Solstice Dreaming: Detaching from the Nightmare to Feed the Spirit of a Better World

Right now my homeland, the United States, is a very sick place.

It’s a sickness that expresses itself inwardly through epic rates of depression, anxiety, addictions, self-harm and suicide. Outwardly we see it in the constant assault of violence: civilian shootings and trucks driven into crowds; endless wars; and the relentless violence against the natural world, driven by greed and indifference to suffering.

Watching what is happening in American politics is like watching a 21st century version of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Or we could compare it to the French monarchy just before the Revolution: let them eat cake!

It is not clear yet whether the pendulum will swing back towards the center again; whether the electorate–mangled, abused, furious and ill as it is–will summon moderates back to the halls of power in D.C.

With a good half of the electorate tuned out to the political process and millions of trigger-happy armed civilians; with an ever-more-militarized police force, a punitive criminal justice system and the biggest prison system in the world…it’s easy to imagine the U.S. descending into dystopian nightmare in the next decade.

And that’s even without factoring in the wild card of climate change, predicted to disrupt food supplies, cause massive storms and unbearable heat waves, and flood the coastal cities.

The U.S. is like a sick, wounded, colossal monster, thrashing out dangerously in its agony, whipping its barbed tail around in ways that are wrecking everything in its reach—and its reach is vast, encompassing practically the whole world.

Collectively, human civilization is approaching a breaking point on the planet. The scientists warn us blandly that we will exhaust the resources of our Earth in August, living the rest of the year on credit that we can never repay.

It’s easy to feel despairing.

And yet.

Sitting here, on the peaceful windy shores of Nova Scotia, the warmth of the people and the steady rhythms of the elements remind me that the nightmare of the U.S. is not all-encompassing. As Arundhati Roy put it long ago, there is another world…and if we’re quiet, we can hear her calm breathing.

Mother Earth has survived cataclysms before. She will survive humans—even dangerous Americans. She has eons to regenerate, reset and create anew. She’s already doing it, everywhere we look.

We who are alive to bear witness to this extraordinary transition time on Earth must resist the dark pull of despair, with its madness of violence and lethargy of indifference.

Remembering to think in the long term, the way Gaia does, can help us focus on what is beautiful and creative in our world. It’s our task to do what we can, wherever we are, to add to the beauty and to help others to do so too.

This is what I call doing hope together. We resist the dark magnetism of the constant parade of horrors that passes for “news” these days. We turn our attention elsewhere:

  • to the small radiance of a wildflower, lifting its head to the sun for the sheer joy of living;
  • to the delighted laugh of a baby sitting in a strawberry field tasting sunwarmed berries for the first time;
  • to the sweet trill of a bird sitting by its nest, teaching its fledglings to sing.


Yes, there is darkness, cruelty and suffering in our world, which can’t be ignored and must be addressed. But the danger in our times is that we become so overwhelmed by the darkness that we can no longer summon the light in ourselves. The flames of our own spirits start to gutter.

It is not selfish or uncaring to feed our spirits by focusing on beauty. Just as nursing mothers must remember to eat and drink so that they can better feed their babies, we who are acting as doulas—helping our dying civilization let go so that a better world can be born—must also remember to nourish ourselves, so that we can continue to serve as beacons of hope and positivity for others.

My advice to you on these sunny Solstice days? Turn off your screen, leave your phone behind, and get outside to enjoy the bounty of our Mother Earth. Take some time alone in nature, quieting the blare of the headlines in your mind, and tuning in to the music of the birds and the bees. Find some water to sit beside, and let your mind wander as you stare at the sun glinting on the surface.

We plugged-in humans are in danger of forgetting how very important daydreaming in nature is to our personal, political and planetary well-being. Now is a wonderful time to slow down and remind ourselves to let the dreams back in to our waking lives.

We can’t fix everything that’s wrong with our society if we can’t imagine a better world. And for that, we need to detach ourselves from the nightmare, and create a better dream to live into.



Dancing in the end times

And so here we find ourselves, finally, on the cusp of a great turning in solar time, the fabled 12-21-12.  It is a dark, wet, windy, wild morning here in the hills of western Massachusetts.

Since I started this blog back in the summer of 2011, with the optimistic URL “bethechange2012,” I have found many others who have beckoned to me like beacons of strength and inspiration on my somewhat lonely path of inquiry and discovery.

In the early days of Transition Times my own light was quite tentative and often overwhelmed with fear and distress, the product of my dawning realization of the tremendous gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves.

We cannot pretend to each other that the news is good for humanity, any more than for the rest of the living beings on the planet.

These are the transition times: the end of a long era of existence, as the ancient Mayan shamans rightly foresaw, and the beginning of something new.

I cannot and will not shy away from diving into the heart of the wreck that is our human civilization on this planet in the early 21st century.  Exposing what I find there is part of my mission with this blog.

However, it is also my purpose to be a channel and a beacon of hope for others who are searching for  meaning in these troubled times we live in.

We are all caught up in a vortex much greater than any individuals among us could produce, an accelerating forward surge that is hurtling humanity, and the planet we share with so many other life forms, towards a new era.

We cannot know what this means for each of us as individuals.  But I am coming to realize that the most important thing we can be doing in these transition times is to serve each other, and the other beings on the planet, as a form of shelter and anchor in the storm.

I will close with an image taken on one of my many thoughtful rambles over the past few months.  To me it represents the planet calling to me, and to all of us who love her, to continue to push back against the forces that would despoil and blight her.

The rocks, earth and waters of the Earth remind us that geological time is slow and very, very long.  Our dance on the planet as humans is so brief.  Let us enjoy our time here passionately, and turn our dancing to good works.

Benedict Pond, Monterey, November 2012

Benedict Pond, Monterey MA, November 2012

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