For just the few minutes that it takes to read (or skim, as the case may be) this article, forget everything you’ve ever been told or come to believe about how and why humans are here. Not just here on this planet, but in this body, and at this particular point in time.
For just these few moments, forget the stories we hear and likely repeat and unconsciously enact our entire lives. The ones that tell us about mankind’s purpose here on earth and model the kind of being we are “supposed” to be (and not be). The ones that tell us how to be in relationship with one another. The ones that lay out what are roles and responsibilities include, what they exclude, and what rewards and punishments might be doled out.
These stories are our societal creation stories.
Our creation stories permeate our culture and slip quietly into the background. There, they guide our life choices and influence our free thinking. Recall Adam and Eve, Abel and Cain, Jacob and his ladder, Judas’ betrayal, Buddha meditating under the bodhi tree. Think about dharma, karma, reincarnation, sin, salvation, hell, heaven, purgatory and any other concept or story that comes to mind easily. Then, forget about all of it.
Think collectively of the (hundreds of) thousands of stories told in the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Mahabharata, the Tao Te Ching. See them, for just these few minutes, as human expressions of creativity and imagination sparked by, though not inclusive of, the greater truth. See them as limited and imperfect, incapable of grasping the entire scope of human life on earth—or for that matter, plant and animal life on earth. See them, as silent-but-constant influences on our minds from the moment we are born to our last breath.
These stories whisper to us directly in places of worship and spiritual study, indirectly through the movement of our family’s routines and rituals, subtly in our theater, movies and books, and covertly in our laws and legal systems. Recognize these stories for their power to shape culture and even control a society and its people—from its richest to its poorest, its most powerful to its least powerful. See how these stories touch everything—our compensation scales, our tax laws, our school systems, our employment hierarchies.
Even the most curious and awake among us fall sway to the spell of these stories.
Now, sweep them all aside in one broad stroke. I’m not suggesting that they are bad or wrong. I’m just suggesting a brief practice where we pretend we’ve never heard of them.
This isn’t that crazy of an exercise—before knowledge existed to guide our paths, there was no knowledge. Before man-made rules were written to tell us who we are supposed to be, there were no rules at all dictating any kind of life. Before stories were told and written down to give us meaning and show us our collective purpose, there were no stories. Yet, life and the universe pulsed on—sans stories, sans rules, sans knowledge—and it will do so again long after we, and our stories, have died, vanished, transformed, gone extinct, or whatever else might happen to us. How can we know? We have forgotten what we’ve been told. And so, we sit in a space of not knowing.
If this feels like blasphemy, then let me suggest this: if God, or (your word for God here) is offended by us peering past the curtain of the stories that are, in the lifespan of the universe, not even as old as a micro-second, then that is not the God who created the universe in the first place. There was a time before the word or concept of blasphemy even existed. Let’s go there.
Speaking of God. Forget about God, or gods, or angels, or deities, or prophets, living or deceased. Also, forget about the stories told by tarot cards, in numerology, by your astrological sign, or any other kind of label that is trying to tell you who you are, who you are not, where you belong, and where you must not venture for risk of failure or embarrassment. See them for the limited (but entertaining) constructs that they are. See how they limit you and your potential as an embodied soul. Then, forget about them. Forget about all the stories, religions, philosophies, or healing systems that have designs on your soul. I enjoy them too—but for now, let’s let them go.
Once we have forgotten, we can begin the process of remembering.
We did not come into this body to be quiet or safe.
We did not choose to be alive in 2018 to be sidelined, victimized, or used.
We did not choose to call this endangered planet home only to be ignorant, dismissive, complicit, or bought and paid for in its demise.
No soul takes a leap of faith into a human body, and then decides that silencing itself is the best way to spend a handful of decades.
Let’s find our voices and speak our truth.
Let’s live more aligned to our own essence right now, even if this means we stand out as eccentric or weird. The people who call us weird are the same people who, later, wish they could be as free as we are. Our freedom serves as a permission slip for those who might be looking for a way to wear soulful freedom for themselves.
Let’s speak a truth we’ve never dared speak before.
Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to fail miserably at something, just for fun and a dose of humility.
Let’s go somewhere we’ve never gone—even if this is in our own neighborhood. Let’s sign up to try something new (except skydiving, I won’t try that).
Be fully alive, even while much of the world remains asleep, lulled into false confidence by its stories of a sweeter afterlife or better next life.
We did not come here to be a silent witness, a mere bystander, an enabler, or apologist for the ugliest aspects of our society. We are here to move the needle of justice definitively forward, not just watch it hopelessly wobble. In the words of Andrew Harvey, we are here to “transform this whole planet and all of its institutions, all of its arts, all of its sciences, into burning mirrors of love and justice.”
Goddamn right, we are. What are we waiting for—signs or data showing us that climate change is an existential crisis? Events and lives lost that prove that racism and white supremacy movements have not gone away but are, in fact, empowered and rising? Another mass shooting? A far-reaching #MeToo campaign to prove that sexism, misogyny, and sexual misconduct are societal epidemics as real as our opioid addiction, that toxic masculinity is not as rare as we might think, and that likely every single woman we know has been impacted in some way? What more could we possibly need—a burning, talking bush?
We did not come here with a plan to be agreeable.
We did not think to our soulful selves how we couldn’t wait to come down into a body and then acquiesce to someone else’s agenda at the expense of our own health, well-being, or principles.
It’s natural that we all want to belong. But if we put on a team shirt that violates or muffles the call of our soul, we aren’t doing the world any favors.
If something is true, then let’s state unequivocally that it is true. If it looks like a truth and walks like a truth, it probably is a truth. But if it is false and masquerading as a truth? If it is hurtful and abusive and telling us that it is the new normal and we ought to get used to it? Then it is up to us to find the courage to challenge, nudge, cajole, question, test, suggest, plan, and wake people up. The world is counting on us to come out from behind the safety net of our cultural stories and live up to a higher standard of truth.
If we do this, the stories people tell in the future might not be about long-ago battles between good and evil. The stories they tell might be about US–the game changers.