Monday, January 20, 2014

Poe, Dreams, and the Revolution

Edgar Allan Poe is not who I usually look to for inspiration, unless I need to hide an enemy in a wine cellar or undermine the structural integrity of a house. But, nonetheless, I recently read his poem “A Dream Within A Dream” and came away lighter.

“Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”

Dear Edgar: No. All that we see and seem and dream of can be made real, is being realized.

In the last day, I have eaten meals with a cook, a landscape designer, an academic sustainability coordinator, and a PhD candidate in revolutionary botany. We, all, naturally fell into discussing how to save the world. I used to have these conversations only with the people I trusted most, the people I sensed were already on the same page. I didn’t want to expose the beating heart of my hopes to eyes that might be unfriendly. And so such things grow until one can become sure and brave enough to talk with newly met strangers, friends of friends, about the challenges of the world, and more deeply, the paths and the rewards of rising to those challenges.

The bedrock of my hope about the world is that more people than I can ever know are laboring in a brilliant and wide scope of ways to make a kinder planet. This is something I take on faith, on the daring hope that active belief will make it so, that a host of private dreams are made true through the dint of love and effort pouring from so many hearts into the wounds of the world. To hope that I am part of something so much larger than my own small self is what keeps me sane in the face of all that threatens this world.

It is hard to keep from drowning in despair. Everyone I talk to, old friends and new, knows the gloom and doom of things. We know the climbing counts of carbon pollution, we know where such pollution is entering the world, and we know—with sickening certainty—our own entanglement with these monstrous and devastating systems. It is easy to feel too small and lost in the face of all of that.

Escape, in any way, feels like an impossible and lonesome dream.

And yet, the more of us who acknowledge that dream, the easier it becomes to push on, to think and be positive and proactive about the daunting challenges that lie ahead. 

The power is shifting. there are ever more of “us” than of “them.” We’re living louder, we’re cheerfully helping each other along these paths, through this thing, whatever it is. There is a lot of company to be found, bumbling along in the lessening darkness. Perhaps my world has grown smaller, perhaps I am insulating myself and only speaking to, talking to, those who I can most safely suspect of agreeing with me. Perhaps. But, to take the only page I want from Karl Rove: this is rallying the base. I’ve been told that we only need 10% of the population to have a revolution. This, being brave enough to talk about what shapes the deep why and how take inside our hearts, this is how that 10% come together, how the base is rallied.

What we are doing, at present, is building a support network. We are finding each other, baring our hope and hearts as the only secret handshake that matters. What we do with our resistance and resilience, in practical terms, is still open. We become a web, flexible and porous, the shape ballooning and morphing as the winds pass through, untold threads yet to be spun. The grounding certainty here is that we are in this together, no matter our individual paths. The increasing admissions of support, of our mutual and wheeling direction away from corporate systems of soul and planet pollution, always towards the things that give us joy, I very well believe might be the revolution itself.

Which means it is happening.  No longer a dream within a dream or the wisp of a hope, it is here and it is now. Evermore. 

(Convening ravens graphic from:

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