In Every Dark Problem…

Even as a baby, my son has always been fascinated by the mythical animal, the Phoenix.

At first it was the idea of something disappearing and re-appearing. Then the idea of something that could be completely destroyed and then show up again unscathed, if not better.

Children know first hand about creation and destruction, yet their minds are not equipped psychologically to understand death and destruction and their place within the cycle of things. If anything, most of us walk around like children, unaware of our own place in the cycle of life, of the never ending stream of destruction and death with the never ending cycle of creation and rebirth.

Yet children have an important gift we do not have as adults, the complete and total ability to live in the moment. They can see what is before them and to treasure and fully embody it, whether it is pure pleasure or pure unhappiness. They are very “earth” like, close to the ground and only feeling life in front of them.

They fully experience light, and fully experience dark. Yet they don’t hate, they may experience deep discomfort and trauma, but they don’t hate. As babies and toddlers, they don’t know how to not be in the moment and appreciate. And in our system of “doing” things and getting things done, we teach them to hate the moment, and in effect dislike themselves and any pause associated with it.

We are, in this U.S. society, going through extreme expression of the shadows, of light AND dark, love AND hate. It is part of a great healing and transformation. 

It is natural as a person moves toward change and transformation that they are confronted by their shadow. If they choose to pay attention and be aware, they can transform themselves into wherever their mind directs. Yet if the mind and heart are not aligned, the transformation will be long and arduous, perhaps only skin deep. Eventually the heart will always win, even if you may become sick. To become aligned, to act from the place of transformation, in effect to be the Phoenix, or the integration of light and dark, and wholeness, one must do as Lao Tzu instructs, “Pause: 

Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?”

As adults, we have the responsibility to pause until the mud clears. And to teach our children about this alignment, so that we are not reacting our way through life, in a continuous and unaware cycle of death, destruction, light and rebirth.

It may be the pause is just 20 minutes for you, but repeated pause is necessary, so that the source from which you act is your constant “informant”, not the news or what your neighbor said. 

Here in the Sonora desert, we have been reminded constantly of all this: the Phoenix and the pause.

We were driving down a dusty dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden, we both felt a deep stillness. I stopped the car, got out, grabbed my camera, and took this picture. 


It is hard to describe. But we had been watching the storm all day, a downpour, then bright sun, a clearing, then cloudiness. We would pause, watch. 


Then move to the next place. As the sun started to cross behind the mountains, we were greeted with more and more cycles of pause and moods.


We are living at an edge right now, in how we preserve and care for each other and the natural world around us. This world is impermanent, and relationships are impermanent, but every person and every experience is a “guest in this house”. What I mean by this is that we are here but for a very brief time, one only has to look at a rock and see its longevity to know it will be there much longer than we will ever be. What can you do, what can we do to rebirth, to honor, to be in this moment, to be still so that the Phoenix may rise again?