Sixty-Sixty. Pass it on. Tell the rich. Tell each other.

We need more signs.

[UPDATE: This first appeared about a year ago, Jan. 9, 2013. I’d nearly forgotten what this piece was, exactly, until a reader included it on her “best of Howdy ’13”. This was a little embarrassing, since when I wrote it I’d been very moved by a dream and vainly hoped this inspiration might affect many more minds than just mine. (I can still find traces of this resolution-from-another-January in my attempts at mindfulness, but I’d lost the main thread. Pretty characteristic, I’m afraid!) It’s a short piece, and it contains an idea for you alongside my own reflections. It is on the long-ish short list for “Best Of”, which is coming soon.]

I had a dream last night, and it’s still with me this morning. Maybe it’s because I’m starting a holiday, and I have no plans. Maybe it’s because I went to bed early and slept almost as long as I wanted. Maybe it’s just time. This is for sure: I want to do a little something with what seemed to be uncovered to me in my sleep, and in the moved but unmoving minutes just after. Maybe you will, too.

Who knows where dreams come from? My wife travelled today, and among other adventures will retreat for an intensive period of Vipassana meditation. There will be no talk for nearly 10 days, just action of an extremely still kind. There’s that. Friends back home in Canada are paying more and more attention, the whole country is, to a grassroots movement of Aboriginal people called “Idle No More”, whose purpose (as I understand it from afar) is to mobilize the hopes and capacities of Native Canadians and those who respect them. Many Aboriginal communities live in shameful conditions, especially in the country’s vast north, and the prosperous wider society is being called to account. That’s been on my mind, too, though it may hold little interest for you.

The famous Sao Paulo disparity. How about your place?

In my dream, it was simple. We were many, and we were together at some wonderful congress. The program was full of superb talks and workshops, the kind of learning that I normally crave. A few of us, though, gave up this tasty menu and just communed silently together. It might have been an hour, or maybe a morning. It just happened, a sort of flash mob of the spiritual kind. Nobody organized it, or told us what to do or think or not say, but we were clearly mindful of the poor and oppressed. As dream-time passed, more of us banded together in this observant silence, and there was a sense that our united watch was changing things. It did not feel naive or giddy, just deeply right.

As for action, I have written this, and I hope they can be words in motion. (That’s up to you.) Among the many things I wish for my little holiday, I reserve one daily hour for uninterrupted quiet. Meditation. Reflection. Quieting the urgently trivial impulses. Learning (again, and still and ever) to pray, as old-fashioned as that sounds. I will likely think of justice in my homeland, and think of the hungry masses wherever they move and dream. I will turn off my mobile phone, my laptop, my music implants, my news of the gossip-ridden world, and I will try to remember: most of us are oppressed, for we want truth and justice and beauty, and all ways to be confident in the world, whether we dare to admit it to ourselves, or even if we routinely trash such aspiration to keep the wolf of disappointment from the door.

I make this suggestion to you: this week, better sooner than never, TAKE SIXTY. Give yourself one hour of detachment from whatever you routinely plug in to, and just be quiet. You might walk (far from the madding crowd), or simply observe your own breath or heartbeat (instead of the insistent externals). Maybe shoot hoops after dark, or perhaps  you’ll just get back to a neglected practice of mindfulness. Do the non-ado, as the sage Laozi advises, instead of “much ado about nothing”. Then TAKE SIXTY MORE, words this time, sixty words at most to tell someone else about what you did and how it went. You could write a quick comment to this post, or just pass it on. Tweet it, shout it, book it, whisper it, text it, tell it. A great Voice for justice has said, TELL THE RICH OF THE MIDNIGHT SIGHING OF THE POOR. That’s what one small, stubborn group of people in Canada is doing, and in your own way you should do it, too, even if the rich person you’re speaking to is yourself (or me), even if the poor one’s weary sigh is your own. Pass it on.

(This parenthetical note is about unity. Idle No More is a controversial movement in Canada, without universal support even among Native people, and it irritates or befuddles many mainly sympathetic others. What I’m suggesting is not support for a particular movement, one I have no right or desire to speak for. I just want you to promise yourself a little time for quiet reflection, and to consider the extremes of wealth and poverty that exist in everybody’s world. Unity of conscience is the essential thing, and it can be as simple as thinking, We’re all related. The Voice said it better: SO POWERFUL IS THE LIGHT OF UNITY THAT IT CAN ILLUMINATE THE WHOLE EARTH.)

So please take an hour just for you. In one way or another, tell somebody about what you did and what it meant to you, for goodness’ sake. Take sixty (or more), and send sixty (or fewer). I double-dare you. Let’s do a little something together. We can always go back to mindlessness.

Comment (1)

  1. Margery Cartwright

    I enjoyed your little riff on meditation. One of the many advantages of living alone, and being strongly introverted, is that mindfulness tends to be a bit easier, especially living in and around nature. I’m frequently alone in the pool at a local resort, and enjoy no end the fact that as I plod up and down the pretty pool, I can watch the sun rise through the windows at both ends. No recreational centre (much as I support a local pie-in-the-sky dream to build one) can match a solitary geriatric dog-paddle at 7:30 a.m. I’ve had similar experiences in one of the wilderness lakes here, too, but for safety reasons this old woman is never alone there. But what I feel in the ‘wild’ which is absent in a pool, is the interplay of senses — air on damp skin and the velvety soft feel of the water — coupled with the entire scene (when conditions veer towards perfect), meditation comes easily. Gratitude actually; for living in a wealthy and peaceful country [Canada], for natural beauty, and for life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *