Did the Paris attacks make you uncomfortable enough to change, or did you simply return to your daily routine, perhaps telling yourself that sticking to your habit defied the terrorist’s intent to rattle you?
Is there a ‘normal’ existential standard? Yes. But it is not, nor will it ever be, the social norm. The only true, existential normal is established by our brilliantly engineered physical beings, conscience, and innate intelligence. It is that primal consciousness we automatically turn to first when crisis strikes.
If you don’t believe me, just remember your first response to the Paris attacks. At the news, your mind went quietly blank with incredulity as the first sweep of shock took you inward where your body ran a check to make sure you were secure; and then, seamlessly, it also checked the outside of you, in your environment, gathering as much information as possible to prepare you, just in case. High alert. Thorough assessment. Acutely aware. Only afterwards, when you felt in control and stable did you call someone, or chat with a stranger. Correct?
You see, you don’t have to go to war to be at war. When an environment is dangerous the human organism lives in a state of alert. It doesn’t matter if you have a nice home, great education, make buckets of money, and get a yearly vacation. If there is the any inharmony in your lives, from constipation to domestic dissonance to the threat of failure behind missing your monthly quotas at work, your organism experiences your environment as dangerous and it will work tirelessly to bring you back into homeostasis.
So, how do you think your being feels when accosted by the social standards of racism, gender differentiation, sexual humiliation, educational and social elitism, body profiling, bullying, nationalism, religious prejudice, or even the architectural design of homes, offices, cars, and clothing that confine and distort the biological significance of ‘comfort’? (Biological comfort corresponds to the ease of exercising at peak performance.)
Society wants us uncomfortable. Society makes us uncomfortable. Society keeps us uncomfortable. Whatever I think, or you think, there is someone else thinking differently. Whatever I believe, or you believe, there is someone else believing differently. Who I am is not likely to be who you think I am, and who you are is not likely to be who I think you are. BUT who you think I am, and who I think you are, matters more than who I know myself to be, and who you know yourself to be.
And, this is very dangerous.
No matter how we decide to package our story, no matter how pretty our picture is or how many statistics justify our choices and make us seem palatable, desirable as friends, colleagues, and citizens, and no matter how much we call our dysfunctional lives “oh, so delightfully normal” we are not normal, not a whit, nor are we safe.
Our species has been sabotaged by a history of corrupting civilization. Without doubt, somewhere in our ancestral past, we came face to face with a grave threat that we countered – thanks to our adaptive capabilities – with a rigorous, short-term action plan intended to make sure we survived, and once the threat had passed we figured things would return to ‘normal’. Only that return to normal never came. Why? Did it take longer than expected and our survival tactic evolved into chronic habit? Who knows?
The fact is, our ‘civilization’ faces extinction by self-annihilation and this should indicate just how inadequately the social contracts of our nations serve us. Social imprinting has evolved to where it blatantly violates the organic codes of life our organism requires to live.
No wonder our civilization has evolved into an Era of Terror.
Human beings are legitimate. The social imprint is a con. It’s actually safer if you know this because our contemporary social contract is not the only social option available.
To discover the healthier options we must, however, categorically stand in our power, whole, united, and free. This reestablishes our biological integrity and ecology, and resets our allegiance to humanity (where inhumanity does not exist). As a result, the rejection of all the toxic and corrupt social customs, idioms, regulations, and contracts that have pitted us against each other as individuals, states, and nations falls seamlessly to the wayside and our eco-sustainability re-emerges.
One species. One world. One citizen body. The end of terror. Nonviolence will finally be a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King will have his dream. Lennon’s IMAGINE will be our actuality.
we will mean it.
In my book HUMAN INTERRUPTED: The Social Crime Against Humanity I tell the story of a strange experience during a memoir class. Asked to write a warm up exercise based on the phrase, “My name is________and this is what I call my life” I was shocked to see what I’d written and, given my visceral reaction to the piece I not only refused to share it with the class, I escaped out a side door and never returned. Instead, I raced home, locked myself in a room and began to write a very different story, one in which I could recognize myself, and the story that came out was surprising. It unfolded in a small Spanish town – and I’d never even visited Spain – but it was my story. I didn’t know why until an incident last week triggered the revelation…
Last Tuesday, I was biking to the gym when I suffered a fluke biking accident that left me in an explosion of indescribable pain. I knew instantly the head of my femur bone had broken and, worse still, a lifelong pact with my Self had been betrayed. As a very young child I’d promised my being (my human trust) that no matter what befell me during my lifetime I’d keep us safe and unbroken. This was my vow to honor the great gift of Life and I took this vow very seriously. So a broken bone was a serious breach of that promise – and since I never thought anything like this would every happen, it was profoundly disorienting – and terrifying.
