Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
TS Eliot’s masterful poem, "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock," is the story of a man who cannot muster up the courage to confront what he needs to confront. The poem hauntingly charts Prufrock's failed attempt to cope with the modern condition. In the course of his musings Prufrock asks himself, "do I dare to eat a peach?" In the fading light of 2006 I find myself wondering the same thing. Given the state of the world, do we dare to bite deeply and unconditionally into the reality of the world?
Our mission at worldchanging is to shine a light on the seeds of the new, to cultivate the seeds of a future that looks very different from today. In the search for this different future, in reporting on it and representing it, we face a real tension between seeing the world as we would like it to be and seeing the world as it is. I believe the our challenge at worldchanging, over the coming year, is to develop a better set of optics.
Seeing the world as it is today requires immense capacities. It requires inner resources and discipline. It requires courage. It demands that are have the inner fortitude to witness reality in all its myriad forms without losing hope. Albert Camus, at the onset of the Second World War, wrote "It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair." Seeing clearly requires that we learn to see the world without projecting all our hopes and fears on it. It requires that we develop more sophisticated ways of coping with the many representations of the world we are exposed to.
How can we maintain a creative tension between seeing the world as it is and seeing the world as we would like it to be? In the interstices of this tension lies a paradigm, a way of being, a theory and practice of technology and an ethics of intervention that are all sorely needed.
Zaid, I think you are bringing here a very important and difficult subject: how to cope with reality without loosing hope, even though rather than hope I would use belief or resolve. To me hope is a very dangerous thing as I think it is passive and one can survive (not live) on hope a life of misery, waiting for things to change around oneself. I believe that leadership is about coolly watching (cool head, whilst in command of oneself) the world around as it is (or as close to what it really "is" as possible), accepting what one sees, in its current state, without being resigned that this state will remain. Then warmly embrace your belief, your vision of how you want it to be and *act*. Acceptance, belief & vision, action.
I have three thoughts that I hope will help with the dilema.
First there is no such thing as "the reality of the world" or "the world as it is". All perceived reality is made by us, by our mind based on what we experience through our senses and based our past experience to comprehend the world around us. If this reality is unbearable, it is because the projection we make of it with what we see/experience is unbearable. I am pointing this out for two reasons. The first one is that I am tired of people coming to tell me the "way things are" and how they are right about it, and how other people are wrong about it and bad because of it. The second one is that it more plainly shows that if we create the reality and then react to the reality we create, we can alter our creation and our reaction to help us to cope better with it. It all comes from ourselves, automatically and not, and we can change ourselves.
The second thought is that no matter how bad things seem to you, be ready to accept that they are always worse than you think. If you build sufficient strength, belief and resolve required for a leader to create the world he/she wants to create, this is paradaxically a quite helpful thing to do. Because it will help you not to be distabilised by what you see and keep on following your vision. If you don't beleive that things are worse that you actually think they are just go to the emergency room of a hospital for a night (I suggest those receiving people who have been in car accidents). Then you will realise that next to what seem to be a normal and peaceful life, there is plenty of horrible reality going on that you could not imagine. If you don't believe that this is key to help you change the world then you have never been engaged in something big enough or meaningful enough yet that will really change the world, because this is when things hit you really bad and destabilise you.
My third thought is: pace yourself. There is so much one can take at a time. Often when I felt desperate and was pesting against the world, it was because I reached a limit and I needed to be kind with myself, pick myself up before continue to get going. Too big a shock can stop you from moving forward at all for a long time, sometimes it can open your eyes. There is a time for one and the other. Sometimes we get burned out and we need to stop for a while to recover.
having just been dialoguing with a young poet with a sense of things are going down (the drain) and we will just have to (relish and enjoy) bear it, I also found myself wondering about the conflict between what is and what is desired.
The "newer paradigm" thought-leaders suggest that we embrace the resonance of what we would have and desire, rather than focus on the negative (and flip in downward spiral).
These thinkings suggest that: What you send out you attract. What you resonate resonates you. You see what you expect. Life is self-fulfilling.
I wrote a poem to this young poet (letter to a young anarchist) and was reminded of "Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times" by Clarissa Pinkola Estés that I read last week ... http://www.mavenproductions.com/esteswindow4.html
My sense is that we need to become the eye of the storm, centered, in our power, with clear line of sight within, notwithstanding the impenetrable chaos around us.
Allow the "creative tensions" to hold you and surrender in the eating of the peach ... ;)
We may choose to be the light, to shine our radiance of hope and love, to become the world we wish to see.
So Breathe, in Appreciation, That Which You Desire Most, Into Being. And Laugh when you see that all demons are but human projections, little farts in the night of our Ignorance.