What we are to do about "the world today."

I don't attend protests, tell people to eff the po-lice, or, in recent years, spend time constructing "logical" arguments against those whose momentum strongly opposes mine. Maybe this will change in years to come. But from the lens I'm using now, I sense that what often results from active, directed opposition, especially if it's of the disrespectful variety, is an acceleration of momentum on both sides, tantamount to two speeding cars with drivers-feet firmly on pedals, hurling toward each other. The likelihood that one of those drivers even hears the other's "logical argument" over the din and clatter of the engines, let alone takes it in and allows it to stew in the still, inner sanctum where minds actually change in a meaningful way, is pretty dang slim. 

Still, I'm an idealist. I want good things for the world. I know what sadness and disconnection feel like in my own life, and I know the sublimity of deep connection, peace, humility, learning, and cooperation. I want to bring about more of the sublime, in the widest-reaching way my single life can muster.  I suspect that many people feel the same way. We know the world can always be a better place, we want to see a steady stream of positive growth and change, and we want to be part of the momentum behind it. 

But we're hard-pressed to find easy ways to be effective at building that momentum in a way that feels meaningful to us. What do we want to see instead of the given problems we identify? If X doesn't work, what will?  Furthermore, Solutionland is located in Unknownland, and the mere thought of entering Unknownland scares the pants off of us.

If the world of problems and solutions is a map, Problemland, established within the kingdom of Knownland, is easy to point to. So the addiction to driving by it often, just to point to it and say "Bad!", is compelling. So compelling that whole social circles spring up solely because their members all like to point to the same part of its geography. But remember that Problemland exists for a reason. There are people who are heavily invested in its continuity, for reasons that make sense to them. Their job is to keep surviving in the pattern they have established, and they're likely to continue doing their jobs. Meanwhile, all this problem-pointing leaves us with little time to bolster our nerves, read our guide books, and set out to explore Solutionland. 

If we want to be a part of positive human evolution, our job is to not to mow over, shoot down, or directly fight Problemland. Instead, it's more like this:

  1. Find that stillness within, where bravery and our creativity are made. Tap into it daily. Practice it in our relationships within Knownland. 
  2. Get a good map of Solutionland, and locate the many oases within its vast territory. Pick a few, or just one, that call to your particular vision for humanity. 
  3. Armed with bravery, creativity, and excitement, venture out into Solutionland. Have brunch with people there. Talk about what you can build or make together. "Plus" your oasis/oases of choice with your cool, weird ideas. (Tesla, Elon Musk, Amelia Earhart: all super weird.)
  4. Or, if you're cranky like me and like things how you like them, start your own oasis that others can find and add to.

We must all be creatives, all artists, all innovators. This, I believe, is how we come to know that Solutionland is bigger than Problemland. 

Want a different metaphor? Listen to a more qualified person - the eloquent evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris - explain in an elegant 90 seconds how the current "world crisis" is a natural stage of our human development, and what we are to do.

(P.S. Asheville - Pink Mercury is playing at Asheville's all-city, no-car block party on Sept 16 in the afternoon! Hope you can make it.)

Diving Deep

I woke up knowing I had a couple of people waiting on me, to return emails. They had requested my time today for voiceover revisions. I'd seen the correspondence come in last night, but at 11pm or so, when I was in that mental state where I feel like I'm not on the clock--not accountable for retaining information that lives in the daytime.


But info with a daytime habitat can also live at night, under the right conditions, and it will do so in a sneakier, more subversive way.


I like to walk alone, first thing in the morning. It's a way of connecting with nature and my inner world, in an active way, before addressing the demands of others. I think I do this to remind myself, experientially and daily, where my life's mission control center is located.  I follow most impulses; I touch leaves, crouch down to study how caterpillars move, stretch and dance, take off shoes and put them on, listen in big headphones (to signal my unavailability) to audiobooks, music, self-help videos, or to nothing. I zoom out to a big view of my life and circumstances. I find a hummingbird-like feeling and think about where I want to go next, spiritually, emotionally, physically, in my life. I tune in to what I want to. I enjoy. I channel, funnel, create, integrate, dream, and fully feel my freedom.


Today's walk was harder. It took longer to get into. I didn't do it first thing, so most of it felt less like a deep-dive and more like going thru the blocking of the motions. On my way home, after taking my usual route, I was just starting to zone in to a good process. I had the impulse to continue walking, to listen to this great audio performance of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to rewind and re-listen in order to digest and contemplate the denser parts; to compare and contrast Pirsig's thoughts to my own.  But I came home anyway, to return emails.


I learned something big today. It may seem obvious, but I suppose that's the way learning works: you learn something in your head, but don't really know it until that unsuspecting moment it sinks deeper for some reason, down to your gut. Then you know. Compromised as it was this morning, my walk gave me something: the realization that I'd allowed those emails to come in and live, at 11pm last night, like that sneaky head vampire in The Lost Boys.


Here's how it went down: 

  1. (11pm) Checking of email
  2. Resistance of temptation to respond right away
  3. Good ego feeling ("ohhhhh I'm on to you, email - you think I'm going to jump on this... what if I were already asleep right now?")
  4. Self-deception ("I am totally not going to deal with this until tomorrow. It's like it never happened.")
  5. Feeling of intrusion
  6. Suppression of own impulses (I'd felt like editing some band video from a recent show--listening thoroughly for sections that particularly connected, creating new pieces of internet-friendly art from the initial capture - "But, you know, if I'm already gonna be at the computer working... I should probably return those emails so I stop thinking about them....but I don't want to get in the habit of responding to demands at 11pm.  But maybe that'll get them out of my head? I'm tired ....Know what? i'm just gonna watch The Staircase on Netflix.")
  7. Low-grade malaise
  8. (2am) Sleep (after following The Staircase to its conclusion and eating half of a cauliflower pizza crust from Whole Foods)
  9. Unremembered dreams that might have included blood-spatter analysis from The Staircase vs. philosophical contemplation of artistic choices in video editing
  10. (Upon waking) Checking of email (usually relegated to after morning walk)
  11. Contemplation of whether to return last night's emails now or after walk
  12. (9:30) Returning of emails
  13. Walk that took a lot longer than usual to zone into


I'm not blaming the requestors. I'm happy to do what they're asking - I love voiceover. It is the most wonderful way I can think of to practice perspective-taking, empathy, and working with a studio microphone. But the ultimate payoff for my spirit is that I get to channel the practice of voiceover, and its resultant income, into the original work that I create as part of my own human growth and development.  This is necessary for me to feel whole, alive, and engaged with my life. And that work takes a lot of deep, uninterrupted diving, and no vampires (even friendly ones) can be allowed to live in that workspace.


So, maybe this post could have been shortened to "Note to self: no more email checking at night." But then I would only know that in my head.