Merciful Methods

Okay, so October is not better. October is worse. I don’t have a plane, or a boat, or a peace-keeping force, or enough money to make lawmakers listen to me or care about my interests. I don’t have aid/relief funds or supplies. I am not a celebrity. I don’t have a gun. What the hell can I do? About any of it? Just one thing? Is there one thing I do to affect the world in a positive way?

Yogis living in New York City made a documentary about the days and weeks after 9/11. They said it was the daily devotion to the small practices that kept them from giving in to hopelessness and helplessness. Small in that the rituals felt small in the shadow of enormous loss, trauma, and catastrophe; small in comparison to the burden of bearing it all. Over and over I listened to them say that they just had to keep getting up every day and doing it — working their methods, living their devotions — in small steps, small portions, sometimes small movements, until they moved out of shock.

I went to work. I arrived on time. Showing up and showing up on time is respectful. I put a small gesture of respect into the world.

I was nice to a woman who showed up 20 minutes late for an interview wearing flip-flops and carrying an infant. A baby. A wide-eyed, gurgling, eventually fussy baby. I gave her a full interview anyway. And I was nice to her. A small gesture of compassion. It was good for both our souls.

I mailed cookies to an old fellow who lives out of state because they are his favorite and his local stores don’t carry them. The postage cost more than the cookies. I was grateful that I have so much. A small gesture of gratitude and benevolence. The world needs both right now.

I gave the postal worker a compliment. I meant it. I put kindness into the world.

I spoke my mind and heart to elected officials, face to face. The world needs face to face communication.

I composted this potato:

… gave it back to the planet which supports me. I sent a small gesture of support into the world. The energy of such an offering is powerful medicine even if the offering is not.

I meditated. I burned incense. I deployed energy to heal and help. I chanted a soothing mantra for my sister, for souls in Nevada, for souls in Puerto Rico, and Myanmar. It’s my version of prayer. A small gesture of reverence for suffering seen, acknowledged, and felt.

I listened. I was receptive. A small gesture of willingness.

I sent $5 to a creditor. The world needs its debts paid.

I watched for work I could do.

I held the door for a stranger.

I walked and practiced yoga to stay well. I can help more if I stay well.

I gave a birthday gift ten days early because it feels joyous to give and I wanted to initiate a joyous process.

I noticed the spy software installed on my office computer over the weekend. And that’s all I did about it. I noticed. That’s all.

I hand-washed my dishes because we have drought conditions. A small gesture of sacrifice for the community.

I ate leftovers because The Chef is sick and needs to rest.

I gave the Dumpster Divers a broken bench from my backyard so they could sell the scrap metal.

I took too long to advance through an intersection and received a honking, cursing tantrum from an angry driver behind me. I let it go. No birds were flipped. No revenge fantasized. I just let it go.

All of it felt small. None of it will stop war or murder or negligence or abuse on a national or global scale. None of it will heal wounds or treat trauma or restore broken lives, broken hearts, or broken countries. They were merciful methods available to me with the ways and means I do have. Work with what we’ve got, right?

I got through another day focused on wellness, gratitude, and devotion instead of the alternatives. Doing the work.

— Mercy

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