Imagining Utopia

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 ❤️

8 Comments on “Imagining Utopia

  1. You answered your own question:

    “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.”

    And to increase the odds of the ‘good night’s sleep,’ from whence all other good things spring…? A device loaded with a slide show of your favorite, personally curated, mountain and meadow images, set to your favorite instrumental music, on endless loop…*

    That sounds pretty Utopian to me…*

    • Thanks, Mary. Yes, I probably do have most of the tools I need already. No harm loading the toolbox though. Some good reminders of my own words and a new thought or two. At the moment, I am listening to the ocean on my mp3 player at night. It soothes too.

  2. My new fav quote from the cantigee oracle (an ecological spiritual guide and creative prompt deck): “Contrary to popular belief, thinking is usually not the best way to solve a problem… If you are in darkness, the best thing to do is turn down the volume of your thoughts and turn up the volume of your senses.” I offer this to you, Bonnie Rae, because this is the gift you offer me, over and over–to gasp in sensual wonder at the photos you bring back from you Nature walks… and these good talkings to yourself and us.

    • I love that quote, Christina. Very Zen. I admit that sometimes in that darkness I fumble for the knobs. I do try my best to flip the volume to the left and the senses to the right, even while acknowledging that there are definitely times we have to “feel our way”. So glad to know you enjoy the parts of my day that I love so much. You “seeing me” is a gift, in and of itself. Thanks for being here*

  3. Yep to what Nancy said. I was really wishing you’d stopped at the dating profile, and just let us live there. But of course we don’t, so I’m glad you got back around to Act 3 when I was drowning in Act 2. My mother (a depressed pessimist) asked me once, when I told her I wasn’t reading the news during that previous administration, “Don’t you think you should know what’s going on?” Nope, sometimes not.

    • Reading this reminds me of a squabble I used to have with someone about the difference between pessimism and realism. I have found that ignoring the news can be dangerous, so I try to temper it in a way that it can be absorbed in measured doses, rather than let it simply saturate everything. I had a news blackout for TV and radio here at home during Trump’s reign too, but that didn’t mean I ignored the news. It meant that I chose for myself when and how much “news” felt necessary on any given day. Acknowledging the ugly truth about what’s happening in the world, is the beginning of what it takes to understand my role in how (or whether) it unfolds around me. Trust me, I’d love to live in Act 1 too, but I cant imagine walking out during intermission … Thanks for being here*

  4. You have all the answers right here, no need for anyone’s advice! I felt your essay floating buoyantly, then saw it turn at the cobweb, then watched as you continued on, treading water. You are surrounded by so many life rafts and floaties! There is no forever utopia, but you know how to get back when you lose the way. I see you and I won’t let you go under.

    • Oh, how I’d love to live buoyantly forever. Learning to tread water is a pretty useful skill when the waves start pounding. I really DO have lots of rafts and floaties, thanks for seeing that. And, as always, thank you for seeing me*

You know I'd love to hear from you !

%d bloggers like this: