Self Care in the Bubble Bath of Nihilism

My friend was having an emergency of the existential sort. She’d been to a “no hope” lecture about global warming. We met at Gabriel’s, out on the highway, and had lunch in the pretty courtyard. Of course I had no answers but she did cheer up. There’s nothing like company.
Self care, particularly in today’s world, doesn’t seem to be about relaxing in the tub, exercise, or chocolate. I’m not against any of these things, but frankly human life isn’t the equivalent of a hard day at work. My friend Ana and I have joked that life is “the long emergency,” based on a phrase from a New Yorker essay, decades ago, about fossil fuel. Poet Frank O’Hara seems to recommend “meditations in an emergency,” and I’m going with that thought.
I told my friend at Gabriel’s that my goal, a Buddhist one, is to stop my own suffering. In terms of the self, that takes a lot of intention. I’ve spent the last month organizing a reading of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. The event was beautiful, too windy for a tent, up on the track at Santa Fe Community College in front of Ethyl the Whale–life sized, made of plastic waste. At the end, people came up to me crying. One person said, this is better than religios services. What was my purpose? Nothing very grand or elevated. I wanted to feel ok–connected, in community, at peace–for a few hours.
A lifelong awareness of my own mortality–and of everyone’s–led my long ago to try and reconcile how “good” and “bad” entwine. If I ask myself how can I enjoy this lunch with the turmoil in the world or how can I be weeping on this lovely autumn day, I tell myself: Mir, you solved this koan a long time ago. Solve it again.

2 thoughts on “Self Care in the Bubble Bath of Nihilism

  1. Thank you for the wisdom of this post. I wish I lived in Santa Fe; there have been more than a few events that sound so interesting.

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