Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

When stuff doesn’t make sense

Sometimes, what I expect to make sense doesn’t.

And what feels a little crazy might make most sense of all.

As a meaning-seeker and story-creator, I search for narratives that give meaning and hope to what I see happening.

But the world doesn’t always cooperate, and the senseless suffering bewilders me.

What doesn’t make sense

  • In a city with many multi-millionaires, large numbers of people are homeless and grapple with poverty and a host of related issues.
  • Asylum seeker families leave desperate situations in their countries, only to find themselves struggling to have basics like food and shelter here.
  • A rich white man can lie, cheat, and deceive his country for years with seeming impunity, while a poor black man goes to prison for a minor crime or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Politicians fight about made-up issues, while global challenges go untended.
  • Wars are fought that lead, almost always, to great loss and future wars.
  • A friend, dying from cancer, faces excruciating pain.

This stuff boggles me. Until I realize that life isn’t always supposed to make sense. Maybe it just hurts and my trying to think my way through the pain only makes my spirits sag and my nervous system overload.

Better to find something that returns me to my body and helps me feel present, curious, and grounded in the moment. I:

  • Tend the garden, walk, or find another way to ground myself.
  • Seek beauty in the smallest bites, capturing moments with my eyes or iPhone camera.
  • Breathe. Hum. Sigh.
  • Doodle or find similar activities that focus and calm me without taxing my mind.
  • Play. Slosh paint. Create just about anything.
  • Watch old, good-hearted comedies. (I’ve been on a Carol Burnett roll.)
  • Pray. (Prayer is my way of moving beyond believing that I should understand or be able to think my way to solutions to the urgent issues I see. My simplest prayer is just: Help.)

When what shouldn’t make sense—does

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote:

“Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.”
(The heart has its reasons about which reason knows nothing.)

For example:

A taxi cab driver makes it a practice to give away one free ride a day. (Then he writes a book about his experiences and gives that book away.)
My husband receives an unanticipated flowering hyacinth as a gift from someone who anonymously delivers small flowers.
A friend with a very complicated, over-committed life buys a puppy who requires a ton of time and attention.
My husband and I launch a project to construct an art studio for me.

None of the above make sense, yet all make me smile. When my friend holds her puppy, light beams through her eyes, and I see the joy that she’s been missing.

What once might have seemed crazy becomes very sane.

What about our decision to build an art studio?

I’m grappling with voices in my head that say:

  • “You don’t deserve a big studio at your level of art.”
  • “You’ll never pay it back.”
  • “You don’t even know how long you will get to stay at your house.”

Yada. Yada. Yada. Fortunately, the heart can hear through all of that.

When turbulence is on the horizon

Most of us who fly have heard the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We are expecting turbulence. Return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, please.”

This year, be ready to grab your seat belt.

If news or life events lead to a bumpy ride, we’ll need to hang on to the deep knowing in our hearts to anchor us.

When I feel whole and know my direction, I can engage my mind to think things through.

But trying hard to find meaning or make sense in turbulent times sets me up for stress and confusion.

Instead, I can steady myself by:

  • Moving away from the mind’s maelstroms and settling into my body.
  • Finding activities that focus my attention without requiring thought.
  • Letting go, at least occasionally, of trying to make sense.
  • Trusting.
  • Building the new art studio anyway.

How are you making sense today? Or weathering the storm when life doesn’t make sense?

Fortunately, some things will always make sense: love, kindness, compassion, and joy.

And that’s what we count on.

3 Responses

  1. When the world doesn’t make sense I turn toward gratitude and observing the little momentary miracles of watching a hummingbird hover, or feeding a persistent squirrel or wondering how bulbs know when to bloom or watching a kid jump through puddles. I look for moments of wonder joy.

  2. And yet again, your commentary arrived in a most timely way. Thanks for your help in keeping me sane.

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