Reframing Anger

You’ve probably noticed that my last few posts have been particularly pessimistic and angry in tone. I’ve been really struggling to accept a lot of the things that have been going on in the world as well as my personal life lately. Yesterday I was nearly incapacitated by my own rage when we received a call from the CPS supervisor saying “a worker” who had recently been at our office tested positive. Although I knew she probably had the virus, having it confirmed without a doubt brought my fury back to the forefront of my awareness.

I spent most of the day yesterday caught between frustration, despair, and white hot anger. Even though I was embarrassed of my behavior, I couldn’t stop myself. I was doing research on how I might possibly press legal charges, get the girl fired, or even dox her online somehow. My mind found not a moments rest yesterday. I could hardly concentrate on the words in front of my face while doing my evening reading. My thoughts just kept returning to all the ways that I simply cannot believe someone could be so selfish and awful.

I am trying to surrender today. I am trying to stay curious as to why exactly I am so angry. Sure my mind has been repeating all the reasons I have a right to be nonstop, but when I broaden my perspective, it still seems strange to let this comparatively small injustice effect me so deeply. Certainly it can’t be that I’m surprised by this girl’s actions. I’ve known basically my whole life that humans are trash and only care about themselves. If I had any doubt of that, you’d think working where I do for the last two years would have erased it by now.

In a certain sense, I feel embarrassed and just as self-centered as everyone else for my reaction. I see more egregious acts and injustices each and every day. Why am I not whipped up into the same fury for the children I meet who come in to tell us about being raped by their father for 4 years? Is that not a much more soul crushing and unbelievable cruelty committed by a human being against another? A far more unacceptable betrayal by a person that is supposed to care for you? I cannot pretend to tell myself I am just upset about injustice, when I clearly care much more when it involves an injustice, however slight, performed against me.

I am so very fortunate in so many ways. I must remember that no matter what may come. Spewing venom, frightening my loved ones with my rage, and using my time and energy plotting revenge are not things that are serving me. What happened, happened. There is nothing I can do about it now. I am being unkind to myself by allowing myself to be consumed by my anger. I may very well be sick. My quality of life may be harmed for the foreseeable future. But what good will souring the few days I have before then do? I should be cherishing this waiting period. I should be holding space. I should be fortifying my body, mind, and soul for the battle that is most assuredly being waged inside me right now.

Rather than being annoyed at my work friend for not being as livid as I am at the situation, I should be admiring his ability to let go and to smile in the face of injustice and adversity. Part of my rage is a result of the perception that without it, I am allowing myself to be taken advantage of and trampled upon. But as I read my book last night, I began to think about the types of characters that I respect the most. It is not the vindictive, aggressive characters. It is the characters that are most passive, loving, forgiving, and humble. I do not view them as fools for not raging against the terrible people or circumstances they face. I see that they are wise and well-adjusted for being able to maintain their inner peace and their loving nature no matter what.

The things that anger me most are actually opportunities for me to cultivate that same peaceful, compassionate, inner soften that I so admire in others. It’s hard. I won’t pretend otherwise, but I know that our challenges are what spur growth. In my heart I know that what’s important is not being right or wrong or “teaching someone else a lesson.” I cannot control other people and that is something I need to accept and move on from. Life may not be fair, there are cruel, selfish, monstrous people, but it is my duty to distinguish myself from these people. It is a joy and an honor to have the chance to be a light unto myself and those I love. I will not allow my anger to tarnish the naturally loving and abundant nature of my soul. Instead that nature will only gain strength from the negative encounters we all must face. I will maintain a grateful heart and a calm mind despite it all. This is my life. This is my practice. And I refuse to waste it on hate. I have faith in myself and my body to protect me and always do what is right and kind. The rest I must simply learn to allow.

How to Create a Peaceful Mind

MLK Quotes and Animal Rights

If he were still alive today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be 91 years old. Insane to imagine this man is only one year older than my grandmother. How much more wisdom would we have been able to gain from his presence on this earth had he not been assassinated? What would his opinion be of all that is happening in our world today? I would be so interested to be able to hear Dr. King’s perspective of the animal rights movement. After reading dozens of quotes from his writings and speeches on Monday, I was deeply touched by how many of these statements could be attributed to the oppression of other animals as well as to the oppression of different groups of people.

I’d like to think that because of the obvious similarities between all forms of oppression, he would be a supporter of animal liberation. Yet my cynical side doubts that would actually be the case. He may even take offense to the comparison as so many people seem to do and seek to distance himself from this even less well-received movement. Despite what he may or may not have added to this important conversation, I still think the comments he did make about social justice can and should be applied to the plight of all enslaved and/or subjugated beings.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This quote is definitely one of my favorites. This expression covers so much of what I feel about society today. Dr. King was a very hopeful man. He hoped against all hope. I do think he believed deep down that we would one day “live together as brothers.” However, I think it’s pretty obvious which end we’ve chosen, and it’s not brotherhood. It is my belief that our selfishness, ignorance, and greed will surely result in us “perishing together as fools.” Whether you want to apply this to the pandemic and our piss poor response or use it to reference our propping up of animal agriculture and its huge influence on climate change, pollution, deforestation, and species extinction, the ending looks the same.

If we can’t give a damn about others enough to stop spreading disease all over the world to suit our own convenience, we will surely perish. If we can’t respect the life and liberty of other beings enough to stop enslaving and killing them for a “yummy flavor” we will most definitely all perish. If it were only the human race that would be affected by the latter demise, I would say “good.” We deserve nothing less. At the very least, I will take comfort in the fact that you cannot get away with such atrocities forever. There will be consequences. And we will soon meet the ultimate consequence for our selfishness, our greed, and our infinite stupidity as a species. It will not be a tragedy either. It will be our due. It will be the ultimate stroke of justice to end our pathetic existence on this world which we do not deserve to be a part of.

A lie cannot live.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Humanity is Hopeless

I haven’t had any faith in humanity for a very long time now. Yet somehow I continue to be surprised by just how loathsome and selfish the human race actually is. I really am at a loss as to what to do with myself at this point. Not only do I not believe it’s possible to save our species from the consequences of our actions, but I don’t even believe we deserve to be saved. At the very least, I’d like to believe that there is some form of greater justice in the universe that isn’t going to let us get away with all of the atrocities we have and continue to commit every day.

I am at a loss for words after the interview my coworker and I just completed this morning. After quarantining myself all weekend for what turned out to be nothing, I come into work to find the CPS worker on the case strolling into our office, maskless, sniffling and coughing. She proceeds, without any apology or shame, to talk about how she and her husband have been deathly ill for days on end. She had the nerve to laugh as she tells us about the body aches which she felt all the way down to her toenails. She might as well have wore a shirt that said fuck everyone who isn’t me and spit directly into our mouths. Despite my discomfort and embarrassment at having to do so, I handed her a mask and asked if she would please wear it. She consented thankfully, but what kind of world are we living in where I have to feel embarrassed and guilty to ask someone else to please do the absolute bare minimum to not risk the lives of others?! It’s sickening.

Not only were her actions completely reprehensible and inconsiderate to my coworkers and I, but the guardian for the child we spoke to today was a 62 year old woman. She literally might have killed that poor woman today. I suppose only time will tell. It’s people and situations like these that really make me want to just throw my hands up in the air and revoke my membership as a part of the human race. I’m truly ashamed to be a human being. I want to lie at the feet of all the other creatures of this planet and apologize until my last breath.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in this world for the better. Even this blog was originally created with the intention of helping people find veganism and maybe contribute to some sliver of progress. I still think about ways I could use my time and energy to do something meaningful, but my hope and motivation disintegrate with the thought that always follows, “What’s the point?” It feels pretty futile to spend your time digging yourself out of a hole in the ground when you KNOW you’ll never make it, when you know your time could be just as well spent playing solitaire at the bottom of the pit instead. Why should I spend time making vegan resources or writing scholarly articles to inform people when the majority of the population can’t even seem to understand we breathe out of both our noses and our mouths? That a mask covering only your mouth is completely pointless?

I just can’t find the strength or the hope to continue on anymore. It is a bleak existence to have no future to look forward to, not only for myself personally, but for the entire globe. Why should I bother doing anything? This hopeless outlook is compounded by the baffling gaslighting I receive at every turn. It’s one thing to be gaslit by a spouse, friend, or family member, it’s quite another to be gaslit by the whole world. Maybe that’s the wrong term though. I think a gaslighter knows what they’re saying is bullshit. I really think people are too stupid or blind or afraid to admit the fate that soon awaits us all. And I get it, it’s too much for anyone to bear. Still, it would be nice to not have to bear it alone anymore.

