Stressors — the great revealer
I was in a car accident today. I’m fine, the other driver is fine. All is well in that front.
If you’ve never had this experience, let me say, it’s stressful. And it surfaces things about oneself that one may have thought were behind them. This is the gift of the stressor. We get to see what there is to excavate.
So, gift number one: everyone walked away feeling okay. Number two: I can see some of what there is yet to do.
A few thoughts on flat earth
I managed to get pulled into this documentary on Netflix — Behind the Curve. It’s about the flat earth movement, focusing on several people who have pretty much dedicated their lives to it (one of whom, interestingly enough, lives on Whidbey Island, which is not only in my backyard, but it’s also a place I dream of living). What struck me about the documentary primarily is the energy around these folks, especially when they start talking about significance in their own lives. When they talk about not fitting in. Not belonging. Feeling like a misfit.
There are several scientists that are interviewed, some of which see in these “flate earthers” a capacity for science that they would like to encourage. They talk about finding a way to support them in understanding where their logic falls apart, and help them to be engaged in scientific pursuits that could benefit the world. They are inviting them to belong in a place that, I think, the flat earthers have felt rejected.
Is it a coincidence that a significant amount of the folks we see on screen are men? And white men at that? Not all of them, by far, but definitely a majority. More than once during the documentary, the sadness in the eyes of these folks was palpable. It’s like the idea of flat earth was a proxy for something. Something more fundamental. Something more foundational.
One of the scientists put forward the question to those of us who wouldn’t consider ourselves flat earthers, “What is your flat earth? Where are you holding an idea that doesn’t follow the way that reality works?” I appreciate this question because it opens the door to look at the places where beliefs have come in to support a place of belonging, where perhaps belonging itself might be the thing that would fill the hole we feel within.
How do we meet ourselves in those places? And how do we meet those around us?
Today I started writing something from a place that felt new. It flowed forward — indeed, I wrote more today in a single sessoin than I had in a while. It felt like it had a flow. It feels like it’s going to inform some things. It has a shape that wants to come forward. I think I can honestly say that it’s the first time that I’ve had something like that come through me.
I share this only so that I can acknowledge it for myself. Not to brag, but to reflect back — to myself — that trusting the flow of these things opens up what needs to be said. What needs to be revealed.
It’s in this that healing happens. And from healing, expression.
This is a topic I’m going to be exploring quite a bit in the near future. Where do we come from? And how does that help shape us? And how can reaching back, prior to the point that those who came before us had to sever the part of their identity rooted in their linneage heal both ourselves, as well as our ancestors.
There’s a lot to explore here. Here’s to reaching.
None of us are in this alone.
Yesterday, talking with a client, I found myself saying to him, “We have put all this energy into leadership development, like you’re supposed to go into your office and figure out how to be better at this. That doesn’t work. And, to boot, it’s not what leadership even is. At the end of the day, leadership is everyone, together, participating. It’s your team. It’s your boss and their boss. It’s a vast web of relationships. You can’t figure this out on your own, nor should you. You need them and they you. All of this is embedded in relationship. That’s the heart of it”
Or something like that, anyway.
The more I think about this — and reflect on its meaning in my life — the more I think it’s true if everything. Our culture has lost the plot. We’ve become disconnected from a core truth: we’re in this together. No point in it being otherwise.
May we find our way back to that.
Life as a blessing
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
Life is a beautiful mystery. And yet, for some reason, we have built societies around systems and structures that prevent us from seeing and experiencing this on a day-to-day basis. We look forward to weekends and dread Mondays. We plan for retirement while trading our labor to sock away for that future that isn’t guaranteed. More and more, we live hand to mouth, while surrounded by the greatest amounts of resources that have ever been assembled.
I’m aware that I write with a very United States-centric perspective, and that other cutlures be they “western” or not hold slightly different ones. That said, this thing we call “western” has been spreading across the globe for decades. I fear that what we see as the primary goal of life — to produce — will be the primary goal globally before we realize it.
I fear that more and more, we will make life short. How I do this in my own life is a central inquiry. What can I do, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, to expand that life to its fullness? The only way I can imagine is to put everything on the table, to take a stand for the things that are truly important, to cultivate the relationships that matter, to do the work that expands the heart and mind, to feel into the divine nature of each moment and each place, and to honor the gift of being alive through the divine blessing of being present to my life. This is the legacy I wish for us all.