at times, we accidentally tear a little hole in the fabric of reality so something on the other side shines through, exposing the darkness of our routine existence*
We are perhaps the first generation in history, we postmodern folk, who have the freedom to know the rules and also critique the rules at the same time.**
If we were a lions or dolphin or perhaps an elephant. life would be quite different. The question of how we live our lives would be nothing to concern us. We may write fables about animal but the characters are really humans exploring how to live more humanly – or not, reflecting on how we have opportunities to bring more goodness into the world – or not.
It seems we’ve not finished exploring all that it is to be human. More than ever before in history, we can look at life closely, ask whatever questions of it we want and then do something with it as we want to do. Eckhart Tolle writes about what we now know, how what we think of as life is something we’ve made up, the proverbial “cat is out of the bag” and won’t go back in. We know we can make make up another story:
‘When you live in a world deadened by mental abstractions, you don’t sense the aliveness of the universe and more. Most people don’t inhabit a living reality but conceptualised one.’^
It is our seeing this possibility to write different stories that provides us with the hope that we can do better:
‘What else changes a person but the living of a story? And what is story but the wanting of something difficult and the willingness to work for it?’*
When I read this, I found myself thinking of a story I listened to yesterday.
Elizabeth Gowing was sharing the story of Hatemja and her young and large family, a story she tells in her book The Rubbish Picker’s Wife. Hatejma is an Ashkali woman living in Kosovo and when Elizabeth met her, Hatejma’s children were unable to attend school because they didn’t have shoes. Elizabeth, a teacher by background, began to tear holes in reality. She worked to get shoes for her children, and when some were still excluded because the had missed out on too much time in school, Elizabeth taught them – together with around fifty other children in the same predicament. When this meant the children couldn’t go rubbish picking and help their families raise a little money to live on, Elizabeth helped Hatejma and other women in the community to use other skills and make goods they could sell. And when the original family were still living and suffering in their cobbled-together home, she helped them to secure a piece of land and build a own home.
We are all capable of tearing little holes in reality, according to our questions and our interests and our skills.