Alan Lightman tells a beautiful little story about how people might live if they knew the world would come to an end in a month:
‘They do not seem to mind that the world will soon end, because everyone shares the same fate. A world with one month is a world of equality.’*
In this world, people drop their pretence, their seriousness, begin to notice the beauty all around them, forgiving each other, reconciling, living larger in a short time than they ever did in a large time. With one minute to go, everyone holds hands in such silence they can hear the beating of their neighbour’s hearts.
If we found ourselves living in such a world but it didn’t come to an end, when realised this, would we go back to ways we used to live? We know this new world is within our reach now, today.
‘Advice from every quarter, ancient and contemporary, backs up the observation that to change our feelings, we should change our actions.’**
No matter what I’m reflecting on in life, sooner or later I find myself pondering humility. Previously, I’ve mentioned how humility is about not having too high or too low an opinion of ourselves. Rather, it’s about having a true understanding of self – which means knowledge is involved.
There are negative uses to knowledge:
I’m not going to tell you so I’ll keep my job.
You know I know something about you; how does that make you feel?
You know I know something about you that you don’t want others to know, do you?
The Johari window offers four views of personal knowing: things we know about ourselves and hide from others, things we know about ourselves and share with others, things which others know about us which are hidden to us, and, things which neither we nor others know about us.
Perhaps, most hopefully, our journey is with one another towards what we do not know about each other, moving towards new knowledge we’ll share together, and holding more gracefully what we already know because it’s not the whole or finished picture.
The following words shared by Vincent Donovan from one of his students fits well here; they speak of a journey that understands there’s something more beautiful than we know now, a place discovered by both or all on a journey, not just one:
“In working with young people in America, do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before.”^
This requires an open mind and heart, not working for this in order to get that:
‘Non-Dual people use knowledge for the transformation of persons and structures, but most especially to change themselves and to see reality with a new eye and heart.’**
What if those humbly imperfect and incomplete are discovering how to enter this new world, in acting and becoming, identifying their energy, being quietly persistent, iterating, with an eye for an opportunity?