Art by Alex Malcolmson. North East Light, Mixed media on board
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness
– Desmond Tutu
In recent conversations, reflecting on the questions ‘What are we noticing? What is impacting us and our clients? the familiar themes of uncertainty and dismay were very evident. Expressed in attention to various and distinctly different manifestations and points of reference, there was nevertheless a sense of a lot of bad and anxiety provoking things happening. Misting the field of consciousness like sea fret, our perceptions of what is impacting from the wider world is less easy to stave off and ease away from when it is so pervasive.
In the midst of such dis-ease there is also a sense of foreboding. An encroaching darkness that is reflected in the shift in season and the literal darkness of our winter months. Whilst we are assured of the slow return of the light come Spring, there is a real need and desire to remember that light is ever present somewhere in the world, literally and metaphorically.
Regarding the darkness and the light as ever-present forces is a useful reminder about where and how we can seek out those energies that offer all that is life supporting, warming, revitalising and regenerative. Both out there in the world and inside us too.
If we each have the capacity to embody both light and darkness, how are we expressing this in our everyday lives? What are we paying attention to and moving towards or away from?
Much of my work is centred on helping people explore their agency and potential for change, often in circumstances and contexts where there is seemingly little room for influencing shifts on the scale that is needed. Our usual ways of navigating through our inner and outer territory appears increasingly difficult as, like with sea fret, the landscapes of our lives and work are made hazier and darker and any movement necessarily less surefooted.
Sometimes we just need to stand still until the fog lifts or inch our way ahead until the path appears, but when the conditions are likely to remain for some time, we need to look to the proverbial light house to guide us through. To seek out the light that can foster a sense of hope, illuminate and bring warmth or ignite the fire in our bellies that propel us to act on something we have the power to act on.
In small ways we can all seek out the light. There are so many examples of people doing extraordinary, courageous and care-full things. Small acts of kindness and generosity of spirit. Look out for them. Beauty surrounds us if only we can notice it; in a gentle touch, a welcoming smile, an Autumn sunburst. Looking to the light is not denying the darkness or being untouched by it. It is a way to sustain ourselves and our relationships that are so crucial to living mindfully in this world and doing what we can to embody hope and the capacity for change.
Some things that have brought light into my life recently
Reading: This article from the New Yorker
The Game: Life vs the Dark Powers by Gill Coombes
A friend: who’s helping with this
A walk at: Yorkshire Arboretum
Hearing about this: Andy’s Man Club | #ITSOKAYTOTALK | Andy’s Man Club (andysmanclub.co.uk)
The work of the Oasis Foundation