Honoring Maya Angelou

On Interconnection…And Yet

We know, at bot­tom, that every­thing is connected. 

It’s like the joke about the monk who orders a hot dog: “Make me one with everything.”

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We’re already there. We get that. 

And yet.

Indeed. In fact. And yet.

We treat our­selves as indi­vid­u­als. We oper­ate in a com­pet­i­tive, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly entre­pre­neur­ial world of “best ideas,” “best knowl­edge,” “best hav­ing my act togeth­er.” It isn’t, in fact, all that tru­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive. Even in the wis­dom mar­ket, we want to hawk our wares. Ego dom­i­nates and tries to deliv­er, shout­ing out among the vendors.

And yet. (peri­od)

There are such beau­ti­ful exam­ples of inter­con­nec­tion, con­ver­sa­tion, art. Here is only one stun­ning, intrin­si­cal­ly hum­ble “Con­ver­sa­tion” for exam­ple, one of the many, des­per­ate­ly need­ed, delib­er­ate com­mu­ni­ties, con­nec­tions avail­able to all.

To start at the begin­ning, it is only a thought: you can think that you are think­ing only for your­self; that you are hid­den in your head, in the pri­va­cy of per­son­al mind. But even there, I sug­gest, you are not. You are part of the field of human endeav­or. You are evi­dence of a con­scious and inten­tion­al his­to­ry, as a per­son with a con­nec­tion to a time, a fam­i­ly, an eth­nic­i­ty, a larg­er cul­tur­al politic and nation-state. You can­not say you are alone. You are a son or daugh­ter, sis­ter, broth­er, with these par­ents, these chil­dren, tap­ping away on the keys to some­one in Dubai, maybe a lit­tle drunk, at mid­night, pour­ing out your secret heart. You are part of a stream, part of a com­mon Nature that flows from unknown antiq­ui­ty into the unknown future on a hap­pen­stance, this turquoise mar­ble. You are mem­o­ries, each one of which like the grain of a pho­to­graph becomes an inher­i­tance — the inher­i­tance of a fam­i­ly in a hid­den album in an attic of the past. 

And you can­not tell, can you, what deft union there might be between your thought and the thought of oth­ers? Do you feel only alone? Or are your feel­ings part of a shared, con­scious uni­verse that includes, even cel­e­brates your lone­li­ness? Is your life a ran­dom exper­i­ment in being, or an indis­pens­able, indis­tin­guish­able ele­ment of a greater union? 

And yet!

You feel (inside) an unsub­stan­ti­at­ed, pre-ordained locus of free­dom. Of iden­ti­ty. (An imper­fect perfection).

And at the core, there is some­thing that says, “Lead, if only, only me.”

How stun­ning. How beau­ti­ful. How renew­ing to know that you are the craft of your own intel­li­gence, your own poem and paint­ing, your own mes­sage in a bot­tle float­ing on an ether of unknow­ing. Fire-fan­gled feath­ers dan­gle down.

And yet

How bit­ter­sweet, and of the heart and of the soul, that you should be here, find­ing love among the shad­ows, the loss­es, of this ragged, inequitable vio­lence of con­nec­tion, this humanity.

And yet and yet

How you stand on the doorstep of a great­ness and gen­eros­i­ty of being that includes every sin­gle one of us

And how you give, beyond any shad­ow of any doubt, this essen­tial some­thing that we can all hope for; need want desire as if

the whole thing depends only on you and me

which of course is the truth we are per­pet­u­al­ly scared of

(and yet) can­not help liv­ing toward 

because it is also some­thing so (I don’t know what to say)

that we (I don’t know what comes next — you are the one with the words) 

must adore.

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14 Comments

  • Love­ly post my friend. You have so apt­ly described what I believe many of us, no mat­ter how well-mean­ing, may be feel­ing as part of an under­cur­rent in much of all that we do. Much like my recent two posts on the spir­it of acceptance…there’s that tug of war between the head knowl­edge and the real­i­ty of our experience. 

    We can intel­lec­tu­al­ly know and even agree with the idea that we have intrin­sic worth and val­ue apart from our per­for­mance, and yet…

    …we can still feel caught in the grip of an under­cur­rent of per­for­mance based rules that can make the true expe­ri­ence of self-accep­tance more like an ide­al that can rarely, if ever, be lived…if peo­ple were com­plete­ly hon­est from day to day.

    I espe­cial­ly love what you said here: 

    Lead, if only, only me.’ 

    Well said, my friend. Well said.

    ~Saman­tha

  • A thought­ful­ly word­ed piece. Lucid­ly presented.

