- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about temperance. My week has been filled with noticing the wisdom of restraint. Observing that often, we are trying to care for each other though we do it poorly much of the time. (And yes, the thought occurred to me that this might be why I feel so strongly that we ought to focus that care on ourselves as much as, if not more than, on others)
There is a Middle Way, temperance is often needed, likely we are not controlled by puppet masters or grand conspiracies involving evil wizards or aliens. But also, humans given no incentive to look out for people outside their community and every incentive to make a ton of money for people in their immediate family are going to do the latter.
So, as an example — yes, there is deep corruption in both the pharmaceutical industry and the supplement industry. Neither industry is on our side. Their interests, if observed by where they spend their time and money, seem very clearly to be on maximizing profits without any care at all to whether we stay well.
Pharmaceutical medicine has saved my life several times. No doubt. But, had I not had the knowledge and aid of a very wise mom, who skillfully brought me back to full health after two very intense moments where I needed to be on incredibly high doses of antibiotics — I can say (especially in light of the vindicating research recently done on gut microbiomes) that I likely would not be in as good health as I am today.
It’s that dance this week — between wisdom and compassion, restraint, balance, moderation.
“The Middle Way is a term used in Buddhism that, in its simplest definition, means a balanced approach to life
. Balance is not the same as passivity, however. When you walk the Middle Way, you exert continual effort.”
I’ve been aware of polarities and extremes lately. A friend in Vernon shared a picture from her backyard — the “sky” the entire image, actually, was blood red. It looked like a filter had been used but no, she’s on evacuation alert, the 62,000 hectare fire is (if I understood her correctly) 4 kilometers from her, her children, her grandchildren, her life.
Extreme. How, in times like this, can we stay temperate? It’s in times like this, in these crucibles, that our character can actually grow: We can get quiet, learn to feel our feelings, allow them to flow through us, while we observe them, non-judgmentally. Of course we are filled with rage, and fear, and grief, and jealousy even. Of course we are. And so it goes. Pass the salt. Yup, you’re still alive. You are human.
Learning to observe our emotions as they pass over us takes a lifetime. Why, of course, healthy communities rely so heavily on wise and compassionate elders who learned from their elders. That you did not learn to co-regulate emotions so that you could eventually self regulate is likely, given how much we have dismissed this wisdom over the last couple centuries in many (most) parts of the world. If you found yourself at a loss with your own children, not knowing what to do with their strong emotions — fair! How could you have, when you were likely not taught?
And so, likely, here we all are, searching for ways to make sense of extreme feelings, polarities, strong emotions.
This week, the idea is to actively look for wise maturity and celebrate it when you see it. Look in places you wouldn’t normally. Find feminism in your polygamist grandmothers :) Notice people who stand up for the Middle Way, for balance, for moderation, for doing the right thing.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
And, when you can, emulate them. Be the voice of moderation, calm, wise strength.
Retreat into meditation, into cold water dips in springs and lakes, into deep breathing, into song, into nature, into whatever you turn to that brings you back to your center.