The One Thing You Need to Know

Sharon October 27th, 2008

I’m a bit under the weather today.  I’m tired and overwhelmed and behind on six million things, approximately.  Frankly, I’m also a little bored (not to mention nauseated)  watching the financial crisis – clearly there’s a reason why zombie movies are more fun than watching Zombie Treasury Secretaries dismantle the economy. And just in case I’m not the only person out there having a bad day, I thought it would be worth reminding everyone of the things that give me hope for the future.

The best articulation of my hope comes from Annie LaMott’s gorgeous book _Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.”  And it is simply this..

“…one of the immutable laws of being human is that the people who show up are the right people.” 

Think about that – how unlikely, and just possibly how true.  If I’m to have faith in something, I think that’s a thing worth believing in – for all of us.

Without that, I might be tempted to spend the day in a fetal position – of course, since my kids would promptly come and jump on my head, self-indulgence might not be my best strategy.  But maybe they are the right people too ;-) .

That’s what I need – faith that we can go forward, and someone to jump on my head. 


38 Responses to “The One Thing You Need to Know”

  1. Raven says:

    Can they come jump on my head, too, to keep me from looking at the global markets every ten minutes? :)

    My pastor says, “Out of all the places you could have been today, God chose for you to be here, for a reason.”

    Out of all the eras you could have lived in… :)

    Hang in.

  2. Shamba says:

    Everyone deserves a day or so when they can curl up in their fetal position and shut out the whole world. You have my permission to do so, Sharon! (although momma’s have a difficult time doing this, I know).

    Sometimes just having someone’s permission to do what we want is enough to help us keep going. At least, sometimes it is just what I need, someone who knows what it’s like to want to curl up and zone out for a while.

    Hope you are feeling much better soon

    Peace to you,

  3. If you look around you at what’s in front of you, how bad is it?

    Just saying. What’s on your plate today is all you really have. Preparing for possible catastrophes may be wise in some measure, but in the end, all you have is the people in your living room and the situation on your front doorstep.

    I suspect that’s all going pretty well. Take care and try my policy: ignore the bad news and it goes away. Seriously. The world won’t fall apart if you ignore its troubles for 24 hours (or a week!)

    PS My latest PET CT Scan shows everything stable and “fabulous” – 2d such reading in a row. Blood counts, including crucial liver function, are “stone cold normal.” So I am pretty damned happy with my policy of ignoring the bad stuff. It is going away!

  4. Verde says:

    I just came back from the annual meeting of our wider church. Finances were a huge portion of that…. a hospital chaplain had to leave because a well to do man in the city was ready to jump off a building….

    Sorry, this isn’t making you feel better – so, everyone deserves a mental health day – small people jumping on your head ought to be optional. Watching zombie movies or any day time TV for that matter will not improve your view of the world but make you grateful for the way you live your life. One of my favorites is hanging out on the bed with magazines or my quilt books with pictures or just a novel.

    Personally, I have a head ache from too much vino last evening while making spagetti sause from the tomatoes that ripened on the kitchen table while I was away. Now I’m getting ready to can said tomatoe sauce.

  5. KathyD says:


    Take care of yourself– I’m amazed at how much you do. Although
    I appreciate your hopeful words, I was hoping this would be a pity party
    for a bit.

    I’m not as high minded…. so. I have a rat in my root cellar. It ate my
    drying flint corn. A mouse died behind my kitchen wall. We cut
    a hole in the wall to remove it– and created a wind tunnel through the
    hole and my ceiling tiles pop up and down. At least the flies are dying–
    I’m sick of landing in my hair and coffee.

    Ahhhhh…. I fell better. Think I’ll go for walk on the prairie and harvest
    some rose hips.

    I’m Kathy– Resettling Big Stone County.

  6. Fern says:

    Part of the problem of preparing for future problems is that by the time they begin being easily visible to the rest of the world, we run the risk of burning out. We have been dealing, in our preparations, for financial issues for years now, from years ago when we noticed the housing bubble, from Katrina when we saw oil prices rising (never mind that we had seen peak oil even before that), from the beginning of the rise in foreclosures 2 years ago, from when we saw food prices begin to rise, etc.

    Gods, we’ve been at this longer than this ELECTION has been going on!

    We get it. We’ve gotten it for a while. We don’t have to read the doom each day. OTOH, main stream media and much of the public have JUST gotten wind of it. This is all new and fresh to them.

  7. cb says:

    And like Esther, perhaps we were born for such a time as this. Be well.

