surprisingly mild collisions

3 October 2013 § Leave a comment

For years I feared being the common denominator between the fractured circles and scattered connections of individuals I loved. Whereas a more social person might host a party to introduce clients to ex-lovers, business associates to a young entrepreneurial cousin, or invite fundamentally religious family to a wedding at Burning Man, I’m less inclined to create intricate networks than simply reach out in a random direction many times to connect. Life seems more foreign when mutual friends are rare.

In 1999, a band called Powerman 5000 released an album entitled Tonight the Stars Revolt! The biggest hit of their career, ‘When Worlds Collide’ (popularized by the Playstation game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2), taught me two important lessons: 1 – if you really love a song, don’t set it to repeat a hundred times a day, and 2 – the collision of worlds was a wild and violent phenomenon, like stars exploding, and should be avoided at all costs.

This was of course before I’d seen Hubble images of what happened to the cosmos when stars revolted, exploded, or collided. It was also before my first acid trip, when I discovered that people themselves were stars, made up of the same particles and energy that have floated around the universe since the beginning, of, well, everything.

At some point between then and now, Mrs. McCarrey’s tenth grade English lessons on Symbolism clicked. Hawthorne’s veiled minister, Melville’s whale, Dickinson’s enlightened agoraphobia. Physics and Literature suddenly explained similar concepts with varying amounts of clarity and eloquence. The hippies and rastafaris and Buddhists, all of them, even the sheep of Christ – they were right. Religion is but language to worship the One, the Self; they all try to convey the same essential messages in different ways: everything is of source energy, or a reflection of it. Regardless of what we call it, or the stories we attach to moments of its transformation (birth, marriage, Genesis, Big Bang, Holocaust, etc.), everything is energy. If God is everywhere in everything, then God is Energy.

Stay with me; I’m getting to the point.

Another lesson – one from Uncle Scott, from his time in prison: if you’re ever worried, or scared, about how certain people could potentially relate to you (in his case, with shanks or the Crazy Eye), remember this mantra: here is God experiencing itself as this person. Here is God experiencing itself as me, as you, as her or him or them. God, regardless of history, association, or gender, is only a name.

We as people wish to be called by our true names. That is to say, we wish to be heard, seen, experienced, and loved exactly as we are. Christopher McCandless figured this out, perhaps too late. Now, who am I to keep individuals from discovering they are fingers of the same hand, to keep one from reflecting the beauty, wonder, and talent of another?

Worse yet were my sins of refusing to accept what others experienced in me by not allowing them to connect over a common denominator! It is simultaneously the epitome, and the very opposite, of selfishness, in that I would do anything to keep my needs for being seen from getting met.

It’s a hard line to follow, that of truth between selfless and selfish. In his brilliantly titled book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about the benefit of adding value to yourself by connecting people. The orange hardcover sat on a shelf for years, and the only thing I took from it was guilt for eating by myself. All the while I applied its networking wisdom slowly, bringing people and worlds together which would certainly have never met otherwise. Most often both parties learned something about me from the encounter.

I’m not sure I ever made a point. That’s okay. Consider this processing out loud. Like telling a story and remembering a detail as it comes out of your mouth. Those are the important ones. Have a good day.

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