where we came from and where we are going

We get to play with what lies in-between.

‘As we go about our daily business on this small planet, we have little feeling for the bond between us and those distant points of light.  Excepting hydrogen and helium, all the atoms in us and our biosphere were bred somewhere in space, in the nuclear reactions of some now defunct star.’*

Alan Lightman describes how the 6th December 1979 turned out for a number of people in Palo Alto, including theoretical physicist and cosmologist Alan Guth.  At the end of the day:

‘Sometime between eleven and twelve o’clock, sitting at his study desk with only pen and paper, Guth discovered mathematical evidence that, contrary to previous theories, the infant universe ten billion years ago underwent a fantastically rapid expansion, just after which  matter that was to form atoms and galaxies and people came into being.’*

It may have taken ten billion years but now we have a chance to do something that brings meaning to this phenomenon.  We may not have found this.  Perhaps we’re happy enough.  Or, we’re possibly thinking it’s time to move in the direction of something we’ve been thinking about but never acted upon.

Hugh Macleod doodles with some words that feel apposite for such a moment:

‘No one can predict the future.  That doesn’t mean yo can’t feel it. […] We know what we would like to happen**

I then came across this from Chris Guillebeau on what is a quest:

‘A hero sets off in search of something elusive that has the power to change both their life and their world.’^

Before reading Guillebeau’s words, I’d been pondering the story of forty three year old Adam, told by Sherry Turkle.  In his day job Adam supplies technical support for an insurance company and during the weekend cares for an elderly man; Adam is also an aspiring singer songwriter and plays online games:

‘The game of Quake […] makes Adam feel better about who he is in the game than who he is outside it. […] Beyond mastery, games offer the opportunity to perform roles he finds ennobling.  Adam wants to be a generous person, but power is a prerequisite for benevolence.  In life Adam feels he has none.  In games he has a great deal.’^^

The word that catches my attention here is “feels.”  The games of Quake and Civilisation in some ways have shown Adam who he is and what he can do.  The question is, how can he move from imagining to actioning, something the games are a substitute for.

At the end of a dreamwhispering journey I provide questions borrowed from Theory U, the last of nineteen offered in order to frame our story:

What are the next steps over the next three days.

I’ve just been sent someone’s response to this, their next steps – another hero in search of something elusive that has the power to change their life and the world.

This will be different for each of us.   For Alan Guth, it’s was the mathematical evidence for telling the story of the universe.  For me it’s dreamwhispering with people.   How would you articulate yours?  This ‘waking up inside your life, right now, in the present moment’*^

Two final thoughts on this.  One from Richard Rohr and the other from Dan Ariely – who appear to be talking about the same thing:

‘Wisdom happily lives with mystery, doubt, and “unknowing,” and in such living, ironically resolves that very mystery to some degree.  I have never figured out why unknowing becomes another kind of knowing, but it surely seems to be.’^*

‘The lesson here is that a little sweat equity pays us back in meaning – and that is a high return.’⁺

We can feel the future and, when we move towards it, something shifts, we see more, and things happen.

(*From Alan Lightman’s Dance for Two.)
(**From gapingvoid’s The reality of conspiracy theories.)
(^From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(^^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(*^From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(⁺From Dan Ariely’s Payoff.)

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