Although I originally subscribed to the newsletter How to Save the World because I was researching a project the writer was involved in, I came to appreciate his writing and sincerity. His awakening has felt to parallel mine at times: starting off with a strong desire to seed change in the world, then with deeper focus and significant ‘spiritual’ realization, loving the world, more and more, just as it is.
There’s a fair bit of melancholy acceptance inside that shift, but liberation of focus too, as a large part of one’s energy uncouples from entrenched systems.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― Buckminster Fuller
Linking to a site called ClearerThinking.org, a recent newsletter contained some interesting ideas about the quality of questions we ask and answer; I couldn’t help but want to respond to the examples, so here goes.
Some specific questions to get to know someone better:
- If you were getting a portrait taken, and the photographer asked you to hold something in your hand that told viewers something important about you, what would it be?
I love this question so much that I skipped it to come back to at the end, yet still have no answer.
- What do you believe that no one else does? (the famous Peter Thiel question)
I believe we humans read each other’s thoughts and intentions extremely well. We just aren’t good at integrating this information, so have lots of strategies to distract and cover over the capacity. I live as though people know far more than they want to know that they know, because we’re not sure how to function that way, yet.
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
I remember being asked this question at a round table discussion of Wiccans I attended in the early 90s. I couldn’t narrow down *everything*, which seemed like a cop-out. Almost 30 years later, I still want to do too many things! However, my honest answer right now is that I would fully express myself. It is sort of the same answer, not quite as blank and overwhelming as before.
- What do you wish you’d learned earlier in life?
So many things (money related, relationships and families related), but today I’ll answer: that my contributions are valuable; that I don’t have to give everything away or disappear to be safe. It is okay to be in the room.
- In a few sentences, summarize your worldview or philosophy of life. What do you think is life’s meaning or purpose?
“We are here on earth to help others. What on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.” – WH Auden
“There are no others.” – Ramana Maharshi
In meditation one day I heard, “It isn’t about being a good person. It is about love.”
At core, I believe there is nothing but love.
* What would you like to be renowned for?
So often people have filled in my pauses and gaps, impatient with my too thoughtful verbalizing, or my consciousness of holes in stories/qualifiers/variables. I think it would be amazing for some of that false gap-filling to fall away, to connect directly. I’d like to be thought of as a person who has that capacity, who can be open and attentive with/for someone (also self), allowing insight to come forward.
- What are you most grateful for?
More true each day: my children, writing, meditation, friends.
- What would you most like to know about your true self, or about your future?
I’d like to know it is all going to be okay in a practical sense (I worry too much). I’d like to experience who I am/would be when not restrained by fear. Perhaps too, I’m ready to be a loving companion.
- What’s on your bucket list, and what’s holding you back?
Writing something layered and cohesive. Traveling more of the world.
Holding me back? Resources (health (mental [see: fear, confidence] and physical), money ~~> time).
- What quality do you wish you had much more of?
Confidence. Sometimes I have courage without confidence, which rarely goes well. 😉
- Who inspires you the most?
“Most” throws me here. I’m fortunate to know extraordinary people. But also, if “no others”, how could one answer that question? For a moment I thought to answer in the context of deity practice, but even then, I may choose one practice yet another comes for me. My answer becomes something like, “Who am I, to say?”
- When in your life were you happiest, and why? What was the biggest turning point, and how did it change you?
🙂 This question makes me think of the bath tub scene in The English Patient.
“When were you happiest?”
“When were you least happy?”
What springs to mind right away are contented moments: snuggling with new babies or playing with new pets, and meditation/insight experiences (especially those shared with others); awe-striking moments: seeing mountains for the first time, walking with deer in the dark, shooting stars, witnessing moments of deep kindness, writing something beyond myself; and when reality and dreams have mixed, like when it felt as though Japan was dreaming me… guard-down experiences of love.
Biggest turning point?
There have been a few, whether one calls them turning points or awakenings. Each has been a re-set to remember and align with what I wrote in an answer earlier: there is nothing but love.
- What do you most like about yourself? What are you a role model of?
Curiosity and change. It isn’t that I seek to change, but it naturally happens when you have a questioning personality and are observant/receptive. I genuinely care and extend my heart, appreciate the uniqueness of where people I encounter are coming from, and try to ‘approach anew’. I experience different kinds of selves concurrently, therefore can imagine different kinds of lives fairly vividly.
- What important thing have you changed your mind about?
I grew up thinking I did not want to have children, for one.
For another, I’ve traveled through several spiritual expressions in my life, sometimes convinced I had all the answers, other times convinced there were none at all. Each path expression required critical re-examination and radical letting go.
I also used to have a different idea of what compassion is, what being a good person means, and a magical sense that should I achieve those goals (never standing up for myself in small situations, for instance, always “forgiving”), everything practical would fall into place. Someone would always come or be sent somehow, to save/speak for, me. Whether they do or don’t now, I want to aspire for its own sake.