Don’t Turn Away: The Initiation of America.


This feeling of disorienting free fall — tumbling with no ground, no safety net, no sense of direction, or even purpose — this is what initiation looks like.

This isn’t hipster shamanism. This internal and existential WTF is a true dark night of the soul. And this is our national reality.

I half-expect (and hope) to hear the adrenaline-inducing screech that proceeds, “This is a test. This is only a test.” Initiations are, after all, never easy, and wanting it to be just a bad dream or a cruel joke is always the first level of the initiatory process.

The thought of an entire nation moving through such a painful and gut-wrenchingly surreal experience is almost too much to bear. But these wake-up calls rarely come softly. They rarely arrive in the form of a gentle nudge.

Instead, calls to awaken almost certainly trumpet and devastate their way through our lives. An illness, an accident, or as Tom Brokaw said on that decisive Tuesday night, “the pin pulled on a grenade that’s been rolled across the country” — these are the ways we’re called to our potential.

It’s tempting to turn away. This call to bring unity to polarization, is this for me to answer? But remaining stuck in the beginning levels of the transformation process is not a luxury we can afford.

The shock and confusion are real enough — a fist to the jaw, an almost cosmic carpet-yank — but the real work begins when the dust settles and the hard truths surface. The ugly underbelly we are now faced with is the underbelly we each carry, yet often work hard to deny. Now, flipped upside down, it can no longer be ignored.

And that is the whole point of the initiatory process. It comes crashing into our lives to dismantle and reorganize the status quo when the situation has become unbalanced, unsustainable; when we have been living unconsciously, blind to even our own machinations. It forces us to look unflinchingly at what we would prefer to avoid.

No matter what we want to believe about ourselves, this is a call to brutal honesty, a call to examine the underbelly of our own minds and what we contribute to the national collective unconscious. We are being called to an achingly authentic expression of ourselves — an expression hard-earned, without pretense or delusion. We are being called, in the end, to heal. To become whole.

For those of us who work daily toward a national vision of equality and tolerance, how we view what just happened will play a key role in how we move forward. Will our perceptions have us stuck in fear, mistrust, reactionary hate? Or will we take the lead in shaping our experience and the future of this country by walking our talk and moving consciously, courageously through this transformation?

Will we heed this call and determinedly work  — with compassion and self-awareness — toward healing the divide? Will we not just hold the vision but live it?

We’ve been given a truthful look into our country and, ultimately, ourselves. This will be, no doubt, a test of our skill in bringing to reality what we still believe is possible. What we do next can be a genuine demonstration of mindful, compassionate living and it can be — authentically, collectively, historically — powerful.

“We still believe in love, so fuck you.” ~ Elbow


tressamallamoTressa Mallamo has a formal education in Psychology, but her true education has come through nearly 25 years of practicing meditation. For her, it’s all about getting real on the cushion and bringing those lessons into daily life. You can contact her via Facebook.


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