Monthly Archives: August 2014

Apples and Macaques?

So, I got this email from a friend. He points out that human and chimpanzee DNA is 98% the same. I immediately launched into a frantic search of the internet learning, among other things, that the most recent estimate is 95% and that in addition there are lots of other factors (like whether to include insertions and deletions and a lot of other stuff) so that it is sort of like comparing oranges and orangutans. Fortunately before going too far down that particular rabbit trail I realized it is beside the point of FOL #1.

The point is that connection is what matters and connection is most easily facilitated when we pay attention to our similarities instead of our differences. It does not matter if we are trying to connect to a person or a cat. Then I thought that if we pay close attention to our similarities with monkeys we could connect better with them and that is not a bad thing, right? That is also not the point. It did make me realize that connection to everything is not a bad goal but there is a built in sequence or priority list that generally has to be followed.

Connecting to monkeys instead of other people would not be particularly satisfying. In fact, never minding the monkeys or anybody else I believe we cannot connect to another until we first connect to our very own self. It is only when I am fully aware of my own humanity and all that entails that I become able to recognize and connect to that humanity in others. If I cannot notice my own self how am I going to apprehend or appreciate somebody else’s self. One of the things to notice is my quirks. The labyrinth that is my mind (some of which you are seeing right here) can be a scary place.

On noticing some of my thoughts I might become concerned; concerned that I am not normal. Or, worried that there is some sort of troll living in here. I can be convinced that normal people don’t think like this. The fact is that all of us have weird thoughts, so what. I have been told by my significant other that “…you have some weird shit going on in there”. This of course usually happens when she asks “What are you thinking” and I tell her. The interesting thing is that generally after a few moments thought she will add “…yeah that makes sense” or “I have had that thought too” or something that lets me know I am not really all that weird. However if I become so afraid of my self, so convinced there is in fact a monster lurking then I won’t be looking around in there.

By not looking, not acknowledging my authentic self, weird shit and all, I am signing up for a life of shame, fear and isolation. So the first task in the connection journey is to connect to ourselves. The way Sandy puts it in our weekly workshop is we must “discover and accept our authentic self” (I think I say it in the book too but don’t tell Sandy because I don’t believe I gave her credit). This is probably the hardest part of the journey. It is, however, a necessary part of the connection sequence.

The sequence goes something like this: first connect to myself; second, connect to another person; third, connect to all other people; fourth, connect to another life form; fifth, connect to all life; sixth, connect to the world and; seventh connect to the universe. This is cool since I just made it up and it sorta corresponds to the levels of awareness described by Deepak Chopra and others. I think we might call it the seven levels of connection and make it a whole big thing.

Since I am not into big things I will just leave this topic with the reminder that whatever is going on in the universe, we are part of it. Some of us believe in God. Some of us believe in a universal consciousness. Some of us just stand in awe of what we see. Some of us don’t like other people’s behavior or race or religion or whatever. Some of us want to change other people’s beliefs and behaviors and some of us are more tolerant. Some of us might think we are different than the fundamental terrorist, or not as good as the rich and powerful. Some of us kill and some of us heal. Some of us hate and some of us love. AND we are all human being doing the best we can with what we have. In the end we are all people.

FOL #1

Fact of life #1 – All people are people (and I am one of them). I get a lot of people pushing back on this one. They say we are all different and “Mother Theresa is not the same as Jeffery Dahmer.” I agree that we are all different. I also believe, however, that the differences are interesting but superficial. Underneath my race and gender and religion I am a human being with the same basic genetic structure as everyone else. As a human being my basic worth and value are the same as yours. What I have observed in four decades of helping people is that when we believe we are different then we are set apart and cannot connect with others. Connection is a basic human need like air, water, and food. Connection becomes difficult if I believe I am different than others. If I am better than you, or not as good as you, or just different in some ineffable way then I cannot see you and I probably will not let you see me and we cannot connect. On the other hand if I believe we are the same then I will attempt to see around my insecurities and messed up perceptions. I will keep trying to penetrate the veil of my fears. I will not just withdraw and hide, or attack and judge you. This creates the possibility that we will see each other and connect. If you will meet me halfway then connection is almost certain in spite of our differences. We are not different in our basic humanity only in our experience of it. The possibility of connection lies in our humanity and connection is a necessary requirement for serenity.