In a story I once heard, the gods – these would be of the Greek or Roman variety – were sitting around, feeling a little salty about how the humans were doing so well, being almost god-like one might say. And so the gods, not too keen on meeting matches and such, decided that they needed to hide the most profound wisdom of existence from the humans, take us down a notch or two.
One god suggests hiding it at the top of the tallest mountain but no, they figured we’d eventually find it there.
Another suggested tucking it away at the deepest depth of the sea but, again, we couldn’t be trusted to not eventually go snooping around down there.
And then one of them – maybe Apollo or Zeus or someone like that – said, “Hey, y’all, I’ve got it. We’ll hide it away inside of them!”
And that really was a clever idea and they all had a good laugh at its cleverness, likely toasted on it and got all bacchanalian in the self-congratulatory celebration that followed.
So, inside of bodies with all different kinds of shapes and sizes, different lips and noses and eyes and hair went The Big Secret. All different kinds of skin. All different mixes of nature and nurture (as though we can separate the two) leading to all different kinds of thoughts and preferences and hungers and feelings.
And then we (the gods?) overlaid and shaded and shaped the whole thing with a narrow window we call Acceptability (forks not hands, show this bit of skin never that, lighter not darker, boys with trucks/girls with dolls, so many arbitrary rules) not because we were wondering who to exclude but because we’re so desperate, so very desperate, for something simpler, more predictable, more prescribed than humans and human life can be…
…and because we bought into the mythical equation of me OR you.
And what, exactly, did the gods hide away in the depths of that morass?
That, whether we like it or not…
…whether we would choose it or not…
…whether we want it or not…
…we are all, every last one of us, on every corner of this earth, with all our variation, inextricably intertwined, all part of the same big mysterious fabric of being.
Or, as Alan Watts said it, “As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’”
Or, as RuPaul said it, “I get to create whatever persona I want to, and it’s all up to me. And the truth is, we’re all basically the universe – pretending to be humans for a brief moment of time.”
Or, as David Steindl-Rast said it, “We are unique in nature, and this is a great gift, but it becomes our downfall. We tend to confuse the truth that we are different with the illusion of being separate. This dulls our sense of the common rhythm and makes us fall out of step in the great dance.”
Or, as Carl Sagan said it, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
Or, as Martin Luther King, Jr., said it, “All I’m saying is simply this: that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Or, as Lilly Watson said it, “If you have come to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your destiny is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
And for all of this, Howard Zinn offered this advice:
The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
Or, as Ranier Maria Rilke said it:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Or, as Ross Gay said it:
What if joy is not only entangled with pain, or suffering, or sorrow, but is also what emerges from how we care for each other through those things?
Or, to put it a little differently: What if we blew the doors off of all we say divides us and see that we are all fractals of the same giant picture, viewed from different angles?
How might your relationship with others change if you found that truth’s hiding spot deep within yourself?
How might your relationship with yourself change?