Years ago, I read a book, the contents which I forgot quickly, but whose title always remained in my mind: The Well at the World’s End.
Today, the words came back to me, The Well at the World’s End.
For many of us, the brutality of the last several years has been almost numbing, and just when it seems it cannot get worse, it does. A mentally ill person just killed 18 people in Maine. Assault weapons and mass murders are regular occurrences. A pilot tried to crash a commercial airplane because he was struggling with depression.
Now, through TikTok and Instagram, we can watch real-time news and videos about attacks in Israel and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We have seen endless pictures of kidnapped people and heard story after story of brutality, cruelty, and numerous lives destroyed by revenge, bombs, and guns.
Has it always been this way in the world? Do social media and our hyperconnected AI world make it seem worse, or is it really getting worse?
What do we do with our fear, helplessness, and despair? We look for moments when we can experience other things besides heartache, fear, and numbing paralysis.
The Well at the World’s End. That is the wisdom I cling to today, remembering that there is always a well to draw from. Even in the worst of times, there are moments that are touching, humorous, and profound that help us remember that we are more than the images of horrors we are being bombarded with. In the book The Cellist of Sarajevo, a musician dressed in his finest clothes sits down in the middle of the street and plays his cello—with bombs exploding everywhere.
We have so many precious moments—those of music, connection, joy, and friendship. In his marvelous book, AWE, the New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, Dacher Keltner shows us eight ways we can experience this essential feeling “of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your current understanding of the world.” Many of those moments are available to us in everyday life, simply by going for a walk in nature or taking time to take a deep breath and go within.
This does not mean that we should stop doing whatever is necessary to stop the madness: writing letters, voting, protesting, sending relief, and so forth. This is just to emphasize that the moments in between, especially those moments of awe that sustain us, are essential.
Last weekend, I saw the most exquisite art collection at the Portland Museum, Black Artists of Oregon. This past weekend we went to a reading of a friend’s new book and walked on an Oregon beach with dear friends and our three doodles.
Even when it seems the world is coming to an end, there is a well beneath us, there is awe around us, and it provides us with strength for the next moment.
Then there are our connections with other people; sometimes, the greatest and most meaningful of these are found in the darkest of times.
What are the places in your wellspring? Id love to hear how you replenish yourself, find awe, connection or just look for a way to appreciate a sweet moment in spite or the craziness of the world around you.