Enlightenment In the Crowd

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.

– Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

Hope is like a road in the country: there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.

– Lin Yutang

 

Consider a recent moment when the crowd woke you up.  Remember that split second when a sound caught your attention,

people on bus

the smile on another helped you notice your own furrowed brow,

dog cafe

or the movement of a child or dog brought a warmth to your chest?

Where did you come from?

Where did you come from?

And remember how any one of these instant happenings called you into the perfect okay-ness of that moment, the aliveness of you in that fraction of a second.  You alive, awake, capable and present.

Whirling in Konya with Rumi

Whirling in Konya with Rumi

I love these moments.

Their simplicity always catches me by surprise.  The contrast I feel within myself is startling: the before moment (when I was “asleep”) and the now moment, when I’m my being knows it’s alive.

I can spend great chunks of a day in the guise of awakeness (typing at my computer, plowing through a to-do list), only to have a moment like one I’ve mentioned, jar me into a much higher state of appreciation and gratitude.  And here’s the thing: I rarely bring this about by myself.  It happens in the crowd.  It happens because consciously, and inadvertently, we do it for each other.  It’s a team sport, this collective act of calling each other to attention.

It’s a vulnerable thing to admit.  We’re in the age of do-it-yourself, each to her own, and be social (but do it alone, communicating with your hand-held device).  Who wants to make eye contact and risk being ignored, rejected or accused.

And then, that flash of humanity surprises us.  Our simple, fragile, resilient, miraculous humanness is reflected in the same fragile, silly, strong miraculousness of another.  Friends, one another is what we have.  Our togetherness is what will save us.

Remember this?

2014 Vision Board Manifesto

2014 Vision Board Manifesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(It’s the 2014 Sacred Activism manifesto that “appeared” as an addendum on my vision board for this year.)   My posts over the last 10 months have explored certain lines: Express yourself, Begin Again, Build Intimacy.  And now?

Get Cheeky.  Grow a Movement…It takes a Village.

All signs suggest we have done it.  We have created the “Climate Movement.”  At last.  And the Movement, despite opposition, has galvanized enough support, representing enough diversity to actually steer the conversation.  After months of speaking up, sitting in, calling, writing and acting out, the Climate Movement impressed upon the US Senate that, for all sorts of reasons, the Keystone XL pipeline is a very bad idea.

Climate March

Climate March

So many voices were at the table for this conversation…and there are so many conversations happening right now, on so many levels where your voice is needed.  You, me, all of us.  So, the next time you’re in line for your coffee, or sitting on the train, or feeling shy in a conversation with the one who might have a different opinion, invite enlightenment!

Now’s your chance.   Please…

Get Cheeky (optional, but often quite fun),

Grow a Movement.  We are a Village.

CRAN Credits, Lauren’s Wrap-UP & Getting Our Story Straight

One week ago, Parvati and I landed back in Berkeley, safe and sound.  And all week it’s been that fun mental game of, where were we one week ago??

Riding beneath the Big, Big Sky

Riding beneath the Big, Big Sky

 

Oh right!  The giant fields…or the great expression on the cow’s faces….

 

Outta my way, I've been wrestling wind allll day!

Outta my way, I’ve been wrestling wind allll day!

 

 

 

 

 

or the smell of the alfalfa…or the morning air right after the rain in Halsey…

 

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

 

And then two days ago, I smiled remembering those of you I had the great pleasure of actually SEEING at the finish line and celebrations!

After a week of iceberg lettuce, Tom met me with spinach and arugula.  He's dreamy that way

After a week of iceberg lettuce, Tom met me with spinach and arugula. He’s dreamy that way

This message is for all of you.  Your support, offered in many ways, has been a source of encouragement, reassurance, and inspiration. The CRAN Credit reel (below) includes each one of you.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the list for two reasons:

1) to acknowledge that you played a part in this ride, a carefully, creatively designed action to increase awareness, focus attention and empower humans to act on behalf of life and creation, and

2) to celebrate our success!  In a little over two months, we raised nearly 10k.  It’s true!  The fundraising thermometer on my Climate Ride page is hovering just under $10,000.  This didn’t happen because large funders or private companies stepped-in (not that that would be a bad thing); it happened because so, so many of you gave what you could…which, together, becomes a LOT!

At the end of my Finish Line presentation and Q&A last week, the final question was perhaps the best one, and for me, the most difficult.  It came from the back of the room, from a face I couldn’t see, and the voice asked, “What will you do now?”

P1080039

By Day Four, I’d begun fantasizing about Iowa, then Illinois…Indiana….

