My brother-in-law liked to say “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” I’m always tempted to reply with something like “That’s because I got your allotment,” but I don’t. While it is true that I feel like I’ve had enough good luck for ten men, I don’t say it often. Just contemplating the luck I’ve had – and currently enjoy – fills me with a sense of awe that makes words difficult. So, if the following sounds like an unsuccessful attempt to find the right words, that’s the excuse to which I shall adhere.
While the majority of the men I’ve encountered seem to have spent their lives looking for that one good woman, I’ve found her – twice. Most guys don’t talk much about their women. When they do, it is a litany of complaints. I’ve never been able to relate to that. I have nothing but good memories of the 36 years spent with my late wife. Now, I’m married again, building more good memories with a good woman. Finding two of them is like winning the lottery twice. But, ‘finding’ is the wrong word. It implies effort on my part. I can’t take credit for locating either one of these lovely ladies. In both cases, we were introduced by a third party.
Another item men don’t talk much about is their relationships with their children. When they do, it’s mostly a catalogue of misunderstandings and dysfunctional experiences. In contrast, I thought parenthood the best trip on the planet. Now, I enjoy the friendship of my grown children. My kids make time to just hang out with me. The macho expression is “He who dies with the most toys wins.” I say bullshit. As far as I’m concerned, he whose grown children are his friends, wins. Again, I can’t take credit for winning here either. I have no idea why I’ve been so favored, but I’m grateful beyond words.
Finally, I believe that being alive, in this society, today, makes you and I luckier than anybody who came before us. In order to elucidate this unfashionable notion, I need to mention a few historical facts.
Around thirty thousand years ago, our ancestors gained the capacity for abstract thought. Since that time, we have used that ability to create religion, art, science, technology and bigger and bigger messes. Through the ages, brave individuals have challenged traditional thinking and brought us closer to the truth, but knowledge has always seemed to confer upon us the ability to make grander messes. In recent history, the enlightenment begat modern science which begat technology which begat industrialization which begat the current environmental crisis. The process isn’t new; it has been going on throughout recorded history in various areas. The environment is just the latest victim, but we can, at last, begin to see what has been happening. Had we understood ecology, meteorology and environmental science during the industrial revolution, we would have had the tools to prevent the current crisis. But, it took the crisis to spur us into thinking about it. We spent close to a century thinking that the amount of fossil fuel that we burned didn’t matter. Then, after we became aware that something was wrong, we studied the situation and discovered that it did matter. In other words, our inaccurate or incomplete concept of ecology is responsible for the current mess.
We can trace any of our current problems back to a lack of understanding how things really are. Unfortunately, we always seem to gain understanding after the fact, so it is only after the mess is there that we find out how it could have been prevented. More unfortunately, there are messes – the idea that violence accomplishes anything for instance – that we haven’t yet identified as a mess.
If the last thirty thousand yeas hasn’t taught us anything else, it should have shown us that violence is not the answer to anything, yet we still spend more money on the enterprise of war than anything else. According to association psychology, this is because we are conditioned to think that certain things are true when they are not. It’s not our fault, it is just something that the evolutionary process has not yet worked out. With the dawning of the age of Aquarius, we have the privilege of seeing it resolved. Over thirty years ago, a particle physicist realized that work in quantum mechanics was leading scientists to the same world view held by the ancient Hindus and Taoists. Since that time, it has been dawning upon us that the ancients were not wrong and neither are the moderns. Apparently, reality is like a tree. The ancients understood the leaves and the moderns understand the roots. Knowledge of both are needed to understand the whole picture. This syncretic view of reality has led us to understand that our most basic idea – the concept of self – is wrong; it is not consistent with reality. Changing the most basic tenant of our map of reality is tantamount to a complete rewiring of our brains, so it is not something we can initiate ourselves. That’s what is so marvelous about the whole process and why we can only count ourselves incredibly lucky to be around when it is happening. A power beyond our control has been rewiring human brains for the last quarter century. The process is called the Translucent Revolution, or the Oneness Blessing, or numerous other names depending on geography and demographics. The Shift and Integral Spirituality are a couple of names given to the impact it is having on society. Students of the phenomenon have deduced that changes in the way people think (such as happened during the axial age) are a result of the number of people who think in a new way growing to what they call a “critical mass” that overturns society. Nobody knows what that critical mass is, but when it is achieved, nothing will be the same. We have the incredible good luck to live in a time when we can watch it unfold.