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“Blessed Unrest” is a prayer, and a call, to a particular way of being: Awake to the world as it is, devoted to the world as it could be, and engaged in bridging the gap.
Credit for the phrase “blessed unrest” goes to the dancer Martha Graham, for whom it describes a state of sacred discontent at the heart of every creative act. She said: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique…. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching…”
I learned the phrase through The Pachamama Alliance, whose transformational education program, Awakening the Dreamer, uses it to name the way of being our world needs from us. There’s a fierce urgency, but also a deep, boundless joy — even an equanimity from knowing you are doing what you’re here to do.
Paul Hawken uses the phrase for the title of his book, “Blessed Unrest,” in which he catalogues the incredible number of community and nongovernmental organizations working worldwide to advance social justice and environmental sustainability. These groups make up what he calls “the largest social movement in history,” an unprecedented collective “immune response” to the outdated paradigms and ideologies that have given rise to so much ecological damage and suffering to life on this planet.
VERSE 1: “Oh I am waking up to find my world // Between the dying and being reborn” — We are living in a time of enormous peril and possibility. Joanna Macy, the prominent ecophilosopher as well as my teacher and dear friend, calls this “The Great Turning:” an epic transition from an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. When we really “take in” all that is being lost, and all that is emerging, we naturally fill up with a deep well of compassion, and an unignorable calling to act as both “hospice worker” for the dying world and “midwife” for the world being born.
VERSE 2: “How can I change our course? I’m just a lonely voice” — As Joanna Macy points out, this mighty transition is by no means guaranteed. We may in fact be living through “The Great Unraveling” — the collapse of the ecological and social systems that support life as we know it. It’s so easy to be daunted by the stakes and the uncertainty of these times, and to retreat into isolation and despair. But instead we can use this uncertainty to wake up to our true, heroic nature, and restore our relationship between with the web of life.
BRIDGE: “Ancestors all behind, and before me every child // I bring the power of a long unbroken line” — We often forget the almost unimaginable miracle of life on this planet, as the surviving heirs to countless eons of species and survivors. Just as we can be filled with gratitude for those before us, so too will there be those who come after us, who could thank us for allowing their lives to be possible. When we see the improbable fortune of our existence, and the enormous privilege it is to ensure the flourishing of all future life, we tap into a kind of inexhaustible resilience, courage, and strength. Joanna Macy calls this a sense of “Deep Time.”
VERSE 3: “When our time is through, I want to know // We did what we came to do, for the Future Ones // So in our darkest days, may we all be strong // And give our lives so life may go on” — We have each had dark days, and we will likely have more. In those moments, what I want is that all of us remember we are loving “ancestors” to future generations… and therefore to dedicate our lives to their thriving, and the thriving of all life on this planet.
from Blessed Unrest: a soundtrack for social change
released January 31, 2013
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A&R and General Management
LONG VIEW ENTERTAINMENT
Recorded and Mixed at
SPIRITHOUSE - Northampton, MA, Fall 2012
and PAUL McNAMARA
Engineered by DANNY BERNINI
Mixed by DANNY BERNINI with PAUL and BONNIE
Mastered by DANNY BERNINI
Vocal Coach and Song Doctor - KELLY WOHLFORD
There Is No Title Great Enough - KELLY SHANNON
Photography by MARK TANG
Artwork & Design by ZO TOBI
Acoustic Guitar & Vocals - ZO TOBI
Drums & Percussion - TOMMY DIEHL
Electric Bass - JOHN O’BOYLE
Electric Guitars - CALEB ROSAZZA
Keys & Background Vocals - PAUL McNAMARA
Guest Vocals - STEWART LEWIS