Friday, December 2, 2011

Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times

NOTE: My daughter sent me this beautiful essay by the very wise teacher, storyteller and neo-Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes several years ago. It isn’t new; it was originally published in 2001 as Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times: with the subtitle, Do Not Lose Heart, We were Made for These Times. What I believe originally inspired it was the selection of George W. Bush to the presidency of the United States by the Supreme Court, an unprecedented event which many people called “a bloodless coup.”

On October 18th Dr. Estes reposted this essay on her Facebook page, adding the Creative Commons license so it could be reposted anywhere. I believe it was reposted in response to the Occupy Wall Street movement because she added the following note: “I would be made especially happy if you were to post it in places where those struggling in the streets across the world, might see it and be heartened.”

Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times

Mis estimados:

Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. It is true, one has to have strong cojones and ovarios to withstand much of what passes for "good" in our culture today. Abject disregard of what the soul finds most precious and irreplaceable and the corruption of principled ideals have become, in some large societal arenas, "the new normal," the grotesquerie of the week.

It is hard to say which one of the current egregious matters has rocked people's worlds and beliefs more. Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

…You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet ... I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is - we were made for these times.

Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. I cannot tell you often enough that we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and that we have been raised, since childhood, for this time precisely.

…I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able crafts in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

I would like to take your hands for a moment and assure you that you are built well for these times. Despite your stints of doubt, your frustrations in arighting all that needs change right now, or even feeling you have lost the map entirely, you are not without resource, you are not alone. Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. In your deepest bones, you have always known this is so.

Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

…We have been in training for a dark time such as this, since the day we assented to come to Earth. For many decades, worldwide, souls just like us have been felled and left for dead in so many ways over and over -- brought down by naiveté, by lack of love, by suddenly realizing one deadly thing or another, by not realizing something else soon enough, by being ambushed and assaulted by various cultural and personal shocks in the extreme.

We all have a heritage and history of being gutted, and yet remember this especially … we have also, of necessity, perfected the knack of resurrection.

Over and over again we have been the living proof that that which has been exiled, lost, or foundered - can be restored to life again. This is as true and sturdy a prognosis for the destroyed worlds around us as it was for our own once mortally wounded selves.

…Though we are not invulnerable, our risibility supports us to laugh in the face of cynics who say "fat chance," and "management before mercy," and other evidences of complete absence of soul sense. This, and our having been 'to Hell and back' on at least one momentous occasion, makes us seasoned vessels for certain. Even if you do not feel that you are, you are.

Even if your puny little ego wants to contest the enormity of your soul, that smaller self can never for long subordinate the larger Self. In matters of death and rebirth, you have surpassed the benchmarks many times. Believe the evidence of any one of your past testings and trials. Here it is: Are you still standing? The answer is, Yes! (And no adverbs like "barely" are allowed here). If you are still standing, ragged flags or no, you are able. Thus, you have passed the bar. And even raised it. You are seaworthy.

…In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. Do not make yourself ill with overwhelm. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by perseverating on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the Voice greater? You have all the resource you need to ride any wave, to surface from any trough.

…In the language of aviators and sailors, ours is to sail forward now, all balls out. Understand the paradox: If you study the physics of a waterspout, you will see that the outer vortex whirls far more quickly than the inner one. To calm the storm means to quiet the outer layer, to cause it, by whatever countervailing means, to swirl much less, to more evenly match the velocity of the inner, far less volatile core - till whatever has been lifted into such a vicious funnel falls back to Earth, lays down, is peaceable again.

One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or despair - thereby accidentally contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts - adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.

The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires ... causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both -- are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

…There will always be times in the midst of "success right around the corner, but as yet still unseen" when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But … that is not what great ships are built for.

…This comes with much love and prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

--Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Copyright ©2001, 2003, 2004 Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, All rights reserved. Creative Commons License by which author and publishers grant permission to copy, distribute and transmit this particular work under the conditions that use be non-commercial, that the work be used in its entirety word for work, and not altered, not added to, not subtracted from, and that it carry author's name and this full copyright notice, including email address as below. For other uses, Permissions:


Wugo said...

Metaphors aside, we are a scrappy, crafty species and we've been through much worse troubles than what we're seeing now. Of course we'll survive this one.

Raksha said...


I just spent an hour typing a long reply to your comment, but then LOST it during my last preview. Google Chrome suddenly decided I was on a non-secure website, after previewing my earlier drafts with no problem.

