When I’m in alignment with inner and outer ways of being, the work flows well and so do the solutions to pressing problems. These solutions don’t always come at once, or even in ways that are readily apparent as they emerge. They come piece by piece and they form a pattern, one that can be discerned only by standing back and taking a big picture view of their trajectory from problem to solution.
Two years ago, I wrote a blog post called “The Dalai Lama, Climate Change and Joy.” I had my views on this merging of ideas brought full circle in the last month or so when I began following a Dutch climate diplomat on his various social media channels. I can’t remember what originally attracted me to his Instagram feed. I might have come to it through Twitter. I don’t remember. I was certainly drawn to his travel photos.
The travel photos reflected a certain clarity and spark. A spark that reflected a crackle of joy from the core of the inner being of the person who was taking and sharing the images. That’s what got me hooked. One of his photos, he shared when he was going to give a talk, a climate talk, in Uppsala, Sweden. He’s based in Sweden now. He said he’d rewritten the talk to suit the current political climate and that he was weaving in some kind of approach to “alternative facts.”
Being in the United States myself, the home of our current State of Alternative Facts, I was now triply interested.
- I was interested in the beautiful and clear perspective of the travel photos.
- I was interested in this reframing of climate diplomatic dialogue through a European lens and with an eye to where I live.
- I sensed that there was an alignment of the inner travel photographer with the outer work of the climate diplomat and I became curious to know how those two parts might combine to illuminate a path to a new climate-solutions trajectory.
This became very personal to me in a way that tied together all of my interests that I had originally touched on in that first blog post about climate change, the Dalai Lama and joy. If I’d been trying to find a way back into that post and what it meant to me—and I think I was—I now had a way back in and it came in the form of finding this Dutch climate-diplomatic-photographer Alexander Verbeek online.
I found a recording of Alexander Verbeek’s Uppsala talk “Fact-Free Politics in Times of Climate Change,” hosted by Pax et Bellum at Uppsala University’s Department of Peace and Conflict Research. I watched it. Something about it challenged me and my thinking. I watched it again. I put it aside in my mind and went on with other things.
I got ready to publish my climate-change novel and started a new job in an engineering firm that has a real focus on “climate resilience” and solutions-forward thinking. As an aside, I decided to write a blog post in support of fundraising for a friend’s medical expenses. This is a relevant aside. The post about the friend’s medical expenses came to me as a very intense flash of “Hell, yes!” and without too much forethought, I wrote and shared it online. I did so because it felt right. I shared it with a lot of people.
Having done that, this friend, who happens to be both an Architect and a respected Feng Shui Master, popped up over and over again on my radar and on my Facebook newsfeed a little more often than usual over the course of the week following that blog post about his medical expenses.
I was on Facebook, looking at my newsfeed, which is heavily edited. I’ve powered down on how many notifications I get from everyone at once, because I prefer to be selective about my online visits with people. I prefer the approach of visiting one-on-one with people as if we were going to have tea together, rather than inviting them all into my living room at once, and attempting to sort through all of their opinions that come at me simultaneously.
I prefer to focus on one person at a time, online. It brings more alignment and more clarity of focus. It’s powerful.
And so, with this connection to my friend—RD Chin—around my medical-expenses-post, I had that focus. I was on RD’s page seeing his recent post about the Dalai Lama. I was looking at a shared video clip and it jumped out at me because, I suppose, I’d been trying to tie these threads back together. I watched this little video, an excerpt of a new documentary about the Dalai Lama called “The Last Dalai Lama?” and I had that “hell, yes!” feeling again. It was, “hell, yes, I can tie the Dalai Lama, climate change AND Alex Verbeek’s talk all together!” I just didn’t know how.
I went through a lot of mulling and walking and meditating and listening. Relistening. Notetaking. And napping. Waking. Clarifying. You get it. And I came up with this: this piece you’re connecting with online here, and that I’m recording into my iPhone for lack of a more fluid way to express myself. Because I don’t think this is going to come together through writing, even though I’m going to write this up after speaking it.
This is a hot off-the-top-of-my-head, stream of consciousness flow of ideas of how it all fits together.
Here it is:
- We start as expanded beings.
- We bump up against each other in the world.
- We find our fears, or they find us.
- We contract and become uncomfortable and so we seek that expansion, or that remembering of expansion, again.
- We do this by reaching out for things that bring us joy.
Sometimes what brings us joy is traveling. Sometimes it’s taking pictures. And often, especially with social media, it’s sharing those pictures of traveling. I think we do this at a time when we are surrounded by uncertainty, and I think we do it more and more, in relation to the uncertainty around us.
Some of that uncertainty is political. Some of that uncertainty is climatic. Some of that uncertainty is personal, social.
These images help us to find the way. They help us focus.
I want to explain something to you that I understand through my work in subtle energy, or Reiki:
I perceive that we have the ability to open subtle energetic pathways through our focus. These pathways are opened through our experience of joy. And once opened, these pathways have the potential to lead to real and tangible changes in our environment.
This is not something that is talked about much in socio-politico-economic-climate-change circles, and yet it should be. It’s certainly not something I learned as a university student in Urban Geography or in Architecture.
I remember going to see journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn talk about their book A Path Appears (I took my husband as a wedding anniversary surprise) and I was very excited because I thought from the title that they got it, that they had this same understanding of opening energetic pathways through this focus on joy. I didn’t see that they had quite the same understanding that I did, and I wondered if they had bumped into it by accident. I wonder that about Alex Verbeek’s work. Has he bumped into this by accident, or is he aware of the power that his images hold?
I see this also in the work of another diplomat, Simona Miculescu who shares lush images online, not just of travel, but also of vignettes around sound and music. She is a United Nations diplomat and an art-lover and also a singer. She sang on a UN Ambassador’s CD, “Ambassadors Sing for Peace.” I haven’t seen her in quite a while although I follow her online. And what I see in her images is that crisp sense of joy and I know that she, too, opens pathways of energetic perception and creation in her work. It often comes through music. Did she bump up against this by accident?
Have all of these eco-politico-cultural creators found the pathway to solutions-thinking through their creative sharing, and are they able to spread their solutions-methodologies in a subtle way, by their savvy use of online resources? Have they bumped up against this solutions-opening approach by accident?
I’m going to go back to my Reiki perspective, which is perhaps my stronger point of knowing, compared to trying to explain the Dalai Lama’s perspective on this. His perspective is grand and speaks to many, whereas my Reiki perspective simply comes from my own experience of subtle energy work and through my own hands. I can speak with more authenticity about my own perspective than I can about the Dalai Lama’s. If you want to maintain your focus on the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Buddhist perspective as he speaks to the world, I can direct you to the first blog post I wrote two years ago, “The Dalai Lama, Climate Change and Joy,” which includes a video reference to his actual words as they were presented at The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and where he spoke, with several others, about the human response to climate change.
These are my words; they reflect many teachers of today, and they may sound familiar for that reason. These are also my husband Tom’s understandings, reflected in conversations we have around the house, and that we had over wine at our local pub last night.
When we focus with joy, fear cannot exist.
when we focus with joy, what we’d previously articulated as a problem, gets reframed as worthy of or as tagged for potential solutions.
It’s almost like putting a Post-It note flag on the side of a memo or news article and telling the Universe,
“I have flagged this one for your solution. Please bring your focus here. Thanks!”
And if you’ve done it with joy, or you’ve got yourself into a place of joy even if the thing you were flagging was depressing, you’ve opened the pathway for focus. You’ve opened the pathway for the Universe to come in and solve that thing.
I’m not saying the solution is going to come right away, and I’m not saying the solution is going to come like a lightning bolt outside of you.
This little solution—or big solution—is going to come in the form of a whispered inspiration, and it’s up to you to listen, and it’s up to you to act. Because the solution is going to be delivered specifically to you, tailored to your understanding, and it may arrive when you least expect it.
The solution may come when you’re walking, it may come when you’re in the shower; it may come when you wake up from a deep sleep.
The solution may come in small nibbles, little nuggets one at a time and whose connections are only revealed to you in your understanding, years later. Pay attention.
The solution will be there, and it’s not something to dismiss or to write off or to ignore. It’s something to pay attention to, if it’s come from that clear place of joy. Because it’s come through this energetic pathway that YOU opened, by YOUR focusing. It has come by giving your larger self the respect of listening and in turn, you can honor it by responding.
We can all take that perspective of being honored to respond to the whispers of inspiration and intuition.
And, I think, that’s how we might address our worldly problems, whether they stem from disruptions around “alternative facts” or climate change or asking ourselves as a society if we will take in refugees from near and far. So often, the media’s focus on these problems generates more fear within us. I think we would do well to steer clear of fear-generating media, because it blocks our solutions-focus. Knowing the problems is one thing; diving into them without a solutions-focused approach is simply unproductive at best and is destructive at worst. We may not solve these problems all at once and we may not solve them with the speed we would like, and yet we can solve them, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, if we focus on this swift way of reaching for solutions.
How might we take this alignment-approach into climate solutions-seeking work? The Dalai Lama gave some clues at the talk he gave at MIT, two years ago:
- The Dalai Lama says we ought to encourage the media to lead the change.
I add: we can encourage the media to be solutions-focused and we can contribute to its flow of ideas by sharing opinions. Solutions Journalism offers one of these approaches.
- His Holiness encourages compassion, and seeing the billions of us in oneness – all of us in it together.
I add: we might consider taking time to focus on one person at a time, especially online. Thrive Global offers hints about this.
- His Holiness encourages group meetings, more often, and made public, to meet on the issues and solutions around climate change.
I add: we can make online solutions-focused content easy to access, and easy to share, using popular platforms and those that extend into the education system such as Google Classroom.
It’s easy. It’s so easy. It just takes a diligence to opening those pathways, those subtle energy pathways. And I know, through my own personal experience, that we can do that swiftly through our focus on joy.