Looking Back on 2008

Coastline Pilot

26 December 2008


Chasing the Muse

Catharine Cooper


Sitting somewhere between the ending and the beginning of the New Year, I find myself pondering the events of 2008, and of course, looking at the list of ”hoped for” in 2009.


When I look back on 2008, I’m struck by the extraordinary violence that continues to rage.  Bombings, suicide explosions, and air raids filled the news.  There was not one peaceful month, not one spread of days when we humans lived in harmony.  It saddens me that our species has come so far – and not come nearly far enough.  We bear such great intelligence, and yet manifest such poor implementation.


My own back-yard –  our ‘hamlet’ of Laguna Beach – seems serene by comparison to the rest of the world.  We rage about parking spaces, over-sized houses, resort living in Aliso Canyon, sewage spills, and the Downtown Specific Plan.  Compared with world politics, we are calm beyond description.


Russia’s run amok.  Mexico’s drug wars spin out of control.  Famine and genocide rack Africa.  Financial meltdown affects every corner of the globe.


The world seems decidedly out of balance.  How does one make sense of it?


I sit on the mat in yoga.  The mat becomes the world.  I follow the breath and turn the poses into a moving meditation.  Peace begins with me.  From me, let peace radiate to others. My teacher, Cathy Cox, gathers us together at the end of each practice, “… and together we say, Namaste”.  We are thankful.  We are grateful.  We are conscious and alive.


I suppose just that – being conscious – has been an overriding ‘hoped for’ in years past and into the present.  I don’t mean just awake, but mindful of choices and their consequences.


Laguna presses in this direction with the development of their Environmental Committee.  We begin slowly to pay attention to each and every aspect of where and how we live.  We learn over and over again, that we are not isolated one from the other, but connected.  If nothing more than by the air we breathe.


And so it behooves us to take care of the air.  We understand the deadly consequences of second hand smoke.  We’ve banned cigarette smoking from restaurants and most public places.  How can we as a community embrace the equally noxious consequences of fireplace effluents?


Water quality. We come together and pledge to not pour spent oil or other chemicals down our drains.  We learn, and designate with cute pictographs, that all wash-down flows to the oceans.


The oceans support us in more ways than the waves we surf or the shoreline where we play.  The seas cool our planet, struggle to regulate our climate and provide sustenance.  If life in the sea was to die – and already we are seeing toxic blooms and the collapse of coral reefs – the consequences for earth are likely to be dire.


The planet – literally – is in our care, our intelligent protection.  It is our responsibility to insure its health for our own lives, and for those who follow behind us.


Many tradeoffs have been made in our economic development.  Too often we have despoiled our lands for the sake of profit.  How much is enough?  That question comes round and round again.  Are we happy with ever mounting piles of stuff?  What do we actually need to live fulfilled lives?


To live a ‘better’ year is always one of my New Year’s resolutions.   For me, better includes learning more, improving my skills, letting go of old fears, embracing new challenges, and stepping up to my own possibilities.  This does not diminish the year that has been spent, but rather allows for building upon its successes, learning from its failures, and reaching out for clarity and purpose.


I’ve not made a specific list this year of what I’d like to see for 2009.  Instead, I’m relying on an intuitive sense that just what I need to learn and discover are already headed in my direction.  My job in this is to not turn away, but to be open to the magic of the unexpected.


Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I believe this quote permeates all that I would hope for in 2009, and I would hope it colors all of our actions and choices.


May increasing peace find itself manifest on this planet.


Happy New Year.

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