I recently connected with one of my best friends from high school, a woman with whom I’ve been out of touch since 1984. She is now the mother of six grown kids, and the grandmother of 21…make that nearly 22 grand-kids; and lived most of her post-L.A. life in small to very small towns in Utah and Washington State.
We talked on the phone for a long time, and I kept listening for the familiar girl I knew as a teenager, but it was a very distant sound indeed. Our lives had gone in such different directions: hers burrowed deeply into family, her local church and community; dealing with long-standing health concerns. Mine, married for seven years to an English girl I met living in London; no kids; an artist and gay man standing on the world stage with my own long-standing struggles to balance three creative pursuits as a writer, photographer and pianist-composer.
We’ve each done what we had to do; made choices based on circumstance, and to lesser degree perhaps, out of sheer will to shape the life we wanted. Add to that a little luck that swung both ways, and the results of simply hanging in there, all totaling the very different lives we’ve made.
Yet what struck me was that no matter how different our circumstances have been, they have both been the result of a certain kind of focus on the moment, the accumulated moments that become the substance of our experience. And in that regard, our lives here on plant earth—all our lives—are no different from each other. We’re all souls working it out in an amazing dance of present moments in concert with our family and friends, and on a larger field, our community, our nations and culture each with their own collective slants of character, points of view and over-arching destinies.
Like viewing the Earth from space with its fragile, borderless nobility, our souls, too, are part of One Thing: Life. Yet in the context of an ageless planet, our “local” differences (including our intransigent theologies) are revealing themselves to be unsustainable; contrary to the Living System of which we are most definitely all a part. Have we forgotten that our lives are as noble as the stars turning around us? That the limitless sky is a metaphor for our ageless souls?
So I say Thank You to an old friend for reminding me that our seeming difference over time and in experience connects us no less. We’re all connected. To the extent we don’t make that fact part of our collective experience, we will continue to have the divisive world we’re living in…and which, sadly, we now have the power to destroy. Do we grow up as a race before life as we know it disappears, or as a result of that occurrence? In either case, the Earth (and, I trust, our souls) shall live on. So the question is What kind of world do we want, and do we have the courage to claim it...now?