“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.
“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr. from his last sermon
Imagining another version of reality, a kinder version, and believing in the inevitability of it, with enough people drawn to tell a similar story, would in fact create this new reality. The fact is we are creating reality all the time whether we’re conscious of it or not—so I say, let’s become conscious observers of the most desired reality we want to see.
We have heightened opportunity for reinventing nearly every system humans have created. Opportunity for the reinvention and recovery of our hearts and our relationships to each other and to all life, to reclaim wisdom from ancient cultures, and ways of understanding and magic that are now being affirmed by scientific evidence.
Many people refer to the Law of Attraction when speaking of mechanisms for manifesting reality. From Deepak Chopra’s The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: “A verse from the Veda says, ‘What you see, you become.’ In other words, just the experience of perceiving the world makes you what you are. This is a quite literal statement.”
I find some of the basic information regarding the Law of Attraction very useful, keeping in mind that what is sometimes written too simplistically about how this law actually works doesn’t allow for the mystery and complexity of all of our interconnected realities. Basically, what we are most focused on in our thoughts and intention draws experiences that are a match. Accordingly, if we’re more focused on what we’re lacking, the universe will provide us with more of that—the theory being that the universe is neutral and gives us more of what we’re running over and over again in our minds. It’s kind of like having a bad day; one unwanted thing happens, we react from a place of lack, like a victim of the circumstance and then more unwanted experiences come along. And when it’s a good day, more of the desired experiences show up. So the idea is to put ourselves in the mindset and felt sense of already having that which we desire. I figure it’s like stepping into a future vision—seeing it, tasting it, smelling it, feeling it, and celebrating it—and trusting that this experience is true and will manifest—then it’s like walking around feeling gratitude for that experience. People recommend activating and holding your intended vision for ten to thirty minutes every day. It’s really something knowing we are co-creators in this life, and that the essence of our humanness lies in the expression of our expanding desire—that our desire itself is a reflection of the already manifested version of that desire.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “There is nothing capricious in nature, and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feels it.”
I know I would like to take more time to feel into that already manifested reality, to feel steady gratitude for such a generous universe—instead of so often seeing what has not yet emerged, and then worrying about it or doubting it.
Wayne Dyer from The Power of Intention suggests: “Act as if everything you desire is already here… treat yourself as if you already are what you’d like to become.” I really like this idea of the practice of not only stepping into the reality I’d like to experience, but into the person I want to become, by imagining how that person would act in any given situation. Kind of like, What Would Jesus Do, and instead, asking what would the more evolved version of myself do, and then doing that. And pretty soon, it won’t be acting anymore.
No matter how far I stray, if I stop and ask myself what I truly believe, it’s that everything is possible, and that the greatest gift we hold as humans is our ability to create. And with the power we have in our hearts, we have the most potent fuel we need for re-telling our story, and thereby recreating ourselves and our world.
“The Field suggests a far more expansive view of the world and living things like us. The essential communication mechanism of the universe is quantum frequency connected by a giant matrix - a field of fields called the Zero Point Field. This pulsating energy field is the central engine of our being and consciousness. There is no “me” and “not me”, no “in here” and “out there”. In other words, we are our world. This new science suggests that our lives can be a daily unfolding of the miraculous - of healing others and yourself influencing events and the environment around us, using intention for good, and having the ability to view events in the future or many thousands of miles away.”
What the Bleep Do We Know
What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole
Ask and it is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks
Article about the Law of Attraction by Steve Pavlina]]>
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.
After many months of setting up my house and studio, I finally had the time to start getting out and meeting people. I’m a bit shy and it sometimes seems like work to figure out places to go and things to do to meet like-minded folks, so I found myself getting kind of down about it, later realizing that I’d forgotten or not trusted the future that was so crystal clear when I first stepped into the house.
It’s as if I’m given these extra-sensory, holographic, Technicolor, future déjà vu experiences and I put them aside, thinking, “wow, that’s fantastic, but I just need to finish these items over here on my list—my linear, black and white list.” I don’t know whether I’m unconsciously thinking these gifts are too good to be true, or if I just don’t trust that I will know the next step to take if I move into the vision and leave that list alone for awhile. I’ve noticed I’ve done this a few times. Something will click in a way that has a kind of “zappy” or “in the zone” quality, and my awareness knows that it’s rich with information, and yet my auto-pilot, habitual self seems to keep marching forward right past it instead of stopping, slowing everything down, and tuning deeper into this opportunity. Maybe it’s the age-old fear of coming face to face with exactly what I want—the fear of actually being able to live a long held dream. And then who would I be? I certainly couldn’t keep telling the old story, or look for sympathy in the old complaints. I’d have to be filled with joy. Why would I want anything to hold me back from that?
I keep learning, little step by little step. I want to hear bells go off the next time I sense that shimmery quality about information that’s coming in, and stop what I’m doing, take out pen and paper and write down what it’s telling me.
My house has a vision for my life and for its life. If I ask it what I need to do next to fulfill it, I get a very clear answer. It’s hard to imagine that I could forget something like this.
So I want to ask you—have you had an experience happen that had that “zappy” quality to it, like you’d stepped into a heightened experience of awareness? When has it happened? What did it feel like? Did you take the time to feel into it and find out more about what it was telling you? Did you hold on to it and dive into it later for more potent information? I’d sure love to hear about it if you have. And I’d love to hear about how you’ve learned to recognize these gifts when they show up and how you take the time to explore them. You can teach me how to develop more curiosity, and how to take the blinders off to see the wider, more glimmering path.
I remember another experience when I was house-hunting, and was in limbo between cities feeling unable to officially start my new life. I was walking down a street in Berkeley and heard the words in my head, “What if it could all happen easily and without effort?” I answered, “that would be fantastic, what would I have to do? (not that I thought I was at the Crossroads selling my soul for a guitar…) And I heard, “Let go.” At the time, it seemed to make sense to me—letting go of trying so hard to make everything happen, as if I’m all on my own, pushing the plan of my life up the hill like Sisyphus, as if there are no visible or invisible collaborating partners waiting for me to connect with them. I remember an extremely vivid image of a shimmering meadow with rays of sunlight, everything clear and sparkling. I thought I’m supposed to just step into this, right? It was so vivid I never imagined that it could become a kind of a hazy memory. And that first vision of my beloved’s presence in the garden was so clear, and there’ve been many times when I’ve forgotten—and once when I tuned in, I heard her say, “Don’t give up on me.” I’m hoping that when I learn to nurture these moments and feed them, they will grow brighter instead of fading, and they will become the paths I follow.
I bought a new, bigger journal and some colored pens. I think I’ll keep my black and white list—over there in my left brain, and start creating colorful maps—here on the right side of my brain, the side that Jill Bolte Taylor describes as the swimming in the energy of all that is side—maps that illustrate those shiny, zappy moments, and then draw the trails from those moments to see where they lead.
Every so often there’s a voice that seems come from behind my left shoulder, a voice that gives me a little hit or glimpse of what’s coming – and in that moment it’s contrary to what my less evolved self is telling me. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to listen to that voice, the one that really truly knows more and is actually smiling when it’s telling me –and to step through the open door into the shimmering meadow.
“Who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. We have the power to choose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world.”
–Jill Bolte Taylor
“If the future of all human civilization depended on me…what would I do, how would I be?”
– 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.
There is new information every minute, and the information we referred to six months or a year ago can’t be referred to now. What everyone is saying now is that we have to make huge political and policy changes. We can change our light bulbs, and unplug our stuff when we’re not using it, but we have to change policy in order to implement the solutions that are needed to bring our CO2 emissions down.
And just as importantly, we need to keep asking ourselves - what is this future we want to experience - free from harm? Can we close our eyes and see it, feel it, taste it, smell it’s fragrance, hear its music? Can we imagine that we’ve made it to the other side?
Here are three great videos from three inspiring and dedicated solutionists.
Bill McKibben, “Deep Economy” author and activist gives us the short scoop on how the climate crisis is changing our thinking and connecting us back in to our local communities.
Jim Fournier is founder and President of the Biomass Energy & Carbon, a Colorado based R&D company commercializing biomass gasification and developing a revolutionary new “carbon negative” bio-fuels technology that can remove CO2 from the air by generating sustainable energy and a high-carbon fertilizer from biomass.
Kevin Danaher explores the viability and necessity of a green economy and methods to kick-start one through “green community-centers” in every major city. Kevin is an anti-globalization activist, and the co-founder of Global Exchange, and the executive producer of Green Festivals.
To close I’d like to share Al Gore’s words from his TED Talk: How dare we be optimistic. I definitely recommend watching it.
“In order to be optimistic about this we have to become incredibly active as citizens in our democracy. In order to solve the climate crisis we have to solve the democracy crisis.
I’m optimist because I believe we have the capacity - at moments of great challenge to set aside the causes of distraction - and rise to the challenge that history is presenting to us. Sometimes I hear people respond to the disturbing facts of the climate crisis by saying, “Oh this is so terrible, what a burden we have.” I would like to ask you to reframe that.
How many generations in all of human history have had the opportunity to rise to a challenge that is worthy of our best efforts? That has a challenge that can pull from us more than we knew could do. I think we ought to approach this challenge with a sense of profound joy and gratitude - that we are the generation about which a thousand years from now, philharmonic orchestras and poets and singers will celebrate by saying they were the ones that found it within themselves to solve this crisis and lay the basis for a bright and optimistic human future. Let’s do that.
What’s needed is a higher level of consciousness—that’s hard to create, but it is coming. There’s an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We have to go far, quickly. So we have to have a change in consciousness, a change in commitment, a new sense of urgency, a new appreciation for the privilege we have of undertaking this challenge.”
And to recap some of the Big Ideas:
Change Policy, not just Lightbulbs
Bring CO2 emissions down to 350 ppm
Create Green Jobs
Create community based food & fuel independence
There’s no such thing as Clean Coal
Reassessing What Really Matters: friends, family, community, creativity, telling our new story
Policy Changers and Community Builders:
1Sky is a major initiative to unite climate change activists into a collective movement calling for green jobs, emissions reductions, renewable energy, and an end to coal plants. The goal is to formulate a clear policy platform while mobilizing at the grassroots to push it forward.
350.org - 350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350.
Green for All is dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
And Van Jones’s New York Times best-seller delivers a real solution that both rescues our economy and saves the environment.
The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems
Bioneers holds workshops and conferences focusing on biological and cultural diversity, as well as ecology, sustainability, traditional farming, community-building, and social justice.
Rainforest Action Network uses hard-hitting markets campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with widespread public support for environmental protection. Dubbed “some of the most savvy environmental agitators in the business” by the Wall Street Journal.
Global Oneness Project is traveling the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world.
Wiser Earth - toward a just and sustainable world created by community.
Alliance for Climate Campaign is building a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis — in part through repowering America with 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within 10 years.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
“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.
Paul Hawken spoke at the Bioneers conference in 2006 about the new Super Power of public opinion, when people took to the streets in cities all over the globe, in the largest gatherings in history, to speak out against the invasion of Iraq—to speak out for the possibility of peace, and how this movement that has been steadily building is changing the world.
What we knew to be the Powers that Be, can no longer be - by virtue of this growing sea of humanity that believes in justice and peace and will no longer tolerate the old systems of consolidation of power in the hands of a few - and has awakened to hospice these dying systems out.
Author and activist Arundhati Roy said:
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling; their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
I was in Seattle in 1999 for the World Trade Organization protests. It was a life changing experience for me. 50,000 people came from all over the world. Farmers, economists, laborers, teachers, activitsts; from the Steelworkers of America to the Vegan Dykes, people from all walks of life gathered for the same goals, the same message: that the current capitalist model of deregulated free markets - whose laws were able to supercede those of national, local or state governments - was only creating more poverty, more oppression, and not the prosperity for all that it claimed to provide. And the protests were successful, the action and support in the street emboldened the African delegation and other nations of the global south to refuse to sign an agreement that they felt didn’t come close to addressing their countries’ needs. The WTO has no longer been able to do business as usual. This was the beginning of a truly global peoples’ movement, and its legacy continues with a more informed and activated public. There’s still much more to do in terms of educating and awakening more people, politically and personally, and I feel that we’re up to the task. As someone from the U.S. in Seattle in ’99, it was very clear that we were the least informed population regarding world trade, and being U.S. citizens, the most powerful population…and in these past 10 years we have been waking up. Younger people see through the illusions of our systems and won’t buy what “they’re selling.” They voted 2-1 for Obama. Our capacity to dream has come alive again, and more organizations are out there full force, building collaborative coalitions, using the models of the Obama campaign with its elaborate architecture of the campaign websites and networking technologies.
The biggest blessing of all - we no longer have the callous, above-the-law, arrogance and smirk that we have endured for the last eight years coming out of the White House and everyone connected to it, including the media. I think we’re only just beginning to feel the effects of that one huge change, and as we celebrate the new transparency that Obama is bringing to government we can also envision each member of the former administration who committed crimes, to land in the faithful arms of indictment. And for the others who conspired to hoarde power for the few at the expense of the many - may they be moved by the expansion of this moment, moved in their hearts to see how they could collaborate to offer a better gift. When we make room for this possibility we allow for a new definition of power - one that connects us to each other and to the whole of life.
From Obama’s Inaugural address:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
I say the Powers that Were because I believe we can claim that now - that this window of opportunity says we must claim that now. We have the strength, numbers and evolution to change a power dynamic that is almost as old as time. There are enough people who are committed, who recognize that we are all connected, who know that the old ways of ‘power over’ didn’t work, who know that we quite possibly have very limited time to cooperate and create solutions to climate change so that we can create a healthy future for coming generations. I say we are the new Powers that Be, the Powers that are Becoming.
I had a dream about a year and half ago. I was in a room with four or five young men in their twenties and early thirties. They looked kind of like the young Americans who I was marching with in Seattle. They were representatives of the new leadership. I gathered that it was a more feminine, matrifocal leadership model and that the women leaders were not at this particular meeting. I happened to be there as a witness. I listened at length to these young men speak. And I knew in some deep knowing place that our future was in good hands.
“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.
As we reenvision our future, we need to consider that humans are fundamentally interdependent. A healthy individual should be redefined as one who grows in primary relationships and seeks participation in a larger community. Many of us that became estranged from our families of origin have substituted families of choice as a concept of community, and there are also communities that have emerged based on other areas of shared values where personal growth has taken on other dimensions. Redefining healthy personal needs should be the first order of business so we can take the next step in our growth by participating in larger communities with purpose and vision.
“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
–His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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.
There was such a deep sense of reverence, of being part of something sacred and beautiful, that virtually everyone who spoke and performed was tuned into and came from that place, along with the half a million people standing in the winter chill, all feeling it too. The concert was powerfully named and the naming became the experience. The experience of all of us feeling so deeply connected to each other, to Obama, to the threads of the truest parts of our history, and to the pull of the best of what we can become.
John Williams’ “Air and Simple Gifts” played by Itzak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill mirrored the depth, richness and possibility that are present at this unique moment in time. The great sense of pride, relief and joy when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, his hand resting on the Lincoln bible. Hearing his speech that spoke perfectly to the personal and collective responsibility we all share at this time. Watching the helicopter carrying George W. Bush lift off and fly away from Washington. It was the largest gathering in U.S. history for an inauguration, with two and a half million people in D.C. for the celebrations, and there were no arrests.
I went to a celebration that evening, and everyone was just beside themselves, finding it hard to believe and harder to stop smiling. In fact everyone has been so happy. Even in the face of what we’re dealing with in our country and the world, half a million people were smiling at the concert, two million people of all colors and creeds and ages were smiling on the mall watching the ceremonies, the billion people around the world watching these celebrations on television, everyone I came in contact with in the last few days - smiling. We watched Barack and Michelle dance at the several balls they attended. Not only have we heard words from Barack that are words we’ve been waiting to hear, but he has embodied qualities that we’ve been waiting to see embodied: calm and ease, self respect, respect for differences, clarity of vision and sureness of action. His character calls upon us to strengthen our character. And to see the two of them moving across the floor, both exhibiting grace and commitment, it was a sight to behold.
There’s something very deep and rooted that Obama has reached down into and is holding up for all of us to witness and join. It’s as if he wasn’t afraid to go right into the pure place of deepest dedication and bring it out of hiding, knowing that the commitment alone to restore our democracy and our dignity will protect it, and once we have reawakened, together we will have a force that will be unstoppable for the good it can bring.
The feeling I had during the concert and the inaugural ceremonies, and for the days following can only be described as love. The deepest kind of love, the kind that reaches in and makes your heart ache and swell at the same time, that goes down into the earth, renewing our belonging to it, and wraps us in our belonging to each other. A feeling of deep care, the kind you would feel for a child - that surge of devotion and protection, and the joy from feeling so moved that it makes you want to be a better person. That’s what has been activated, a deeper caring, a bigger love. It’s a dream we once had and set aside for lack of faith in an earlier time, and now this dream has come alive again. Millions of young people are feeling it and they don’t have the boomers’ history of hoping and then losing hope – so maybe they see no reason why the words Obama speaks, along with words of Lincoln, King or Gandhi can’t be lived into, right here and right now. And I think it’s our duty and privilege to let their hopes and visions guide us and to leave our old fears and distrust behind. I say to myself and to you - if you’re feeling something real, some reinvigorated deep caring and connection, some new igniting of purpose – go with it. Sink into it deeper, cultivate it, spread it out, pass it on. These feelings are what inspire us to act, to bring forth our desires, to unite us in the telling of this new story of our shared destiny. Feel the love. This is what we’re inaugurating.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination, full of hope.”
- Maya Angelou
“My life is not my own business.” –Anthony Hopkins
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.
My problem with much of this is that it holds us all as having to do this work of love and human expansion, in isolation. Many of these interpretations have distorted the Buddhist principle of non-attachment, to mean de-tachment, not needing anything and not being vulnerable. The message is: work on yourself, by yourself, don’t have painful emotions, and certainly don’t have them around me. It’s almost as if some people are saying intimacy is a lower form of spiritual evolution, when I think it’s actually the highest form - intimacy being defined as being deeply present with another, knowing and being known.
If I came upon someone who was having a difficult day, I wouldn’t say to them, “well there must be something else you’re supposed to learn in order for things to be better for you…and now, I’ll be going to let you figure that out on your own.” That’s cold. It doesn’t mean not to look at challenges as opportunities to learn important wisdom, but it does seem to me that the kind thing to do if I came upon someone who was struggling, would be to ask how I could help. Is there any assistance I could give this person, could I offer them a hand, a shoulder, an ear, some food to eat? Wouldn’t that be more healing for this person than to tell them they just haven’t learned their lesson yet, and walk away? Sometimes when things are challenging, all that’s needed is a compassionate word, look or touch from another human being – simple human kindness is a powerful elixir. Would any of us want to be so independent or self-sustaining that we wouldn’t want to partake of this beautiful offering – or to give it?
We have a culture that has been the perfect laboratory to breed a very virulent strain of isolation. We know that infants can actually die without connection and touch. And this study reported in the Washington Post in 2006 talks about the shrinking number of close ties Americans have with people they feel they could count on in hard times.
How do we recover healthy dependence? Well, for me I’d have to stop the habit of handling everything myself without even thinking. If I’m around others I definitely like to get feedback and opinions, but if I’m alone and have been used to living alone, it’s a challenge for me to think about how to ask for help from others. Also I find that when I’m able to be self-reliant, I end up more isolated. If I can pay for transportation to the airport or hospital, I wouldn’t think to impose on a friend, but then I don’t get a chance to help them out either. I think people forget you’re even there when you’re too self-sufficient.
And then there’s having healthy expectations. Many self-help folks infer it’s unhealthy or unproductive to have expectations of others, as you’ll end up disappointed, and should just be taking care of yourself anyway. But I don’t see how we’re supposed to build sustainable relationships and community if we’re not working together to create something that we’re agreeing to show up for. So accountability is healthy. How do we hold each other and ourselves to a higher standard of connection if we aren’t having healthy expectations? We can’t be accountable in isolation. We can’t make amends in isolation. We can’t grow in isolation. We’ve lived in a culture for too long that has shared a collective agreement to not hold each other too accountable. Look at Enron, and our latest financial crisis, for example.
So here are my self-help rules – hey, maybe that’s the problem right there – calling it self-help in the first place. I believe we need to do the inner work and the outer work simultaneously; loving ourselves and each other, and that we actually learn how to love by being in relationship with each other, by being mirrored, and witnessing the effects of our words and actions. We can’t learn how to love in isolation. If a monk chooses to live in a cave, he may be taking the experience of his monastery with him, and he may experience no separation when he prays….but most of us live in the world, and that is where we are meant to serve. And we have young people to mentor. I don’t think we would tell a child “Go to your room, learn to love yourself, and when you’re finished, come out and then I will love you.” And here’s a wild idea, (and thoughts for a future post) - maybe we shouldn’t all be so set up with all our own stuff. If we lived in closer proximity we could share different appliances and equipment. We could need something from another person, and it would be considered a good thing. And we would honor the person who gives us the thing we need by fully receiving it. We would realize we are a seed and aren’t required to water ourselves, feed ourselves, be the Sun for ourselves, be the microorganisms for ourselves, because we are not on some island out in the middle of the ocean. We are here, living and breathing, very close to one another….almost touching. Now let’s get closer.
If you’d like more information on the photo at the beginning of the post see http://www.connectingdotz.com
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.
Power of Hope
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.
And now Charlie and Peggy have started PYEGlobal, to empower communities across the world to provide creative, intergenerational programs for young people that develop motivation, self-esteem, cross-cultural communication, and skill for leading purposeful lives.
Kid Pan Alley
Founded by my dear friend Paul Reisler, who with guitar in hand, goes into elementary school classrooms and co-writes songs with the kids. Paul has an incredible gift for hearing the unique hearts and voices of these kids and guiding their words and music into some of the most touching, funny and grace-filled songs I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.
From the website:
Paul Reisler travels the country these days putting on his Kid Pan Alley workshops. Paul sits with school age children and together they create wonderful things. The results are that thousands of songs have been written by thousands of kids. Their lyrics grace the contents of several CD’s. When the kids sing their songs, they are backed by Reisler’s Kid Pan Alley Band which is made up of nationally and internationally recognized musicians. It’s hard not to feel inspired and invigorated when you hear the music and see the smiling faces of these young people. They are seeing and hearing the fruits of their creativity. It’s a stunning process to witness.
Creativity in our children is needed more than ever these days. With so much teaching to the test and cuts made to arts programs across the country, it is refreshing to see that Reisler and his crew of merry music makers is having great success.
Here are two of my favorite Kid Pan Alley songs—and there are more available to listen to on the Kid Pan Alley website.
Can’t Remember What I Forgot
Can’t Remember What I Forgot
League of Young Voters
These folks are kicking butt!! I continue to get reports from chapters in different parts of the country and the incredible results they’ve achieved – in fact just got an email praising the work of two young league organizers in the Twin Cities that helped increase the voter turnout in several of their precincts by 34-50% from 2004, helping to get Al Franken elected.
The League of Young Voters empowers young people nationwide to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color. The League makes political engagement relevant by meeting young people where they are, working on issues that affect their lives, and providing them with tools, training, and support to become serious catalysts for change in their communities. Founded in 2003, the League has become one of the strongest youth organizations in the country fighting for progressive change.
I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Ocean and Michele Robbins, who are co-presidents of this dynamic youth organization that I’ve heard only incredible things about. I know people who’ve said their Jams completely changed their lives, and created connections with new friends all over the globe.
Founded in 1990 by Ocean and Ryan Eliason when they were in their teens, YES! is a nonprofit organization that connects, inspires and collaborates with young changemakers to join forces for a thriving, just and sustainable ways of life for all. Our three program areas are Global Leadership Jams, Leveraging Privilege for Social Change, and Supporting Aligned Movements. We work at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal, and systemic transformation.
“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in an adult of 60 more than a child of 20. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from people and from the infinite, so long are you young.”
–Samuel Ullman, from the YES! website]]>
“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.
I believe in a continuing spiral of evolution, and have to figure that all the personal and spiritual work that any of us have done over these past decades or centuries is going to be passed on through various sorts of individual and collective osmosis. It’s also a fun experiment to look at it from a totally practical viewpoint, and instead of evolution, maybe talking about devolution; the limitations that humans pick up as they learn to protect and defend themselves from real or perceived harm. In that sense, we speak of children being free to express themselves, not afraid of others’ opinions, having access to more wonder and imagination. I know many people becoming parents for the first time, saying that their children teach them how to see the world with more joy and enthusiasm. Either way you look at it, children and young people have access to a wider spectrum in many areas and I’d love to see us adults being more curious and honoring of the vast contributions these younger people have to share.
I’ve always loved spending time with babies and children, even when I was still a child. I’ve always been attracted to their purity, their lack of pretense or self-consciousness – two characteristics that keep a person’s true essence mute and invisible. I’ve been thinking about youth even more intensely as I prepare to adopt a baby, and after seeing the massive mobilization of millions of young people engaging on behalf of their country’s democracy when they voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in November.
There’s a new generation, much larger than the Baby Boomers, and they’re on the move and wildly dedicated. “They call us the Millennials, but you can call us Generation We.” Here’s their powerful written declaration. They may just be evolved enough to solve the most pressing problems humankind has ever faced, and had we older generations been conscious sooner we might not be leaving them with what appears to be such a narrow window in which to turn things around. These more evolved children and youth are the inheritors of all of it - inheritors of the damage done from our failed systems, and inheritors of the vigorous awakening of possibility and promise that is finally capturing more of our population and shifting the consciousness of the whole.
I say: Let us look, let us see these young beings for who they truly are; beautiful, sensitive, playful, inventive, curious, truthful, powerful creators.
Let us shine back what we see over and over. Let us ask them what they want and need from us. Let us give those things whole heartedly. And let us move out of the way and let them create. And if we learn how to see and honor and love, then I am sure they will invite us to collaborate with them, and without question, we will witness extraordinary things.
“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
“The youth of humanity all around our planet are intuitively revolting from all sovereignties and political ideologies. The youth of Earth are moving intuitively toward an utterly classless, raceless, omnicooperative, omniworld humanity. Children freed of the ignorantly founded educational traditions and exposed only to their spontaneously summoned, computer-stored and -distributed outflow of reliable-opinion-purged, experimentally verified data, shall indeed lead society to its happy egress from all misinformedly conceived, fearfully and legally imposed, and physically enforced customs of yesterday. They can lead all humanity into omnisuccessful survival as well as entrance into an utterly new era of human experience in an as-yet and ever-will-be fundamentally mysterious Universe.”
–Buckminster Fuller, from Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)
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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.
In her speech to the DNC, Michelle Obama quoted from a speech he gave in the Chicago neighborhood he had worked with after he got out of college.
“He talked about The World As It Is, and The World As It Should Be. And he said that all too often we accept the distance between the two and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.
But, he reminded us that we also know what the world should look like. He said: We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like and he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?”
Obama is asking us to submit our own great American stories and visions on his Change.gov website – they want to hear from us. I’m also contacting Obama’s website to request that they archive the submissions and make them viewable to the public to allow for more inspiration and collective future making. Another site, Change.org is compiling ideas for creating new public policy, and the submissions that get the most votes will be presented to Obama at the Inauguration. We get to view peoples’ submissions on this site.
The opportunity and promise of this moment.
People have expressed concerns about some of his cabinet picks, fearing he is straying from his message of change. I want to find ways to engage the discussion that are aligned with the deeper vision, and not fall into the habit of judgment and criticism that can develop after too many broken promises.
Instead of talking about holding Obama’s feet to the fire, I’d love to ask what we could do that would empower us as collaborators with him.
There have also been many people who have expressed disappointment and anger about his choice to have Rev. Rick Warren conduct the invocation at the Inauguration ceremony. Personally I wish he hadn’t made this choice, and at the same time, I want to take a leap of faith that out of this will come an opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally come together and discuss marriage equality, to do just that, and to get to know each other in the process.
And I think Rev. Warren ought to issue a retraction.
In time, I trust Prop 8 will be overturned. Here’s a post by Melissa Etheridge that speaks to the choice of Rev. Warren, and another from David Quigg titled “What would Obama do if Obama was mad at Obama about Rick Warren?”
I want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt to be respectful in this regard and to continue to learn from people, as I want to give myself the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions that could impede opportunities for me to understand people better and allow others to get to know me better; in this instance, giving them more understanding of how I am personally harmed by gay marriage bans.
My friend Nathan Blaz, who has been helping me design this blog site, (including help with editing this post), said, “Interesting how even when we’re at odds with him politically (perhaps even more so than when we agree with him), Obama inspires us to patiently, persistently, and diligently focus on successfully creating change.”
I want to remember what I’ve heard from people about how his campaign was run. Listening to Caroline Casey’s Visionary Activist radio show on November 6, her guest was Pat Ewing, former deputy chief of staff for Al Gore. She spoke about working on the Obama campaign after twenty years of presidential campaign experience: “It was the most organized, most competent presidential I’ve ever worked on…People were respectful, there was no back-stabbing, no interest in playing political games…I thought I’d seen it all, that was one I didn’t expect…he set such a tone of cooperation, that I didn’t know was possible.”
“We need to respect this is just the very beginning of an administration, and how we work with each other, and what kind of a team we create with him needs to embody our own values.”
Obama has invested himself in reaching out across great divides and bringing people together to solve collective problems. He tells us he is willing to listen to everyone’s views, and though there may be people with differing views in his cabinet, he will still be the one steering the ship. As he inducted us into higher places in ourselves, addressing us as leaders and collaborators, I want to trust this same energy is at work in the people he is bringing together for his administration - that we all long to embody “the better angels of our nature.”
Maybe this is the Obama moment—the developing of “Ally Etiquette” as Caroline Casey calls it. She talks about leaving room for people to behave in unexpectedly appropriate ways. And I add, allowing for things to appear as opportunity instead of something to be braced against, having the willingness to collaborate with all that is coming in, and the commitment to greater personal responsibility and greater mutual responsibility.
I want to keep in mind how hard he’s worked for what I believe is an unswerving desire to recover our democracy and engage a more active and collaborative citizenry. And he’s done this at enormous personal risk, too. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, and when I remember, I have to ask myself “Am I matching that commitment in my own life?”
This amazing thing has happened, and I want to discover what it means for me and for each of us - to take up the torch. Obama reminded us that every human being is a channel with something unique and powerful to contribute. He seemed to say, “I’m modeling it as a politician, how are you modeling it?”
It should embolden us, being that he could affect such an Ego-dominated field as politics.
I keep going back to his speeches, his embodiment of those words and desires, going back to how it felt to be in that moment just after the election was called, how it felt to see that ocean of ecstatic, amazed, tearful faces at Grant Park that night, to keep feeling what was so right, so true and what is pulling us forward now—to continue this work. Maybe even to begin it in a totally new way.
Caroline Casey reminds us on her radio show December 25th, that Barack means Blessing and Lightning, Hussein means Beloved of God, and Obama means the Good.
She recommends we visualize Barack on his 96th birthday in great health, honored by a grateful nation, like Nelson Mandela, surrounded by Michelle, his children and grandchildren.
She talks about us needing to be a vibrational match for the desirable future. Obama’s words and the way he ran his campaign were most definitely a match for our deepest desires for the future of this country and the world.
Let’s continue to animate the vision.