The season of Fall seems to cue many of us to a quickening, a preparation for immanent change, and an excited enlivened quality to our lives. We’re more likely to actively look for change, and we welcome it because we embrace its beauty and its rightfulness…….I mean, the leaves are going to fall. We know this. We’re taught this very early on and we can validate it easily.
Now, here’s where I take an abrupt turn. Imagine if the leaves on the trees took the same attitude that we promulgate in our media and our marketing of ideas: “Beware of Fall!!” “Take out your insurance now against the Fall!” “Your Security is Our Business! We’ll make sure you’re covered and safe!” Imagine the leaves shivering against the wind, talking amongst themselves, pooling their meagre allowances to take out insurance policies because they know they’re going to need it when they…….fall!! And, you never really know when it’s going to be your turn! YIKES! Oh no…here I go! SHIT!!! I don’t want to! I liked it there up in the tree! Oh….the wind….it’s taking me…..away!!!
“Yeah, but”, you might be thinking, “they’re leaves on a tree in Fall. They’re supposed to break away and fall. But my life isn’t supposed to have such disruptions! I wasn’t supposed to break my leg! I wasn’t supposed to be let-go from my job! I wasn’t supposed to get sick!” “It’s unfair! It’s wrong! It shouldn’t be happening!”
But the thing is, life happens. Yes, we each make an impact. We each influence. We each have to deal with the sometimes crushing vicissitudes of social change, of chaotic circumstances, of meaningless crimes, of politics gone haywire, of economic pressures, of viral tides and solar flares. Life is wild!! But the idea of falling and landing also describes the serendipity of living process, a natural occurrence which we would do well to embrace with grace rather than using our precious resources and personal energies to do everything to avoid, deny, and deaden ourselves against. Of course, as a biological creature, it is built into us to survive. But I’m talking about not just in the moment survival instinct. What I’m pointing to is the pervasive idea of “security” that is flooding our social system with an idea that is manufactured, that is blown out of any kind of real proportion to what you see in the natural way of things. What if falling and landing were exactly what life requires of us at times?
Personally, I think our culture is truly insane. I’ve done enough world travel to see that most cultures are insane in some way or other. But, I would venture to say that America is a bit more insane than most of the other countries I’ve been to, though it’s possible, I grant, that my point of view is simply more able to penetrate my own culture’s insanity better because I’ve spent much more time and grown up here. One of the flavors of insanity I witness that seems so prevalent here that it’s almost below the conscious threshold, is this idea of security. What do we think it means? What do we think we can do about it? Take a look at how much time, energy, resources and angst we spend supporting, engaging and promoting the idea of it. And let’s look at it as an example of how our system of life here in the “First world” is designed not to support us to live better lives, but is stripping us of our full engagement, of the honing of our various sorts of intelligence thereby causing cultural atrophy in our ability to deal with the built-in challenges of life. How much dumbing down is truly happening in profound and deeply disturbing ways? The hilarious satire film, “Idiocracy”, highlights where this seems to be heading us, were we to really look at the possible consequences of this attitude and cultural orientation.
The idea of insurance is a practical one, and I don’t really have a huge issue with it per se. But……the price we pay for living in society and minimizing our risk factors (aside from the financial price of insurance, for instance), is that we forget that nature will have its way with us in any case, and perhaps we should keep our senses, perceptions, responses, agility in all sorts of ways honed and ready for anything that may come. Perhaps our focus could be less about avoiding a fall and more about how to land on your feet! How does one open out in response to the unexpected? Can you, in response to hardship, surprise and/or challenge, develop a sincere acceptance of it and full engagement with it, rather than shrinking, crouching, griping, complaining, blaming and otherwise avoiding an empowered response?
There’s a delicate balance with regards to how much danger and challenge one can handle without slipping into panic and/or anxiety on the one side and complacency and flaccidness on the other. Americans strike me, in general, as often very anxious about things. This is one difference I detected when I was traveling in India. It’s a place of such packed humanity and crushing challenge for survival and yet somehow the overall experience seemed less anxious-laden than living here in the first world. How can that be??? And, what’s that about, really? What does that say about our mind-set, about our life attitudes?
Our fixation on safety, is dumbing us down in many ways. Yes, I wear a bike-helmet and a seat-belt in the car, but that doesn’t mean I avoid everything that could be potentially dangerous. Someone told me a couple years ago that many schools have closed down their playgrounds because of the possibility of suits from parents, should their kid fall and hurt themselves. This was such a warning bell in my head about the insanity at play here in my home country. Children need to get hurt in order to learn important lessons about their own physical capabilities! We have to get out and challenge ourselves. And if we don’t we will continue to become less intelligent, less capable, and less alive in vital ways.
J.K.Rawlings, celebrated author of the Harry Potter series, spoke to the graduating class of Harvard, a few years back. She highlighted the absolute rock-bottom she got to personally before she could admit to herself what it was she truly wanted to do. She’d lost everything so there was nothing left to lose. She’s a wonderful role-model for what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen this speech, it’s worth your while. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHGqp8lz36c
Try making how to land gracefully one of your valued life skills. Let’s celebrate and revel in the many ways each of us can land after a fall.