Is the pandemic making people more generous — or more selfish? - Vox

Mother Earth’s Last Gasp

Nature is truly remarkable in its ability to adapt to ever changing conditions. Not only do individual species evolve, but the whole earth seems to shift and grow as time marches on to accommodate new creatures and circumstances and keep everything relatively stable. For a long time now it has seemed that human beings are some kind of wild aberration of nature, something that mother earth has no hope of adjusting to fast enough for our existence to be sustainable. Every now and then I’ll see something that gives me some form of dark hope for our planet though, some otherwise strange development in nature that no one seems able to explain. Just when I think mother earth has finally succumb to our brutality and greed, she surprises me with another clever innovation to overcome our destruction.

A few years ago on the news there was a lot of talk about a new species of tick. Apparently people who were bitten by this tick didn’t contract lyme disease or anything serious. No, this tick did something much more innocuous, yet important. It made its victims allergic to meat. I don’t recall how common this tick was or where about in the world it was located, but I remember at the time half-heartedly joking about procuring one of these little buggers to breed and systematically unleash on the world. If people couldn’t make the choice to go vegan to save the animals, themselves, and the planet, I would work hand in hand with mother earth to force them to. And I would have felt completely justified in doing so. Eating meat is one of those tricky “personal choices” that isn’t so personal when you realize the effect on others. It might be your choice to litter or pollute the water supply, but I doubt anyone would try to defend that as a right. (Even though pig farming is one of the biggest polluters of water ways.) But I digress.

I waited to see if anything would come of this miraculous little tick, but soon this news story faded into the background like so many others with little impact. Just yesterday though it occurred to me that mother earth may have a new trick up her sleeve with Covid-19. Ticks may not be capable of spreading around the globe very quickly, but a virus certainly can, especially this one. From the moment this pandemic started, I felt in my heart that it was nature’s immune system trying to rid it of another virus, us. Still, it made me wonder. After all, Covid is deadly, but not nearly as deadly as other illnesses that have sprung up in the past. No, it seemed as though Covid’s goal wasn’t explicitly to kill, but to spread quickly and over great distances.

One of the more peculiar symptoms of this virus has been the loss of taste and smell, particularly in that these senses often do not return after recovering from the virus. I recalled my coworker saying it wouldn’t be all bad to lose his taste. At least then he would be able to eat healthy with no qualms. I absentmindedly thought to myself, well maybe he’d even go vegan. (Not that vegan foods are not exceptionally delish, mind you. Meat eaters just assume they aren’t.) At this, I nearly jumped out of my chair at the poetic justice of it all. NO TASTE! THAT’S IT!

All of a sudden it felt as though I could hear the earth saying: Oh, fucking taste is the reason you continue to kill me? That stupid sensory pleasure is your excuse for slaughtering and consuming billions of animals every year, wasting my resources, and poisoning my environment? haha bacon tho? How about never tasting anything again? Maybe that will suit you better. If that’s what it takes to make you finally stop this madness.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a vegan is presenting all the important, essential reasons we must, as a species, change our diet if we hope to survive, and the unspeakable atrocities we commit every day by eating animals, only to be met with the counter argument, “but I like how meat and dairy taste.” It is absolutely infuriating and exasperating. It’d be like if we actively helped start and spread wildfires because “ooo, pretty.” It’s fucking stupid.

I am far too cynical to believe that the human race collectively losing its sense of taste would actually make people stop eating and abusing sentient beings. I am still curious to see what effect this will have on the human diet. It would be nice to imagine that with every last one of their already idiotic and irrelevant excuses gone, people would make the easy and obvious choice to adopt a vegan diet, but I have little hope of that happening. I’m sure everyone will just come up with some other illogical reason to continue on just as they are. Still it gives me hope to think that all is not lost. Mother earth hasn’t surrendered just yet. She is testing out new strategies all the time. Unfortunately we seem committed to forcing her hand and giving the unspoken ultimatum “kill us all or we will kill ourselves and everything there is.” I sincerely hope it does not come to that, but I’m not holding my breath for humans to change.

