“I learned the most important lesson of my life: that the extraordinary is not the birthright of a chosen and privileged few, but of all people, even the humblest. That is my one certainty: we are all the manifestation of the divinity of God.”
– Paulo Coelho
What if anything at all was possible? What if there was no fear? No fear of the deck stacked entirely against us and all worse case scenarios coming home to roost?
What if we could play the field of infinite possibility?
Quantum physicists see the whole universe as a field of potentialities—all existing simultaneously, each one waiting to come into being—awakened by the relationship of the observer, the engager with the field. It’s as if all possible futures were already formed, just waiting to be activated. So that’s where we, the observers, the engagers can choose which ones we want to see, which we want to live in. For the first time in the history of humanity as a whole, I believe there exists a majority of people who believe that greed and war and the mindset that creates it can bring no good to this earth. People see it for what it is: as a lack; of imagination, of willingness, of connection. I think we’re willing now to choose a different reality, one where we see each other as pieces of ourselves, as members of our own families, knowing that if we harm another we harm ourselves, just as when we harm ourselves we harm others. Nothing and no one can escape this web of connection. It’s called “Entanglement” in quantum physics. When particles are entangled, they affect each other across vast distances simultaneously.
How do I forget things that happened in the past in order to remember things that are yet to come?
What do I know about my own future? What do I know about it that I’m forgetting?
I recently started a new life. Moved to a new town, am officially in the waiting pool to adopt a child, am starting over to create new friendships, find my life partner, and be a part of a community of kind, fun, creative people. I spent eighteen months looking for a house to raise my family in. Friends told me ‘don’t settle for less than what feels right,’ and ‘you’ll know it when you feel it.’ I had another friend who won the green card lottery—an absolutely amazing feat—and when I asked her how she did it, she said she writes love letters to the things she wants to manifest. So I wrote a love letter to the house I wanted to find. “My dear beloved house…” Those words put me right inside it, I could see the light coming in the windows through old wavy glass, I could feel the warmth and comfort, like I was being held. I could hear the voices of my future family. I felt so grateful, the letter became more of a thank you letter. I read that letter often and I recorded it and would listen to it when I would take my walks. And after looking at over a dozen houses in over as many months, when I stepped through the door of this house, I knew I was home.
The day of the inspection, as I was driving toward the house and was a half block away, I felt a kind of magnetic pull from the center of my chest. Once inside, I knew finding this house marked a turning point. I knew I could only bring certain people into the house, that some ties needed to be let go of, and new ones formed. I saw images rushing past in my peripheral vision, of more people around me, more than just my partner and one child. I found myself saying the words “brood” and “clan.” I’m not planning on adopting a dozen kids or anything, but it was interesting to discover I was meant to be part of a larger household. And the living room had its own plans, for all kinds of musical, artistic, engaged community gatherings. The first day I sat out in the garden I felt the presence of my partner, I could see her out of the corner of my eye dancing in the garden.
– Buckminster Fuller
There are some people who believe we may only have 10 years to affect the kind of change that will allow us to bypass the very worst effects of climate change. Robin Chase, the CEO of ZipCar, the carsharing company, recently said during her TED talk, “I’m really scared - we need to reduce CO2 emissions in 10-15 years by 80% in order to avert catastrophic effects. I’m astounded that I’m standing here to tell you that - what are catastrophic effects? A three degree centigrade climate change rise that could result in 50% species extinction. This is not a movie, it’s real life.”
So here we have it - this edge-of-our-seat, heart pumping, action adventure - where the hero and heroine have to take bold action with seemingly all the odds stacked against them. They commit with all they have because the alternative is wholly unacceptable. Time again we humans have been known to rise up and beat unbeatable odds. And I like to keep in mind, we are a young species, and we’re always learning that sometimes we’ve only been able to see a tiny part of the big picture, even when we thought we were so certain we had all the facts.
I don’t know what might or might not happen for the future of this fragile place and our wild ride together, but I do have faith in the human heart and in our creative genius, and somehow I can’t see us getting this far with our enormous potential only to have the experiment grind to a screeching halt. So I’m of the belief that this is the end of this one particular story and the beginning of a whole new one. I see it as the shift from black and white to Technicolor in the movies, and way more dramatic than Surround sound & HD - so bring on the wild color and real life symphony of the next phase of humanity.
“When the clock strikes me,
the powers of being
over the powers that be”
–spoken word artist Saul Williams
I was speaking with someone a few days after the inauguration, and when I mentioned my hopefulness of a more engaged and activated citizenry, he said sadly, he didn’t share my hope. He said the Powers that Be are still very entrenched and that Obama was bought with the same money as all the rest of them. He said he was active in the sixties when they thought everything was going to change. I was too young in the sixties to have experienced the state of the world or the hope of radical change, only to have my hopes smashed when those changes didn’t appear to manifest in the world. That must have been extremely painful for many people. But when he said this to me, it felt like a habituated response. It made me think of Obama out there campaigning and giving his amazing speeches, and the many folks primed and ready with their responses that; “It won’t make a difference,” “He won’t be able to make a difference,” “The Powers that Be are too strong,” “Nobody’s ever been able to change It.” These phrases, flying fast and furious, leaving no room for Obama’s words, his presence, his call, or the answer from millions on election day. In fact his campaign of Hope was probably too much to hope for, for some people. I could feel that shut down. When I hear this response to the enthusiasm of Obama’s being elected, it’s as if there is some other voice in there talking, and the decisions - about how life is and how it will or won’t be in the future - have already been made. I feel for people who don’t want their hearts to be broken again. But I also feel that something’s happening out there and it’s summoning us, and that something’s happening inside us too, as we’re engaging more, and if we stay shut down and “protected” we’ll miss this opportunity for real security. This is not about the same interests that may be at play in Washington, this is about millions of people with new interests that are at play all over this country and the world, and how this is accelerating our creativity and cooperation, with new innovations and strategies and programs showing up daily, it seems.
“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.”
After many decades where psychotherapy rose to prominence largely among people who were educated and well-read, examining and clearing out old family patterns became almost a prerequisite to a successful adult life. New standards for being psychologically healthy emerged, reinforced by diluted psychological and “spiritual” concoctions spread in the “New Age” movement. They all actively promoted self-sufficiency as the new happiness crusade.
The value system that has been left in the wake of these cultural influences has promulgated the idea that the less we need, the happier we will be. The less we expect, the fewer disappointments we will face. Besides, emotional needs are particularly suspect in light of the conclusion that needs, as we encountered them in therapy, were the product of something unfulfilled in childhood and are at the root of the dependency patterns hobbling our functioning today. Even after those patterns were cleared out, however, this kind of thinking left many of us self-sufficient in our functioning but stuck deeper than ever in feeling separate, isolated, and reticent about relationships. The belief that needs are bad has inhibited us from taking a hard look at these inadvertent negative consequences of the human potential movement.
1: to induct into an office with suitable ceremonies
2 a: to dedicate ceremoniously : observe formally the beginning of <inaugurate a new school> b: to bring about the beginning of
I’d like to recap some of the events of this past exhilarating week. Starting with the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial, on Sunday, January 18, that demonstrated the power of words and music and common purpose.
“It was a day that combined inspiring political rhetoric with the very best of pop culture.”
The free concert opened with a military orchestra, the trumpeters’ long horns decorated with flags playing Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” That was the first time I burst into tears, with many more tears to follow. Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Laura Linney and Queen Latifah, along with many other performers, read inspiring words from past leaders and American authors. And then there was the music – songs by Bruce Springsteen, U2, John Mellencamp. Classics like “A Change is Gonna Come” performed by Bettye LaVette and Jon Bon Jovi, “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder, “Lean On Me” performed by Mary J. Blige, and Bob Marley’s “One Love“, performed by Herbie Hancock, Usher and Sheryl Crow. Beyonce sang “America the Beautiful” (my choice for national anthem) beautifully. Here’s a link that describes more. Although there was an error and the opening prayer by Bishop Gene Robinson, (the world’s first openly gay bishop), wasn’t seen in the original broadcast, HBO said his prayer was included in their re-broadcasts.
I was speaking with someone the other day about wanting to develop more healthy dependency and she referred to herself as a “Recovering Self-Reliant Woman.” That reminded me of an interview between Brad Pitt and Desmond Tutu in the Africa issue of Vanity Fair in 2007. Desmond Tutu spoke about the African concept of Ubuntu, a word from the Bantu language: “It is the essence of being human. We say a person is a person through other persons. You can’t be human in isolation. You are human only in relationships….we say, “I need you to be all of who you are in order for me to be all that I am.” Because no human being is totally self-sufficient. In fact, a self-sufficient human being is subhuman.” To which Brad Pitt replies, “I don’t think we have a single word in English that describes just that.” No, I don’t think we could have a word that describes that in English, just yet – not with our history of rugged individualism – and our western scientific view of a mechanistic universe.
Lately, I’ve been listening to some selections from Philosopher’s Notes, a kind of Cliff Notes on personal and spiritual development books. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them on my walks and during my workouts. Right now, they’re offering 25 titles for free, so check it out. There is a lot of good wisdom in these books, some borrowed from various spiritual traditions, and some good practical applications for manifesting your dreams. The best things I’ve found have to do with the practice of recognizing our blessings everyday, being in service, and overcoming fear with action. But I have a problem with a few concepts that are repeated in some of these books, especially when delivered in a one-sided way. For example, “You can’t love others until you love yourself”, with its subtle suggestion that we must sequester ourselves in a little room before we can venture out to offer ourselves to others. The implication being that before this private exercise we did not have anything to offer. Have we forgotten that we come into this world full of love, joy, and the desire to share this amazing life with others? Going back to Ubuntu, we need each other in order to be human, in order to learn what love is. I heard another author on one of these audio clips say “If I had a prayer, it would be this: “God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.” This hit me in an almost brutal way. I understand that if we’re stuck in a pattern from our survival mechanisms and reaching for a fix for our reactive ego, then that kind of desire isn’t going to help us grow. But this prayer throws the baby right out with the bath water, and from the second story window. This is an example of how our culture in the U.S. has been so entrenched in the separation, that even self-help books and spiritual teachings get processed through it, seemingly exalting the separation even more. We hear the words “we’re all connected,” but are not instructed as to what that connection looks like in our everyday life.
Following my Younger is Wiser post, I wanted to spread the word about some incredible folks working for youth empowerment and community building. I can’t think of any better groups right now to support and partner with on behalf of our youth.
This program is right up at the top for this Memory of the Future Project with this description: The Power of Hope programs are for youth and young adults who want to take an active role in creating a positive future, develop their leadership skills, build stronger communities and have a great time in the process!
Their mission: The Power of Hope unleashes the positive potential of youth through arts-centered intergenerational and multicultural learning programs that value self-awareness, leadership, community and social change.
This amazing program was founded by my friends Charlie Murphy and Peggy Taylor. I met Charlie and Peggy in 2000 and was invited to check out a couple of open events at the summer camp. I was blown away by the generous heart and spirit exuding from the young people there. The premise is to bring a vastly diverse group of youth together for a week long camp in a beautiful, natural setting. Charlie and Peggy are such gifted facilitators and have built a solid foundation for creating the kind of safe and sacred space that allows the youth to connect deeply with each other, and to be able to experiment and explore different modes of self-expression, finding their unique voice and learning how they want to offer it to their communities and their world. I’ve also had the great honor to participate in two Intergenerational Dialogues that they held during two different camps. We all gathered, youth and adults in a big tent, and the youth came up with questions that they wanted to ask the adults, and the adults then gave their individual questions for the youth, and someone was writing all of the questions on a board. One at a time, different young people would choose which adult’s questions they wanted to answer and answer them, and then the adults would do the same for the youth’s questions. It was intimate and moving, and I had the feeling that this was something that just didn’t happen very often and I felt a sense of sadness from that separation. Hopefully all of the people involved felt the same and are finding ways to connect between the generations in their own families and communities. After hearing many of the youth expressing their heartfelt desire for more connection and mentoring, I’m exploring how I can be involved as a mentor in my city.
“Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.”
Yesterday evening a friend was telling me about his deepening love affair with his six month old granddaughter. I mentioned that I thought babies were closest to Source, being that they just came from it, and were more evolved than adults. He said Bucky Fuller spoke to this referring to the Big Bang and that children arrive here later than adults, later in evolutionary time, and thus have to be more evolved. I’ve often noticed how adults of a certain age have an assumption that since young people are younger they must not know as much, and need to be told the wisdom gleaned from the older generation. I’ve noticed certain dynamics set up for ‘talking at’ or ‘down to’ and not listening at all, as if the assumption is that youth couldn’t have anything valuable to teach adults. I cringe when I’m in a gathering where people are in these unconscious ego behaviors, and I see it culturally in the vast separation between youth and adults. The mainstream media for many years have often portrayed youth as nihilistic, apathetic, materialistic, even dangerous and to be feared. It’s just common sense that if youth feel this from many adults around them, then they are going to withdraw their participation, their self-expression - they’re going to withdraw the gift of themselves. And I don’t blame them. Read the rest of this entry »
I was inspired to create this blog site at this time because I believe there’s an enormous window of opportunity that has opened since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on Nov. 4th, 2008.
Six months before the election, very few of us would have thought this possible. This was a turning point for so many reasons; the inspiration and empowerment of millions of young people, the increased self-respect for many previously disenfranchised, the renewed passion of millions more who had felt separate and helpless, the fact that a country with the wrenching and not so distant history of slavery has elected for President, an African American.
I believe all of this has brought a potency to the creative force that human beings hold, and by our actions and our choice that day, created a quantum leap in our evolution as a species.
How did this thing happen?
I think that when enough people start to awaken enough common desire, people show up to help catalyze the shift. And Obama showed up. With words that went deep into the memory of that desire, back to the memory of what called the people who created this country to write down such unique and abiding principles, and to stir in us the trust that we could once again uphold these principles and actually build on them and better them.
He spoke like a person who truly believes what he’s saying. He spoke to us with affection and respect, with a calm certainty and unwavering vision, and a belief that hard work and collaboration can create enormous change for the good. And from the way he ran his campaign we could see that he was a pragmatic idealist.