My brother’s work
I’ve been transparent about what I half-jokingly call “my existential crisis.” I’m in the throes of transition and I’m not exactly sure what I’m transitioning towards.
Looking at facebook I caught a sweet post that my cousin put up. I wasn’t so much into the source, “the secret daily teachings,” I have developed an aversion to the ideology of effortless wishful thinking. But here is what the post said:
“Whatever you want to bring into your life, you must GIVE it. Do you want love? Then give it. Do you want appreciation? Then give it. Do you want understanding? Then give it. Do you want joy and happiness? Then give it every single day.”
Such simple wisdom, a timeless truth; and I found it incredibly empowering. It delineates a clear course of action – even for someone in the middle of an existential crisis. I can love, I can appreciate, I can understand, I can give joy and happiness – it is in this giving that life that life becomes truly rich, truly fulfilled.
This morning I prostrated before the beloved and sought to hone my intention. I chose to open my heart and to bring a fullness of love to the retreat I’m about to facilitate. This quote is an affirmation of that choice.
I am experiencing our collective yearning to reclaim our lives. The contradictions of life in the richest country in the world have become unbearable. The “more stuff” mantra isn’t cutting it anymore. Neither is the “more work” mantra.
I’m all for movement. I’m for focus, for devotion, for hard work and dedication – I’m for art. I’m for art in service of life. I’m not for life in service of work. This gets specially confusing when you get paid to try and heal the world.
The problem is in the pace, the scale and the abstraction of it all. I’m remembering a great little design documentary called Urbanized; it described Brasilia as the modernist dream. A rational city, a place built from the bird’s eye view, a place that was not built for people.
The same documentary talks about design with a human perspective, about spaces that meet our evolutionary shapes. We tend to look down more than up, we can see about 10 feet ahead of us, and our peripheral vision is about 10 feet in either direction. We don’t look down at cities from the skies. And we are certainly not rational. We live in the mix. Spaces that are designed with this in mind are the spaces that tend to thrive.
This is a big part of my inquiry. How do we organize our work, our communities, our economies and our political activities in ways that meet our evolutionary shape?
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
Today is the last of 9 monthly sessions with the Massachusetts Institute for Community Health Leadership and my colleague Andrea Nagel invited me to tell the MICHL fellows the story of my using the kaizen method to develop my yoga practice as they develop action steps towards actualizing their vision beyond the fellowship… it felt good to provide an embodied example