Mother Earth Posters | Fine Art America

Covid Symptoms

Well, it finally happened. This morning as I got up to turn off my alarm, the first thing my barely conscious brain registered was a slight discomfort at the back of my throat whenever I would swallow. Despite being vaccinated and receiving my booster, I knew it was only a matter of time considering I work with the general public every day. I wiped a little one year old’s nose Tuesday. A twelve year old boy came in maskless and coughing Wednesday. The nurse that came to our meeting yesterday has been working on the Covid unit. I should have known at least one of these regular possible exposure situations would eventually result in getting sick myself. Not to mention I live in a very rural, conservative area where no one ever fully followed the CDC guidelines and I’m sure there are plenty of people that, to this day, never wore a mask. It’s shocking I haven’t experienced symptoms sooner.

Unlike my usual groggy morning self, this morning I was wide awake. My mind was racing with all of the things I am supposed to do today and this weekend. I starting making mental bullet points of all the things I needed to cancel, where testing is available, etc. I felt frustrated that I just put on new fake nails that no one will get to see. I worried about the things I left at my office that I won’t be able to get for god knows how long now. A small part of me wanted to somehow think of a way I could avoid quarantine all together. In the end I knew I had to text everyone at work and my yoga studio to let them know.

After finally coming to terms with what has so far only been a minor inconvenience, I began to have very different thoughts. Given that I still feel rather normal and healthy aside from my throat, I did my morning workout as I normally do while I waited to hear back from my boss. Instead of feeling annoyed and reluctant to move my body first thing in the morning like I usually do, today I felt so overwhelmingly grateful that I could. I considered just how unbelievably lucky I have been so far during the course of this never-ending pandemic. Not only that, but how lucky I have been in life, especially regarding my physical health.

I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, so part of me wants to believe that this sore throat is something unrelated, but knowing that I haven’t had so much as a cold for over a decade, leaves me feeling pretty confident it’s Covid. Yet realizing I’ve been so healthy for such an extended period of time is incredible. Not only that, I am so fortunate to be young and healthy in the face of this pandemic. My biggest fear is losing my sense of smell and/or having lingering fatigue. Although these still seem horrifying to me, I have to remind myself that so many people are afraid of literally dying from this virus.

It’s funny, I was just thinking yesterday that there is something beautiful about the sudden negative turns in life. Despite the content or context, they are like being jarringly awoken from a dream. Everything around you becomes so much sharper and more defined. Reality takes on a crystalline, vivid nature. We see everything more clearly, as if for the first time. We become painfully aware of all that we have, and also all that we stand to lose. We are reminded that we should never take anything for granted, whether it be something as significant as our ability to breathe with ease or as seemingly trivial as our sense of smell.

Even the most inconvenient or potentially devastating life events can be a blessing in this way. Today I am going to spend my time off counting my many blessings. I’m going to be exceptionally kind and gentle with myself. I’m going to give myself my favorite foods and savor my ability to taste them. I am going to give my body rest and tenderness. I am going to center my loving awareness on the people most dear to me, and be thankful that I live alone and haven’t had the chance to potentially expose them to my sickness. I am going to spend quality time with my fur babies and be grateful I have a job that allows me to work from home when needed. Hell, maybe I’ll even take an afternoon nap which I haven’t done in years.

Whether I end up testing positive for Covid or not, I am so humbled by all that life has given me. I am going to use this time of fear and uncertainty to meditate on this beautiful slice of consciousness that the universe has gifted to me and all that it entails. My heart goes out to the rest of the world and all those who have suffered or are currently suffering from this virus. May you be safe. Maybe you be happy. May you be healthy. And may you live with ease. Today I will let this be my prayer, my mantra, for myself, my loved ones, and the world.

5 Face Mask Facts for Kids - Carithers Pediatric Group

The End of Truth

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I work with a lot of different local law enforcement officers. All but one of them that I know of are staunch conservatives. Most of the friends we have at the local sheriff’s office know that my coworkers and I don’t hold the same beliefs, so we all show each other courtesy and respect by not discussing politics in each others’ company. However, a lot of the small municipal police stations will send a trooper out once in awhile that wastes no time in telling us all about the latest conservative conspiracy theories, with blatant disregard for what our political leanings are.

I’m someone who goes out of my way to make sure I am not offending or upsetting anyone, especially in a work environment. I’m not above discussing politics, but I’m sure to get a feel of the audience I have before doing so. It never really made sense to me why these officers were so eager to bring up these topics among mixed company. Yesterday it finally dawned on me though. Not only do they not care if you agree with them or not, they are pleased with themselves either way. If you agree, then they’re happy. But if you disagree they’re equally satisfied. In the latter case they’ve successfully “owned the libs” and “triggered” people, which they seem to enjoy for some reason that is beyond me.

