It’s not so far-fetched, you know. I think it’s probably a really good exercise to occasionally stretch our minds and consider what our best possible worlds look like. The idea came to me as I walked the dog in a local park after … get this, finding the perfect pair of new glasses. I don’t know about you, but it’s been years since I found glasses I really felt good about. These have a gorgeous matte teal frame and a shape that seems to actually fit my face.
Impossible things happen every day.
So, as I’m walking Yoda at Sunset Park I spy a Little Free Library. It’s right next to a small playground with young children climbing on bars and being pushed on swings by engaged adults. There is a station for poop bags, stocked and ready to grab, for dog owners. And every dog I see is leashed. A perfect morning. Short sleeve weather and thoughtful people. I decide to stretch my mind.
So here’s some more of my Utopian world …
Every perfect day begins with a good night of sleep. I’m thinking warm body, cool pillow, no pain. Waking up to birdsong and soft sherbet skies is a bonus. A single cup of coffee: two pulls from the Nespresso of dark, rich Costa Rica blend and half an inch of froth in a double walled clear glass. Maybe a croissant or fresh berries with vanilla yogurt and crunchy granola.
Next, a hot bath. Fully stretched out and water up to my neck with nothing scented to spoil the experience. Civil twilight through the skylight, with pink sky, followed by blue sky and a couple fluffy white clouds. Next up: clothes that fit, comfortable shoes and a good, cooperative hair day. Maybe Wordle in three, a drawing that reflects my current state of mind and a productive (for Yoda) dog walk. Charged up batteries for both of my cameras, a freshly washed car and a full tank of gas. A perfect beginning to my perfect day.
Sounds like a dating profile, doesn’t it?
“Pick me! Pick me!”
Actually, I’m writing this from the tub.
Above me, the skylight has gone white with clouds and there is a little cobweb, too high to reach, taunting me near the top. It wasn’t a perfect night of sleep and I didn’t wake up pain free. I’ve been reading more on my phone about Israel having voted to weaken its Supreme Court, paving the way for a new brand of extremism to take root. A move hastening an otherwise slow slide toward authoritarian rule. The world’s gone mad. A bad dream on a loop. A slippery slope into the deadpool.
They say that even when a car is submerged in deep water, a person could survive in a pocket of air. Not indefinitely, but long enough to craft a plan of escape. I try to picture that in my mind: an emergence from the deep, cold murky water. Me, gasping for air, allowing gravity to push me up toward the light.
Definitely not Utopia.
Dystopia, in fact, almost by definition.
So what can I do?
Frankly, I’m open to suggestions. I have a few tricks that are moderately helpful distractions but no “sure thing”. In recovery we are taught to think outside of ourselves. In relaxation we are asked to think of a single body part or sensation. In meditation the key is to not think of anything at all. Just breathe.
Somewhere in all of this sound wisdom is an answer. Or maybe, at the very least, an acceptable response.
I’ve had some success dealing with passive aggressive people, not by engaging them, but by ignoring them. It’s a choice I’m learning to make over and over. While I truly believe that attention is love, I know that sometimes the deeper truth, is that what we give our energy (attention) to expands. (Including the bad stuff.) If stepping away from a toxic person or situation can help diffuse the intensity, then I’ll do it (especially when something is painful). To give too much attention to the bad stuff is like watering a weed. I’ll walk away before I’ll let it infiltrate the good seeds that I’ve planted.
Another thing I try to remember is the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (Or this great alternative: God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me. -Author unknown)
It’s a topsy-turvy world when “Christians” are supporting godless, immoral men, women are being stripped of their autonomy, people are banning books they haven’t even read and others are demonizing children. Yes, children. It’s true what they say: people will forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. (I was one of those demonized kids once and I can assure you I have never forgotten).
Q: So how can we change the DYS(topian) to U(topian)?
A: Do no harm.
I want to be a part of the solution. And in those moments when I’m not quite sure what that looks like, I vow not to be a part of the problem. Mostly that means walking away when someone is hankering for an argument. It means stepping back when a situation feels unsafe to me, knowing that I alone decide the boundaries of my own comfort.
What it means, too, is letting gravity pull you toward that light. Hold on. Let yourself crash through to the surface. And then once you catch your breath, dive back down and help the next one up through the darkness. They say drowning is silent, so don’t expect those going under to be part of the louder chorus. We have to watch, as well as listen. If you see someone struggling, throw them a lifeline. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying “I see you and I won’t let you go under”.
Here’s my Utopia: Make America Kind Again
In the meantime, I do all that I can to practice, and model, self-care. I pay attention to the world, and although I feel like worry is a prominent gene on my DNA map, I try not to give the bad stuff too much of my time. (Sigh) I take my camera on my walks because it’s what I love. I venture into the woods and sidle up to mountains because it’s what I need. If my yogurt, granola and berries are fuel for my body, adventures into the wild with my brave and competent self, are fuel for my soul. I’ll head out tomorrow to feed this needy beast the mountain meadow soul food it is craving.
Don’t forget, while continuing to forge a path towards Utopia, be good to yourselves, be safe and don’t forget snacks.
Thanks to all of you who know an anchor from a lifeline. You are my people ❤️