At 1:10 p.m. I'm standing in line at the post office. I know it's 1:10 p.m. because my iPhone prayer app lets loose with a resounding call announcing the time for the midday prayer. The three other people in the post office avoid looking at me. Or maybe it doesn't bother them.
I carry the awareness of the waiting prayer for two hours, until I make it back home to my office. I do the ritual washing of my hands, face, and feet, take out my prayer rug, and face northeast.
Then I breathe.
My prayer carries me through various positions, my forehead approaching, then touching, the floor, then rising up again.
Because the midday prayer is done silently, the silence of the devotion carries me.
I'm grateful for this, because my heart is trembling with grief.
Struggling to Express Grief
The gushing bleeding of oil in the Gulf of Mexico is not anything I can contain. I alternate between numbness, denial and grief. It's simple: the lifestyle that we're living, that I'm living, is unsustainable, and it's killing many things in this world.
We know this. It's not a surprise, but it's hard to keep that much pain present.
I believe that our unexpressed grief is a significant fuel on the fire of our unsustainable lifestyle. Grief for the loss of life, the loss of the hope, the loss of beauty and connection.
Have you heard of Farmville? It's a virtual game within Facebook where you can run a virtual farm. Millions of people are playing this game on a daily basis. Even though it's a free game, you can spend real money on it if you choose to. And people choose to. More than US$1 billion annually is spent on this game alone.
What are we doing? Where are we putting our resources? This is not about blame. I don't blame anyone for numbing out to what's going on.
Marketing Has Gotten Very Sophisticated
Over the years, more and more psychological tricks have been implemented in marketing and product development.
Add extra nicotine to cigarettes, put cheap, high-alcohol beer in convenience stores, make porn and video games and violent movies easily accessible. Put marketing messages everywhere so that they are nearly inescapable. And make those marketing messages full of the promise of a wealthy, sexy lifestyle that the vast majority of the world's population can't reach.
The result? A loss of hope. A disconnection from the true source of our happiness and nourishment. An ever-increasing consumption of material goods.Resources, money and time, end up being funneled to the very things that continue to hurt us all so much.
Our economy, our marketplace is deeply dysfunctional. Billions spent on war, chemicals and oil, a small fraction of that spent on things that really make a positive difference in our lives. And the rest spent on numbing out to the powerlessness that we all feel when facing it.
Hey, Let Go of That Despair
It's important to face things as they are. Expressing grief is something I highly recommend.
But don't indulge in despair. Despair is just another way of avoiding grief. Despair is a decision that things will never work out, that there is no hope.
Instead, think about marketing. Well, first indulge your heart in love, then think about marketing.
Yes, I Said Marketing
There are so many good people doing good things. Sauvie Island Organics here in Portland has a community-supported agriculture program, which means that up to 400 families buy a share in the farm, and then share in the harvest. Delicious, local, organic food delivered directly from the farm.
They have openings. Huh? There are over 1.5 million people in the Portland area, and this farm hasn't filled all 400 openings? So much of our attention is taken up in distraction by our dysfunctional economy. Fast food instead of fresh, organic vegetables, for instance.
The healing work that amazing people are doing in sustainable food, in holistic health, in alternative energy, needs to take up a lot more of the attention and resources.
Our local Hollywood Video store is being shuttered because the parent corporation, Movie Gallery, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I'm guessing that's because the entertainment dollars have shifted to online downloads and Farmville, among other things.
But wouldn't it be amazing if they went bankrupt because all of those millions of dollars went to healers, coaches and practitioners of all stripes who were supporting people in regaining wholeness and connecting with each other in meaningful ways instead of zoning out in front of screens?
Marketing Is a Piece of the Answer
We find ourselves in urgent times. There is a desperate need for love, acceptance, and healing. The grief I feel at the distance between where we are and where my heart so longs to live is profound.
If we are going to heal the world, we are going to do it one imperfect step at a time. We need political activism. We need internal healing. We need love and community. And we need the people doing the good work locally, sustainably, beautifully to be visible. To take up space. To be the recipient of the over-abundance of resources flowing through our culture.
There is a way to do marketing with integrity. There is a way to do it with love and heart and be very effective.
If you struggle with marketing or business even a little bit because of how you've seen marketing used, I'm with you. I share that pain. But please don't abandon the airwaves to those hocking greed and dissatisfaction. Instead, open your heart to marketing. Open your heart to business. Business is in pain, it's sick. Don't abandon it.
Bring your heart, engage with love and integrity, and let's see if we can come together to claim the space and bring the healing we are all so desperate for.
By the time my forehead has touched the ground for the final time at the end of my prayer, my heart has returned to love. It has found hope and inspiration once more. I remember that the weight of the world is not on my shoulders alone.
You and I are in this together. Let's take up the space the Divine has given us, and bring your good work out into air, where everyone can see it.
Form your marketing in love, bring it out in inspired action, and connect with the people who need what you do so much more than the alternatives they're faced with.