event that occurred in 2012. Select an event that was experienced by people outside your immediate community.
Personal Note: I wrote this prompt in response to the tragedy felt across the world after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I believe the personal impact of this experience is important to look back on in the future. There is no need to respond to this specific event, but it is something I would consider reflecting on in a way that feels most comfortable for you.
I read the quote above by George Witte and immediately opened my journal—willing myself to get lost in my thoughts, letting them pour through me onto paper hoping things would become clear. I craved clarity, for the fog of confusion to lift. What I wrote in my journal is copied word for word below as a response to this first prompt. It is this prompt that I wrote for myself when I opened my journal and it is this prompt that starts my journey of reflection in 2012.
. . .
And a moment occurs, a tiny sliver of time. The foundation we are balanced upon shakes. We feel our feet wobbling below us, our weight shifting from side to side. But our core is unable to ground us. A crack has formed beneath our feet. We struggle to regain footing as the crack in the earth below leaves our balance shaky at best.
Meaning is our currency—it fuels our drive and connects our moments. We ask why over and over again, usually able to develop meaning, to find purpose. This is our habitual way of living, the why informs the how, it interacts with our need to sense an inner locus of control.
Not knowing, not being able to reason a why to connect to a how leaves us feeling helpless, daunted by what it means not to be able to find the words to express what is being experienced. So we grasp onto anything that we can use to help form meaning, to better understand how this could happen. It provides a false sense of relief, a bandage for the crack beneath us.
But we must do something, blame someone. And I ask, why. What is the meaning behind your reaction. What within your core requires soothing? What do you need to express? What do you need to feel? This is my habitual way of living, asking questions and seeking answers—looking for ways to connect what others are doing with how they are feeling.
- Do you need to express anger? Do you need to feel acceptance of this anger?
- Do you need to express compassion? Do you need to feel that you are present with someone in a time of pain?
- Do you need to express fear?
We tend to run from looking at we most need in times of abrupt turmoil. We enter a mode of fight or flight, or we become numb—disconnecting in need of space.
We react to the crack in our foundation. Our senses go into overdrive or under-drive. We don’t have a simple way to explain what is happening or why it is happening, so we try our best by doing what feels most natural.
… For some this may mean a twitter rant or a video message.
… For some this may mean turning to religion, asking for guidance.
… For some this may mean deep listening—getting quiet and listening to the voices around you.
… For some this may mean a search for knowledge, an investigation—a why for the how.
… For some this may mean charity, giving of yourself through service.
Each individual reacts differently, this is the human experience.
When a trauma is felt by so many at the same time, it’s easy to judge how some people are reacting. But these judgements go against what so many of us desire at this time—a sense of shared humanity, a sense of security and belonging. Because suffering is a universal truth.
When we are suffering as individuals, communities, or nations, we don’t want to feel that our way of suffering makes us unworthy of compassion. We need to see glimmers of hope emerge from the crack. We need to know that by simply being who we are, in the here and now, we are worthy of compassion, for ourselves and others.
We need to be open, to let ourselves question what we need in the here and now. We need to be okay not knowing the why for the how. Even when there are cracks in our foundation, our lives are too precious not to give ourselves permission to keep living, to keep needing, to keep asking and seeking.
To ignore the struggle, to stifle its whispers, is to simply prolong this process—to let the suffering within exist without recognition, to disconnect from yourself and the need for compassion amidst struggle.
To practice self-compassion is to let yourself feel, to feel the good and the bad, to recognize both as worthy of your attention. Through compassion, you can slowly regain your balance, building the strength required to better connect with what you need to stand on this new foundation.