At 47, I’m lost.
I’m watching the NBA regularly, for chrissake! Now, sure, you can watch whatever sport or do whatever you like. But for me, my day is fulfilled only when I’ve been useful to this earth, and all in it. And obviously, I’m rarely useful in a meaningful way, so I’m rarely fulfilled. And that’s okay. It drives me forward.
But now, at 47, I’m writing words no one reads.
I’m sharing vital news and articles no one reads.
I’m appealing for help for Elephant, and no one replies.
I finally fell in love, and…are all relationships so hard? Michelle is beautiful, open, and kind—but communication, appreciation for little things, feeling unappreciated or cared for, money, where to live, children, even doing the dishes…waking up in a relationship, compared to being single, is waking up wrestling a tiger. Michelle’s not the tiger, the relationship is. Are all relationships so tigerly? Trungpa Rinpoche loved that about relationships: they humble us. With commitment, we finally soften and learn and open up. But that takes two, too, right? What if only one is on the path of Dharma, and the other is on a different, albeit wonderful path?
Today, we’ve laid off two Elephant editors who are—were—good editors, good humans. Facebook has tightened the screws on Elephant for 5 years, and so we must tighten our belt. We’ve invested in our Ecosystem for 5 years, but with one (wonderful) developer, it’s slow n’steady going. We’re still an ethical media community dinosaur, dependent on social media platforms…not the ethical platform and community I’ve longed to foster.
And so, sick, today, sitting in the tub, I think of the climate crisis, of causes large and small (gerrymandering, coffee in tins not plastic), and see my failure to move the needle of awareness meaningfully. In urgent times, we must move that needle. And now it’s nearly too late.
I see writers writing sci-fi about climate crisis, and say, I thought of that. But I didn’t do. I see Ford finally leaning into EVs, and say, well, it’s still better to bike, and walk, or bus, trolley, or train, but I want to help in some way. And I don’t know how, because the horse under me all these years is withering away, month over month.
I meet with my own team, and they opt for what’s safe, and away from risk. That’s rational! Smart! But sometimes we have to risk, if we know where and why and how. And I know too that with my hand more directly on the tiller, I could find a path through to a new harbor.
And so, I write another article, like dropping a pebble into a well, too light to even make a sound when it hits the water far below.
And so I watch the NBA, and laugh, and revel, and am bored. For what’s truly fun is to be a part of serving and saving our world, and ourselves along the way, and I’m failing at that.
“Well, while I’m here I’ll do the work—and what’s the work? To ease the pain of living. Everything else, drunken dumbshow.”
Image: of the beautiful Sadhana of Mahamudra, which I grew up reciting.
“This is the darkest hour of the dark ages. Disease, famine and warfare are raging like the fierce north wind. The Buddha’s teaching has waned in strength. The various schools of the sangha are fighting amongst themselves with sectarian bitterness; and although the Buddha’s teaching was perfectly expounded and there have been many reliable teachings since then from other great gurus, yet they pursue intellectual speculations. The sacred mantra has strayed into Bön and the yogis of tantra are losing the insight of meditation. They spend their whole time going through villages and performing little ceremonies for material gain.
On the whole, no one acts according to the highest code of discipline, meditation and wisdom. The jewel-like teaching of insight is fading day by day. The Buddha’s teaching is used merely for political purposes and to draw people together socially. As a result, the blessings of spiritual energy are being lost. Even those with great devotion are beginning to lose heart. If the buddhas of the three times and the great teachers were to comment, they would surely express their disappointment. So to enable individuals to ask for their help and to renew spiritual strength, I have written this Sadhana of Mahamudra…”