“Progress” is some kind of ordained imperative of our species, an abstract conception of evolution, an inevitable development like the increase in entropy, the future.*
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open to you where you didn’t know they were going to be.**
Alan Lightman confesses that we can lose ourselves as we progress but get caught in our smaller world of speed, information overload, consumption, accommodation of the virtual, loss of silence and loss of privacy. Before penning the words, above, he wrote:
I believe I have lost something of my inner self. […] I mean that part of me that dreams, that explores, that is constantly questioning who I am and what is important to me.*
The hopeful thing, I find, is that Lightman is naming the things he wants to recover, though there is no going back, only going forward, start-overs that are like being born again. This is the progress of a different kind:
Stop worrying about technology. Start worrying about people.^
When mythologist Joseph Campbell writes about following our bliss he understands this is not only about what we do but who we are.
Human activity has increased complexity. Dancing at the Edge is Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester’s description of what developing our competency with complexity looks like, part of what it means to start-over forwards. Here is the need:
When too much is in motion at the same time, it is harder for the brain to separate what is important from what is just noise. Certainty becomes more fleeting, mistakes are made more frequently, anxiety increases.^^
Yet just before these words, O’Hara and Leicester write about the amazing human brain and what it is capable of, being more than able to deal with everything if we help it – I would say through our practices (especially open minds, hearts and wills), disciplines, dreams and actioning:
Human consciousness is astoundingly complex. A healthy human brain contains over 200 million nerve cells or neurons, linked to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses. Through this system flows information that drives both our actions and how we think and feel about them. But this arrangement is not fixed like wiring in a house with robust and resilient circuits that can be depended on to deliver the same results over time. It is more ephemeral, acting more like waves passing through crowds of individuals locking and unlocking their arms. One instant a connection is made and a signal travels, the next moment the connection is dropped and a new one made to another cell carrying another kind of input. In a vast, dynamic orchestration, sense is made and actions taken. Because memories of past actions persist, learning occurs.^^
Here is what we each have to pursue our bliss, even when we become thwarted, we can start-over.
(*Alan Lightman, from A Sense of the Mysterious.)
(**Joseph Campbell, quoted in Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)
(^From gapingvoid’s blog: Give people what they want.)
(^^From Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester’s Dancing at the Edge.)