I try not to become upset by the outrageous things they say and believe. I know I have absolutely no chance of changing their minds. Instead, I try to use their openness about these topics as an opportunity to ask questions and find out what exactly the other side is being told and subsequently believing. I’m also curious to know what their thought process is when exposed to this false information. To what extent, if at all, are they employing critical thinking skills? The more practice I get with these situations, the easier it becomes to diffuse my anger with genuine curiosity.

Yesterday the cop that came told us about a story where a man was told he was going to die of Covid. He was in the hospital on a ventilator and there was nothing more the doctors could do. According to this cop, the family begged for Ivermectin, the doctors refused (because it is not an effective treatment for Covid), and the family proceeded to petition the court to grant them access to the drug. In the cop’s version, the court ordered the doctors to comply with the family’s wishes, and the man miraculously made a full recovery.

Now I didn’t think much of this story. I was skeptical that it was even true, but either way it didn’t really matter. Even if it had been 100% true, that wouldn’t be relevant evidence that Ivermectin was the cause of his recovery. One anecdotal example is not enough to prove anything. Especially when the body of scientific evidence and controlled studies have shown the opposite. However, I was absolutely shocked to discover that this was not even an accurate version of the story.

I was telling my sister about it later that night. I don’t keep up with the news anymore, so I knew nothing about it, but she told me that story was actually on the news. Although the news story was identical to this officer’s up to a certain point, it diverged entirely at the end. The real story was that the court denied the family’s petition for the drug (because it’s a horse dewormer, not a Covid treatment), the man did not take it, and he died in the hospital exactly as the doctors predicted. Now I knew that the divide between political parties in this country is worse than ever, but I had no idea that there was this level of discrepancy between the information both sides are receiving.

I’m truly at a loss to even imagine a way that our country and the world at large will ever be able to come back from this age of polarity and misinformation. It’s no longer merely a difference of opinion, perspective, or interpretation between liberals and conservatives. These two groups are now living in completely different realities. While I understand that the propaganda the right is being fed is usually obviously false and laughably ridiculous, it does make me less likely to believe any news sources about anything regardless of whether I agree with/like what they say or not.

I think more and more people are starting to feel the way that I do. There is no more trust when it comes to facts, assertions, or “truth” regardless of the source. It feels like as a species we’ve lost all bearing on reality. It makes me wonder, and quite frankly fear, what that will mean for us going forward. As a child we are taught that there are facts and opinions. We’re taught how to identify the difference. Yet now it feels like there are only opinions. We’re never taught that even facts can be manipulated and skewed by our personal beliefs and expectations. If you want to find an article or even a scientific study to support just about anything you believe, you can find one.

I have been disheartened by this ever since I realized it, yet I still believed that if we had the time, effort, and access to resources, there was a real truth somewhere to be found and proven definitively. Now I don’t know if I even believe that. In today’s world, with so much knowledge and scientific data available to the general public, it feels like we are more lost in intellectual obscurity than ever before. It does give me more sympathy for the other side though. Hell, if I was constantly being bombarded with the stories and supposed facts that they are, I’d likely be just as angry and frustrated.

Instead of anger, all I feel is hopelessness. There is no urge in me to try to fight what I believe to be a futile battle to return to any sense of middle ground as a nation. I fully believe the divide between our realities will continue to grow wider and wider. I’m not sure how that is going to turn out, but I can only image it is going to be ugly. Yet, I see no possibility for intervention or reunification. All that’s left to do is wait and watch this slow motion train wreck proceed.

Is America's political divide just one big misunderstanding? | The Week

Covid-19: No End In Sight

It’s crazy to me that despite Covid being as bad as it’s ever been if not worse, we have not returned to a state of lock down, at least in the U.S. It feels like everyone took it seriously for a few months, but then got tired of feeling inconvenienced so we all just collectively gave up following the CDC guidelines. It saddens me to think all of the work we put in as a country in the beginning of this pandemic was practically worthless. We were hoping for herd immunity. We were supposed to be waiting for the vaccine, then things would be able to go back to normal. Now given that a huge portion of the country won’t agree to take the vaccine, wear masks, quarantine, or even get tested, the end result is an never-ending pandemic with ever increasing severity.

