As I started considering ideas for today’s post, I consulted Merriam-Webster for the definition of the word desperation and found two entries listed with a very subtle difference between them. The first is simply the “loss of hope and surrender to despair.” Not much of a surprise there, right? The second one is a bit more interesting: “a state of hopelessness leading to rashness.” Last week, my book club met to discuss In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn, the story of a family torn apart and reassembled by tragedy, and a study of the lengths we are willing to go to in order to survive. The drive towards self-preservation is considered to be the strongest of the basic human instincts, and very few of us ever have an experience that puts this universally accepted theory to the test. Closely related to this concept of self-survival is our inclination to also protect those who reside in our innermost circle. What wouldn’t we be willing to do in order to keep our loved ones safe, especially in a moment of desperation? At the same time that I was reading In an Instant for my group, my co-worker and fellow idea lover Ben Donia recommended the short story entitled “To Build a Fire” by Jack London as something that might inspire a blog post. And so my wheels began to turn.
I once read an article about technological advancement that centered around the idea that the biggest changes to come are those we can’t possibly imagine. I believe this to be true. My original career was in IT, and my first real job was in the cinder block basement of a hospital where I programmed in a computer language that was one level above those seriously annoying ones and zeros that comprise machine code. As I sat there writing spec sheets to be sent to keypunch operators, I could never have conjured up the idea that one day I would hold a device in my hand that housed an operating system capable of performing the most astonishing tasks at lightening speed. It would have been something that was truly outside the realm of my imagination. Over the years, I have thought about that article quite often, and at some point along the way I began to wonder whether we could apply its ideas to our own capabilities as human beings. What potential do we hold for reinvention? Is it possible to become that which we could never have imagined? I am certainly guilty of trying.
This past week turned out to be especially busy for me, and so I decided to reprise one of my favorite posts originally written back in October of 2018. I’ve made a few minor changes to keep it current, but otherwise it’s mostly the same. I chose this one in particular because the subject matter feels very relevant to me right now. I am currently in the process of transitioning out of some of my prep responsibilities at Recklesstown to prepare for some exciting things ahead. More to follow on that! My perspective on life was certainly different four years ago, and I’m about to experience another big shift. It never ceases to amaze me how the universe continues to offer us endless opportunities to grow and change…
I recently watched the movie The DaVinci Code, which I confess to having seen more than once or twice since it first came out in theaters back in 2006. It still gets me every time: the mystery, the puzzles, the religious symbolism, and a particular question that Robert Langdon poses to Sophie Neveau when she learns in the final moments of the film that she is the Holy Grail itself. “A living descendent of Jesus Christ – would she destroy faith? Or would she renew it? What matters is what you believe.” Langdon’s question offers us the opportunity to consider what it really means to have faith. It is certainly true that there are those of us for whom spirituality is as necessary as breathing; we simply could not exist without it. We believe strongly in a higher power, whether it’s the formal deity associated with organized religion, or the omnipresent universe which stuns us at times with its ability to be equally omniscient. If we look up the word spirit in the dictionary, it is defined as “the vital principle in human beings, or the mediating factor between our bodies and our souls.” If we extend this idea further, we can allow spirituality to become the process by which this mediation takes place. We live an existence within our physical bodies, but we’re certainly not limited to that, no matter what the skeptics may say. Since mediation is a form of communication, is it possible to then view spirituality as the language that creates the dialogue between body and soul? I think it is.
I spent time recently thinking about some things I wanted to change about my life. I even made one of those lists that Virgos are famous for making with bullet points written in different colored markers. I named it My Wish List, kept it in a notebook, and showed it to no one. Very close to the top were items related to working on deepening the human connections I already have and not being afraid to create some that would be new. In particular, I had the thought that I wanted to organize a book group and have wonderfully profound discussions with like-minded readers and thinkers. I floated the idea out to some of my significant people, who reached out to some of their significant people, and after a flurry of excited emailing, the book group I’d wished for materialized right before my eyes. This past Wednesday night was our first meeting, and I had very high hopes that it was going to be a great success. I’m so happy to report that the outcome far exceeded any and every expectation I could possibly have had. The discussion was intelligent and thoughtful. The company was supportive and caring. I felt as though we arrived at the meeting as fourteen separate individuals brought together by a mutual love of reading and a desire for connection, and we ended the night as a newly cohesive whole. I woke up the next morning feeling truly grateful.