Nothing stays the same.
Absolutely nothing is in a state of stasis. Always moving and shifting we are forever in change. Sometimes the changes are greeted with great happiness, in others not so much. How do we change our relationship to change? How do we lean into things that we are not that keen on?
Heraclitus of Ephesus said “The way up and the way down are one and the same. Living and dead, waking and sleeping, young and old, are the same.” These things are the ‘same’ in that they are all subject to shift. They arise from one change to vanish into another.
Though the numbers are still coming, an estimated 113 million people cast their ballots in a mid term election. That’s 30 million more people who participated in the 2014 midterms, representing the highest raw vote total for a non-presidential election in U.S. history and the highest overall voter participation rate in a midterm election in a half century.
We have seen Mother Nature take hold of the Santa Monica Mountain Range in the devastating Woolsey fire. Did you know that Los Angeles is the only metropolis in the world split by a mountain range? Did you know that Mumbai, India, and L.A. are the only two cities that count big cats among their residents?
At only 35% contained today and the unpredictable Santa Ana winds picking up, 200,000 acres are gone, at least 44 lives lost and around 75,000 structures destroyed. People have been displaced. After the fire began Los Angeles County’s Animal Care and Control department — which regularly operates seven animal care shelters — opened up six additional, temporary shelters at Pierce College, Hansen Dam, Taft High School, Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, Borchard Community Center and the Thousand Oaks Teen Center to deal with the demand. So many have stepped up to care for, donate energy and resources to help our two and four legged, our winged and scaled to safety.
The Yoga Sutras speak of change in this way.
Heyam duhkham anagatam
Prevent the suffering that is yet to come.
—Yoga Sutra II.16
Sometimes things don’t go our way. Understanding the causes of suffering can help you meet life’s challenges with a level head to changing circumstances.
Things really suck sometimes.
You can’t change the fact of difficulty, loss, and heartbreak, and you can’t change that those things may cause you a lot of pain. But, with effort, you can change your reactions and your responses when life takes these turns. You can avoid destructive responses—the shoulda-coulda-woulda and the why me. (P.s “Why not you?” Patanjali might answer; challenges, difficulties, and tragedies happen every day to undeserving people.) These responses don’t relieve your suffering; they only add to it.
Inherent in Yoga Sutra II.16 is the idea that there is no hierarchy of suffering. No one person’s suffering or difficulty is any less legitimate than another’s or any less deserving of empathy.
To me the best way to ease suffering is to know it exists, to honor it and then get out of my own way and serve others. When I serve others despite my circumstances, I return to joy.
Ventura County Community Foundation
Ventura County Community Foundation has set up aHill Fire/Woolsey Fire Sudden and Urgent Needs Effort Fund to collect donations. It is also accepting donations in a Conejo Valley Victims Fund for victims of the recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California.