Sunday, July 3, 2011

On Being Human

No, I have not fallen off the ends of the Earth...I just feel as though I have... and landed with a splat. It's not the sensation of falling that bothers me as much as the shock of what it feels like to stop. Remember those Road Runner cartoons where Wiley Coyote falls off a cliff with a fire cracker in his hand, then gets run over by a tractor-trailer when he lands on the road below...that's me right now. Did anyone get the license number of that truck?

Every so often my body reminds me that I am not super human- and certainly not immortal- by retaliating via a variety of neurological mayhem which includes migraines, muscle spasms and the ever popular though  not-too-subtle degenerative discs in my back. There are seven, if we are counting or any of you care to know, none of which are  not harmoniously communicating with the rest of my when I'm trying to slide my ass, which suddenly weighs a thousand pounds... to the edge of the bed to sit up. Standing up is even more of a feat of engineering and was nearly impossible to do yesterday. Friday disappeared from the calendar this was a lost day. I'm getting the feeling that today will be a repeat of yesterday. I am only still in front of the computer right now because I cannot summon the strength- or desire to endure the pain- to get up out of the chair and  walk to the bedroom which is a only dozen feet away.

Okay, I'm finished whining...maybe. After a quarter century of responding to the physical faux pas and other uh ohs that people do to themselves through the EMS system, you'd think  I would be a bit more aware of the fragility of the human body...especially when someone does a grand FDGB (fall down-go boom) like I did Thursday...Except I didn't fall all the way down, I 'caught' myself half way, tensed up, and wracked up my back again. Automatic response, but sometimes I wish I would just fall down and get it over with...on the other hand, the last time I did, I fractured two vertebrae in the middle of my spine. ( Note to self: flip flops and wet floors do not mix!) Yeah, I'm one of those who can't walk and chew gum at the same I wasn't always that way...I used to teach backpacking and take groups out for Outward Bound and Scouts. I used to rock climb and hike, and I used to enjoy it. I still do, I just have had to come to the realization that shit happens to change your life...and you have to change with it. I haven't gone easily into that dark night, and there are some days when I feel good enough that I forget what my X-rays and MRIs look like. Yeah, I'm stupid that way. Human beings have short memories-especially when they're in denial.

Change entails the adoption of altering our behavior, and the acceptance of those modifications. All humans are hard-wired to resist change, by the way. No matter how intricate the plans, there is still an air of ambiguity as far as change is concerned. This can and does go awry, because human beings truly are creatures of comfort and habit. We will dig in our heels at the slightest provocation- especially if no one consults us about the change that is taking place. Logic goes right out the window- Common sense? Pffffffffftt!!! No matter the amounts to being forced, and we will not be moved...damn the consequences.We don't surrender established patterns easily, unless there is a substantial reward involved...yeah, we're no different than lab rats, folks.(Where's my chunk of cheese, damnit?)

The thing I find really  interesting about this behavior is that it spills over  to cover everything we do. It's that ingrained. The singular idea is a difficult one to shake.

And this, my friends, has lead me to a conclusion about why the Pagan Community in general is in  the upheaval it's in right now: No body's handing out cheese.

I'm not joking. Change as an innovation must be seen as producing a significant improvement over the  current situation for it to be adopted. The benefit must be personal to be worth the change, and I suspect there are a a lot of folk on whom this is lost because they limit seeing the change to personal gain...we're suddenly back to ' looking for my cheese'. We don't expand our thinking to include others, it is all about us.  Well, fellow rats, it's not all about us as individuals, it's about us as a community...and it's about creating the future NOW. The sad fact has been proven time and again in other groups and societies- if we don't become active and take off our shoes ( and egos ) at the door, then someone else- or something other that is not in our control- is going to define who we are and control our future. It's happening now, and it will continue to do so if we don't step up to the challenge, leave our  personal shit at home, and come to the table ready to work.

I have a few ideas why we haven't been able to do this, one of which is that it's going to take a boatload of effort. People are not enthusiastic about  implementing ideas that are difficult to understand. We are experts at shooting ourselves in the foot, at making it ( whatever it is) so complicated the original idea is lost, so first and foremost, let's be clear about what we want. What do we want to accomplish as a community? What are our needs? (Try to think beyond the individual tribe and picture  all of us together.)

Second, whatever we decide, it will only happen if it can be introduced easily. People are going to run like rabbits if it sounds like it going to be a lengthy, complicated process.( I can see your eyes beginning to glaze over now.) New things can be introduced a little at a time to try them out and incorporate them-and in the same way, what doesn't work can just as easily be discarded. It helps us to not feel overwhelmed if things are tried in stages with the understand nothing is written in stone. That can be accomplished by simultaneously  developing a form of measuring the benefits in a manner meaningful to the community. ( Not easy, but simpler than it sounds.)

Finally, we need to be mindful of the cost...not in dollars, but in personal currency. What is it going to cost you to be a part of the community? What are the benefits of being a part of the community? For starters, it's going to take self examination and dropping things that aren't for the good of all...and to be truthful, there is always something personal  that must be sacrificed, if that is only a little comfort. What's all this going to cost in effort? How much will it require us to modify our mindset? It's going to require a huge amount of willingness to be open and truthful and moxie to drop all our personal agendas. We are going to have to honest about what we bring to the table as well as about what we want to take away for ourselves. We will be creating a society, a model for living a particular way. I sincerely believe we can do this within the next generation if we begin soon. We can be a community that is cohesive, vital and of service to others.

It will take healing and time...just like my back. The results won't be immediate, it's not going to happen right now, but it will happen with a concentrated  and focused effort.

I may limp a little, but at least I'll be walking.

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