December is always a strange and hard time for many of us — filled with experiences that contradict each other or contradict how we think we are supposed to be feeling, how we think “everyone else” is doing. This year December feels to me like a metaphor for this whole enduringly strange time to be alive.
I’m longing for us to do more pausing and looking each other in the eyes and acknowledging what we’ve been walking through these last three years and what we are walking through still. Even when we are now able to gather in the same rooms with the same people as before Covid (the new B.C.), we’re all changed, and most of our institutions are changed, at a cellular level. We have losses, large and small, yet to grieve, including a loss of certainties that were illusory and that we don’t want back. But uncertainty is hard on us as creatures. We are not getting back to normal, and yet our instinct is to power through as though we were.
I’m holding all of this in myself, perhaps alongside you, and feeling the toll it all takes.
Yet, at the very same time, I’m impatient for us — those of us who are able — to look up and out and begin to walk into all we’ve been given to see and to learn, all the ways we’ve been given to grow. I’m re-summoning the astonishing realization, which we made as a species, that civilization rests on something so tender as bodies breathing in proximity to other bodies. I’m meditating on the first calling the pandemic set forth when we had to ask “what is essential?” as a matter of societal urgency — and every answer had something to do with the giving of care.
I’m just going to touch down lightly on our contemplative reading exercise this week, with James Bridle’s Ways of Being. Serendipitously, the chapter we’ve arrived at — Solidarity — speaks to this matter of care as we’re learning to appreciate it in the non-human world, too. Mutual aid, natural kinship, pleasurable sociality, moral feeling, herd behavior, swarm intelligence, communal mourning, the dignity of personhood, entanglement with other beings — these are all qualities of the larger world of vitality in which I know myself ever more intimately to belong. I’m adding one of our all-time favorite shows to the playlist this week — with Katy Payne, a pioneer in discovering the songs of whales and the emotional communion of elephants. The word “solidarity” rings idealistic at best in the context of human society right now. But James Bridle’s definition of solidarity parallels what I’ve come to understand as the way hope functions in lives that shift the world on its axis. It begins with an insistence that things do not have to be this way. It throws body, mind, and spirit at that insistence, and so has real world consequences.
Solidarity is a product of imagination as well as action, because a practice of care for one another in the present consists in resisting the desire to plan, produce and solve. Those are the imperatives of corporate and technological thinking, which bind us to oppositional world views and binary choices. Active, practical care resists certitude and conclusions … It is the result of encounters, not assumptions (p. 280).
Our calling to care, and to social creativity, generative solidarity, and the world of emergence we can inhabit ever more joyfully — these are themes of the next season of all new On Being shows which will — it is now official — launch on Thursday, February 2. It feels so good to be in production again — having big, mind- and heart-opening, life-giving conversations, and then, with my extraordinary team of colleagues, turning them into offerings that are as beautiful and hospitable as can be.
I thank you, if you are one of the listeners who has told me you’ve missed the rhythm of radio presence, for staying with us in this season of pause from the show. It has been a time of novel creativity and experimentation — from The Summer of the Pause to digital courses and retreats in incubation; from the contemplative reading exercise here to piloting and planning for gatherings quiet and not-so-quiet next year, to the articulation of our Foundations.
And, as you may have heard, instead of a virtual Midwinter Gathering this year, we’re partnering with our extraordinary friend and former guest Bryan Doerries and his Theater of War Productions to bring Sophocles’ play Antigone to Savannah. My colleague in social healing, Lucas Johnson, comes from Georgia and has been planting quiet seeds there — or, as we like to say, critical yeast — towards healing in the years to come. Perhaps you remember my conversation with Bryan at the height of the pandemic when all of their performances had gone virtual and tens of thousands of people around the world joined in their practice of this ancient technology and art to “communalize trauma” and release catharsis — insights and emotions that have had no place to go.
Register here or below to join us next Wednesday, December 21, by way of the “amphitheater” of Zoom. You’ll receive three preparatory emails from Lucas which will themselves be a gift.
And — we're taking our traditional two-week break with The Pause, returning January 7 — 2023! I'll touch on the final chapter and conclusion of Ways of Being then, too.
Wherever you are, however you are doing, go gently on yourself in this season — and in this time of ours. It is an honor to walk alongside you in holding hardness and strangeness as well as coaxing ourselves and each other into new presence to the world, and a new depth of life.
On Being with Krista Tippett — LIVE
Krista and the team will be taping several live interviews as part of the new season in coming months, and you can be there. Links to details and tickets below …
The On Being Project — VIRTUAL
Upcoming virtual events — join us from wherever you are in the world ...
On Being with Krista Tippett
December musings from Krista, plus: an invitation – and next season NEWS ...
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Poetry Unbound — Season 6's final episodes!
“You wake the dead to life”
Rumi, Translated by Haleh Liza Gafori
Distraction can steal joy. For Rumi, his joy was focused on what sustains: friendship, praise, laughter, and whatever brings life.
What strangers have captured your imagination? Why? What did they evoke in you? What did you attach to them? What did they free in you?
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“An Ecology of Intelligence”
A collection emerging from a practice of contemplative reading alongside James Bridle's Ways of Being – with episodes added throughout this autumn.
New this week:
Listen on: Spotify
Thanks to all who’ve read along with us this fall, and offered a glimpse into your margin notes in our inbox and on socials. We encourage you to continue sharing during our two week break — with time to catch up before this series draws to a close on January 7th.