The air has been so cool at night of late. It has been a nice respite from summer's heat. Autumn is definitely on its way. I wish you a joyful Autumnal Equinox!
It’s interesting, as ever, the things that come up for me around the equinoxes. This time I’ve been thinking about the word equal, which by definition means identical in amount, extent, or portion. It can also mean fair or equitable. I know two people who are at the moment undergoing treatments for breast cancer. They are both kind, compassionate, loving, peaceful people who try to bring more love into the world. I wonder to myself, where is the equality in that? Of course, that then begs the question, well, do I think only “bad” people should have cancer instead? Does that make the world more equitable? Would I actually wish cancer on someone not so peaceful or kind, rather than someone peaceful and kind? I’m ashamed to admit, that part of me actually wants to answer yes. Here’s the catch. There was a time when I was the person who wasn’t so peaceful and kind. That’s a challenge to sit with. If the world were based on a system of everything being equal, then there would have been someone somewhere wishing harm on me because I was not being peaceful and kind, so that someone they love who was bringing more that was positive to the world, would not suffer. As much as I don’t want the people I love to suffer, that’s not the kind of world I really want to live in either.
So how do we approach creating a world that is fair and equitable? We can’t control who faces life threatening illnesses or accidents. We can’t force people to be kind and compassionate. What can we do? How do we deal with a world that can seem so unfair, and inequitable? An inner wisdom nudges me to look a little more deeply. So, I look at the word equanimity, which is often found when looking at peace traditions. Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequanimis "mild, kind," literally "even-minded," which is from aequus "even, level" + animus "mind, spirit." First of all, I love that mind and spirit are represented by the same word! What the roots of the word tell me is that the best thing I can do is approach life with an even and level spirit/mind. Not searching for the world to always present a perfect and fair balance of life experiences, but to bring the evenness and fairness to life myself in my thoughts, my deeds, and my reactions.
Does it help support my friends in their healing if I talk of the unfairness of their diagnosis? Of course not. Does a little part of me still think it’s unfair? Sure, I’m human and people I care about are suffering. However, I can be with them with more love if I am focused on being present with an even spirit, if I can approach their challenges with love rather than fear and anger. Life is not being unfair to them, as much as I dislike what they are facing and wish I could blame something for their suffering. The question for me to ponder then is, am I the one being unfair if I let fear rather than love be my guide in how I show up for them? I’m not talking about denying my fears for the people I care about, but being courageous and acting from love despite my fear. Balancing the love and fear that I feel and consciously choosing which one I will give from, that feels like a powerful way bring balance and equanimity to the world.