For a few days, already, I’d been cogitating on this.  After acting on a dream, planning the ride, raising the funds, executing the logistics and pedaling the 485 miles, what would I do now?   After a long moment of silence I said, “I will keep doing what I’m doing, sometimes not very well, but I will keep doing it…and I hope we can do it together.”  I was referencing the three practices I’d mentioned in my presentation; the same three I’m going to re-cap now, in my final CRAN message, to be sure we’re getting our story straight.

Let’s remember: the story we’ve been hearing, that we need to, “save the planet,” is a flawed story. Our hope now is to tend and tell the NEW story.  The new story is that we need to save LIFE (ours and the miraculous, interdependence we share with all the species and earth’s resources).  Here are three practices that I believe can help us tend our story:

 

Build Intimacy.  Start where it's simple...let it ripple from there

Build Intimacy. Start where it’s simple…let it ripple from there

 

 

Practice One: This is a Love story! 

Build Intimacy.  An age-old human story involves fences and defining each side.  In the saving life story, we’re all living and we need to have conversations about the universality of this.  Perhaps this is best done by talking about the beings we love (pets, land, grandchildren, trees, and so on), and then working to care for and preserve them.

 

Parts of the new story aren't glamorous.  They're necessary, though, and require our patience

Parts of the new story aren’t glamorous. They’re necessary, though, and require our patience

 

 

 

Practice Two: We’re ALL protagonists in this story. 

Begin Again.  Tell it Like it Is.  The familiar story is about an economy built on More, Growth, and Obsilescent.  This story is NOT about recycling.  Driving a Prius is NOT enough, and neither is riding a bike.   The new story needs us to talk about what trying something unfamiliar feels like.  Can we tolerate uncertainty together?  Can we explore a new definition for “growth?” The new story is about implementing safer, saner ways of consuming what we need without hurting ourselves and future generations.

 

 

 

 

Practice Three: Play.  Use your voice.  Express Yourself

Our new story is rooted in Regenerative Humility.  With care and practice, and support from our communities, we can source from a place that’s regenerative — I call it God.  In this place, I put less of my interest on changing the world, and more attention on how the world changes me.

Climate talks while pedaling through the sandhills.  Unforgettable

Climate talks while pedaling through the sandhills. Unforgettable

 

On day three of my CRAN, I had the rare gift of riding 50 miles with another cyclist (I saw 5 total!).  When I told him why I was riding, his words about our situation were, “There is no hope.”  Perhaps he’s right.  The Western Shelf of Antarctica is falling to sea and new fires are burning every day in the Southwest.  Nevertheless, Regenerative Humility keeps me curious.  It frees me to move and act without the guarantee of success.

 

 

 

 

There's No Place Like Home (and I don't mean Kansas)

There’s No Place Like Home  — and I don’t mean Kansas.  That, Silly, would be CRAK!

Friends!  We are mammals, human mammals that create.  Our life depends on it.  WHAT we create is part of the story we’re reconstructing.  I have no clue how this story ends; what I do know is that our next chapter is happening and it needs each one of our co-creative acts to set the story back on course.   Thanks for sharing your voice and support!!!  And speaking of support, this is it!

My Last Call for CRAN donations.  Do I Hear 10k???  You can make a secure online donation NOW by clicking on the ‘Support Me’ button, on my Climate Ride website page. You’ll automatically receive an acknowledgment and I will be notified by email of your support. Thank you for your help!

 

CRAN CREDITS:

Acupuncture, Massage & Bodywork Miracles

Laura, Gonzalo, Sylvia, Bruce & Barb

Above & Beyond acts of Cheerleading

Amy & Ellie (card & artwork), Cathleen (traveling from Toronto), Heather (faithful FB & blog commenting), Jules & Sukha (text photos), Ed (phone call), CR (good luck bracelet), Phil & Annette (CRAN mala beads), Lane (traveling from KC)

Bike Case & Bike Rack

Kevin W and the Geggs Family

Bike Maintenance & Safety Check

Paul at Polkadot Bicycles

Donations over $150

A surprisingly, wonderful number of you

Donations of every amount, given with appreciation

So, SO many of you

Finish Line Celebration Event

Betsy, Laurel, Kim, Robyn, & the Zanders

Helmet Cam

Margo D

Lodging & Accommodations

Tom P

Pace-setter, Equipment Consult, Bike Fit, & Luvvvv

Valentino P

Prayers and Good Thoughts, Blog Readers & FB followers

More of you than I even know, and thank you so very much

Press Release & CRAN Promotion

D2 Infinity, Kim, Betsy, Robyn & Nick

Route Mapping

Barb B

Support and Gear (SAG) Master & Photography

Laurel VH-P (da mama) & Misty (da car)

 

 

 

Lauren’s CRAN: This Barn. That Thing? (and the Finish is where it Starts)

Since my first or second post, you’ve been hearing about my fascination with BOLD Nebraska’s response to the Keystone XL pipeline. BOLD Nebraska is a grassroots collaboration of ranchers, farmers and Nebraska natives who believe there are other ways to fuel our future than mining the Canadian tar-sands for oil, and transporting it to refineries in Texas.

