The word “apocalypse” means revelation. The great awakening comes from the result of revelation. It is a collective realization that what we see cannot be denied and what we once saw was not what it appeared to be. The world will be divided with those who become better and those who become bitter.
This does not require fire and brimstone. We can trace it with how our desires and ambition evolve with us over time, revealing what matters most to us. We wished for the toy under the tree, then the girl loving us back, then the health of those we love, and then to just having one more moment with the person gone forever.
Parents know this in all the clichés that are painfully true about having kids. The prominent one being “it all goes by in the blink of an eye.” Your kids go from running up excited to greet you to barely noticing you are in the same room. You are the center of their world for an absurdly brief yawn in time.
So much of life in retrospect is simply a matter of not appreciating things while they are happening. Everything is temporary in the ever-changing world. Bitterness blames the nature of things, but gratitude lets it radiate. There are no mistakes if everything is a lesson.
Being alive means having potential. I had the irreplaceable luxury of knowing my great-grandparents. They were married over 75 years which means they were together longer than most people live. I saw my great-grandfathers’ inconsolable tears at my Nannie’s funeral. The only solace to an old man’s grieving is the laughter of children. Children are not just a representation of innocence and joy but hope in the future that goes beyond yourself.
Understanding your potential is how you honor both the child you once were and the old man you will become, gray and frail wishing for just one more second of this life.
It took me a long time to live my life deliberately. I think of the dodged bullets and narrow escapes and reflect on the absolute blessing and miracle it is to be where I am. But I also reflect on how cynical I used to be.
Cynicism can be a catalyst for creativity but it is not sustainable because it is a low-resolution state. It is fuelled by bitterness toward the world. It inherently keeps you sick and malnourished. But what makes it so insidious is it can be dressed up as intelligence, rationality or even wisdom.
This is an adolescent trap and one to be overcome because it is essentially unavoidable. It is not simply the result of a factory farming education system, pop culture fetishizing the sacred, polarizing main scheme media and chemical warfare under the guise of nutrition. Cynicism is a steppingstone that is a part of the process of awakening. A jaded 20-year-old has potential, but a jaded old man has already been dead for decades.
Understanding yourself, your pain, your gifts, and your soul is what enables creativity. The optimal state is alignment. Discipline becomes obsolete because our ambition and talents are all aligned with creating meaning. Meaning transcends time and negates thought because they become irrelevant in action.
It is a primal state, like our ancestors hunting wild game. Every sense aligned, every movement in tune, all resources poured into the moment. Then to feast and dance around the fires of victory.
Being in a deep flow state means we have locked into the rhythm of the conscious and unconscious dance, the line that divides order and chaos as our soul tangos with alternating steps in each domain.
Flow is the creative force of bringing things into being that would not exist otherwise. Whether it is art, carpentry, gardening, coding, writing or movements like dancing or martial arts, it is a deliberately unconscious act. The deep work achieved during flow states bring peace and optimism while retaining a healthy sense of hunger. We have no doubts once we are there and we are excited to return. This is not possible under the suffocating blanket of cynicism.
I’ll end with a story I read during one of the darker times of my early 20s. It jostled me from my jaded state. It was about two old men walking on the shore after a hurricane that decimated the coast. There were starfish spread out on the beach all over the horizon. One of the old men stopped and started tossing them back into the receding waves. The other old man looked at him like he was crazy. “Why are you doing that! It doesn’t matter, you will never save them all.” The other one kept tossing. “It matters to that one.” He said as he tossed another one in. The other man watched for a moment and then bent down and threw a few in. Then they kept walking.
I used to think the story was about which old man was right in their thinking. But it is more than that. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones to get tossed back in. How will you honor that luck?
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