‘The only essential is this: the gift must always move.‘*
‘Energy is either created or destroyed. […]
You’re either the person who creates energy. Or you’re the one who destroys it.’**
When we engage life with our hearts, we’re talking about connection and abundance and perseverance. All of these are to do with energy and, therefore, with movement or potential movement. There’s an energy in every person longing to take them on a journey.
Connection, abundance and perseverance are how we get to make more with less. Conversion to the right kind of energy requires a number of turnings. We must turn to others, to our world, to our true self, and, if we have a god or higher power, we must urn there, too.
Vital community emerges from engaging with one another at a heart level. Parker Palmer describes what community can be:
‘Here is summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole. Community doesn’t just create abundance – community is abundance. If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed.’^
Lewis Hyde, whose words open today’s post, sees a gift existing within the community of the gift – even if the community is two people. It’s always more than the gift itself – which may be something as a gift of food – because even though the food is consumed, the spirit of the gift and the community of the gift continue. In this way it is regenerating, that is, capable of making more from less.
Parker Palmer, in speaking of the community as being abundance, is describing a summertime humanity. In contrast, Karen Armstrong describes a winter community when she writes:
‘When we meet somebody new, our first impressions are often coloured by such speculations as: am I attracted to her? Is he a threat? Can I use her in some way? As a result, we rarely see things or people as they are. We are frightened, insecure and restless creatures, endlessly distressed by our failures and shortcomings, constantly poised against attack – and this can make us hostile and unkind to others.’^^
These things have come from our past, though, and we are moving towards our future, towards the summertime. These negative reactions and responses can be far more subtle and nuanced than they appear on the surface of Armstrong’s words. They are what Seth Godin might consider to be energy destroyers. They are our starting point but they don’t have to be our finishing place. Armstrong continues:
‘If we remain trapped in this greedy, needy selfishness, we will continue to be unhappy and frustrated. But as we acquire a more realistic assessment of ourselves, we learn that the envy, anger, fear and hatred (which often spring from thwarted egotism) have little to do with us; they are ancient emotions that we inherited from our earliest ancestors. “This is not what I am,” said the Buddha; “this is not my self.”‘^^
Armstrong is describing an ego to eco journey. Imagine what would begin taking place if we were able to move from ego-to-ego encounters those of eco-to-eco. What everyone is saying in the words I quoted today, is that when we have emptied ourselves of ego we find that we have more than enough to be imagineers and innovators, becoming more who we are, not less – as captured by Hugh Macleod when he writes:
‘Why would you ever want to be the best, if you can be the only?’*^
Walt Whitman asks a question that leads us into our mortality:
‘Have you feared the future would be nothing to you?
Is today nothing? Is the beginning less past nothing?
If the future is nothing they are just as surreal nothing.’^*
Carlos Casteneda writes about our need to find a path with a heart. It doesn’t matter, he says, if the path leads nowhere, the moment-to-moment walking of it will be enough. A path with a heart means that the future, the present and the past are filled with something rather than being simply nothing.
(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: The first law of organisational thermodynamics.)
(^From Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak.)
(^^From Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)
(*^From gapingvoid’s blog: Start by having smarter conversations.)