"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?"
I just returned from the Wisdom 2.0 conference, held last weekend in Mountain View, CA at the Computer History Museum. Hoping to discover more about wisdom, I came away with a new understanding and appreciation for the amazing role technology is playing in helping humans know and understand each other better, even though we may never meet face to face.
I also came away with a deeper connection to the plight of being human and the challenges we face as the world unfolds in a way that threatens our very existence. Witness the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf last week, quite possibly the largest ecological disaster in the history of the world.
And at the same, I became aware of the enormous opportunities we have to come together as a species and save ourselves. We could turn this thing around if it was our collective intention to do so.
Technology will play a major role in our collective transformation. This much is clear. Technology may be creating some of our greatest challenges, but it also holds the solution to them. Transformation will come about in large part, because of the connectivity available to us now that never was available before. Sooner or later, we humans are going to figure this thing out. The only question is when? Will we come together to save ourselves before it's too late?
Now, it seems, we're too divorced from ourselves to know that in order to save ourselves, we must come home to ourselves. We must see ourselves as members of this human "tribe," knowing that the plight of each of us is dependent upon the plight of all of us and the plight of all of us is determined by the plight of each of us.
Who are you in the family of things in this world?
Is it not easier to lose sight of your place in the world and end up thinking it doesn't matter if you even have a place in the world? Is it not easier to do that than it is to remain always aligned and forever attuned to the voice and the rhythm of your higher nature? Is it not?
And based how you see the world unfolding, would it not be easier to think that what you think and what you do makes no difference in the matter of things? Wouldn't it be easier to think that than it would be to live in the awareness of your inherent unity with all that is? Wouldn't it?
It would, or so it seems. Yet, please let us think again.
Think about the 7 billion of us, who, if you looked beyond skin color, national origins or cultural backgrounds, you would discover "they" turn out to be a lot like you. And you might discover that most of "them" are thinking the same thoughts about themselves as you, carry similar worries and burdens of the heart as your own heart holds.
In other words, there's really only one of us here, manifest in 7 billion different ways. Each one of us uniquely different, while being inherently the same.
Therein lies the conundrum of being human. We are many, yet we're one. How do we travel with a foot in both worlds?
We live as though we have no knowledge of our collective condition, human beings traveling together through space, sharing a small ship called Earth. We live with little or no awareness of our connection to the whole and our part in it. Yet we do so at our own peril.
We look at each other as "other." There's "me" and there's "you." And we're separate and different, yet we're the same. Or there's "me" and there's everyone else. And everyone else is "them."
What is your place in a world like this?
What is your place in a world in which "they" think they're just one person and who really cares what "they" think? Who really cares what "they" do?
"They" think they're just too busy taking care of their own business to worry much about the business of anyone else. "They" think it's better to leave well enough alone and let everyone fend for themselves.
"They" think they have a lot of problems and so does everyone else. So how can anyone help anyone when everyone needs help?
"They've" already decided it isn't going to get any better, so why not do the best you can with what you've got and hope it all turns out?
"They" don't see many alternatives.
And then a brilliant human creation appears, leaving instructions for living life, and everything feels different:
Instructions for living a life
Tell about it."
-- Mary Oliver
Could it be this simple? Can we do this?
What is your place in a world like this?
Mary Oliver lays it out:
#1-It's your place to be among the awakened. How do I know? You're reading this. That's enough evidence. Your slumber is over, wake up.
#2- It's your place to look around and pay attention to what you see. It will astonish you. When you look with the eyes of an awakened one, you'll see the beauty and wonder of what's going on here. You'll see beyond the appearance of separation to touch the oneness that is life. You'll be amazed! Pay attention.
#3- It's your place to tell others, to awaken them from their slumber to have them join you. You wouldn't want to keep this good news all to yourself, now would you? Of course not! It's your place to help spread the word that this place of ours, this one precious life on this one precious planet that we share, is sacred. We are sacred. It's all sacred.
#4 - It's your place to behave accordingly, to honor the sacredness of all life. As if your very life depended upon it. For it does.
Mary Oliver invites us to take a deeper look:
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
-- Mary Oliver
And suddenly this big world feels almost cuddly, warm, and familiar. It seems smaller, more doable, like something you could wrap your arms around and cozy up to. Oliver invites us to remember that the world is offering up a place for each one of us, no matter who we are, no matter what burdens we carry.
The explosion of technology both expands our reach in the world and brings it down to size.
It gives us access to the creative output that 7 billion uniquely different, yet wonderously alike souls are bringing to the planet in 2010. Our collective wisdom is becoming available for all and once this reaches critical mass, game over. We win.
Let's declare the game already over and we've already won.
What would be your place in a world in which you and everyone else has already won?
Will you be a placeholder? Or will you wake up, pay attention, be astonished and tell everyone?
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