  • […] We treat our­selves as indi­vid­u­als. We oper­ate in a com­pet­i­tive, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly entre­pre­neur­ial world of “best ideas,” “best knowl­edge,” “best hav­ing my act togeth­er.” It isn’t, in fact, all that tru­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive. Even in the wis­dom mar­ket, we want to hawk our wares. Ego dom­i­nates and tries to deliv­er, shout­ing out among the vendors.And yet. (period)There are such beau­ti­ful exam­ples of inter­con­nec­tion, con­ver­sa­tion, art. Here is only one stun­ning, intrin­si­cal­ly hum­ble “Con­ver­sa­tion” for exam­ple, one of the many, des­per­ate­ly need­ed, delib­er­ate com­mu­ni­ties, con­nec­tions avail­able to all. […]

  • This arti­cle is just the thing I need­ed to read today Dan. Feel­ing unac­count­ably sad and angry. I’m going to use your words because they are spot on. 

    Yes, today, I think that I am think­ing only for myself; that I am hid­den in my head, in the pri­va­cy of per­son­al mind. But even there, as you sug­gest, I sus­pect I am not. I am part of the field of human endeav­our. And I can­not tell, no I can’t, in my un-name­able sad­ness and anger, what deft union there might be between my thought and the thought of others? 

    Do I feel only alone? Less so, hav­ing seen you in me as I read this. Or are my feel­ings part of a shared, con­scious uni­verse that includes, even cel­e­brates my lone­li­ness? I sus­pect so, now that, hav­ing fin­ished read­ing this beau­ti­ful work of art, the tears are final­ly coming.

    Thank you so much Dan.
    Love John

  • Dear Dan,

    Your deep and lyri­cal words inspire me — espe­cial­ly today. Per­haps I am on the same page or wave­length as John, some­thing in the air.…. 

    So thanks for the reminder of how beau­ty (of thought, of spir­it, of action) lifts us up — that we are joined in inex­plic­a­ble ways and are the core — as Ram Dass so beau­ti­ful­ly says, ,
    “we’re all just walk­ing each oth­er home”

    See you on the path,
    Louise

  • Dear Saman­tha~

    I appre­ci­ate this word, “under­cur­rent,” which means to me what we take for grant­ed and then can end up pro­cess­ing as a night­mare. Uncod­ing the mes­sage — in the mid­dle of the night — can leave us feel­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble and hurt­ing unless an alter­na­tive path is plain. I’ve tried to clear the brush from one place where that kind of path begins…

    All the best and thank you, as always!
    Dan

  • Dear Peter~

    Won­der­ful to meet you on G+ and find your kind com­ment here. Thanks, and all the best,

    Dan

  • Dear David Hain~

    Thanks for the Scoop.it!

    Dan

  • My dear friend, John~

    I was so touched that you were touched! It is won­der­ful to feel the con­nec­tion and to expe­ri­ence it’s growth. 

    They say peo­ple are rein­car­nat­ed in groups. I believe we’ve known each oth­er a long, long time.

    I look for­ward to our next Skype.

    All the best~
    Dan

  • Dear Louise~

    Dit­to what I said to John about being rein­car­nat­ed in groups. Indeed, there is some­thing “in the air,” and maybe in the water and in food, too. It helps me to keep in mind this.

    It’s won­der­ful to find each oth­er in the clearing…

    All the best
    Dan

  • Hoda Maalouf (@MaaHoda) wrote:

    Beau­ti­ful Post Dan!

    Yes­ter­day I recalled & spoke about a friend & for­mer col­league that I have not seen for 5 years. This evening I received a call that she died from a stroke while giv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion abroad. She is only 40!

    I am sure these kind of things hap­pened with many of us. How can they be explained if we were not all inter-connected?

    I leave it here as I don’t have a very clear mind this evening.

    Hoda

  • Dear Hoda~

    I am so sor­ry to hear of the shock­ing death of your friend. And yes the syn­chronic­i­ty sug­gests a mean­ing no mat­ter how ran­dom such things some­times seem. 

    Your friend­ship is a bless­ing to many, Hoda, and we are near­by to you and share in this grief.

    With con­do­lences~
    Dan

  • […] A poem about both the place we authen­ti­cal­ly hold and our illu­sions of individuality.“We treat our­selves as indi­vid­u­als. We oper­ate in a com­pet­i­tive, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly entre­pre­neur­ial world of “best ideas,” “best knowl­edge,” “best hav­ing my act togeth­er.” It isn’t, in fact, all that tru­ly collaborative.” […]

  • […] A poem about both the place we authen­ti­cal­ly hold and our illu­sions of indi­vid­u­al­i­ty. “We treat our­selves as indi­vid­u­als. We oper­ate in a com­pet­i­tive, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly entre­pre­neur­ial world of “best ideas,” “best knowl­edge,” “best hav­ing my act togeth­er.” It isn’t, in fact, all that tru­ly collaborative.” […]

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