All of the lives we were attempting to protect with the nearly year-long lockdown are going to be lost anyway. Even those that have been vaccinated are no longer safe, due to the carelessness and selfishness of those around them. Now those of us that take the pandemic seriously are forced to choose: stay away from our elderly and/or at risk loved ones, or risk letting them spend their last few years on this earth alone. Before all of this madness, my sister, mother, and I were visiting with my 91-year-old grandmother every week. Now I hardly ever see her besides on holidays even though she lives a short five minutes from my house. I desperately want to go back to our regular visits, but I’m too afraid of putting her health in jeopardy.

Sadly I think we all need to accept that from now until the world completely collapses from the effects of climate change, we are going to be living side by side with this virus. It isn’t going to go away or get better. We are never going to reach herd immunity. New variants are going to continue cropping up, becoming more and more easily spread and more deadly. Covid is a strain of the common cold. We have never been unable to eradicate the other strains, and we are going to be living with Covid for the rest of human existence now as well.

Recently I’ve been considering just how serious anyone’s chance of exposure is on any given day. Unless you are able to stay completely isolated in your home, we are all likely coming into contact with someone that has Covid wherever we go. Red states and districts will of course be worse in this regard than blue ones, but nevertheless we are all at higher risk of contracting the virus than ever before. Just think about it. How many people do you know that still don’t believe that Covid-19 is even real? How many people think it’s exaggerated? How many people refuse to wear a mask? Refuse to get tested or quarantine when they’ve been exposed or are experiencing symptoms? I know quite a few, and those are just the few I’ve encountered and who will freely admit this atrocious stance. Just imagine how many children are being sent to school everyday who have been exposed to Covid. Many schools are not requiring masks and those that do are being fought with for it at every turn.

At this point, there is nothing to do but get vaccinated, go out as little as possible, and just hope you’re lucky. We must prepare to live with the fear of death hanging over our shoulders from now on. We must prepare to suddenly lose loved ones at any given moment. Hospitals will be perpetually overwhelmed and unable to adequately treat patients both with and without Covid. If you’re still waiting and wondering when this will all finally be over, the answer is it will never be over.

Sergipe registra 769 novos casos de Covid-19 e óbitos chegam a 2.508 –  Infonet – O que é notícia em Sergipe

Health, Illness, & Impermanence

You see this goblet? For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.

Achaan Chaa

If you are someone who is healthy and able bodied like me, take a moment to reflect on that fact. Even if you suffer from mental or physical illness or you are differently abled, consider all that you body is able to do for you every day. Most of us live our lives without ever thinking much about our health, until that health is threatened or lost. In the last two years, the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought health, as well as illness, to the forefront of our collective awareness. Now more than ever in my lifetime, I have been faced with the reality of uncertainty and impermanence.

Even now, it’s easy to imagine I will somehow be immune to things like serious illness, accidental bodily harm, aging, or death. Although, logically, I know these things can affect anyone at anytime, I can’t manage to wrap my head around that fact. I have been privileged so far in life. I’ve always had relatively good health. I was born healthy. I’ve never had to be admitted to the hospital. I’ve never even broken a bone! At worst, I’ve suffered strep throat, stomach bugs, and cuts and scrapes. I have all of my senses. I have all of my limbs.

I’ve been isolated and sheltered from the harsh realities of illness. I was too young to comprehend my grandfather dying of heart disease. My grandmother died quickly without much distress or struggle from cancer a few years ago. Other than that and the death of a handful of pets, suffering, sickness, and death haven’t yet touched my life. Because of this, I have been able to live oblivious to these painful experiences for the majority of my life. This has allowed me to disassociate from many of the darker aspects of living. However, I know no one will make it through there entire life unscathed. I think it’s important for me to face what I’ve managed to avoid for so long.

Most of the time, I insulate myself with reassurances such as a healthy lifestyle and “good” genetics. Rarely do I ever acknowledge that those things only get you so far. We feel shocked and unnerved when we hear stories about random accidents causing severe injury or death. We are horrified and fascinated by sudden diseases, infections, or afflictions that seem to have no clear cause or no way to predict. We have immense sympathy, but somehow still think, “Well, that could never happen to me.” Deep down we all know that every day, every moment is a roll of the dice.

