Welcome to Reflections from the Mirror Project

This space—Reflections from the Mirror Project—is to capture how the conversations in the last year and 2019 are shaping the shared narrative emerging out of California’s experiences of health, wellness, and well-being.  Hopefully, questions that will help leadership training, support new policy ideas, and create new collaboration models will be a part of the sharing of conversations.

We wait to see what the journey presents as people, places, and insights begin to merge in this unique and vibrant state, California.

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What Does this Pandemic Mean For Change In the World?

Angela maskedMarch 16, 2020 is when the announcement was made at Cal State University, Los Angeles – the campus was shutting down due to the pandemic.

The delayed recognition of the seriousness of the virus that was called the “novel corona virus”, has meant exposures to hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom seem to have been infected with no impact on health; others of whom have suffered debilitating conditions and sometimes (too often) death.  As of today, the death count in Los Angeles is:  7,118.

The initial campaign that directed people to “shelter-in” at home was taken seriously from what we could see in Los Angeles – for about a month. 

Then, the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 created a spike that could not be foreseen in March.  The images depicted a problem that has been understood and well known to many for generations.  Now, in the center of movements for individual and community accountability, institutional accountability, and greater government leadership at every level – local, regional, national, and global – another worldwide crisis has gripped human civilization.  Climate change?  Oh, yes – that continues to plague our planet, too.

The shared experiences that grow out of our connections via world conflict, world finance, world climate challenges, and world hunger and violence – are now very well understood by people engaged in their communities.  It was challenging to face the conditions that existed before the pandemic and before the experience of witnessing yet another dark-skinned man killed at the hands of police.  But as things have unfolded, the challenges also were revealed – multi-fold.  Indeed, one might suggest the infinite extent of the harm – cause/effect, cause/effect, cause/effect is being manifest.

How have human beings responded?

Many looked to the experts and leaders who have chosen to take such roles in our societies.  Sadly, the current conditions are such that experts cannot deliver, without politics, their knowledge and recommendations.  Leaders in politics must include in their calculations for maintaining authority and power, what part of truth can be disclosed to the public.

The public, in the meantime, searches for the meaning of all that is unfolding so rapidly in so many directions. 

MasksWhat can be done to care for family and friends to prevent damage to health and spirit?  What can be done to contribute to society to stop the fear and anger that naturally arises when major shifts keep happening?  Where can one find trust and stability when the swirl events that hit individual and communal life is so great?

Oh, were you looking for the answers to these questions?  For now, there seem to be either a multitude of answers or none that make sense.

One place to look – is to yourself.  Are you well?  Have you yet recognized that only you can be the source for answers to these enormous questions?  And if you need help, have you asked?  The things that keep us feeling secure rest in our relationships – to self, to others, to community, to spirit – there are currencies beyond money.  Now is the time when we should be considering how to cultivate this form of survival, growth, and development in this time of complete breakdowns and uncertainty.  No one is “in control”; which means we are all in control – each and every single person.

The pandemic has delivered us to a moment of transformation and recognition that the only means to survival:  stop, recognize things overlooked, feel where your body is now, realize your capacity, and exercise patience so that a force larger than your calculated intent can guide.  Sit, breathe, enter the unknown.

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Anything Can Happen Out of This Chaos

out-of-this-chaos

In this moment of our encounter with eternity, the Gift of Compassion has been given the chance to see the limits of our material existence. As a worldwide pandemic sweeps across the globe at the same time climate change is pushing human beings to flow to unknown places that might offer safety and stability – this nation was confronted yet again with the reality of brutality in the hands of law enforcement as the killing of George Floyd was captured on videotape as he gasped for air and called for his mother in the final minutes of his life and existence on this planet.

How far have we come as we sit in the year 2020?  Is this a moment of collapse or is this an opening that could allow for a new opportunity to realize the highest aspirations and goals for security, peace, and compassion?

The natural world has been turning and is practically upside down.  The data are showing unprecedented loss of species, both flora and fauna.  New and unpredictable changes in weather patters are destroying the ability of farming societies to survive, causing a migration of populations larger than any seen in generations. 

And we are beginning to see the deep interconnectedness of all beings and systems.  As the pandemic has required nations to take extraordinary steps to contain a little understood virus, all social systems have been rocked.  The political, financial, judicial institutions that once represented a means for society to offer a framework for stability – are all in chaos now.

Best efforts are being used to work with inter-disciplinary knowledge as in health research informing policy affecting employment and economic development and housing.  There are continuing needs for meeting the needs of the chronically ill or those in need of emergency medical care; and as the crisis of COVID-19 appears to not to respond dramatically to all social restrictions being imposed (and now debated), the world awaits the discovery of a vaccine so that things can return to some semblance of “normal” life.

