|“Dresden, I need help,” I said to my primary guide after having lunch with a dear friend.
“Talk to me.”
“I’m overwhelmed and scared and discouraged, bordering on powerless. I’m on the verge of tears but this isn’t even about me.”
“What isn’t about you?” Dresden asked. “Specificity will help here.”
“Russia invaded and started a war with Ukraine. I have Ukrainian friends here in the States who are scared for their family and friends back home. I have Russian friends who are totally opposed to what Putin is doing, and who might be the targets of renewed anti-Russian sentiment. This, on top of the Texas governor deciding that affirming trans kids’ gender is the same as child abuse and asking citizens to report parents of trans kids. It seems like the movement toward greater civil rights after the murder of George Floyd has stalled, and disinformation and conspiracy theories still abound.”
“And where are you?”
“What do you mean, where am I? I’m sitting here, talking to you.”
“Where is your energy?” Dresden asked patiently.
“Oh. I guess some of it’s in Ukraine and some is in Texas and some is…in places other than here.”
“You can’t help anyone by fracturing and depleting yourself,” Dresden said. “So let’s start by calling all of that energy back to yourself.”
Using a technique Dresden had taught me years before, I visualized those tendrils of energy that linked me to other places, other people, other events. And then I gently disconnected each one and brought those tendrils back into myself. The image was rather like an octopus letting go of objects and curling its arms closer to its body.
“Okay,” I said when I was done.
“How do you feel?”
“Really tired now. And I have a headache. And there’s still war and discrimination and hatred going on.”
“War and discrimination and hatred have always been going on,” Dresden said. “You’re just particularly sensitive to these right now.”
“But what can I do?”
“The first thing you can do is tend to yourself so that you can be there for others. The second thing is to consider what ways you can offer help that also aligns with who you are.”
“I can’t help but think of the people in Ukraine who have lost their homes or access to food, water, and medical care. That’s what speaks loudest to me.”
“Does that also align with who you are?” Dresden asked.
“Yeah. It’s the basics of saving lives. That’s it for me: saving a life.”
“Then take a few moments to find a charity that holds that as its mission. Let your energy and your body inform your choices more than your emotions.”
I spent a few minutes on Google, coming up with the highly recommended GlobalGiving Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. “Okay. This feels good.”
I left to talk with my partner about an amount to donate, then returned only to have my computer crash. Three times in a row. With his help, we narrowed down the problem to an old, incompatible driver and uninstalled it. I sat back down.
“Was that just coincidence?” I asked, side-eyeing where I sensed Dresden’s presence.
“The more important question,” Dresden said, “is what can you glean from that experience with your computer?”
With my computer crashing like that, I couldn’t finish my conversation, couldn’t make a donation, couldn’t share this conversation… “I couldn’t help anyone else until I first took care of my system. Literally.” I shook my head. “This is not at all where I thought this would go. Did you make my computer crash?”
“No. But I will gladly take advantage of the lesson it provides.”
“So, what about other people who aren’t in a position to make a donation but still want to do something?”
“Remember,” Dresden said, “that I asked you to consider ways you can help that also align with who you are. Your way of helping will not be the same way for everyone. Not everyone will feel moved to help, and that’s okay too. Your part is to do your part. Not to solve or fix or take on the full responsibility yourself, but to do your part. And make sure all of your physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social components, if you will, are working correctly for the next time you need to do your part.”
“Are the Ukrainians’ guides with them?” I asked hesitantly.
“Yes. Whether acknowledged or not, known or not, those guides are there.”
I had another thought and snorted. “What about Putin’s guides? Where are they? Couldn’t they have stepped in?”
“Not if it interfered with free will, no. Not everyone is interested in receiving guidance. Not everyone is willing to change their thoughts and beliefs. And not everyone wants to remember their intentions for their lifetime.”
“How does that make those guides feel?” I asked, wondering if he’d tell me.
“I can’t speak for them.”
“How does it make you feel when I won’t listen?”
“Like I have been here many times before and will be many times again,” Dresden said, a smile in his voice.
I snickered. “Okay, so take care of all of myself and do my part, whatever is in alignment with who I am.”
“That seems too simple.”
“It’s always been simple,” Dresden said. “You just like to make it complicated.”