“I want to live in the world, not inside my head
I want to live in the world, I want to stand and be counted
With the hopeful and the willing
With the open and the strong
With the voices in the darkness
Fashioning daylight out of song
And the millions of lovers
Alive in the world.”
To be alive in the world is to possess a priceless gift of self-awareness. Usually we take this for granted. We are not normally in awe of the fact. It is easy to yawn and shrug at the incredible and stunning truth that we are alive on a round rock that is rotating at a 1000 miles an hour at the equator. If you stood at the North Pole, you would not move. Even the Earth has a still point. Intellectually we might be able to grasp the fact that the Earth is rocketing around the Sun at 62,000 miles an hour or 18 miles a second.
Scientists tell us that the universe is over 13 billion years old and our planet 4.5 billion years old. Modern human beings have existed in their present form for about 50,000 years. And here you are. And here I am. It is 2013 and each of us in the midst of what we call a “life” that had a beginning and will have an ending. At best we will have maybe 80 years if we are lucky. Some a little longer. Some will have a briefer stay. How many generations came before ours? How many will come after? Who knows their stories? Who will know how much they loved? Who will know?
There are about 7 billion people on the planet. Each of us is different. Each of us is the same. I love the differences but I count on the sameness. As a counselor and then a psychologist, I have spent the last 35 years sitting with people in pain. Each story is unique but the rhythm is the same. People are people. When I look in their eyes, I see myself. It is an honor to see that. It is an honor to be here writing these words. It is an honor that you read them.
We think we are alone. We think our private thoughts and create our own little world inside a three pound mass of tissue in our skulls we call our brain. All our sadness and joy; all our past is there. Our conception of ourselves. What we imagine will be our future. Our fears, insecurities and judgments. All of it is there. Our addictions, compulsions and secret hurts. Our little obsessions and crippling guilt. Our triumphs and regrets. Our deepest love. All of it recorded in electrical impulses and translated by a vast array of chemical messengers.
From our inner kingdom we venture forth, playing our role as if we are an actor on a stage. Day after day, we star in our own movie. And time passes. And we grow older and seek meaning and purpose in the fact we exist. We try to not think about it too much but it stares back at us sometime in silence and asks, “Why?”
Occasionally, if we are lucky, we can set aside the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. We can let that drama ramble on like music in the back room while we let the judgments fall away. What would your world look like without those indictments? Without your liking or disliking? Without preferring or resisting?
What if we could find a kind of deep peace in completely accepting this moment as it is without wishing it was different? What if we could find that which never changes in the midst of change?
We don’t have to have all the answers. That is good news since none of us do. We don’t have to do anything to be good or have peace or be happy. Mostly we need to get out of the way and pay attention to what is arising. Your whole world is one you have created. Me too. And in this world we are in charge. If we want it different, we have to accept it. If we want it better, we have to love it as it is. The more you love, the better it all gets. Love makes everything grow, don’t you know?
Deep inside us is our own North Pole, our own motionless center. Limitless love and truth gushes from that source. Nourish your capacity to love and understand. Just let it come. It knows where it needs to take you. Trust it. It will never fail.
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.