Remember, it is the ubiquitous things we seldom notice, even when they are fundamental to our life. Every day we travel to another world through a radical transition of our consciousness, where the real and the unreal intermix, creating who we are.
Each morning we pass through a transition, ancient as our species, when our mind, and our body, leaves its sleep, coalescing into wakefulness. This is, nearly always, the most radical occurrence of our day, yet we pay it no heed. For eight hours we live a life of pure imagination. For eight hours our body relaxes its form, completely. For eight hours we lay, trusting and vulnerable to all things. And then we wake, where the imagined life is closed.
Academics will tell you, the three greatest minds shaping the modern canon are Darwin, Freud and Marx. Darwin gives us our position in the world and defines for us many of our struggles within it, as a natural evolution. Freud creates a vocabulary for our mind, so that it might make sense, of itself, and other minds. And Marx lays bare our participation within the societies we inhabit.
If we are alive, then our lives are always in transition. Darwin’s ideas have, mostly, settled into our collective psyche; even into those people who rail against “Darwinism”. That apple has been eaten, and we create what gardens we can. Freud, also, is absorbed into our lives, if only “subconsciously”. Despite our ego. And Marx lit the fire that fuels our ongoing struggle for social justice and equality, against a tyranny of the few.
We see religions evolving, fighting to survive truths. We begin allowing ourselves to believe that caring for our sick and injured is more important than monetary profit, and that an injured Earth must also have care. We become aware that an incessant struggle to obtain money only creates more wealth for those who already have it, and the disparity becomes apparent. We wage a war of uncertainty, discontent, and a promise of hope within ourselves. We begin learning the lessons we already knew, were true. We begin to inhabit that disassociation, to resolve it. We evolve.
Through the scary things, and the confusing things. Through what we care about, and what we hate. Through our obsessions and our distractions, and our enjoyment. We evolve through our shame and guilt. Our obligations to each other. Our attention and expression. Hard and soft. And that which does not evolve, dies many slow deaths, one after the other. While here, it is our nature to become. Some would say, to be. We are, each of us, in this together.
The other day, I was listening to Grace Lee Boggs, a 92 year old woman who devoted her life to improving everyone’s life. She was nearly ecstatic about the urban community gardens she helped create in a decaying Detroit so many years ago; a movement that spread to other cities. Not for herself, but for the gardens; growing fresh food within communities on land reclaimed from the fall of misguided edifice. It was people, neighbors, shaping their own destiny independently. It was people, looking to each other, instead of waiting for direction from on-high. These gardens represented the cornerstone of what we are becoming. Excruciatingly slowly.
The world is rising, outside our borders. It has smacked us hard, saying, that is enough. We, beyond your borders, are not you. And the West, staring aloof, even amongst themselves, ratchets up its machinery. The grim countenance of bankers staring down upon these unruly children, who must be taught.
And the other day I watched Africans dancing, and singing in that rhythm which grips inside the gut, lifting up through the heart and skull, then bursts into a primal happiness. Children climbed the stage to dance, and fat women in wildly colored clothing, young and old, joined in the spell. This outpouring dwarfed the reach of our machines. But before this, I heard a story, of the mother, carrying her baby across a land, for so long, so tired. The vulture arriving through the air with its great wings, offering to lift her child home so she might rest, then join them at home. The vulture, who fulfilled his promise by returning her child with his heart pulled from his chest, consumed, and his eyes plucked out, explained himself: stupid woman, you deserve your grief, for trusting a stranger with your child.
Even our own stories, within our borders, tell of the bearers of the rings of Power, wielding them in the name of good. The great lady, who, when freely offered the One Ring that rules and binds them all, admits her desire to take it, using it only for good. But in her wisdom and restraint, she refuses. I pass the test, she says. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.
To be alive is to live transition. I heard President Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It was a beautifully-shaped formula, pompous and condescending to the nations of the world, yet laced with some truly good things. He spoke as if the United States was always the peaceful negotiator in a world whose nations held intractable positions. And now we, the United States, will bring the world together in the name of good.
The few of the Security Council, donning their rings of power, to bend the world toward good. But no good can come from them, nor any nation’s leaders. Good will only arise from those crazy children who walked onto the stage, simply to dance, and the large women who joined them, flowing across the field of view in bright, colorful boubous, simply for the joy of life’s rhythm.
Such a power in their dance, of raw life. Of a good, that is more than Good. This cannot be injected into people’s arms from points on-high. Good rises from the earth to gather in the chest, traveling out, only through our eyes. To each other. The world knows where we must go. We are in transition, in the garden. And our opportunity for good is to diminish, into each other’s midst.