Share the Joys

I spent the weekend in a shared hotel room. I think the five of us had a lot more fun together than we would have had separately. I know we laughed a lot more than we would have otherwise. I watched a blind woman learn to swear in American Sign language, that was definitely a highlight. I came away with a new friend, and a deeper connection with my old ones.

We are all richer when we share. In time, in money, in experience. It is only when we hoard things that we feel the lack. We create scarcity by focusing on what we don’t have–what we will run out of if we don’t lock it away from others. There is plenty for all of us, really.

Yes, there are a lot of us hurting worldwide, there are people actually starving to death. This is tragic–and preventable. They aren’t starving because there isn’t enough, but because someone won’t share what is there. Some of us will steal from others–their time, their labor, the good things that are all around us. Some of us think we need more than we have. Our personal lives and the lives of our communities and nations are the life of our planet. As we take from our fellow humans we also take from the other beings around us.

We’re really taking from ourselves. Our planet is a closed system. Aside from the occasional meteorite, everything that is here has been here since the earth was formed. When the salmon don’t have enough water to get upstream to spawn we don’t get to eat salmon. Is there really not enough water for both the salmon and the farmers? Is there really not enough room for our houses and the trees? Is it really so impossible to share with other beings?

Do we live in a crowded house, or do many of us have more than we need? When you can’t find it, do you really own it? When you can’t make use of it, is it really yours? Saying that it was always done this way, and we can’t afford to make the changes is on the same level as the little kid who says they don’t want to clean their room. Is change really so difficult and unpleasant? Is it really too expensive to take the needs of the rest of the world into account?

It really comes down to sharing. We have always shared everything with all beings whether we realize it or not. We can do it willingly, and with awareness, or we can create scarcity for all of us. It took all of us to create the systems we use today, the systems that did not take into account the needs of all beings, and it is going to take all of us, working together, paying the costs, to change them.

We look at what we think needs to be done, and we see hard work and deprivation. I say that that’s a failure of imagination. I could have looked at that hotel room this weekend and the prospect of sleeping on the floor with dread. I could have looked at the idea of having to live on the food we brought as a long few days of deprivation. I chose to see it as an adventure. It was a lot of effort, and very little sleep, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  

I know humanity can come out of the coming change the same way.

The Awareness Shining Out Of Gaia’s Eyes

It took us eons to claw our way up from lifeless matter to consciousness. Our planetary lifestream has been pruned back five times that we know of since we came to life, but never before have we had any awareness of the process or control over it.

This time it’s different. We know ourselves in a way we never have before. We’ve gone into space and seen ourselves, our whole body floating in the darkness of space.

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This picture changed us. In the words of two astronauts:

“Beholding our planet from space has enabled us to see our place in the universe in a new way. For those who have seen the earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.” -American astronaut Donald Williams

“The first day, we pointed to our countries. Then we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth.” -Saudi Arabian astronaut Sultan Bin Salmon al-Saud

The history of the life of Earth is one of cooperation. Details and models differ, and this story I am telling right now can and probably will change tomorrow. It is difficult to remember where we came from, after all, and we learn more every day. But what was here in the beginning kept interacting with itself. Compounds combined to become self replicating, then kept combining to form amino acids, proteins, and eventually cells. Those cells kept it up, cooperating, ingesting each other, combining their talents and their functions to become ever more complex. We became one vast web, sharing what is here, nourishing each other, becoming each other, all the while part of a greater whole that is our glowing self, floating in space. We live an endless paradox, separate and one at the same time.

The most dangerous and damaging myth of all is that of our separateness. We cannot live without the rest of life, our very bodies are colonies of beings, the bacteria that break down the other beings that become us as they are consumed being but one example. We are all consumed when each of our individual lives ends because we are all part of everything else. We cannot be separate, every part of us must return to the whole to become something else in an endless dance. If you don’t believe me, just try to hold onto all that you are right now. How long can you hold your breath? Your bodily “wastes?” Your hair, skin, nails? Even enbalming is a temporary, desperate attempt to stave off of the inevitable process of being consumed as all that we are returns to where it came from. Our “separate” lives are a constant taking in and letting go, and we grow more complex as time goes on.

We have to think of all beings. We have grown so complex, so powerful, that we are determining the very shape of the whole. Our actions are determining which creatures live, and which die. Humanity is conscious of ourselves, we are aware of the very shape of our whole, but we have forgotten that we are only a part of it. We don’t yet realize that we are the arrow pointed at our chest. We don’t remember or know that cutting off the lives of entire species is another way of cutting off pieces of our own bodies. We know that an animal that outstrips the resource base that keeps it alive is heading for a population crash, or extinction, but we do not apply that knowledge to ourselves. We are different, separate, somehow exempt. We’re smart enough to find a way to survive.

I believe that we will, but I think that we will accomplish that by remembering who we are. If we can be the awareness shining out of Gaia’s eyes that we were evolved to be, we will work as part of that whole and survive. If not, we will go the way of the dinosaur and the trilobite, and earth will start that slow majestic climb toward consciousness once again.

We live in wonderful, terrible, pivotal times. What a gift it is to live here and now, to hold the world in our hands, to see the shape of it as no other creature ever has. Sit down, be still. Choose carefully, the future depends on it.