Why cling to one life
till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
squandering a hundred lives
God has decreed life for you
and He will give
another and another and another
Once upon a time there was a little you that was absolutely fascinated by the whole wide world. Each day was an entire lifetime, and you were reincarnated in every moment, slightly different but exactly the same.
Your senses were filled with the world — sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell overwhelmed your tiny little brain as it grew, and you were hungry.
Then you slept. Life was simple.
You were totally overwhelmed, and then you were satiated. You rested, you pooped yourself, and then you were rinsed. The whole cycle repeated itself over and over again.
As you grew older, life became much weirder because you were forced to make choices and people began to judge you on your decisions. People didn’t pay as much attention to you anymore, and you missed the absolute comfort and security of infancy.
With new choices to be made on a daily basis, life became more confusing and chaotic. And then your body was flooded with wild, raging hormones and your little life became ten times more complicated.
Somehow you got through your teenage years without wreaking too much havoc, and your twenties stretched out before you like an endless ocean.
You explored the ocean and the years flew by in the blink of an eye.
All of a sudden, you were in your thirties. You hadn’t even begun to write your All-American novel (well, the three previous attempts didn’t count!), or start your acting career, or develop your million dollar business idea, but you did have have two kids and a mortgage, as well as a job that you could tolerate fairly well.
Without even making any conscious decisions you got stuck deeply into the idea of what being an adult is. And you may be stuck there for the rest of your life.
Here is a lesson that constantly gets shoved into my face: We are all constantly co-creating this thing called life. We make up our lives on a daily basis with our actions and our choices. Life doesn’t really happen to us so much as we create it out of thin air.
Literally every single day we have a hundred decisions to make about what we are going to do. And each decision leads to a new place, and each new place is a platform for our next decision.
As soon as we began to choose a life for ourselves, our decision patterns end up influencing every subsequent decision we make.
Like a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico and causing a hurricane to rage in New York, our small, day to day actions create huge consequences for us and for everything else. And they never really stop reverberating out into the universe.
The life and death cycle is a circle, and we are all part of it. Sometimes I picture an individual life as a path of devastation. Each life that comes into this world essentially creates a trail of destruction, plowing though other life without care as he or she goes through their day to day business.
Every single day we have to eat and every single day we have to cloth ourselves and every day we are sheltered in various buildings and every day we use transportation. Every single one of these things uses a ton of energy, and many of them cause the deaths of living organisms.
Face it — a new life is a death sentence for endless other creatures.
This is definitely not the Disney version of the life and death circle. (Hakuna Matata, ya’all.)
But the interesting thing is that, although it is true that we cause a ton of devastation merely by being alive, we can also help cultivate beauty and life with our actions.
As humans, we can rally our efforts to balance out our own personal swath of horror by doing good things. We can plant trees to balance out the ones that we inadvertently rip from the soil. We can raise animals and give them good lives as an alternative to the mass confinement hell of CAFOs (Concentrated Feeding Operations). We can walk or bike instead of driving everywhere (I’m talking to you, people who drive from the gas pump to the gas station!). There are a million things we can do to balance out our own personal trail of death and destruction.
Probably the simplest and easiest thing that we can do to balance out our existence is to be kind and to learn how to love.
It’s probably best to start with ourselves.
My theory is that for every single raving lunatic on Twitter, behind that facade of rage is a little boy or girl who doesn’t know how to make the right choices, and has never been taught or learned that the only real choice is to love and be kind.
Some people know this truth inherently. But everybody can learn it. Everybody can internalize the beauty of kindness and begin to regenerate the planet one smile at a time.
Perhaps the reason we see far less of the love and kindness that we should be seeing (since we all share the same fate of being born, living, and dying) is because people are trapped in an infantile state of mind, where they believe that they are helpless and don’t believe that their actions have any real consequence.
We all share the same confusion of being alive and trying do this “adult” thing well, but we also all share the same capacities for love and kindness.
In a way I feel like we all have to choose whether we are going to walk on the side of degeneration or regeneration. We have to choose between anger or an open heart.
And we get to make that decision every day.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”