“The future is dark, with a darkness as much of the womb as the grave.” - Rebecca Solnit
I often think about how we should talk to our kids about the challenges of the world they will inherit so that we both open their eyes but also keep their hope intact. I believe they need that balanced gift to solve the problems they will face.
This question felt especially true this semester, on the heels of the violence of the news, the synagogue shooting, the Thousand Oaks shooting, the fire that started there the same day. Then it became palpable this week because we are so close to the Camp Fire fire that the smoke of all that loss closed our school.
I think about Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark:
Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.
I think about how our kids are such good sniffers of the untrue. I heard this same sentiment spoken recently by Dr. Malik Henfiled (@DrHenfield) at an "Identifying Gifted Students of Color" conference and it was a theme at a week long Greater Good Science Center week at UC Berkeley. Young people haven't learned everything we know about artifice and so they know when we are not meeting them or listening. They know when we walk the walk or just talk the talk. Their bodies are literally mirrors of ours. You can accurately predict the cortisol levels of the adult in the room by checking those of the children. It is likely less important what we say than who we are when we say it.
So my hope for those of you who spend your days with kids is that you take a moment today to resource yourself. How do you want to be in front of those kiddos? And what do you need to fill yourself up with first to do so? Find some way to take five minutes (or, revolutionarily, half an hour) to imagine around you the resources you have. Imagine a place you love and go there in your mind. Try to feel what it feels like inside your body. Hug someone you love. Do the famous Three Good Things gratitude practice.
Which reminds me...this is the week of the year when people know how to talk about gratitude. The idea of expressing what you are grateful for is not a Hallmark obligation or silly self-help practice (though I used to think so). In times like these, it actually one of our greatest resources. In Solnit's statement above HOPE is an axe and a force. So is true gratitude. If we can touch what we are grateful for and really let it in, we then expand our own capacity. It counteracts the narrative of fear and hoarding. With gratitude, we see all we have and are more aware of all we have to give. When we experience how much we have, we know it is safe and possible to share with others who can, in turn, take that in and multiply multiply multiply.