  8. Lisa says:

    The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    — Wendell Berry

    Sharon…..I’m heading outside with my kids. To the garden.
    Thank you, Lisa

  9. Susan says:

    I had my ‘stick my head in the sand day’ this past Tuesday. I had a whole list of things that NEEDED to be done…I did exactly two, both of which gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction: I prepped one of my beds for the winter crops, and I began sock #2 of a pair with a new colorwork technique.

    Alan Greenspan is my new chief on the poop list. I could not believe it when I heard him say that ‘this is a once in a century tsunami’ as though this was a force of nature, uncontrollable, to be expected sort of thing!!! How dare he brush off all responsibility in that way, this started on his watch and he let it happen! This did NOT need to happen.

    I keep hoping that the talking heads will pick up on the implications of his statement…so far no luck.

    Have a great time with your kids jumping on the bed! I have to admit I’ve done that a time or two…:)

  10. Lisa Z says:

    I’ve found in the last couple of weeks of taking a break from the world news that number one, I feel a he** of a lot better and number two, that the world has continued to do what it’s doing anyway. I continue my new way of living (aka “prepping”) because it’s the way I want to live ANYWAY. But I don’t need to watch the minute workings of the financial crisis or any of the crises going on because they’re going to happen whether I watch or not. And I’m going to live my good life whether they happen or not.

  11. jerah says:

    Last time both the husband and I were sick, our son got a hold of a golf ball somehow and spent the day bouncing it off our heads while we lay groaning on the couch. We were really sick. I hope your kids don’t have golf balls. Feel better. :)

  12. Thank you, Sharon, and everyone else for what is being communicated in the Casabon’s Blog. At least to me, this work is vital. A good enough future for our children is related to what we do — and fail to do — now, I believe. Hope you feel better soon, Sharon.

    Sharon, you are wonderful and honorable person. You neither hide nor are you willing to hide from empirical evidence. We need your example displayed in the actions of many other leaders who presently seem to be unwilling to communicate openly certain understandings about what is real and true to them. The science of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth is a case in point.

    So far as I can tell, your work is helping people to see more clearly as it is the wondrous world we inhabit and to more deeply appreciate the miraculous beings that humans are.

    Of course, your reporting is occasionally off-putting precisely because the message from science that you bring us is apparently unforeseen, distinctly discomforting and most unwelcome.

    Reports of good science, when that science is new, is routinely difficult to acknowledge, much less address. But that is what we are called upon to do. Grasping good science and adjusting to whatsoever could be real is required of us, I suppose. If today’s leaders intend to provide a sustainable future for our children, then nothing other than productive adaptation to the requirements of reality will do. It appears that the human community could soon have daunting, human-driven, global challenges to overcome.

    Despite all the efforts of denialists and naysayers, leadership has responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, just as you are doing, by urging the family of humanity to open our eyes and see what looms ominously before us on the far horizon. By willfully avoiding scientific evidence, we are losing the exquisite value found in one of God’s gifts to humanity as well as threatening the wellbeing of our children, life as we know it and Earth.

    Remaining electively mute in the face of good science related to the human overpopulation of Earth, the reckless dissipation of natural resources and the wanton degradation of the environment cannot be allowed to prevail. Even though reasonable and sensible scientific evidence comes into conflict with what our culture validates as real and true, still the evidence has to be carefully examined…. and not ignored. Is it possible that the standard for determining what is real and true in our culture is too often this: whatsoever is widely shared, consensually validated and judged to be economically expedient, politically convenient, socially agreeable is true and real? In that case, much of the scientific evidence found in Casaubon’s Blog presents many too many leaders and opinion makers in our culture with evidence of inconvenient truths.

    Each culture presents its membership with much that is real and also much less that is illusory. From the standpoint of a psychologist, because humans are shaped early and pervasively by cultural transmissions in our perception of reality, it looks like an evolutionary challenge for humankind to see the world as it is.

    It appears that cultural transmissions or memes generated within a culture may at times mesmerize human beings in that widely shared and closely held memes occasionally “produce” illusions of the world as it is. Some research seems to disturb us in basic ways because this scientific evidence comes into conflict with certain ideologically/culturally derived notions that are adamantly held by leaders about what it means to be human and about the “placement” of humankind within the natural order of living things. Unexpected scientific evidence of this particular kind is uniformly difficult for people to see, I suppose, because such evidence undercuts the ‘pedestal’ from which human beings prefer to hubristically look upon other living creatures and nature. We humans may introject biased and empiricially unsupportable cultural transmissions that confuse human reasoning and promote a certain cortical conceitedness which is not helpful when trying to see what is real. For a long time certain illusory memes appear to have been passed from generation to generation, distorting human perceptions and making it difficult for the human family to see scientific evidence for what is real about it.

