There is a meditation one of my teachers taught me in which I sit, with one hand over my chest and breath deep into my lungs, imagining my heart as a flame. I focus on that flame and watch it grow brighter with each inhale. Brighter. Still brighter. I spend time with the flame of my heart and learn its rhythm, listen to its soundless aliveness.
This meditation is hard for me. My attention wanders off. But I have learned to noticed when that flame feels refreshed. This past weekend I attended the March for our Lives in Asheville, and listening to the teens speak, I felt the heat and the strength of their hearts light up and ignite the fire of my own.
Today I have to run an emergency drill at school. The last few weeks I've spent many hours of daylight and some very dark hours in the night sitting with the reality of the danger that our children face. And I feel bowed down by the responsibility for caring for those children. I feel embarrassed that I'm not more knowledgeable about security and guns and chain of command. I find myself feeling that I shouldn't have to know about these things. And then correct myself to stop thinking from a place of should. What is is what is real. I am in this moment, and the world is what it is.
One of my favorite mantras: there is no way out, only through. These are the times we live in. My children live through the news cycle. They live through the many reversals of legal protections and environmental legislation that my parents and the parents of my parents fought to put in place. They live through having no health care. They live through crushing student loan debt. They and I live through these moments that seem to come so fast that there is no way I can keep the flame of my heart alive through all of it.
Then I am confronted by those who have been through so much more. The many black brothers and sisters who have carried the burden of making it through over the last several hundred years. And I show up to my own pain and uncertainty with a renewed commitment. I breath into the fire of my heart and I breathe out hoping to make it brighter. I breathe through and into the pain I feel that the world is such a painful, unjust place. And I sit for a few minutes, letting my heart break, using the kindling to build hotter flames.
Then I get out there and do.
Coranna Adams is a writer, filmmaker, and educator from Asheville, North Carolina.