Navigating in these Troubled Times

By Sarah Marshank


Recently we’ve seen a historical number of disasters destroy lives, homes, animals, nature, and businesses. We may feel heartbroken and paralyzed and wonder what we should do. What actions can we take? How do we metabolize so much devastation without ignoring it or numbing ourselves on the one hand, or feeling overwhelmed with sadness and grief on the other?

One tool I’ve found helpful has been to see that these times are giving us an opportunity to relate to grief in a new way, where we learn to cultivate it as a skill and not treat it as an annoyance we suppress. Rather than pushing our grief away, what if we were to bring it closer and hold it? Examine it? Become friends with it? Then we can continue to walk through the world doing whatever we can and see what happens. In other words, carry our grief into every act as if it mattered. Because it does.

There’s a quote from the novelist, playwright, and poet Samuel Beckett that reads “I can’t go on I’ll go on”. It was originally written with no punctuation. Apparently intentionally.

How does it read to you without any additional punctuation? How do the confluence of words land in your body?

What if holding the mysterious polarity of I can’t go on I’ll go on is one way we can continue to walk honorably through the world and its ongoing tragedies, carrying our heartbreak into our actions?

To find appropriate actions we can go inside and find stillness. We can sit together in silence and listen. Then, we can open our eyes and our hearts and see what emerges from our own knowing. This is where nourishing our connection with our source, God, nature, energy, or whatever we choose to call it becomes an essential place to seek refuge. This is not a way to hide from the world but rather an imperative to know ourselves better, and to be calm and confident in our knowing, before we run off to help.

We’ll need to be strong to navigate the challenges that are surely ahead of us, and that means furthering the development of our hearts for compassion, our minds for clarity, our bodies to carry us healthily, and our spirits to encompass all of it. Whether it’s natural disasters, man made disasters, or humans’ cruelty and inhumane responses to these disasters and to each other, how we respond does make a world of difference.

we can’t go on we’ll go on

More Articles by Sarah Marshank

Being Selfish: Selfishness as a way to Authenticity

Since publishing Being Selfish I’ve to come to appreciate how dramatically the book’s title riles people up. The mere mention of the word “selfish” can ignite a host of sundry emotions from the politely offended to the o . . .

Emergent Leadership

On leadership and learning: (“Emergent Leadership: A Report from my First Selfistry Teacher Training”)

They arrived from all over the world—nine individuals ready to embark on a journey with me and with Selfistry. I was . . .

Transitions Lifestyle

Trees don’t seek out a therapist to help transition from autumn to winter. Day does not fear the inevitability of night. The moon doesn’t grieve the loss of fullness when it’s time to wane. What if we don't need to learn . . .

Slow Spirituality: Slow Down!

How would your life be different if you made one minor adjustment? You slowed down. The slow movement is about taking the time to examine our relationship with everything. Through fundamentally revaluing quality over qua . . .