    Sharon, with your leadership and assistance, perhaps we will come to more fully appreciate the difference between specious illusions borne of ideological/cultural bias and evidence derived from the careful, skillful and rigorous deployment of science.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery,


  13. [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » The One Thing You Need to Know I’m a bit under the weather today. I’m tired and overwhelmed and behind on six million things, approximately. Frankly, I’m also a little bored (not to mention nauseated) watching the financial crisis – clearly there’s a reason why zombie movies are more fun than watching Zombie Treasury Secretaries dismantle the economy. And just in case I’m not the only person out there having a bad day, I thought it would be worth reminding everyone of the things that give me hope for the future. [...]

  14. TH in SoC says:

    Get rest, and get well. I know very much how it feels to watch horrible things happening over which we have no control.

  15. Mari says:

    I highly recommend Shaun of the Dead for zombie movies. I’ve always wondered if epicurian zombies wandered around screaming “Sweetbreads….Ugh I mean… Brains!”

  16. risa b says:

    Ditto!! “Shaun of the Dead” rules!!!

  17. Yeah, now it looks like we might be bailing out the Auto makers too. All those fat cats who took the millions and ran while many of us are holding down multiple jobs and barely getting by.

    Your tax dollars at work.

  18. Please take care and be kind to yourself,

    When I was last in the middle of a similar fog one of the blogs I read occasionally put up a great post taken from her pastors sermon

    I found the message quite uplifting…. between things like this and the fact that I turned the news off for a few days I got enough head space to replace worry with action again.

    Kind Regards

  19. Rebecca says:

    Hey Sharon,
    I hope you feel better soon. When I get down about things, I remember (of all things) some of the words of Tolkein: It is not for us to decide what times we shall have; it is only for us to decide what to do with the time that has been given us. (paraphrased, of course)
    And hey, it could be worse. This isn’t the time of the Crusades and the Black Death, at any rate.
    er, scratch that first. The BD hasn’t come knocking yet, anyway!

  20. Rebecca says:

    Leila, congrats. Here’s hoping it stays that way!

  21. Auntiegrav says:

    I’m more in the mind that “the people who show up is everybody” and Nature weeds out the ones we don’t need. Unfortunately, modern medicine and agriculture have allowed way too many to clutter up the human garden for far too long, and evolution isn’t working like it should.

    The ‘One Thing’ we need to know is the ratio between what we consume and what we create. The numbers are not as important as the ratio. If we have only a few people, but they are rich and waste all of the world’s resources and destroy the environment without creating something useful for the future, then it doesn’t matter how “advanced” or “motivated” they are.
    If we have 7 billion people who live lightly on the land and only live without creating and understanding that they have to come up with a way to protect the Earth from asteroids, then they would also perish without legacy.

    We have to live lightly AND be creative so that our species has a buffer of usefulness to carry us through the rough times and to reach out to the things we can predict and deal with them. Otherwise, we might just as well live in caves and worship our skybuddies without every venturing beyond the next grassy knoll. What comes will come, and our brains will only be something that gives us stress we don’t need.

    Net Creativity is a personal, local, regional, and species-wide imperative to be and allow our children to be, more than just sustainable: Useful to the universe.

  22. Phil says:

    “…one of the immutable laws of being human is that the people who show up are the right people.”

    … including NY Times reporters bearing hatchets…

    I’m guessing that that’s part of your implied context, Sharon.

    Another modern aphorism is that “your worst enemies are your best teachers”.

    Never forget, Sharon, that you’ve touched the hearts, minds, and souls of many people, most of whom are totally invisible to you.

    And though their presence is often a lot less obvious, they’re also “the right people”.


  23. Dear Sharon,

    My wife has starting going on about rose hips, of all things, so I looked them up – and found myself at your blog of yesterday.

    This was after I started to read your book last night. I’m moved and shaken after just 30 pages.

    Whether this counts as the right people turning up, I don’t know – but I just wanted wish you well (from here in southern France) at this exact moment – and to concur with the others here: Doing Nothing is just fine from time to time.

    Not that you’ll be able to do much of it with that fab room full of kids I saw at the Times piece.

    Speaking of which, I am thrilled to discover the work (in that Times story) of Dr. Jack Hirschowitz, “a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan and a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, (who) said that certain carborexic behaviors might raise a red flag”.

    You couldn’t make it up!

    P.S. Speaking of Zombie Treasury Secretaries: :

    John T

  24. knutty knitter says:

    Sharing is a great thing. My eldest just shared his tummy bug with me in the most generous fashion……

    Take some time and come out fighting. There’s lots of us out here cheering you on.

    viv in wobbly tummy land nz

  25. Sharon says:

    Leila, I’m so happy to hear that things remain good. I’m just thrilled about that – certainly the best news I had yesterday, here in the world of too much snot ;-) .

