My neighbor teaches environmental studies at the local university. Recently he lent me the book entitledCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. This is a research-based exploration of human actions involving past and contemporary societies that collapsed, and those that live on.
The author suggests that individuals and communities wanting to survive, persist, and at times thrive, are best served by living in accord with the “nature” of their Natural environments. Those living at odds, move through processes of human indecency, ugliness and starvation en route to their collapse, their deaths.
My work orients around the personal and spiritual ecology of individuals, and groups of people. As such, the book prompted a deeper inquiry into the “nature” of my Nature and how confluent my life is with it. I looked, too, into the “nature” of others’ Natures. As with geographical regions, there are patterns and generalizations that can be inferred regarding people too. Yet, like each locale, each person requires her or his own recipe for achieving and maintaining an ecology of one’s own.
Contrary to popular rhetoric, we do not live in a one-size-fits-all world. “Truths,” if there are any, are space/time/context specific. They are not transferrable. What is “real,” if there are “real” things, is not generalizable. The majority of us do not live in confluence with the “nature” of our individual Natures. Our cultures impede such things. Remedying our alignments are worthy and honorable endeavors. I suggest that we recognize that this epoch’s moment is inviting us to direct our intent and attentions to this end, living genuinely.
Diamond’s book also invites us to look at contemporary circumstances through a life and death lens and to do so personally, intimately. Are our actions but repeated patterns of those whose societies collapsed? The author suggests that our contemporary actions are not without precedent. I ask, are we blithely walking in lockstep with an age-old inherited ignorance?
Yet, this is not my point. We know these things. Our unconscious denial keeps this knowing from our conscious awareness. My points are:
1. Individual awareness precedes necessary collective action. With rigor, we can become aware and choose differently.
2. The manner in which we live today arises from an unwitting orientation that Life itself is a problem to be solved. As consequence, we have centered our lives in problems, and identified ourselves as problem solvers. This position and identity is antithetical to life.
A wise mentor of mine informs that opportunities arising from problems are themselves closing structures. In other words, the opportunities themselves collapse before bearing fruit. Pursuing them does not serve! Such pursuit but squanders our attentions and energies. In the context of problem solving, opportunities whose structures open, do not present themselves. These opportunities arise from orienting a life on the frontier of creative self expression.
One of the greatest boons in my life involves the humbling and life changing epiphany of discovering that I had positioned and identified myself as a problem solver – in my existence, not simply in my work. The design of my personality and the models around which I have orbited have had a problem solving bent. I am damn good solving problems. I find stellar and uncommon solutions.
My epiphany also revealed a richness that awaits from another mode of existing and living: that which results from orienting and moving in concert with a universal wisdom and intelligence that I creatively express in my life. This involves embodying the Muse herself. This birthright is inclusive. Everyone can get not only a visa but a residency card for these places.
Collapses in our societal structures are natural outcomes of collapses to our individual internal structures. Neither Life nor people are problems! Life is expressive motion. Our lives are expression. We ourselves render them elegant, gracious, aesthetic, or not.
In my earlier post “Perspective Shift” of 21 May 2012, I wrote about our internal nemeses, those aspects of our personalities rendering ourselves our own worst enemies. This post is an entry into a mini-series of posts in which I offer models and skills for freeing ourselves from the ancestral and cultural constraints, those which our individual nemeses perpetuate within each of us.