The reason I'm working in my Google Chrome browser, which I'm not very familiar with, is because Blogger has developed a serious allergy to my IE browser this past week and the problems are getting progressively worse. I'm going to have to ask for help in the usual place.

If I can get this posted I'll see what I can do about reconstructing the "meat" of my earlier post.


Wugo said...

There's hope: After I gave in and installed Chrome, Internet Explorer, inexpicably, became functional again. In fact I'm using it to send this comment.

Wugo said...

inexplicably, that is.

Raksha said...

That doesn't seem to be my problem, Sean. I installed Chrome some time ago, the last time I was having a problem with Blogger, but I hardly used it since I didn't understand how it worked. In fact, it created a whole new set of problems because I couldn't figure out how to get it work with my AOL account. I had to get a new Google email address, and all of my Blogger information--the blogs I follow plus access to my own blog--is linked to my AOL email address.

The problems I was having with Blogger a few months back cleared up after I installed AOL 9.6, which automatically updated my IE browser. But for about the past five days I've been having more and more trouble getting Blogger to do anything. It started with a difficulty posting comments. You know how I love to spout off in the comments section of other people's blogs! It's a spontaneous thing and I don't plan it--I just kinda find myself doing it. It was frustrating as hell because I kept trying to do it anyway. I'd spend an hour on a comment and another hour trying to get it posted, and finally end up losing what I'd written.

I was able to get this blog entry posted by using the stand-alone version of IE, not the one that comes as part of AOL. But that's rapidly becoming dysfunctional also. Finally last night, in desperation, I figured out how to sign out of Google Chrome with the Google email address and sign back in with my usual AOL ID. That gave me access to my blog and the ones I follow.


Wugo said...

This response is delayed because my computer ceased to function. I found the problem, after arduous effort, and worked around it, but I fear its working days are numbered. It is a Hewlett-Packard, only two years old. I'll not buy another H-P; Dells give better service.

It may help to install the latest version of Internet Explorer. I am using it for this comment and I really like it better than the maze called Google's Chrome.

Raksha said...

Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, Sean. I'm currently using IE 9.6, which is linked to my AOL account. Even the standalone version I use sometimes is "provided by AOL." Is there a newer version than IE 9.6? For the past week or so I've been using only Google Chrome to access Blogger because I can't get IE to work with it at all any more, not even to access my dashboard. I hated it at first becausse I couldn't locate ANYTHING! Now that I figured out where the copy and paste commands are and how to bookmark things it isn't so bad. I'm finally getting used to it, but then I really don't have a choice right now.

The main reason I'm posting this now is to let you know your blog crashed my Google Chrome browser twice--once last night and once earlier today. I had to send an error report to Microsoft both times. Didn't you say it was "grandfathered in" to Blogger from some other format? I've noticed since I started using this Google Chrome browser that the format on your blog is completely different from any of the other blogs I follow here. For one thing, I can't access my dashboard from your blog like I can with the others. Is there anything you can do about that? I'm going to copy and paste this in the other place to make sure you see it.


Nancy said...

This reminds me that with everything I learn - we all chose this time to be here. Nothing is a coincidence.

Raksha said...

Thanks for commenting, Nancy. I can't speak for anyone else, but I've always believed I chose this time to be here...and also that there are no coincidences. About synchronicity, I have never been able to decide if it's something that "happens" to us or something we create on some level. I tend to believe it's both at the same time--that we both discover AND create it simultaneously.

I posted the Clarissa Estes essay as much to inspire myself as anyone else. I may be "seaworthy" as she says (at least I hope so), but's hard to navigate in these times!


Wugo said...

I'm in Chrome now. I find neither articles or comments in your blog after Dec. 3. I wonder if you have accidentally excluded me from your group? I noticed a button that would do that somewhere in Chrome's directions, but I don't recall the place.

Wugo said...

Huzzah! Suddenly I can read the comments in your blog including the one just posted. I yield all credit for this miracle to Google since I am clueless about what is going on.

Raksha said...


Well, here's another miracle: I was able to access my blog in Internet Explorer for the first time in about two weeks! I receive notifications of new blog comments by email, so I clicked on the link in the email and my blog came up, complete with all the features and previous comments. The last time I tried this, the blog came up but it was complete--there were some features missing.

Now whether I'll be able to get this comment posted is another story.


Raksha said...

Yup, it's definitely a posted!