    Jerah, I appreciate the golf ball wish – it is amazing how much some small things matter ;-) .

    Ok, better today (now it is Eric’s turn to be a little whiny, which is actually kind of nice, because then I get to pat him on the head a lot and make him tea, which I like). Thanks everyone!


  26. curiousalexa says:

    Lisa Z largely said what I was going to!

    I’m taking an information break for the next week. One of my roommates will keep me up to date on the election news whether I want her to or not! And really, the financial mess is beyond my control, and nearly beyond my comprehension. (I thought derivatives were a calculus thing!)

    Instead I’m going to pull the rest of my garden, dehydrate the peppers for future cooking, and explore sprouting wheat berries. And curse my other roommate for buying *and opening* this huge bag of halloween candy! (he bought two bags – one for us, one for the kids on Friday. argh!)

  27. Student says:

    This is from a piece entitled “Where Will You Place Your Faith?” It seems the message for our time is that we are all here for a reason…

    “In face of the Great Waves of change that are coming to the world, which will challenge people’s faith in themselves, in their nation, in nature itself and in G-d, the question of faith becomes very important. The strength of this faith and where it is placed become very significant in terms of the individual’s ability not only to function but to be creative, discerning and competent in the face of changing circumstances.

    “Everything around you will be challenged. So many things around you will prove to be weak, fallible and vulnerable. Institutions will be overwhelmed and in some cases will fail. Nature will appear to be harsh and uncompromising. The hope for Providence or for being rescued will fade as times continue. This will be a crisis of faith for so many people. Yet in reality you were sent into the world to live in this time, to face these circumstances and to contribute something unique and essential.

    Sharon, I just started reading your book last night and I couldn’t put it down. I’m buying copies for friends and family immediately. I don’t know why I cry when I read your writing… I guess it just touches a deep core of truth inside me. Thank you for bringing wisdom and beauty to such dire circumstances. I think the right people have shown up.

  28. Greenpa says:

    Hey- is it snowing there?? I see there’s a bunch in some of NY; I’m thinking it includes you. So- it just doesn’t GET any better, on an off day, than to be able to sit wrapped in a blanket, staring out into the first snow, with a cup of hot tea (or cocoa, or whatever).

    Assuming there’s wood for the fire.


  29. Kati says:

    Glad you’re feeling better today. Hope you get that bit of break you’re needing.

  30. Ruth says:

    HI there,
    Have you heard about Open Space Technology?
    It’s a form of organisation.
    It’s enlightening if you have experienced it. So simple, so real and it works
    Anyhow, one of the 4 principles is:
    “whoever comes is the right people”
    And it never fails. :) Ruth

  31. Gracie says:

    Sharon, glad you are feeling better. I agree with whoever said we have been at this long enough that burnout is inevitable occasionally. I get burnt out too. I think we all do. Many days I just don’t feel like talking about it, or thinking about it, or doing anything about the doom that we see. Then I get better and get on with it, much as you and others here do.

    I think the most important thing, and I think I can safely say you feel the same from your writings, is that we are actually DOING something about it.

    Take it easy for a day or two, get some rest, you deserve it.

    Leila, GREAT news on your PET/CT scan, had my CT scan yesterday, am hoping for good news on Thursday. I have three spots on my liver they are watching. Hoping the cancer hasn’t spread.


  32. Susan says:

    That’s what we all need. For me the distraction is the incredible color of the autumn leaves with faith as the constant. Shalom.

  33. Wendy says:

    I had to laugh at the last part, as that’s exactly what would happen to me if I tried to hide away from the world and curl up in a ball – my kids would come and jump on my head … along with their dad ;) . And they are all the “right people.”

  34. AIRDALE says:

    I am wondering if this is the same Sharon that posts sometimes on TOD.

    I am sorta leaving TOD due to not wishing to have to listen to the constant bashing in various degrees.

    My main impetus lies in sustainablity and not what is really going on with oil. I too seem to be in a funk of late from reading too much that is distracting and not relevant as to the real future that I believe we will face.

    This will be the first time I have actually read any of the postings on this site.


  35. Thanks everybody. And special prayers for Gracie…

  36. Abi says:

    “Who is happy? He who is content with his lot”

    You are teaching us where to find happiness -
    how to be content with what we have-
    and how to recognise it.

    I guess we are all trying to give a little back with our comments.

    Thank you.

  37. KM says:

    Hi, Sharon-

    Hope you’re recovered and encouraged by all the above comments- there are so many people who are truly grateful for your efforts and inspiration. Thank you for being you and for what you do- and write!

    Did you get to snuggle in and enjoy some snow?

  38. Greenpa says:

    Leila- you know I’m smiling. Such good news.

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