A Prayer for Owen Meany is on the radio. (BBC R4 afternoon play all week).
Obama is in the White House.
There is a ceasefire in Gaza.
Bulbs are coming up in the garden.
These are all good things, but it feels very fragile to me, winter is turning to spring (in the northern hemisphere!) and yet : the now-revealed utter destruction in Gaza, the pain we haven’t been hearing about in Zimbabwe while we’ve been hearing about Israel/Gaza, the wars still raging on all over the world, and yes, the global warming catastrophe for those of you who care about the whales (I do, really, but in truth, not as much as I care about the people*, not as immediately).
So, yes we can. We can do and make and change and protect and care and progress. But only with dialogue, only with will and intent, and only with hope grounded in action.
Working on an historical novel for almost two years has made me more acutely aware of the patterns and rhythms that we, as humans, in so many different civilisations, go through time and time again. Potentially great leaders taking office and bringing with them a sense of destiny and hope, only for that hope to be dashed a year or a decade later and someone else becoming the ‘destined one’. There have been so many times in history when we, as a species, could have stepped up, become better. Sometimes we’ve done so, many times we haven’t.
I don’t want to say it’s not possible, I do want to remember that desire is not enough. Action is also needed. (My Mrs won’t be watching the inauguration with me later today, she’ll be working with a group of under-privileged kids in a ‘challenging’ part of inner city London, helping them find their voices as writers, as people for whom literacy is not a given and having their own voice is not a ready assumption. I’m sorry she won’t get to see this historic occasion live, but I’m more proud of what she will be doing.)
Meanwhile, this is one of those days when I’m enormously grateful for my buddhist practice, and the ability to believe that my prayer, my intent – as well as my action – does make a difference. It feels like doing something, rather than nothing. And I’m rubbish at doing nothing.
* that one always sets the cat among the pigeons. as it were.