I’ve been experiencing a bit of a spiritual crisis these past few weeks. It started around the last weeks of March. I woke up early to watch the 1st day of Global Art Forum 6, which was kindly broadcast live from Doha by Mathaf. I was so excited for the first talk, Report or Upload: News and the Arab Awakening. It was just a few moments into the discussion when it turned to how the current state of news, social media, and constant/rapidly shifting connectedness has created a condition in which we no longer have trusted, reliable, sources to help us form our opinions or define our truths, and that it is no longer possible to define ourselves through groups and ideologies, leaving us alone and afloat in a sea of madness. Though not the exact words of speaker Mishaal Al Gergawi, and he articulated the words that put me in-touch with what I had been feeling for some time, but had yet to really acknowledge to myself:
In recent years, life has been lived through a tsunami of changes. The myths and stories that we lived our lives by have one by one been smashed. You wake up one day and feel like you no longer have any idea what to do, how to help, how to make things better, what is truth, right, justice, what is evil, just totally WTF is up with this world?
I plunged not into depression, but into darkness. I looked at the world with fearful eyes. It seemed daily in the news I see the absolute darkest side of humanity, and I felt so powerless in the face of reality. It exacerbated my tendency to be distrustful, hostile, and victimized when I feel threatened. It made my every move tinged with pain and fear, which is an unbearable state to exist in. I’m not one to deny my darker nature, to hide or fear it, but this was different. It was closer to hopelessness than darkness. Hopelessness that one day there will be peace on earth, that our species will evolve to our full potential and stop killing and exploiting one another.
To soothe my aching soul, I read alot, and I took many many walks in Golden Gate Park, at Ocean Beach, and through the streets of San Francisco, looking for illumination. The weather flip-flopped between days of rain with a few glorious days of blue skies and damp, fresh air. They days it rained I cried; the days of blue skies, I walked, took photos, watched the sky, and prayed for answers and the ability to hold it all together in the mean time.
It was on my walks through the city and in nature that I started seeing Hawks everywhere.
These were the first two that I flew above me at a low enough altitude to take a photograph. They seemed so joyous in the sun, swooping and soaring in harmony, splitting apart and coming back together.
Next I saw these two in a surprising place, downtown. A quick errand to the drug store and I see these young hawks playing with ravens and sea gulls over the Tenderloin. I loved that this one zoomed up the side of the Hotel Carlton sign and perched on top of it as we walked under. When I looked back, they were gone.
My next sighting was so exciting. Omar and I were leaving the playground when this huge predator swooped over us, catching a small prey. I watched and waited as he quickly devoured it on a rooftop across the street. I found myself silently thinking come to me as I watched. When he soared again, he swooped right in front of us. I didn’t know what I caught with my camera, but he came so close he took my breath away. This is the one I was waiting for.
Over coming days, I see hawks everywhere I go.
Outside the Legion of Honor before seeing the Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition. Before Omar and I went inside, I saw this lone hawk playing on the ocean/cliff side of the museum. When we came out, we saw 2 hawks playing in the sun over the city side. Eventually they came to the Land’s End side where Omar and I were walking.
The next day at Buena Vista Park during a walk with Omar.
A few days later I spotted the hawk sitting quietly in a tree, surveying the territory. I watched him for around 15 minutes, until he rocketed away.
They say that hawks appearing in your life can signal the need to ask yourself, what is stopping you from soaring?
It took a few weeks, but I finally found it in a book I bought from a street vendor called Broken Open.
Love the wounded world and its broken family.
The author quoted Einstein’s idea that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Whatever I decide to do with my life moving forward, I cannot do it in a state of negativity, fear, anger, hatred, or with greed, unless I want to be a contributor to the things I see destroying our world.
I realized that in my fear, I started to experience the world in a way that wasn’t allowing my soul to soar. Because of the way I was choosing to see and experience the world, my soul was drowning in darkness. I wasn’t loving this crazy world and its broken family, and so really, I wasn’t loving myself, because we are all connected to this earth, and to each other.
Changing my outlook and looking at the big picture, I’m soaring again, mostly. I still feel emotionally inflamed at times. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but now when I respond negatively to situations, I remind myself to have compassion, curb my reactions, and not take things personally, which seem like good points of departure when trying to identify and build new personal paradigms.