“An old idea states that there are always two stories going on in life: one is the great drama of the manifest world, and the other is the story of the individual human soul, trying to make its way in that world. And there are times when the big story is about collapse, or the world going through a radical transformation, and then the pressure of that falls on each person and falls into the individual story of each soul. And we are living through one of those times.”
~ Michael Mead: Wounded Healers in a Broken World
Have you noticed it has become a phrase, or even a paragraph of phrases? I hear myself saying it, and I hear it from others: “it’s a crazy world we live in. We live in interesting times (which, by the way, is an ancient Chinese curse. I find that deeply prescient!). People are at the end of their tethers! It’s no wonder people are taking strain.”
For most of us alive today, this is the first time in our histories that we have experienced such sustained conditions of threat about which we have had to be consciously aware all the time. I have marveled on many an occasion in these years since I began writing my newsletters about the double-edged sword of the human capacity to adapt.
On the one hand it ensures our survival, even in conditions that are so averse to our well-being that we really ought to bow out, but we don’t: we adapt. On the other hand, it means that we twist and bend ourselves into unhealthy shapes and then “carry on”, as instructed by those now iconic wartime posters.
And so, it is in such times as these, when we have learned to adjust to hiding half our faces and to accommodate the dissonance that creates to connection; when we have learned to work with thumbnail versions of each other’s heads and shoulders in the clinical environment of cyberspace, replacing the whole-bodied, vibration-emanating fully human versions of ourselves; when we have learned to feel the longing of love without hugs and when we have learned to find our response to constant threat, that we are navigating the consequences on our psyche, individual and collective, of the pressure of that to which we are adapting.
Bring in the Wounded Healers, I say! For, as Michael Mead goes on to express, we are living in the archetypal time of apocalypse: collapse and renewal. Apocalypse opens the archetype of creation – which includes chaos, which precedes and follows creation. Into this experience can (and I would plead must) step the Wounded Healers, in response to the pressure of the collapsing world. Because we live in both these worlds: the level of the world drama, and in our own individual stories. And – if you approach this from a quantum perspective, then you know that any healing accomplished at an individual level feeds into the healing of the collapsing world.
This is good news, then, for those of us who have made healing ourselves a core intention in the way we live our lives. Now we can share the gifts of our healing as our contribution towards this time of collapse and apparent chaos and confusion, of which there are booming narratives: pandemic, climate crisis, the collapse of moral and ethical leadership, extreme polarisation, global increases in mental illness and psychological distress and profound grief.
“Humans are each very small compared to the cosmos and what we call The World, and yet the soul of a human is a very big thing, and it turns out that change moves from the individual into the collective and from there out into The World. So, if we are going to change and we’re going to heal and transform The World it has to begin with healing our own souls.” (Michael Mead: Wounded Healers in a Broken World)
I love that we can do this. I love it. Because it is easy to become despairing, especially when we are adapting to extreme conditions that deplete us by forcing us to live with circumstances that erode our capacity to connect. We are having to work harder than ever to maintain and sustain connection. But we can, we know how.
We can listen to one another. We can and we must. We can stay genuinely interested, and connected, even when we don’t agree. We can cultivate openness and beginner’s mind. We have the knowledge, and our World is calling on us to practice. Because we know that too: practice is everything. And practice is built from tiny, daily, repetitive, incremental steps. And practice is sustained by Brave Hearts.