Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are… Let me not
pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. One day I
shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or
stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than
all the world, your return.
— Mary Jean Iron
The past is present
in all we are
a living legacy
of each joy and sorrow
each struggle and victory
however small and
the way we laugh
a certain smile
how we hold our hands
or sweep the floor
we are new branches
of that same tree of life
and this is our time
to reach for the sun.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, as human beings we know in our hearts when something isn’t as it should be. This simple act of knowing can manifest itself in any number of ways, its nagging effervescence bubbling to the surface of our minds.
Once realized, we are free to change our course of action, averting an often disastrous outcome. Change is frightening to us, and more often than not we choose to ignore this voice or, even worse, we to try to silence it. By turning a deaf ear to that voice, though, we deny the very nature of our being. If ignored often enough, we gradually lose the ability to hear this “small voice” and with it our power, finding we have no other choice but to face the consequences.
The frustrating thing about being a student of history is watching this denial play out time and time again. Humanity, it seems, is trapped between the grooves of a broken record. Over time, these grooves have been ground so deeply that it seems impossible to escape.
The more advanced a people become, the narrower is their path of righteousness. Ironically, a civilization at its greatest is always at its most vulnerable. It is so easy to begin believing that you are infallible and, thus, lulled into the false assumption that the glory days will never end. Herein lies the first stumble.
In the last century we made some great strides as well as some mighty stumbles. Our advancement was blindingly fast by any previous standard. In a few short years we had gone from our first flight to escaping our atmosphere and seeing the magnificence of our beautiful planet from space. While the powerful nations of the world carried on in great material prosperity for a number of decades, it became apparent to some that the economic system that fueled this great quantum leap had in it one fatal flaw.
Our global economy relied on perpetual growth for its success, but the resources on our planet were not unlimited and were dwindling fast. It didn’t take long for governments and the corporations that influenced them to realize this, and there became a great power grab for our dwindling natural resources. Horrendous wars were fought and many people died. Naïve inhabitants of the poorer nations were quickly sold the dream of becoming part of a utopian middle class, a prosperity that they could never attain. This made it easier for them to be exploited as cheap labor by the wealthy and powerful nations.
As long as the global economic engines continued to hum, the world looked the other way, distracted by their orgy of consumption. Ninety-five percent of the world’s wealth was now concentrated in the hands of two percent of the population.
A sweeping technological renaissance was sparked overnight. Every few years there was some new gadget unveiled that was supposed to make our lives easier. It started with improvements to products we already knew. Radios were miniaturized and the miracle of television was brought to the market, quickly followed by computers and nuclear power. In hindsight, this technology became a tremendous distraction that only helped them blind us to the nightmare that was unfolding. We were all such willing participants in the deception.
It only took a few years before all of this technology was absorbed into every aspect of our lives. We were neatly and dangerously divided into two easily controlled groups: greedy producers and insatiable narcissistic consumers. Together they molded a society, once rich in culture and substance, into a well-oiled machine that did nothing more than spew out and consume all the things that they told us were supposed to make us happy.
For many years we thrived on narcissistic consumption as though we were the center of our own universe and our wants were all that mattered. Despite our best attempts to silence it with possessions, something deep down inside cried out in pain. Its voice, like a nagging whisper, told those of us who were brave enough to listen that we had strayed. The intelligent among us knew if we didn’t make our way back to the balancing point, we would soon embark on a nightmarish adventure well beyond our wildest imaginations. The most lucid among us realized that it, very likely, was already too late.
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman