After spending most of the week focused entirely on a work event – letting myself get all riled up about the small things; generally not being my best self – I lifted my head (which had been firmly ensconced up my own ass) to see that the world was falling apart. Perhaps it was always thus, but doesn’t it seem sometimes like it’s getting worse?

When my eyes lifted to see more than my own narrow slice of the world, they landed on  protests in New York, continued unrest in Ferguson, dismal predictions on climate change and the one that left me particularly sad, starvation used as a weapon and no one to stop it.

But then I read one of my favorite Pema Chodron quotes in class tonight. I realized, in times like these, I might need to read it every day. I get so caught up in my own little dramas that I forget about the butterfly effect; how the energy I am putting out contributes to the real drama, the one playing out on the world stage.

I might not be able to figure out how to get more resources contributed to the World Food Program, or how to ensure insidious racism is eradicated from our justice system, but I can control my reactions to the people and things with which I come in contact. I didn’t do a very good job of it this week, but, as always, Pema provided the right inspiration.

A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, “The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.” So this is our challenge, the challenge for our spiritual practice and the challenge for the world—how can we train right now, not later, in feeding the right wolf? How can we call on our intelligence to see what helps and what hurts, what escalates aggression and what uncovers good-heartedness?…It is time for each of us in our own lives to take the leap and do whatever we can to help turn things around. Even the slightest gesture toward feeding the right wolf will help.”
– Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap