Sometimes I look at the world — especially if I’m anywhere near a strip mall — and think, “14.5 billion years of evolution and this is the best we can do?” And then I’m reminded, somewhere in this small individual mind, that inherent in this sentiment is a judgement that implies I can somehow have a greater sense of order than order itself does. It’s a thought built on an arrogance that is, I think, a defense against a great, primal fear: the fear of the overwhelming amazingness of all of this.
They say that we only register a percentage of the information that our eyes receive. That our ears receive. That our beings receive. If we were to take it all in, we would be overwhelmed; blown over. Unable to function. Perhaps this is why we filter the world through our judgements. If we were to perceive the vast awesomeness of each moment, how could we live?
I’m not sure if this is the why (or merely a why). All I know is that paying attention to the ways in which I am arrogant, and am disconnected from the moment-to-moment miracles of our times seems like one aspect of our collective liberation.
Paying attention opens us to the possibility that every moment contains what we need to be liberated. Imagine.
We met with a potential client today. The main takeaway was this: being human is messy. It’s hard. It’s super tricky. People are doing their best. And we’re all making it up as we go along.
And sometimes, that’s enough.
Another close call
I almost let
the day pass
much as a
matter — for I
do that one
A bit on nature
During Erev Rosh Hashanah services, my rabbi said something along the lines of, “We have de-sacredize nature.” He was speaking about the ways that we are living in todays world — how we have lost our ability to see the divinity in all things. How losing our way has made it possible for us to destroy the world, just as dehumanizing other people allows us to kill them, not to mention enslave them.
A thought popped into my head when he said this: The first step to de-sacredizing nature is to look out into the world and see a thing you call nature. In other words, the first step is to invent nature.
The thing is, nature is a construct. It is a way of explaining what is “out there”, what is separate from us. Nature is trees. Nature is rivers. Nature is a bear or deer. Nature is a mountain. It is something we visit, or that we are “interested in”. It is other.
But this can’t be true. We can’t be spearated from nature anymore than we can separated from our own skin; from the air; from the biosphere. Nature isn’t a thing out there. If it’s anything, it is something that we are in. It is simply the world.
I don’t remember where I heard this idea, but it was something like: cities our the human version of the anthill. What we build is just as natural as that. We have capacities that ants don’t have. That is a neutral concept. What we have done with those capacities? Not so neutral. In many cases, negative. But that we create space for us to live among each other, that we build infrastructure to transport oursevles and resources and information? All of this mirrors what the world does.
But still, we hold it separate. This, of course, is at the heart of why we have built systems that seem to work against the way the world worked. If we actually saw ourselves as a part of the world, we would build economic systems that mirror it. We would build governance systems that mirror it. Our food, healthcare, education systems would all be informed by the flow of rivers and the dance of salmon. How could they not? We would know no other way. But we hold it separate.
When you hold something as separate, it will lose its capacity to hold what is sacred about it. It will become de-sacredized.
Earlier today, I received an email from my rabbi. I noticed in his signature line he had the following:
Ein Od Milvado (Deut. 4:35) There is nothing more than That which alone is.
In order to re-connect with Nature, we have to recognize that it is not there. That we are a part of all of creation. That what we walk on is Holy Ground. This, I think, is the secret to what will turn around this atrocity we know as climate change. It is this big of a step we are asked to take.
One year ago today, I wrote this itty-bitty poem. I agree, it would have been a shame.
Four years ago today, we got this guy.
We had found him at the Everett Animal Shelter about five days earlier. We almost immediatley adopted him. He had to be neutered before he could come home with us. So we think of today — October 1st — has his anniversary date. In some ways, it’s like his birthday. They told us they thought he was about 2 years old, which would of course make him six now.
He’s changed our lives. He’s a fun, goofy, crazy little man. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he’s one of a kind. He does the oddest things. For example, this morning before I left, I called him so I could take him outside to go to the bathroom. He did this:
“I don’t want to go to the bathroom. You go to the bathroom.” That’s what this says to me.
He is his own man.
He’s also caused us a lot of stress. He’s a rescue, and so he came with a lot of anxiety. The impacts of trauma are huge.
I think the biggest thing, though, is that he is a wonderful mirror for my wife and I. I suspect that his expressed anxiety are more a reflection of what my wife and I are feeling at a given time. The things he can teach us.
So this is dedicated to my little guy, Buckley Sophos.
Love you, buddy.
A year ago, I had some heavier things to say.
One of the tenets of Judaism is Tikun Olam — to repair the world. This centers social justice and working to bring equity into the world. Where there are wrongs, we must work to right them. I find it to be one of the most compelling aspects of the tradition. If we work together, we can see the world change.
There are a lot of reasons today to be cynical. One can look at what I just wrote in the first paragraph and summize that there is a naiveté in Judaism. But what Tikun Olam does not mean is you (individual person) have to fix everything. No. What it means is that you must do your part. You must find what is yours to heal, and do that work.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
We are all necessary. Each of us has their role to fulfill. This is how the world gets healed. This is how we all get healed. Indeed, my healing — my liberation — is bound up in yours.
We need one another.
One year ago today, I wrote this piece. Funny how it connects with the above.