This last month, a lot of people have asked me if maybe I’m overcomplicating things. Am I overthinking it, taking it too seriously?
This is what I do. This is who I am. This is my work in the world. It is a lot of other people’s work too. To overthink or at least think a lot. To look past the surface at what is underneath making the surface look that way. It’s why there are telescopes floating in space sending us pictures of black holes - curious people who never get tired of being in awe of the awesome and wondering why.
People and human community, the world, the universe, the source of all things, consciousness… these are complex things. They cannot be simplified and put into boxes. We cannot wrap our heads around them or be in control of them. They are eternal and expanding. The only way I can see to bring the depth and complexity of existence close enough to grasp it is to recognize that it is all alive. Everything is one connected life. This includes the human species.
From my perspective, our problems start when we think we can fully experience life without being in relationship with it. That we can fix human problems while still being disconnected from each other. The human species is too complex to be organized by governments, institutions, or laws that are controlled by a few. Complexity is only manageable through relationship. This is how birds murmurate - every bird responds to the seven birds closest to them and they fly together in intricate, acrobatic, self-organized cluster flocks.
A few of those seven birds are light-hearted, funny, good at small talk, and content without overthinking it. I appreciate those birds. I’m just not one of them.
It’s up to other people to keep it simple. I rely on other people to keep it light and fun. I need them. And I need them to not need me to be something other than what I am. Every single person needs to be recognized for their innate value and given the resources and encouragement to thrive in that identity.
One of the most fascinating patterns I’ve learned from in nature about the nature of belonging is identity-based generativity. If you start with our shared ninth grade education of the atomic level, you can see a pattern that shows up at every other level. Each atom is made of individual entities with names like proton, neutron, and electron. The number and interaction of those subatomic particles gives an atom its identity. If it is a carbon atom, it has six of each with three electrons in each of its two orbits. With the innate identity of carbon, it can form (for example) interdependent relationships, according to their individual identities with seven other carbon atoms, ten hydrogen atoms, four nitrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms, and collaboratively generate a molecule of caffeine (C8H10N4O2).
This same thing shows up as molecular identities collaborate to form cellular identities and cells collaborate to form identities as organs and systems of organs until you get worms, rats, humans. Then those collaborate to create identities as families, communities, and cultures. Each one of those also has an identity that is generated from its individual biological, neuro-psychological, social, emotional, and metaphysical history. That history is made up of every experience they have ever experienced. This matters in particular for humans because our relational experiences generally distort our identity and make our connecting instincts ego protective. Non-human organisms are far less conscious and cannot use their consciousness to choose not to follow natural laws. We can.
As we protect our fragile, imagined egos, we end up collaborating to build social systems that we think are protective. But in truth, any system that does not integrate with every real identity causes harm to those inside and outside. It is like what would happen if the carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen atoms decided that the oxygen atoms were somehow a threat. Disconnecting the oxygen atoms would destroy the identity of the caffeine molecule.
I write in a geeky, sciency, hopefully poetic way about belonging, storytelling, community building, deconstruction and construction,