In Our Fast-Changing World, a False Sense of Security Is the Only Kind There Is
The second half of the title of this post—“A false sense of security is the only kind there is,”—is a quote by storyteller and teacher Michael Meade, who himself attributes it to an old Irish poem.
Whatever its roots, when he spoke it, my body tugged at me from the inside the way it does when something or someone speaks truth.
If the only kind of security we have is false, then that means there is no such thing as security at all. It means that there are no promises any of us get a “happily ever after.” It means that all the wisdom we share and preach about how to live in this world cautiously might well be worthless. They probably always were.
Granted, it’s hard not to think about safety these days—what with COVID variants, the rise of dangerous white nationalist groups, the movement against women’s rights, the off-the-charts gun violence, the increasing threat of fascism around the world, and, of course, the in-our-faces repercussions of climate change. I can feel the crisis point we are at. I can hear the voice of fear inside me, maybe inside all of us, asking me to withdraw from the world and play it small for safety’s sake.
But, while I feel the fear and concern about how much the world is changing—even dying—I also know that there is no way in hell I will give in to fear’s desires. Instead, I’m leaning into this time with curiosity for what might emerge from the ashes of the change and tumult.
I am not going to indulge in fantasies about security. Instead, I’m going to remind myself that the opposite of safety is creativity.
The Cycle of Creation
Yes, we are at a crisis point in the world. But, we can also view it as a pivot point—one in which we trade whatever false sense of security we have for a creative life, whether in our work, our relationships, our activism, our self-care, or any other facet of human life.
There is no stronger force in the universe than creation. But creation, unlike what we often assume in our perpetual growth mindsets, doesn’t move endlessly in one direction. Rather, it goes in recurring cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.
Understanding this natural life cycle helps keep me out of mind states fueled by fear, sadness, and loss, and instead I turn myself over to the power and path of creativity.
It is clear to anyone paying attention that we are in the death stage right now, an age the yogis call the Kali Yoga. The archetype of the Apocolypse has manifested. You can feel it in the following:
- Daily life is in flux, not secure or stable
- Authority figures and institutions are not trustworthy/trusted
- Political institutions aren’t holding; they can’t save us
- Previously agreed-upon principles (unity, peaceful transitions of power) have been dismantled and/or tossed aside
- Many people are finding their identity in discord and division, making it harder to imagine a healing
- “Truth” has splintered, giving way to conspiracy theories and theorists
- We have crossed the rubicon with climate change, and its effects are accelerating all over the world
It can be frightening to be alive at a time like this. But—not if we remember that rebirth always follows death. Not if we trust the power and process of creativity.
The Rejuvenating Power of Creativity (and the Earth)
I recently got into a friendly debate about climate change with a friend of mine. He argued that the earth was dying. I argued that the earth would be just fine after it gets rid of us humans.
He then said he believes the earth is alive, and not just some “dumb rock.” And I replied, of course, I believe that too! That’s exactly why I believe in its rejuvenating power!
I then ended the conversation by telling him about the tardigrade, or water bear, which I tell people about every chance I get. To get the best effect of what the tardigrade is, you must listen to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explain it.
But the gist is this: this lifeform has survived all five mass extinctions. It can survive in space, and also in the depths of the ocean. If it can survive all of that, couldn’t it survive whatever’s coming next? And if the tardigrade can survive, isn’t it possible that other lifeforms can and will too? And isn’t that the biggest vote of confidence for life you can imagine? Let your curiosity wander.
I see our earth right now as having an inflammatory response to an invader, much like a human body does. Once it gets rid of human beings (humans are invaders in this analogy), it will cool itself down. It will rejuvenate. Not overnight—but since when has creation ever been in a hurry? As a friend of mine says, the earth will shake us off like a dog shakes off fleas and get back to the business of supporting life that supports it.
I don’t know these things as a fact; it’s more a matter of faith and belief. I believe that Mother Creation will outlast everything she’s ever created, including us. She will never be finished, or bored, or snuffed out. Because when She comes across death, she uses it as a springboard for new life and renewal.
Shifting our thoughts from thinking we’re living in a time of renewal is a lot healthier and lighter than wallowing in fear of seeing only loss and death. It is much easier to keep our passions alive when we realize that we’re witnessing creation in action.
But we’re not supposed to only be witnessing creation. Creation is modeling for us a way to live. Especially in times like these.
What the World Needs Now
None of today’s problems can be fixed with today’s solutions. Doing so only perpetuates a feeding cycle; it does not create an exit path. So we need thinkers, innovators, and creatives who look beyond the here and now, who are not just creating the same problems in different ways.
What the world needs now are people who won’t shy away from risk. What the world needs are creative risk-takers and bold innovators.
We need people who are living, thinking, and dreaming on the edge of what’s possible. We need people who can reach into the mystery of the unmanifest and draw ideas and new ways of being.
We are creative beings, living in a time of immense creative possibility. Now is not the time to wrap ourselves in security blankets. As the saying says, it’s false anyway. Let us release that idea, stop the pursuit of safety and security and instead, merge with the creative force of the universe and take the risk to rethink how we live, how we love, and how we work.
What might this look like? I can’t tell you that; it’s different for everyone. But, here are simple ways to start exercising your creative muscle. Once the simple things spark your creativity, the edges of the universe are the limit:
- Sign up for that course you’ve been eying
- Start intimate, meaningful conversations with friends and family
- Apply for the job you really want
- Quit the one you hate
- Learn a new skill or language
- Try an art class, singing, or take up an instrument
- Pioneer a new path for yourself, rather than following anyone else’s
- Call an old friend
- Plan a day trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. Talk to strangers.
- Find some new recipes
- Try impulsivity
- Try a new spiritual technique; start drumming, chanting, or meditation
- Don’t settle in your relationships; find your “ride or die” friends.
The door to safety might be closed, and the world may be on the brink of collapse, but for true creatives and risk-takers, there’s no tapping out. Rather, there’s no better time to tap in.
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