Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wisdom in unexpected places

You've heard the familiar axioms:

Things are seldom what they seem.
Clothes make the man.
You can't judge a book by its cover.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

... and my favorite Thoreau quotation: beware of any enterprise requiring new clothes!

Any one of these could serve as a caption for this photo. The problem with using photographs to tell a story is that different people have different associations with different images, and the story you thought you were telling might not be the story people hear. Part of the challenge of staying in the "wide-mind" I mentioned yesterday is to watch and listen without making assumptions.

For example: my husband, who is not the burly press-worker he appears to be in this picture (nor are either of the other men; these are costumes and a set), is a big fan of the TV show, 2 1/2 Men -- as am I. We watch it regularly, laugh at it often, and sincerely enjoy the writing and acting we see there. But last night I happened to notice a white screen, appearing just at the end of the show, and I paused the DVD player to read it.

That white screen is called a vanity card; it's a frame that the producer puts up to announce his name and production company. But Chuck Lorre, who produces 2 1/2 Men and Big Bang Theory (another favorite of ours) puts a lot more than his name and company on the card. And, in fact, there is a website where the (often hysterically funny and occasionally banned) content of all the cards is stored. Which is a good thing, because I have one to share with you today -- and who would have thought so much valuable philosophy could be stored in a sitcom about an inveterate womanizer and his brother the chiropractor?


When I was in the shower this morning, I thought: If we assume a
Big Bang beginning of the universe, then every molecule, every
atom, every proton, every electron, every quark, every
wavelength, every vibration, every multi-dimensional string,
every everything that makes up everything else shares an
ineffable property of pre-Bang Oneness. Assuming that, then every
everything is always moving in one of two directions: either away
from that primordial state, or returning towards it. We feel
these quantum movements. Moving away is experienced as
loneliness, fear, anger and despair. Returning is experienced as
one or more of the infinite variations and gradations of what we
call love. Now, while some might say that equating the miracle of
human feelings to the meandering of sub-atomic bric-a-brac robs
them of their mystery, the truth is quite the opposite.
Connecting our fundamental experience of life to the great
mystery of existence ties us to the eternal within our every
waking moment. We are not separate. We are made of the same stuff
that existed at the beginning and will exist at the end.
Therefore, the question we must each ask ourselves is simple: "In
what direction am I moving today - towards oneness, or away from

I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, as I am spending my day writing about the African concept of Ubuntu, I can't think of a more succinct way to describe it. So watch out for those assumptions -- there can be wisdom everywhere: you just need to stay open to it! And don't forget to ask yourself that all-important question: what direction am I moving today - towards oneness, or away from it?"

... and, just as a PS, here's some advice from
Patti Digh, the author of Life is a Verb (courtesy of the Reverent Irreverence blog):

Say yes
Be generous.
Speak up.
Love more.
Trust yourself.
Slow down.


altar ego said...

This is what O'Donohue addresses in Eternal Echoes, the longing and belonging aspects of connectedness. It's everywhere! LOL. Beautifully stated here, and I agree with him that the mystery is quite intact.

Dianna Woolley said...

I like to think that I move towards oneness rather than away from it. In the habit of "watching" myself lately, that some days I seem to have an inadvertent tick of simply heading in a totally opposite direction!! I think moving toward is a better movement than away from for me.