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I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

It is a marvel to exist at all, The Beach Boys

Happy New You!

The hungry ghosts of our culture are driving us apart; driven mad with insatiable desire, and absolutely convinced that the endless search for validation, purpose, acceptance, meaning, and worthiness is a material game. The struggle to define ourselves against something or someone else has made us territorial, jealous, and selfish creatures. Although our claws and teeth are manicured and whitened, our ruthlessness and capacity for egregious conduct has evolved with our outstanding qualities. We are constantly at a turning point on this planet: do we respond to the challenges present with dignity, compassion, and grace?

Dominant culture is boisterous and reduces us all to caricatures of who we really are. If any of us neatly fit on a screen, a page, or a social media account it would be easy for us to be replaced. But each of us has a thousand generations of ancestors behind and ahead of us. Each of us is a cosmos folded into the tiniest sliver of a body. We each contain the entire creative capacity of every star within the neural network that collects and filters our lived experience. Our minds, along for the ride, assess and categorize based on a floating set of parameters that constantly shift and change. Nothing of what we are is easily reduced, and yet we so easily find ourselves alienated in a culture that values only certain qualities, or certain "objective" measures of "success."

It is a marvel to exist at all, which we so often take for granted. The slightest change in pH makes water impotable or toxic to most forms of life. Too much carbon, or not enough nitrogen, and all the soil would lose fecundity. The feedback for these delicate and often imperceptible conditions is always present, but our attention is often on conditions that are solely present within our own minds. If we chose to, our combined mental capacity would be more than enough to solve some of the world's problems. If we chose to, our energy usage could be directed towards common good, rather than private and personal enterprise, like the military industrial complex.

One needn't be an iconoclast. Cherishing the precious few years we have, once our bodies and brains have developed to contribute to the world, we can all work in simple ways to invite clarity and ease into each other's lives. Operating as an instrument for peace in this troubled world requires us to make certain sacrifices. We need to choose kindness over selfishness; to find and nurture the ways that our lives are related and deeply interdependent. We need to give up other-ing or doubling down on our differences; the rapidly changing environmental, social, political, and economic climate will not allow us to separate ourselves behind conceptual or physical borders without deeply counterproductive consequences. The tiny island of our own self-exile, where we blissfully and easefully watch the world spiral and burn into chaos does not exist. Neither does the triumphant heroic figure alluded to in myth and Marvel superhero-dom.

Here we are, together, as equal participants in this great unfolding of cosmic forces, temporarily embodied as human beings working out our misunderstanding and resistance as we go along. There is no alternative to the now. This is it, as it is. The sooner we allow ourselves to take hold of our own cosmic presence and follow the flow, without adding interpretation or analysis, the sooner we will find ourselves in a position to make the most of our brief time together on this planet. Let us use the words and music of The Beach Boys', "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times," as a clarion call to wake up together.

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