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Beware Of Darkness

Love in action is creativity and possibility, and George Harrison

art by Ron Walotsky

Deep bows, friend.

As we round out a year that has revealed so many aspects of human life we ordinarily take for granted, we must be focused and deliberate with our thoughts, words, and deeds. We cannot spare ourselves the pain of knowing the grief and sorrow of our world. There is no distraction, or temporary refuge, that will guide us from confusion to clarity.

Narratives and talking points are falling around us like a steady rain. Like all natural phenomena, our lives on this planet are governed by the same principles in nature that seek homeostasis within any closed system. Life's functions have hardly changed since life happened on this planet, and they continue on within us. Human beings are unique among all other forms of life, not by our nature, but by our behavior. Our relationship to life has shifted as we grew in number, organization, and curiosity about how to engage with the world around us. Our stories and myths helped us rally the courage to face the mundane, confusing, and terrifying parts of life and death. Our own concepts, ideas, and beliefs have helped us orient ourselves amidst a boundless cosmic setting by reducing complex mysterious processes into discrete and simple patterns that all our children can remember.

Our capacity to reduce complexity into simplicity is remarkable, and is the reason why we have computers that can wrap around our wrists. We have found ways to understand some fundamental principles of what makes life and existence possible, and have ventured beyond the confines of our planet's atmosphere. We have found innumerable ways to express wonder, curiosity, and creativity in art, music, and culture. The potential for us as a species to imagine something and attempt to produce it is fascinating and endlessly entertaining, but also deeply horrifying. Our ideas and this reductionist habit have resulted in dehumanizing people, but also in disregarding the beauty and grace of other forms of life. Our own stories, ideas, and beliefs can become a twisted maze from which we might struggle to free ourselves. Within the elegance and beauty of our human-centered world, there is a wealth of harm and hurt that must be healed.

The ancients said Gods gave humans fire, words, and every gift we could need so that we would no longer need their fickle charity. Those gifts came with the burden of power to do wonderful and terrible things with our freedom. When we look to the past and orient ourselves we pull out human figures as our champions and villains. We reduce a whole life into a trope or story, and lose the nuance and subtlety of life. When we idolize or demonize anyone we rob them of their humanity, and lose the thread that connects us to the past. Losing the thread of past humans, we lose their collective wisdom and warnings. Without a past, we cannot hope to understand the present, or tread towards the future.

We find ourselves faced with the challenge of reconciling a great divide that we created through centuries of habits and ideas. The separateness that lives in our political, industrial, environmental, educational, and economical institutions lives within each of us. Our hopes at a collective renewal of hope, possibility, and collaboration depend not only on systemic change, but also at an interpersonal and intra-personal level. Inherited ideas of Self and Other keep us engaged in conflict between our desire to lead peaceful and satisfying lives, and our desire to remain untouched by the growth and sacrifice that comes with being mortal. We vacillate between the openness of innocence and the selfishness and arrogance of hubris; neither is more human than the other.

A lived and embodied sense of humility arises when we recognize that our whole lives are supported by eons of shifting forms of energy rising and falling away countless times to produce an ocean of cosmic expression. The free flow of energy that runs through all expressions of existence is what we might call love. The potency of love in action is creativity and possibility. It is only through softening and relaxing into our hearts that we can summon presence and the love that is required to heal old wounds.

This piece was inspired by George Harrison's track, "Beware of Darkness."

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