I’m not trying to be a downer or a pessimist. I’m not saying that we should always be obsessing over the possibility of misfortune. What I am saying is that we should never lose sight of how impermanent this life is. The quote at the beginning of this post is an excellent way for us to conceptualize this. Imagine that everything you have is “already broken.” Then we will not be as shocked or devastated when it does eventually break. It is also a reminder to treat all of the amazing things in this life, including our incredible bodies, with tenderness and gratitude.

When we hold in our awareness the truth of impermanence, illness, and death, it allows us to more fully appreciate the good fortune we are enjoying right now. Yes, suffering will reach us all in our lives, but today we are alive! What a blessing to wake up and enjoy moving through the world with this strong, healthy, able body. What a precious miracle it is to be free from chronic pain or illness. Thinking of things in this way, realizing that we ourselves are “already broken” makes these moments that would normally be taken for granted, something to be overwhelmingly grateful for. Let’s make a practice of savoring these simple moments so that when the time comes we are able to let go with grace and equanimity.

How Meditation Can Help Manage Illness | Everyday Health

Sitting with Uncertainty

In the digital age accessing information is faster and easier than ever. No matter what question you may find yourself asking, you’ll likely be able to google it and receive an answer, or at least more information, in a matter of seconds. While this is extremely satisfying and a great benefit to society in many ways, like anything, it also has it’s down side. Uncertainty has always made us comfortable, and for good reason. Uncertainty leaves us vulnerable, to the elements, to predators, etc. Knowing is always safer than not knowing.

Unfortunately, despite all the benefits we receive from technology, it also has created even more discomfort around uncertainty. It has become nearly intolerable, for even a short length of time. We have developed a sense of entitlement to information. It is overwhelmingly frustrating when we can’t find that instant gratification.

My first real encounter with the idea that people hate not knowing was when I became a vegan. Despite the fact that I certainly didn’t know anything about veganism before becoming a vegan and doing hours upon hours of research, random people in my life still liked to assume they knew more about it than me. I began to notice that people get aggressive when you challenge their knowledge on any topic, even one they have little to no interest in. It’s also rare, regardless of what you’re asking, that someone will answer honestly with: I don’t know. We all want to believe we know everything or at least present that all-knowing façade to others.

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has once again highlighted humanity’s fear of uncertainty. Almost as soon as people started discussing the virus, everyone wanted to pretend that they new the latest and most accurate information. You still see thousands of people proclaiming to know more about this new virus than the doctors and scientists that are studying it. You can see the reluctance people have to even acknowledge that experts know more than they do. In addition to that we are constantly asking ourselves and those around us, when will this end? Even though we all know that no one knows the answer to that question.

I’m sure on a smaller scale, you are able to recognize your own discomfort with not knowing in your day to day life. This is one of the reasons why we are so upset when things don’t go as planned. Today in particular I am getting the chance to practice sitting with uncertainty. When I woke up this morning, it was just another day. I was looking forward to having appointments scheduled at work, seeing our new intern, and marking off another day before my boyfriend comes home for the holiday weekend.

As I was leaving, I noticed a group text from my boss, but didn’t think much of it. I assumed it was something I could look at later when I got a chance. When I got to the office, my friend told me that text was telling us our new therapist tested positive for Covid despite being vaccinated, and that now we had to get tested and work from home until further notice. This caused a lot of mixed feelings for me. Part of me was happy. I’ve been hoping I would get to work from home again. However, another part of me was terribly angry.

I knew it was no one’s fault, but I couldn’t help myself from arbitrarily assigning blame, to my coworkers, the government, the school systems, even (and perhaps especially) myself for not being more cautious. Normally I would be elated at the idea of isolating myself for a few weeks, but not this week. Tomorrow I had planned to finally start a podcast with my two best friends. Now that would have to be postponed, unless I am able to somehow get a negative test result by the morning.

To my horror, I also realized that this may completely derail my plans to see my boyfriend. We certainly won’t be able to go out to all the vegan restaurants we had planned to go to. Nor will we be able to go out to the state parks and hike like we had planned. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to see Nate at all. We are both vaccinated, but if I test positive or can’t get my results in time, will he want to risk seeing me regardless? Should I even let him? I would hate to jeopardize the training he is doing for his job. I have no idea what it would mean for him if he tested positive while staying in a dorm at a college campus. Would he have to resign from the rest of the training?