 

This Barn, Road Rd 22, Nebraska

This Barn, Road Rd 22, Nebraska

Last Fall, in response to proposed pipeline routes and legislation, BOLD Nebraska built This Barn.  I have been looking forward to seeing it for myself and made sure my CRAN route would get us close to the right spot.  Parvati’s thin tires aren’t too friendly with gravel roads, it so happens, so SAG Master (Mom!) played chauffeur for a quick detour. Time was of the essence and to be sure we didn’t drive in circles, we pulled alongside two farmers talking by their tractors.

IMG_2765

This Barn’s roof 🙂

 

“We’re looking for BOLD Nebraska’s Barn,” my Mom said.

“Oh, that thing?” one of them said.

This Barn.  That thing.

 

 

And there it is: the teeter-totter on which so many climate conversations lie.  I’ve had 450 miles to ponder this.  In some moments, it’s “game over.”  I don’t have the courage or energy to be curious.  There are other moments too, however, when Grace descends and the capacity to hang out for a few more sentences appears.

IMG_2755

Build Our Energy sign at This Barn

In a few hours, I’m going to ride from the outskirts of Lincoln, into the City where I grew up.  I will be met by members of the village that raised me.  It marks the “Finish Line” for my CRAN.  For the past two days, I have been pedaling slower, not wanting it to end.  I am savoring these HUGE skies, brimming with cotton-candy clouds, these green, green fields and redwing blackbirds dancing ahead of me on the wide swath of road-meets-horizon.  Out here, pedaling my prayerful pilgrimage, my purpose has been clear, guided, exquisitely simple.  Ironically, the rubber meets the road, when I get off my bike and attempt to talk about why I did this and what I’ve learned.

P1080282

Left turn to Lincoln!

I pray for the courage, the clarity, the command of language to share this story in a way that might invite others to share theirs.  I pray that each of us has the patience and perseverance to bring curiosity to the conversations that might initially ring, “game over.”  I pray that, together, we can begin to create a new chapter in our story on this planet…and that we might take delight in the creativity that has been given to us through birth.

P1080294

Lauren and Parvati, enjoying a different kind of spin

 

May our capacity to innovate and care for one another and this great spinning home of ours be fueled by great sky, deep ocean, strong mountain, fresh breeze, cool grass, and the spirited animals everywhere.  Amen!  See you at the Finish, where it all Begins….

P.S. If you haven’t made a donation and want to, there’s still time.  Whaddy say?  Finish line together with 10k?  You can make a secure online donation NOW by clicking on the ‘Support Me’ button. You’ll automatically receive an acknowledgment and I will be notified by email of your support. Thank you for your help!

Lauren’s CRAN: Why Do I Care?

Two days ago, I was on Day Three of my Climate Ride Across Nebraska (CRAN).  Maybe it was the 57 hilly miles of headwind,

Hwy 81 S, Nebraska

Hwy 81 S, Nebraska

 

The Pioneers named this river and the sandy hills surrounding it, "Dismal."

The Pioneers named this river and the sandy hills surrounding it, “Dismal.”

or maybe it was the tepid response I’d received in the North about why I was doing this, or maybe I was feeling the ancestral energy left behind by the pioneers who had attempted, in far worse conditions, with covered wagons (for gosh sake), to trek the sandhill terrain I’d been pedaling across for the past 72 hours.

Whatever the reason, by the time I turned East on Hwy 2, my mind was a tornado and my heart a jumble.  Hwy 2 marks the place where the ranches and rodeos, meet railroad and industry.  The trains barrel by on the tracks nearly every 20 minutes and every second or third one is filled to the brim with coal.

Train, along Hwy 2, Nebraska

Train, along Hwy 2, Nebraska

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a few hours that morning, I had the morale boost of a riding companion (I’ve seen a total of 5 cyclists this week!).  It was a gift to share conversation and humor as we both leaned in and howled at the wind.  My new friend, it turns out, is a scientist, with advanced degrees in conservation.  When I shared how much I was looking forward to seeing the Nebraska State Forest (I would be passing it that afternoon), he mentioned that all those trees, hand-planted in the 1920s, were wreaking havoc on Nebraska’s water table.

Oh, Noooooooooooo!!!!!!