What is hard to imagine is that there will be no return to the kind of life that existed before the novel virus appeared.  Yet, people are actually living with changes that are slowly and surely being required to adopt, if one wishes to remain in good health. 

There is no question, that a consciousness is being raised about the importance of demonstrating consideration rather than selfishness (wearing a mask as a matter of consideration for others, not self-defense).  People are aware of social distancing, whether at a market or in the streets or at worship to support a new social contract about unwitting disease transmission.  Children and parents are having a new series of question and answer sessions from personal health behaviors to the role of police in our communities.  Employers are thinking about how best to ensure a safe and healthy workplace as furloughs are lifted and rehiring is initiated.  More people are realizing that technology can be extremely effective in meeting the essential needs of clients where service is the “product” to be delivered.  In short, we are already “in it”.  The “it” is change. 

Finally, there is a moment here, when the chaos has truly opened up new ways thinking, being, and acting.  How the myriad of changes underway will ultimately settle into what we know as “normal” going forward is an invitation to manifest and correct the infinite ways in which we made choices that led us to this day.

It’s fascinating to realize that when the world is upside down, another way of experiencing it is not to be fearful, but to note the different perspective and feeling that arises.  Rather than fear the change, realize that change is constantly happening – just as it is in this moment – and with the change, is an opportunity to choose new points of view, new practices, and new tools to be used in the service of our collective  well-being and common future.  Displace the fear with curiosity and creativity.  It offers almost anything to happen for the good, out of this chaos.

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When the sh*! Hits the Fan

Migrant farmer Pablo, Fabiola Vilchez, and master farmer Mud!

Migrant farmer Pablo, Fabiola Vilchez, and master farmer Mud!

This morning the weather is shifting and I am thankful to be able to write because so much has happened in the last seventy-two hours.

This is a time when the practice of meditation is needed more than ever.  The universe tries to show us, time and again, that there is no such thing as “control” over life.  The new flu, COVID-19, is the context.  Its characteristics are similar to the flu but its effect is far more devastating than the flus that have come before — and its unknown transmission pattern scares us.  This is the worldwide sh%* hitting the fan.

Closer to home and on the ground, another trip to the border, where human flow is causing great doubt, relying on great faith, and demonstrating great determination.  This is when transformation in society happens – moments of great doubt, faith, and determination.  The migration phenomenon is hitting closer to home and the place where the Gift of Compassion has landed, just happens to be the place where love and compassion are being manifest.  It was an accident to end up connecting there.

Another trip to the border sanctuary on Saturday, with a crew of talented, compassionate, and skilled individuals who brought knowledge and heart to a place that has been receiving migrants from many places, black and brown people who are escaping every form of human suffering. 

One person who joined is a master gardener from south Los Angeles, who turned out to be an extremely fortunate addition to the group.  This is because his survey of the location revealed that the land where the sanctuary sits is very likely a toxic piece of earth.  Waste that is both human and chemical flows to this area and this explains the odor that is the first thing one encounters in going to the location. The rains earlier in the day surfaced the presence of chemicals of unknown origin – maybe just detergent from soapy waters, but maybe not.  Foam could be seen in the riverbed/canyon road that leads to the church.  Literally, a situation where the sh&! has hit the fan.

It was another trip where donations were gathered, delivered, and supplemented with a run to the Mercado where $700 dollars in food purchases might feed 300 for one week. The idea of growing vegetables and herbs is now on hold.   Here’s a video that shares the experience of Haitians at this sanctuary:

 

 

In an entirely different space/time north of the border, life is in the balance for a young family who faces none of the challenges of migration but their lives are connected as disaster of another kind has surfaced.  A beautiful and bright young lawyer and her spouse face a life-changing health challenge that could leave her paralyzed for the rest of her life if corrective surgery doesn’t work.  Interesting to realize that the work of the partner is to counsel those in crisis. Right now, he is about to go enter the work of providing counsel to migrants who have attempted suicide in a detention facility.  How they are navigating this crisis is with love, clarity about things they can and cannot control, and support from family and friends.

In Los Angeles, we see the effects of human flow that have failed.  The crisis of people being left houseless is more visible in this city than almost anywhere else in the country.  The weather in southern California makes living outdoors, possible – without risking death from the cold in winter.  But the change in climate worldwide, the presence of a virus that is out of control, and the effect of causing people to migrate, just as animals and other life forms must in order to survive – is one massive indication that the sh%$ has hit the fan.

Our options:  care, cultivate kindness to oneself as well as to others, take care to balance the “doing” and the “being” – the clarity comes with moving from the place of will, to the place of no will.  Then, the realization can arise:  We are always, eternally, inextricably connected to one another and once that realization comes, the path opens.  By the way, the path is not paved.  There are places where you will surely step in sh@*!

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