Graffiti Philosophy: Everything Will Be Alright

Everything will be alright”

This phrase is written in tiny letters on the bathroom wall at work. Assuming that the staff has not taken to expressing themselves through gentle vandalism, I can only guess that a student plagued by looming deadlines or a broken heart that might never mend took it upon herself to share her affirmation with the rest of the world.

I cannot help that smile that I am lucky enough to work at a liberal arts college library where the graffiti is dedicated to such sweet, pure wisdom. It is one more thing that helps put into perspective the world of work in times like these.

Heart in the drive

For all that I loved the scholarly life when I was in school, all the emotional turmoil that sprang from too many hormones and too much beer and too little sleep and too few quiet moments are still vivid. I would never discount whatever drove that student to express herself in that hastily scribbled line, but I cannot help but think of those of us who already have our diplomas and who live in the “real world.” What do we think when we read “everything will be alright” each day?

This phrase hold special significance to me because it makes me hear Stephen Cope‘s voice every time. This aptly named author a few great books on yoga employs this phrase often (though to be exact, I think he says “everything will be OK”). He uses it to bring the scattered “puppy mind” back to stillness, to stop that constant monologue spurred by fear and regret that plays constantly in our heads. It isn’t Sanskrit, it isn’t much of a mantra, but what else do you really need when you are looking to create a moment of peace for yourself in the midst of chaos?

“Everything will be alright” is such a simple phrase, almost trite and probably over used, but why complicate things? Julian of Norwich gave us “all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.” Her line is little more like fine wine when it rolls off the tongue, but it is the same idea. We can wrap it around ourselves even when things seem to be at their darkest.

If the bedrock of capitalism starts to shift and a sanctuary like an elite college begins to feel the tremors when the greedy beast of our economy stumbles under the weight of its own foolish gluttony, is “everything will be alright” going to be enough?

If jobs are endangered and mortgage payments start to loom too large are those four little words going to protect us?

I think my answer to that is: they will have to.

We have always lived in an uncertain world, for all that it was not so obvious until this latest rash of bad news. It seems likely that all of our spiritual practices and all of our work to be centered and whole will be tested in new and powerful ways. I know I worry that my lovely little coping mechanisms might fail in those moments when “real life” in all of its insistent ugliness comes to call.

Again, I think there’s a simple answer: make sure those coping mechanisms are more than idle strategies you play with when life is smooth. Find a way to love yourself enough that you can gather your power and hone your strength and begin to truly believe, come what may, every little thing is gonna be alright.

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8 thoughts on “Graffiti Philosophy: Everything Will Be Alright

  1. Jennifer/The Word Cellar December 5, 2008 / 12:31 am

    That Julian of Norwich quote is one of my favorites. It also makes me think of a scene in the movie Resevoir Dogs. One of the characters has been shot and is freaking out in the backseat of a car, convinced he’s going to die. Another character tries to reassure him by singing: “It’s gonna by okay! It’s gonna be okay! Say it with me: It’s gonna by okay!” When a message shows up in Christian mysticism, a Quentin Tarantino film, and compassionate graffiti, you know it’s one to take seriously.

  2. Claire December 5, 2008 / 2:26 am

    Absolutley stunning – exactly what I need to read today. Its amazing how the mind tends to panic over things that may or may not happen. I read the other day that more than 90% of the things we worry about never happen. And if you look back at times in your life where you felt like you just weren’t going to make it … you did … and everything was alright.

    Another one I tend to use … when I remember (LOL) is “I am safe and I am loved” … this will be a great addition to that … thank-you for sharing this …

    Love and Light

    Claire

  3. girlwhocriedepiphany December 5, 2008 / 8:01 am

    Dear Jennifer,
    That IS a mighty trinity of wisdom – I’m totally sold on it now!

    Dear Claire,
    I am so glad that my words were of help. Can you imagine how much free space we could have in our heads if we just quit putting energy into the horrible little myths we create through worry? If you think about how precious the real estate in your own mind is I think it may get harder and harder to let stupid old worry live there rent free! (It’s early and I am not sure if that was quite clever or really cheesy, but I think you know what I am getting at!)

    Thanks and blessings, Marisa

  4. brandi December 5, 2008 / 2:28 pm

    this is beautiful affirmation for me that whatever works, works. It doesn’t have to be profound or complicated.

    I often tell myself those words when my (very aptly named, I might add) puppy mind goes bonkers.

    thank you for this post.

    and hey, if you have a flickr account, I have a flickr group called ‘universe love’-all about those little heart love notes we find in the world. You should totally add that photo!! (I mean, if you want to. I’d love to have it included) 🙂

  5. Barbara December 5, 2008 / 6:16 pm

    I like what Claire added “I am safe and I am loved.” That is the heart of it all. If we know deeply that we are like the hazelnut image used by Julian of Norwich to describe the universe in God’s hands, we cannot feel lost and bereft for too long.

  6. pam at beyondjustmom December 5, 2008 / 9:24 pm

    So simple, so important. Everything will be allright. It is enough.
    thank you!

  7. Quiet December 5, 2008 / 10:10 pm

    Ah … another librarian! I am not surprised.

    ‘Everything will be all right’

    And it usually is.

    Toilets are good places for graffiti. Once I saw the words:

    “God is not here. She is in the library”.

    Written, I think, by someone who should have been studying.

  8. girlwhocriedepiphany December 8, 2008 / 1:38 pm

    Dear Brandi,
    I’ll have to start a Flikr account to donate the picture to your cause! My mother and I have been collecting heart shaped rocks for my entire life and I have more than a few photos. That particular one is from the driveway of our house – I found it during the final walk through right before we signed the papers – talk about a sign!

    Dear Barbara,
    I don’t know that bit of Julian’s wisdom, but I will definitely seek it out. That sense of safety in God’s love is just so essential, isn’t it?

    Dear Pam,
    Welcome! Isn’t it staggering when we drill through all the layers of distraction and all the false ways we try to soothe ourselves and realize that the answer is so powerfully simple?

    Dear Quiet,
    I kind of like the idea of God(dess) strolling around the stacks. I hope I bump into her soon!

    Thanks and blessings to all.

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