Saturday, May 14, 2011

Community, Running, and Being Human

While I may lose some of you with this post, I have to write it because I won't be able to write anything else otherwise.

So a few things have got me thinking:

1. I'll likely outlive my baby girl, so the realities of mortality are front and center, and that makes you think about and appreciate things differently. Hence this post.

2. We're learning lots about Gabrielle's condition, and I'm becoming reacquainted with human physiology, and learning lots about cellular biology and bio-chem, which makes me realize that if you could zoom in and out of the real world with a fully accurate Google Earth zoomer – infinitely – I think we'd realize that us humans are only living at one level. This is not accurate. There's so, so, so much more to the wholeness of reality than what we perceive.

3.  The love and community and support we've experienced through this makes me convinced that our culture is half asleep, if not three-quarters asleep. This blog wouldn't be as read as it is if it didn't half-awaken those of you reading it ... striking a chord that you can't quite explain (you know what I'm talking about). While I've recently tried reading some spiritual and religious texts to figure out why this is, I've been having a difficult time marrying the content to my insights gained from point #2.

4. After writing the On Being Human post, I've rekindled my interest with human evolution. I've watched Nova's "Becoming Human" series and other videos like this one. I've been thinking about my own spiritual conviction (yes conviction to point of certainty) that we're a part of something greater (I'll write a post later – if anyone's interested – on how I evolution ≠ atheism). This has reminded me how the Dahlia Lama ask his monks to keep up-to-speed with neuropsychological findings in order to better crystalize their philosophy of living life as humans on earth ... in the moment (see Destructive Emotions for reference). Not that I think Buddhism contains all the answers (I really love all religions), but I appreciate how the Dahlia Lama's understanding of God (or infinite intelligence or whatever you want to call it) is not mutually exclusive from the realities of the universe.

Trust me, these tangents are going somewhere.

5. Amy and I both went for runs today. I know ... Awesome. Through our 12 years together, we've learned lots about each other and emotions in general. For example, after taking the advice of a friend, we've experienced a world of happiness since refusing to talk about family or money issues after 8pm (because that's when you're running on tired emotions, as our friend Robyn says, and not real emotions). Or, in other instances when we want to rip each other's heads off, we'll insist we each run before engaging any further. And every time we come back from our runs, we feel amazing and are literally baffled at what we were arguing about in the first place. I hadn't really thought about why that works ... it just worked.

6. I read this article, which explains how archeologists uncovered evidence indicating that early humans cared for sickly children over 400,000 years ago. This is a big deal because it totally flies in the face of the "survival of the fittest" attitude many people believe to be true of our nature.

So, to re-cap ... I've been thinking lots about (1) mortality and why we're here and who we are; (2) how there are infinite universes of reality at infinitely different levels, which means there's more to the wholeness of reality than what we perceive; (3) how naturally inclined we are to help when help is needed, and how good it feels when we do help; (4) how who we are isn't as much about our British or Chinese or Roman or whatever culture, but the result of millions of years of trial and error and development; (5) how Amy and I both went for runs today and felt great afterwards and had great days as a result (thanks Wayne & Jane for making that happen today), and (6) how there's evidence to suggest that early humans were compassionate – not ruthless – with their weaker members.

Okay, so here's the connect. Last night I watched the video-talk below, which I had been meaning to watch for a while, but I'm glad I hadn't until now. (NOTE: you have to watch it if you want any of my conclusions below to make sense):

As I watched it – thinking about everything I mentioned above – I couldn't help but imagine our family living 70,000 years ago, with Amy carrying Gabrielle, and myself with one of the boys on my back, with uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, in-laws, great aunts, great-uncles, and everyone you knew and cared about (which wouldn't be many people – unlike today) ... running and running and running!  Running as a clan. Running as an entity. Running to stay alive by "distance running" the game to exhaustion. Always helping one another. Always working together – no matter what. And feeling great (i.e. human) because that's how we came to be, and that's what we were meant to do.

So what's the point of this post?  Well, I'm not suggesting that running will make everything better. I'm also not suggesting that we need to help people in order to feel human. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's easy for us to miss what "being human" is all about in this industrial/digital age, it's even easier to hold onto beliefs and perceptions that aren't necessarily realities, and sometimes it takes incidents like Gabrielle to remind us of who we really are, what we're meant to do ...  and what really matters.