Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
Tao te Ching
Lao-tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell
Silence can be profoundly healing. Next to sleep, I find nothing to be more restorative. And in these past winter weeks, I’ve been unsure about what I have to say that is worth throwing into the cacophony of dismay reverberating throughout the United States, and the world.
Possibly I’ve been waiting for my mud to settle.
But as people gather in protest against too many distressing developments, I’ve been considering how speaking up—and out—is healing, too.
I have attended several events in the last couple of weeks: the Indianapolis Women’s March, author Roxane Gay’s appearance at IU, the National Organization for Women’s Monroe County call out meeting, and a postcard write-in at Yarns Unlimited. I have noticed that many of the speakers are saying: pace yourself. We’re in this for the long haul, and each person must pick the issues that speak to her heart, and take on only what she can reasonably handle.
This seems very different from the activism I participated in years ago, and I wonder if this is what mindfulness practice, slowly trickling into the larger culture, looks like. Personal healing is intrinsically connected to community and global healing, and speaking out and keeping quiet are twin skills to be cultivated with equal dedication.
Which brings to mind a favorite poem by Pablo Neruda, Keeping Quiet.