I love watching bird murmurations move across open fields in rural Pennsylvania where I live. There’s something magical about rhythmic flocks of starlings flying independently as one organism, stretching away from each other and then pulling back together. A giant, undulating, fractal-like sequence of interdependent movement. Each bird its own being, each responsible for finding its way as part of the whole.
As I write to you from my kitchen, there’s a war displacing millions of people on the other side of the world in Ukraine. Temperatures in Antarctica were 70 degrees higher than normal this week. We’ve lost almost a million people to the COVID pandemic in the US. There’s a great resignation happening as millions of people reject toxicity in the workplace and leave their jobs. Social issues continue to divide us.
What Can We Do?
I often get letters from readers asking how they’re supposed to show up right now. What can they do? I have no answers to this question, of course. No one does. What I can offer is that it’s helpful to drop in and connect with what’s true for you. Ask yourself: Have I checked in on how my body is holding grief right now? Do I know what my values are? Have I named them? Am I taking care of myself and getting the help I need, so when the opportunity to act on behalf of the greater good arises, I have the energy, resilience, compassion, and composure to act with skill?
We’ve called the June issue The Self-Compassion Issue because treating ourselves better has to begin with getting real and kind about our messy human lives: our flaws, our failings, our impulsivity, our nasty habits, our biases—our whole catastrophe. And once we have a sense of our own particular flavor of human messiness, and we’ve shown ourselves some kindness about it, it becomes easier to show others the same. And that, my friends, is how change happens: It ripples out from the places we heal ourselves and one another; It recoils when we rub up against what still hurts—like a glorious murmuration of interconnectivity, we ebb and flow together.
Connect With What’s True
To open some brave space for reflection, we’ve gathered together some fantastically human voices: Rochelle Calvert and Mark Coleman guide us to explore the wisdom and healing found in nature-based mindfulness practice. Writer Leslie Garrett helps us understand why our emotional reactions don’t always line up with our real values, and how we can find balance and self-compassion in these moments. In the midst of a burnout epidemic, Misty Pratt reports on the power of moving our body (think: dance party) to reclaim joy and resilience. And historian Kate Bowler goes deep, revealing the precious beauty that imbues every moment when we’re directly in touch with our mortality.
We have a lot of work to do. No one is coming to save us. But, we can find our way to what we know is true: There are kind people everywhere. We’re all beautifully imperfect. There’s still awe to be found in the wild places. And when we connect, we’re capable of great things. The future we want is created in this moment, together.
Coping with any degree of burnout can leave us feeling stuck. Sometimes, what we need to begin healing and to rediscover joy is to (literally) move our way through it. Read More