Maybe it’s not far enough?
The Big Bang set in motion a journey outwards and we find this movement in evidence in each of our lives – this expanding universe is also within us.
Whilst there are many calls for us to settle down, there are many who think an unsettled life is a maturing life.
Walt Whitman wandered and noticed many things.
Throughout his days Whitman walked and saw and thought deeply. He noticed the wonder in the smallness as well as the vastness of the universe:
‘I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and the grains of sand and the egg of
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlours of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery’.*
Here he enjoys the wonder of a human being:
‘I hear the sound of a human voice … a sound I love,
I hear all sounds as they are tuned to their uses … sounds of the city
and sounds out of the city … sounds of the day and night’*
There feels a oneness or presence in Whitman with what he observes.
Frans Johansson asks an interesting question of what we considered to be well-ordered and sorted:
‘What if all of the well-planned and well-executed strategies people have told of us about are really the result of unplanned meetings and encounters, random moments and events, serendipity and plain luck.’**
Here’s another way of looking at presence, one requiring us to be open to what is happening around us.
Furthermore, Martin Seligman connects presence to our wellbeing when he writes:
‘Positive mental health is a presence: the presence of positive emotion, the presence of engagement, the presence of meaning, the presence of good relationships, and the presence of accomplishment.’^
If being present – in our journeying, discovering and makings – is important to out wellbeing, we have to be concerned about how the way we use technology is hindering rather than helping. Reflecting on how we can check our various messages up to 150 times a day, Bernadette Jiwa expresses this concern:
‘We’ve stopped taking time to notice and to ask questions, to think and reflect and just to be.’^^
Jiwa goes on to encourage us to be ‘waist-high and elbow-deep in the stuff that invites our curiosity and ignites our imagination’.^^
To tweak some words from Seth Godin – in what I hope is a legitimate way:
‘[Personal] identity is an emotional reaction to a complicated world.’*^
Have we gone far enough? I don’t think so.
We all have promising future possibilities. Mine are different to yours, yours are different to those around you. But what we are living in is an age of seeing more and just how far we can go:
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”^*
(*From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
(**From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(^From Martin Seligman’s Flourish.)
(^^From Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)
(*^From Seth Godin’s blog: My side, right or wrong.)
(^*T. S. Eliot, quoted in Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses.)