Islands of Sanity
Who do you choose to be? This is the question I've been asking myself thanks to the new book by Margaret Wheatley, titled, yes, Who Do We Choose To Be. The subtitle of the book is: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity.
The book is for leaders, really, but I bought it because, well, Margaret Wheatley. She's someone who thinks through things with compassion and clarity, and don't we all need more of those in our life? She asks us to read this book slowly, with a "dwelling mind" (which is perhaps how we should read all books). So even though I'm not precisely the audience for this book, I still found it interesting and there's much that nearly anyone could reflect upon. We all have at least little realms of influence, don't we?
In the opening to the book she asks the following questions:
I was particularly drawn to the phrase, "islands of sanity." Because we are living in chaotic times. Wheatley dwells on the chaos, seeing it as "the means to create healthier, more humane and life-affirming ways of living on this planet, for as long as the planet will have us." From chaos, she sees there is possibility. Things are falling apart. How do we create islands of sanity?
How will you live? Who will you choose to be? These are questions writers ask all the time. I'm fond of the Salman Rushdie permutation of this:
The epigraph to Wheatley's book is by the historian, Howard Zinn. He says:
"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. the future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory."
Wheatley's book is dedicated to Pema Chödrön, and one can hear echoes while reading. This for example:
"We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."
– Pema Chödrön
It's a constant argument, a constant negotiation – how do we choose to live, how do we choose to be? I don't have answers – I'm sincerely asking myself these questions, as I seem to have for most of my life. How to create an island of sanity, even if it is only in one's vicinity, even if the radius is very small.