James Thurber said, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” And so I begin this book about identity and change. It is perhaps the very essence of my blog, conscious evolution. How do we evolve as individuals, communities, and society as a whole? Can we be conscious about how we change over time? What are the questions we need to ask of ourselves and the world around us? Are there things that we can do to help ourselves be happier, well, and more fulfilled? What factors might be a play that enhance or detract from our ability to change in the ways we’d like?
First let’s address a debilitating assumption: in much of the world, but primarily the west – although likely spreading – we hold a belief that, as individuals, we are wholly autonomous in our actions, decisions, and choices, that our identities come from some inner source that makes us unique and different from everyone else. For most people I think that this belief is held unconsciously. There is ‘us’ and then there is ‘them’. With this thinking we are solely responsible for our own success or failure. It all rests on our shoulders, just as we believe that the problems of others rest on their shoulders. With this assumption we are alone but we are fully free to do what we like and create ourselves as we wish. As I write this, I think to myself, how can we possibly believe this? Yet when we watch the news or engage in conversation we use words that reinforce this assumption. Perhaps it’s time to move past this idea.
We might consider a different view. What if there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’? What if all of our actions, decisions, and choices are influenced by, and flow from the relationships we have with other people, with place, ideas, and things? What if we think of ourselves as a composite made up of those relationships? It may still hold true that we are unique and different from everyone else, but the source of that difference is derived from the relationships themselves. In this view we would not be solely responsible for our success or for our problems but we would share them with everything and everyone we are in relation with.
You can visualise those relationships as a diagram, a painting with multiple colours, shapes, and layers, or as music with various instruments working together and in harmony or dissonance. The image you construct of these relationships, their strengths, closeness and distance, volume, and texture could be thought of as your identity. How they influence you and how you influence them over time we can describe as the aesthetics of living.
By thinking of our identities as composite, made of relationships, we can begin to see how we might evolve through consciously choosing which relationships to activate, enhance, feed, develop, starve, sever or weaken. The possibilities for change are then nothing short of magical.
In this work I hope to share with you a way of inquiring about our identities, and the aesthetics of living, so that we might become more aware of the influence we have over our own happiness and well-being, and also more aware of the influence that the world has on us and we have on it.
The universe will unfold for you with the questions that you ask. Our goal here is to ask the very best questions, the ones that have the most power to invite what is good and useful for yourself and the world around you. I’d like you to discover your superpower and to put it to work in the world. I invite you to explore together how to bring it to life.
As always you are welcome to comment. I appreciate questions that help me clarify and write more as we go. I invite you to subscribe to the blog so that you’ll receive notifications when new posts are made. There is a place to comment and also to sign up placed below.