It’s a Mad World
Life today – it’s a costume party with every conceivable character in attendance. The good, the bad, and the ugly. From simple to complex. From obvious to subtle. From hilarious to tragic. From lovable to despicable.
Trying to wrap one’s head around the vast disparity (in all things) on this planet is difficult. How can a man be sipping wine after a $300 meal, taking in the lights of New York City while an entire village in Sudan is literally starving to death. Those two kinds of realities exist simultaneously, all over the planet. Myself, right now, a fire in the fireplace, soothing music warming my soul, typing on a mobile computer in my home, while a homeless veteran sits in a tent in 44° weather less than four miles from my couch, hoping no one will steal his supplies while he’s gone for food. We exist in bubbles of disconnection, as if the world were fragmented into books, each of us a story unto ourselves.
Yet, we’re not disconnected. Far, far from it. That man’s homelessness is a by-product of complex systems of thought and circumstance that have, at their root, policy and tradition inherited by the public. For example, joining the military because his father had been in the Air Force. An assumption of many concepts, including stability and great purpose. In fact, he experienced state-sponsored murder of women and children in primitive villages. He is damaged as a result and upon returning, no one understands what he’s been through – and no one wants to. He is effectively abandoned by the service, left to heal on his own because military men are strong, resilient. The damage festers and has its way with him until his only relief is found in being homeless with no responsibility, no illusions to maintain, and no one to disappoint.
Yet, he is us – with a mind, a soul, an intelligence, and every feeling that we have. And we drive by him and his cart, dismissive in our passing, a moment of fleeting compassion felt at best. If our taxes are pointed towards shelters and education and counseling, many are put out, complaining those unfortunates are to blame, it’s their choice, etc. But it was our very system of illusions and selective ignorance that failed him. We allow men to be propped up as soldiers, used in the most horrific ways, then let back into the illusion as if nothing was wrong with what he had to do. We allow the damaged to return and melt into the self-absorbed folds of a society that says, “you’re on a your own” regardless of a man’s service or condition.
This model is repeated with our youth, raised into molded expectations without any real guidance on how to manage the inner challenges spurred by society’s trends and expectations. Their very identities are left to chance, their own inexperience tending to draw them into irresponsible modes of thought and valuation, or worse, into dangerous and self-destructive modes where their future and those of others are largely discounted.
There is often little depth at the societal level – and this lack of depth is propagated by the masses by not making it a central priority. Instead they allow the drums of capitalism to fill their lives and that of their children with the importance of status, material wealth, and competition – keeping up with the Joneses is the old saying. This shallowness is at the heart of everything gone wrong in the world. Our lack of spiritual awareness [not religiousness] is both a symptom and a cause of the Great Disconnection in effect. When we discount our empathetic response and replace it with “societal norms” that allow for disconnection, we’re avoiding our very shared nature. This disconnection is a comfortable illusion that allows us contentment with self, allows for satisfaction that we are contributing to the success of our community and country… when in fact we are contributing to its eventual downfall. The numbers have been shifting. The middle class are falling into the lower class and the lower class are falling into abject poverty and even homelessness.
All the while, the upper class have devised a system where they rise. 89% of revenue went to the top 1% of Americans in 2017. That disparity of income distribution is setting up the country for misery and failure. Allowing the kings and queens of the upper class to reside in white castles while the workers choke on the fumes and lose their jobs and retirement to economic downturns caused by greed and profit-taking is a form of unchecked madness. Being part of a society must require a defined moral participation in its workings. It requires a minimum depth of soul, of humanity. Enabling poverty-level jobs while the bulk of profit is horded at the top isn’t moral or ethical. When every business does it, it becomes a form of slavery. And that’s the problem.
So yes, it’s a mad world, brought on by our collective illusion of disconnectedness and self-approval as status-quo citizens “doing our part” and “being good people”. The illusion helps us be comfortable. In the end, it’s an addiction of comfort, as most addictions are, and this one is feeding the madness.
When you realize that life eventually ends, every moment becomes a little more valuable. From the lofty perch of 47 years, I look back at all the moments already past and am amazed at the variety. It’s almost like looking back on many people, not just who I am today. So many moods, so many outlooks, so many different situations and motivations… I’ve been a lot of people in my life. And every moment counted, in some way, if for no other reason that it connected me to the moments that were memorable, both past and to come. Life, persisting. Proceeding. Progressing. Becoming. I can marvel now at how unconcerned I was with the multitude of moments I was enjoying without much thought of an end. Youth is burned brightly, the shadows kept at bay by sheer joy and not a little ignorance.
Here at 47, the moments ahead become almost sacred. They represent the real progression of my life… moments filled with recognition of the past, with appreciation of the present, and with longing for a future filled with health, love, and comfort. Yes I know the moments now and ahead are bound to the ultimately Mysterious – the ending of my physical being on this planet, in this dimension of time and space. Yet, who I am, who I want to be… somehow matter more now despite the apparent cessation. Yes, my body will end. Its lease with my immortal spirit will expire and I will face some reality afterward. Perhaps timeless, divine… a return to the Source. Perhaps a kind of birth into a new dimension that requires passage through this physical one. In any case, I perceive that who I am, my character, my soul – matters more than ever.
Everywhere you look, there is proof that life is a process of becoming. Becoming is the purpose of life. Death is part of life… there is no escaping it. Therefore death must involve becoming something more. Life does not flourish with such complexity only to wheeze and cease. Energy cannot be destroyed, only transferred. That which inhabits and animates the body is a form of energy. Science doesn’t recognize it yet… their instruments measure only known energy types. But one has only to observe and intuit to realize we are more than the physical vehicle. The “we” inside the vehicle is vibrational, existing as an exotic form within an equally exotic physical form. “We” make the “I” that we call ourselves. And it is this “I” that will graduate at the vehicle’s death, carrying with it the character, values, emotions, and memories learned in this period of physical manifestation.
So every moment… counts. Every moment sees us being. Being equals life. We are life, now. We have that gift, that supernatural and mysteriously complex formation of physical and spiritual existence that resonates in kind to that which surrounds us. We are synchronized with a universe comprised of energy… peeking out between the atoms with an other-dimensional awareness that very likely transcends time and space. What I’m learning now, at 47, is to appreciate the view from the moment.
A Bee’s Breath Away From Death
It’s a hot day in July and the sun is beating down on everything beneath it. Over a hundred degrees and the trees are sighing hot winds, dreaming of misty mornings. A bee has just left the confines of an orange trumpet blossom, stepping around a stray ant to achieve flight. Far below, the glimmer of water beckons.
Because of the heat, it knows the brood nest needs water droplets to fan to cool the queen. Called by duty, it drops towards the glittering blueness, looking for a place to land. It is cool near the surface and for a moment this pleasant feeling distracts it. The next moment a hot down gust of wind pushes it feet-first into the water – the worst feeling for a bee. The water has its grip on the tiny paddles of its feet.
It furiously works its wings, driving for lift to break the water’s grip. In its fervor, it tips to the side and its left wing dips into the water. From bad to worse. It begins working its six legs to try to free the wing, slipping and sliding as if on ice. There is no purchase, nothing for its feet to leverage against. It is frantic and keeps fighting despite the instinctual knowledge of doom that grows with each passing second. It senses the failure of duty and worse, the rapid weakening of its life force.
Until the thing. The thing under its feet. A solid bar rises to the surface and the bee has three, then four, then all six feet gripped to it. The glimmering surface recedes, hot air whooshes around the bee, and then the heat of the ground envelopes it. The water is draining from its microscopic hair, the sun is warming its wing and it can now flutter both wings freely. Relieved, it crawls on the bar, back and forth, assessing damage and finding none – only the remnant wetness of a fateful collision with water.
Through its two bulbous eyes made of thousands of lens, it sees a massive animal squat down and peer at it. At the periphery of its being, a sense of connection flutters past its collection of instincts but fails to process into experience. It almost knows that doom was avoided because of this animal but the linkage is too weak. Instead it focuses on drying its wings and feet, a far more productive use of its time.
With the animal now standing and watching, the bee finishes its recovery and launches into the air, its wings lifting satisfactorily. By accident or by some other cause, it flies right up to the top of the animal, hovers for a split second at the two orbs gazing back, and rises quickly into the sky, free to fly and be once more. With the three small eyes on top of its head, it orients itself to the sun and heads back towards the brood nest.