I woke up this morning feeling confident, collected, certain of what my day would hold. Now that certainty has turned into a churning mental storm of questions and concern. I’m doing my best to stay positive. Life is full of uncertainty and I am lucky that the curve ball thrown at me today wasn’t something worse. I could have had a car accident on my way to the office. Someone I love could have been hurt or killed suddenly. I could have not woken up at all. Instead I was given a gentle, although inconvenient, reminder that things don’t always go as planned.

Rather than slip into irritation and despair, I am going to use this experience to practice patience. I’m going to let it be a reminder of all that I have to be grateful for, of how fortunate I’ve been to not even have to be tested until now, to be privileged enough to have been vaccinated, to live alone so I don’t have to worry about exposing my loved ones, to have an employer that will allow me to work from home, and perhaps most importantly, for this young, healthy, strong body. Today is also a lesson, teaching me that anything can be a blessing if you choose to see it that way.

What You Should Know About COVID-19 | Children's Hospital Los Angeles

What Is Government

Up until I was around 20 years old, maybe even older, I didn’t really know very much about politics. I honestly wish I could go back to those simpler times. It feels like I had a lot less to worry about back then. It’s always easier not to know. My entire family are democrates, so that is about as far as my political awareness went. I was taught vaguely that poor/low-income people were democrates, rich people were republicans. A very simplified explanation of the two parties in America, but I still believe it holds up. At least that’s what you would expect.

As I got older I came to find that there are tons of poor people voting passionately against their own interests. A good portion of the republican base in fact. I was astounded even more when I became a social worker and got to listen to clients who could hardly survive on the small amount of government assistance they received simultaneously complain about “lazy, good-for-nothing” people taking advantage of the system and voting to cut social security benefits. They seemed totally disconnected from the fact that they were the people their beloved Fox News hosts were referring to when they condemn these societal moochers.

I guess they thought it couldn’t have been in reference to them, because they were good people. They hadn’t done anything wrong. They weren’t worthless, scheming, monsters taking advantage of other people. Yet they were still quick to jump on the bandwagon of hate, directing it at some imaginary, caricatures of people that were making it harder for people like them who really do need that help to be taken seriously. It always broke my heart to meet clients that continuously tried to justify their need and convince me that they weren’t just “some drug addict” or something.

What has been reminding me of all of this lately, is the controversy over the unemployment income many Americans have been relying on since this pandemic began over a year ago. Everyone is able to see the absurdity of going out to find work, when you would receive more money by staying on unemployment instead. It is the perception of this absurdity that varies. Conservatives cry: You can’t give everyone so much money or else they’ll never go back to work! While liberals and progressives insist: If these people were paid a living wage to begin with, this wouldn’t be a problem. We must raise the minimum wage so that these people have an incentive to return to work.

Obviously I agree with the latter. The government didn’t just arbitrarily decide on an amount to pay, they based it roughly on how much these people would need to survive. If working full-time isn’t allowing you to earn that measly amount, clearly THAT is the problem. Not that the government is giving you enough to live on. This seems so simple to me, but I know that nearly half of the country would disagree. These types of disheartening conflicts are the reason that after passionately throwing myself into politics for a few years, I’ve begun trying to ignore it all together again. It is just to painful. It seems so hopeless. I’m tired of fighting.

One of the main things I don’t understand though, is what other people think the government’s purpose is. I’m starting to think my idea of it has been misguided and idealistic. It seems like throughout school I was taught that the government, at least in America, was established “for the people, by the people.” I was under the impression that it’s only purpose was to organize our collective resources as a nation so that we could best serve the entire population. In my mind, government was just a way to work together as a society so that we could accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to as individual citizens. Not only that, I thought it’s purpose was to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, to help people. Not only for moral reasons, but to the ultimate benefit of the whole. Having a system to take care of the less fortunate gives those people the opportunity to some day give back to society again. At the very least it would deter them from criminal activity, because they wouldn’t need to engage in that to survive.

I hear all the time that “it’s not the government’s job to support you.” But isn’t it though? Isn’t that why we have a government in the first place? To take care of our citizens? I’m often tempted to ask these people what they think the government’s job is, if not to protect us and support us. I’m trying to stay curious and not let the unsettling mindsets of so many people get to me too much. It’s just not worth the grief it causes me. And I’ve accepted that fighting about it won’t make a difference. All I can do is watch is stunned silence, or turn away.

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