5:30 am---woken by back pain, restless and uncomfortable. I had acupuncture yesterday for the fourth week in a row, and despite the application of specific needles for back pain, there is no relief (although I have a deep, deep restorative sleep on the table each time). My mood has been very uplifted, although the acupuncture is simultaneous with my leave of absence from work, so it's difficult to parse out what is the true cause of these emotional shifts for the better. Anyway, does it even really matter?
Last night, we went to the local university to see a few more short films on the genocide in Darfur. As an individual, I still feel somewhat powerless in the face of such a human travesty, but I blog about Darfur regularly, sign petitions, boycott Chinese products to a large extent, call my legislators, and get involved however and whenever I can. How can this happen on our watch? Hatred and intolerance and greed are the great failings of the human condition.
Walking by our local radical collectively-owned bookstore, I picked up a copy of "His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Path of Wisdom, Path of Grace: A Personal Conversation" by Felizitas Von Schoenborn. For me, The Dalai Lama is one of the greatest embodiments of compassion on the planet at this time. His seemingly lighthearted and heart-centered approach to the human predicament belies the deeply rooted compassion and grace which are the underlying modus operandi of his life's work. He is someone I venerate without reservation, and I try to embody his teachings in my own humble and imperfect way.
The struggles of back pain, chemical sensitivity, insomnia, financial concerns, and the upkeep of home, hearth and professional life all seem to pale in the face of the suffering of those in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Niger, numerous American inner cities, and other troubled areas of the world. Still, one must approach one's own life and accept its conditions, act sanely to correct those conditions if needed, simultaneously attempting to better the lives of others while never losing sight of one's own relative privilege. Life is a challenge from the start, and suffering seems inevitable. Were it not so, would we even be capable of appreciating that which we do have? As Modest Mouse have so recently sung:
"As life gets longer
it also feels softer
and it feels pretty soft to me;
and if it takes shit to make bliss
then I feel pretty blissfully
If life's not beautiful without the pain
well I'd just rather never see beauty again."