What’s Coming Up?
I’m planning a series of posts on topics that I consider, if not of some urgency, then at least of a certain timeliness. These notes are meant to facilitate reflection and interchange. I’ll post them over the next little while. In keeping with the rambling nature of these writings however I won’t try to deal with these ideas in a structural or comprehensive fashion.
I hope that each one of these themes and postings will be of interest to you (as obviously they are to me). Now, having muddied the waters sufficiently, let me start in the middle (as if you could stop me) and proceed to the edges. Certainly its usually along those borders that things get most interesting. Those liminal zones are like the estuaries where salt and fresh waters meet, they are especially fertile, or as biologists (and fishermen) say, productive.
As Silo has it in his rendering of the Sumerian Enuma Elish in his work on Myths: When neither the heavens above nor the Earth below had yet been named, from the Abyss and Impetuosity the waters mingled. Neither gods nor marshes nor rushes existed. In that chaos, two serpents were begotten that for a long time grew in size, making room for the horizon of the sea and the Earth. They divided the spaces, forming the limits of the heavens and the Earth. The great gods were born from those limits and were grouped together in different parts of what was the world. And these divinities continued to multiply, and in this way disturbed the great ones who shaped the original chaos.
I don’t think it will surprise you if I admit that at times I find myself in rough shape: restless, weak, sad, scared? But there are also moments in the midst of all that when I remember that I’ve felt precisely the opposite and then I am filled with the desire to replace my daily woes with profound internal peace, to overcome the weakness I feel, and discover the Force to live fully and deeply — and above all to find the joy of an open future. At those moments I feel filled with the desire, with the need, to change.
Inside and Out, or Outside and In?
Even if, for some reason, my personal confession surprised you, I don’t think anyone will be shocked at the suggestion that our poor planet is in rough shape. We have inherited a world that is a seemingly bottomless pit of bloodshed, and abuse. The Institutions and individuals that people used to trust have proven incompetent and corrupt. And as for the future looming ahead, well… But along with this sad situation that surrounds us, we can’t help but notice how the violence and disorder doesn’t stay in some distant “out there”. This miasma pervades our neighbourhoods and places of work, it leaks into our families and our most intimate relationships, and even penetrates the depths of our most private selves.
How could it be otherwise? We are always part of an environment, embedded in a situation, in a moment of time that bears the marks of yesterday and seems to lead to a particular tomorrow.
The Disease and It’s Cure
Take a moment and check today’s news and tell me it doesn’t seem a contagion more virulent than Ebola or Zikka is spreading across our poor planet. It is as if an illness is spread from person to person, from group to group, region to region. The results can be deadly, the symptoms destructive, most obvious among them bigotry and violence, anxiety, fear and despair — a sense of impending doom and the impulse to lash out or hide. Happily for some the symptoms are mild and passing but this mental plague that threatens us all. It is both the cause, and the result of the violent and inhumane world in which we find ourselves.
So if I want to change my world I need to change myself. I need not only to find a source of peace, force and joy. And if I try to change myself, I realize I need to change my world. And with that I’ve got another problem, even if I really believe all this. What can I change? Changing even the most peripheral of my habits always proves to be one of those things that’s easy to say, and very difficult to do. So what sense does it make talking about changing the world? With the proposal my frustration increases, as does the contradiction between my ideas, my feelings and my actions.
The My Real World.
But what if my goal is not to change some abstract world, but rather my world: the immediate world of my daily life. Not to reach some distant point, or persuade the nameless masses, but to change this world that begins here and extends as far as my reach extends (something that may, no doubt, expand with exercise). This is my world: the world of my friends, family, neighbours and coworkers, the real world I inhabit.
The world is big and I’m small. The turmoil, frustration and violence around me works its way into my heart and mind. But the reverse is also true. The kindness, wisdom, and strength I cultivate in myself can spill out into my surroundings effecting people and situations around me in surprising and powerful ways. For example,
These notes have been sent to the email list of The Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex, and posted on Facebook, as well as on my blog at www.dzuckerbrot.com
We’d all love to hear your comments, thoughts about, considerations of, or artwork inspired by, any of this.