Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

...The Words Are Coming Out All Weird.
Where Are You Now That I Need You?

(from Radiohead...if you didn't know)

I think this is a huge question facing most people (especially those living in post-modern societies) today. It might be a question that defines so many of our divides and poses the greatest anxiety we, the emerging world, generally feel.

Most of us can see that we're in a mess of some sort. We can all acknowledge that there is pain, hardship, unfairness, inequality and other such things in our world. We can look back and say that some of the decisions we made collectively and personally have led to this point...whether we point the finger out or in. And most of us do both on some level.

But where do we go from here? How do we "get out of this mess" if we can agree that we are in one? Even if you don't think things are so bad, you still would agree that the questions How do we continue? How do we progress? are crucial questions.

There are, of course, several answers to these questions. Trillions upon trillions of paths and possibilities, both personal and communal.

The answer to Where? often comes with a corresponding Says Who? (sometimes cleverly disguised as Why?). And there might also be the corresponding contextual question In what situation?. This is important to recognize. Authority is the issue I was attempting to wrestle with in my There Is No King post. I understand that I was, in some ways, suggesting a new locus of authority that made some folks very uncomfortable.

Months back I posted that I believed that values are arbitrary and contextual. I was trying to address the ideas that we have about the Out There. I'd like to quote from one of my favorite books, Oh, The Places You'll Go,

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

It's no big leap to assume that most of us are waiting on something/someone. And by waiting, I mean yielding authority to, waiting for the Out There to take us somewhere. Where Are You Now That I Need You?, the lyrics say. I need You.

Is there any way to pull ourselves away for some sort of objectivism on this matter? Can we observe why we choose to do what we do? I mean, really why. Not "because it says..." or "because he...". And why do we respond the way we respond? Why do we feel aligned with certain ideas or groups? Where does our hurt truly comes from? Why do we so badly need the Out There?

Listen, I'm not suggesting that we have to give up our Out There, whether it be a religious tradition, political party, neighborhood ethic, family story, whatever. I'm just saying we should call it for what it is and recognize that we choose it on some level. We are the givers of meaning. We give authority to the story, asking that it give us meaning back. But the real authority is right here.

So where do we go from here? I hardly know. Well, I have some ideas, but those forms aren't nearly as important to me as how we interact with forms, these inevitable disposable forms.

On we trudge/gallop/run/glide/dance/breathe.


Brittian said...

Ryan, this is really really good. Thank you for articulating it so well.

Brittian said...

I think that it's difficult to own our deep level of freedom. We are so priviledged that we actually have to ignore vast areas of our lives in order to pick out those things that aren't just the way we want them to be. This process of ignoring and selective perception lets us continue to see ourselves as victims, usually of circumstance. We seem to be addicted to considering ourselves victims. Ironically, it's only by remaining victims that we continue to justify victimizing others.

In order to remain a victim you can't know how to be master. But if there were no brass ring, it would be no fun to be on the merry-go-round. So the idea is to know how to grab the ring and then MISS! right at the last second.

You don't have to take responsibility.
You get to stay on the merry-go-round.
You get to remain a victim.

And so, we choose to ignore our overwhelming capacity for greatness. We're terrified of losing the pay-off we get through failure, through un-happiness, through being a victim. This is one of the reasons we create worlds of mis-information to live within...because if we stepped into the world as it is, without our fictions and judgements attached, then we might truly see ourselves as the creatures of great freedom and responsiblity that we are, and that we always have been.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Thanks Brittian. I resonate with that hugely.