What if the world began today? It’s a nice idea, but ultimately, it will never be true.
The world doesn’t begin today. Everybody knows that. Today is December 21, 2012, and humanity has been through thousands upon thousands of years of death, destruction, war, famine, poverty, disease. The Mayans say today is the end of a 5,125 year cycle, and we cannot discount the choices we’ve made in these past five thousand years. They are important. They have brought us to where we are today.
But as we acknowledge that we are poised here on this turning point, at the very center of this paradigm shift, we inevitably begin to make choices about what the next five thousand year cycle holds. Beginning today.
It’s exciting, no?! Beginning today. That’s great news. I didn’t know I was going to wake up this morning and write a blog about the paradigm shift, but now it’s all I can think about. So that’s what I’m working on. This is what we do – as human beings, this is the practice. Things happen, you take what’s real and present now, in this moment, and you use those givens to make the best you can out of the next moment. Transformation.
It struck me this morning that Transformation is an important word (maybe the key word) in the paradigm shift. Funny, since for over a year now we’ve been part of this amazing European partnership devoted to exactly that. But I didn’t really get the full impact of that particular word until this morning.
Transformation is different from the cut/destroy/burn-the-past-and-start-over-from-scratch model. Transformation is the art of taking what’s already there and shifting. As human beings entering the next phase, we have to learn to shift, not destroy. To adjust, not abandon. To modify, not sacrifice.
When I was a kid, I developed a belief that things had to be perfect from the beginning – once they were ruined, they were ruined for good. And I don’t think that view is helpful anymore. This practice has become very personal to me, as I’ve dealt with a lot of injury this year. First my hip, then my knee, then my ankle, all on my right side. My ankle is still healing. I have 90% mobility back, but I still have to learn how to negotiate what it feels like and is ready for, every day. And really, I’m just learning to accept that my ankle won’t ever again be “never-been-injured.” You could say that all human bodies are always, in some way, healing. And that gerund signifies a very real, present-state activity in which I simply can’t waste energy wishing it were different.
What I’m getting to is that this is our relationship with the world, and the attitude we must take going forth, beginning today. The first step is to see the world as it is – glories, failures, mistakes, holes, sadness, suffering, longing. The world IS full of poverty, disease and the like. And we have to accept that, and love the world as it is, warts and all. Because there and only from there true Transformation can begin.
So….settle in, folks. I’m afraid the world might not be going anywhere today. If today’s NOT the apocalypse – if we wake up tomorrow and things are, well, pretty much the same – then, we have a much harder (and much more real) challenge in front of us.
Can we inherit the world exactly as it is, while simultaneously holding the possibility for change?
Can we be brave enough to both bear witness today and also imagine a better, brighter future?
And finally, maybe the only real question is: Can we love our world enough to Transform it?
Liz is a theater director, year-round Artmonk, and the Artistic Director of the Art Monastery Project. Additional reflections on art, monasticism, and humanity in previous blogs.