I really didn’t want to hear that.  Nor did I want to be reminded of my dependency on coal in a steady train-after-train succession, and NEITHER did I want to puzzle any more over what I could ask or say when I’m talking with others who don’t believe there’s a problem with the way we’re using the remaining resources on this planet.

In that moment, clipping along the highway shoulder at a steady 14 mph, I lost it.  Tears ran down my face, sobs unlocked the knot in my throat and I wailed loudly as another train roared past.  “Why Do I Care So Much?” asked the voice in my heart?  “Hmmmm, Right,” said my head.  “Why do I care?  And, would it really be fair to think that others do NOT care?”

I mean, let’s start with you.  Do YOU care?  And if enough of us care, why isn’t change happening faster?

Flowers in the wind, Sandhills

Flowers in the wind, Sandhills

 

Global warming isn’t going to stop because we reuse our bags and ride bikes (great things, of course – keep doing them, start doing them, don’t stop doing them), AND change is going to be fraught with complexities we don’t want to hear and will find overwhelming.

It takes courage to stick with it.  I shrink away a lot.  It requires vulnerability to feel the grief and of what humans have done to our Earth home.  I look the other way sometimes.  When we vow to do this together, sort of like working with that damn headwind, we set a pace for one another, resisting the seduction of becoming complacent.

I think that’s part of what my CRAN is about.  I’m looking for ways we can ban together, use our voice, and foster change.  One way to do that, is to support others who are organizing this effort grassroots to grand, all around the globe.  Thanks to so, so many of you, we have raised nearly $9000 to divide between my three chosen beneficiaries.  My ride, however, is NOT over.  If you haven’t made a donation and want to, there’s still time.  Whaddy say?  Finish line together with 10k?  You can make a secure online donation NOW by clicking on the ‘Support Me’ button, on my Climate Ride page. You’ll automatically receive an acknowledgment and I will be notified by email of your support. Thank you for your help!

 

Getting my Kicks

 

 

What is Losing?

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

  

“Tut, Tut, it looks like rain.”

– ChristopherRobin, Winnie-the-Pooh

 

“View all problems as challenges. Don’t run from them, condemn yourself or bear your burden in saintly silence.  You have a problem?  Great.  More grist for the mill.  Rejoice, dive in and investigate.”


– Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English

 

Last week, in the final throes the fundraising countdown, I mused about winning.  I’ve enjoyed conversations with several of you this week about ‘fessing-up to my competitive nature.  AND…as an aspiring non-dualist, it got me thinking a lot about losing.  What is losing?

 

I’m seeing that, for me, losing happens when I shut down.  Do you know the sort of “shutting down,” I’m talking about?  There are 3 times I feel it most: when I’m afraid, when I “know” something (HA!), and (this is a tough one) when I’m feeling self-conscious.  Yep, alone or in combination, these are the perfect ingredients for me to shut down…and in such a moment, I have EVERYTHING to lose.

 

On Monday I learned, along with my fellow Climate Riders, that rain is in next week’s forecast…for at least 3 of the 5 days.  “Oh, Nooooooooo,” the voice reverberated though my head.  It was fear kicking-in and I began to shut down.  …THEN, I remembered how just the day before, I’d spent the morning cycling in the rain.  I re-visited the experience in my mind: I was dry beneath my windbreaker; the redwood trees above leant extra shelter from the falling drops; my brakes responded perfectly, and my friends and I arrived safely at our destination.  Truth be told, many moments of the ride were beautifully pleasant!  Hmmmm….

 

Riding between raindrops, Hwy 1

Before climate change began, it was fairly safe to presume September and early October were rain-free times in Northern California.  And while rain isn’t exactly a problem, I tend to believe that climate change is.  I could be wrong, so I will hold the question openly, trying to notice when my fear or righteous indignation kick-in.  I will try instead, for these next 5 days to un-self-consciously, sing in the rain and practice the instructions offered above by the Venerable Gunaratana, “Rejoice, dive in and investigate.”

 

I believe that responding to climate change is a GROUP activity.  I know most of you agree because the support you’ve shown me in my fundraising these past months has been incredible.  You’ve already done so much, and I encourage you to ride along next week.  Let’s rejoice, dive in and investigate this beautiful, messy, amazing world of ours together!  Reportedly, cell and wireless service is spotty at BEST along our coastal route, but should the cell gods and goddesses smile, check my Google Plus posts.  Don’t worry!  If a techno-phob like me can do it, you can too.

Bien Viaje!

 

Alright, I’m off…but, wait!  You’re still caught in winners/losers suspense, huh?  I came in 2nd and won a trip to Glacier National Park!  How fun is that??  Thanks for all your support!