Yet Serendipity stepped in to lend a hand in transforming my thought. The fall had taken place on the block near my gym and, as fortune would have it, I was catapulted to the doorstep of a Spanish woman who just happened to open her door seconds after my fall – and who spoke flawless English. The pain was so severe I couldn’t think in Spanish so having someone that spoke my mother tongue made me feel safe. As if we’d known each other forever, she told me to grab her shin and squeeze whenever the pain was unbearable – exactly what I had done as a ski patrolman when I treated a young girl who’d broken her leg in a skiing accident. Meanwhile, others gathered around to see if they could help. Some knew me from the gym, others because it was my general neighborhood; one covered me with their jacket, another told me stories (in English) to lift my spirits while another gave me periodic sips of water as we waited for the ambulance. Most of them strangers to each other yet they worked in sync as if they’d known each other forever. These strangers who were not strangers began spinning a nest of deep human trust around me – to keep me warm and safe and sound. All social scripts and status had fallen away. This was a single heart of humanity beating.
A woman I did not know followed the ambulance in a taxi so the continuity of safety and security would remain intact. She made sure I understood what was being said and spoke on my behalf when necessary. Then, serendipity stepped in again when the trauma doctor spoke perfect English. Confirming the sub capital break, I honestly begged her to make sure the surgeon who would operate would have conscious respect for my body. She heard my need and went to check which surgeon was on call that day. Serendipity provided me with the lead hospital surgeon and the operation was set for afternoon.
Waiting for surgery, I felt an uncanny premonition that if I went under full anesthesia I might not make it out so I reached out to trusted friends who could work energetically on my behalf. My brother sent me an email that instantaneously dispelled all my fears, and then Serendipity stepped in again, this time to advise me that I’d be given an epidural rather than full anesthesia – and therefore I’d be awake throughout the entire operation.
The experience was magical. The operating room was softly lit, the équipe moved in sync, with calm, I knew the cut was pretty small; it felt precise – a precise that was respectful – and then…
“Excelente. Bueno. Asi. Ya esta.” It was over.
Someone was waiting for me when I came out of surgery, and when she needed to leave another arrived, and when she left that night, another arrived to stay the night -just in case. When she left the following morning at 6:30 a.m. another friend walked in… and for two days this seamless solidarity continued. I learned that all these individuals had families, children, businesses, appointments… and yet they reorganized their busy lives to include caring for me… and in so doing also made new friends.
The serendipity of incidence made sure everyone was being blessed. Without doubt, the alchemy of this connectivity contributed to my early release from hospital on day three. Arriving home by ambulance, new friends were outside to welcome me and make sure anything I might need was arranged for.
Immediately, it was clear my home needed to be reorganized to suit my convalescence so we set about task almost like children playing a game, we made it fun. Later, a friend who was a nurse stopped to make sure I could navigate the apartment without risk. Finally, Marlene, from Ecuador, arrived to watch over me the night before friends would come away to stay.
Serendipity played her final card that very night, in my dreams, reminding me of that memoir as she took me back to the beginning, my birth, to show me the very delicate soul recovery that had taken place.
But that tale is for another day.
For now, it’s all about the multifaceted, serendipity of incidence. My tale of accident was, in fact, no accident at all, it was an ecological realignment with the human soul signature that is the human trust of seamless being as a singular, and indivisible, humanity.
No matter what shadows social trends, misinformation or historic belief cast over our vision of our selves, the alchemy that is our humanity is stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
We are connected.
So, the monologues were a beginning. Now let’s get some insight as we begin to follow them in conversation. As you know, most beginning conversations are about getting to know the other, and perhaps even testing the waters to discover strengths, weaknesses, and boundaries.
Let’s listen in.
US: That peacock chest won’t protect you. You’re your own worst nightmare.
US: Get a life.
EU: I’d have a life if you’d stop bullying me – and the rest of the world!
US: You owe me. You wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for me!
EU: Nor would you since you’re my offspring. Remember?
US: I am the future!
EU: Not until you address your past. You know the saying, “You can run but you cannot hide!” Your past is catching up with you.
US: You’re just jealous. You want to be like me.
EU: Once upon a time, yes, I did. I admired you but not any longer; you’re a threat to the entire species.
US: But I am still the land of the free.
EU: Really? Your legs look like prison bars and you’re walking on stilts. Your feet are chunks of cement, you’ve got spikes on your shoes, way too think to give you the necessary traction, and your feet have no toes!
US: Look who’s talking! You’re the giraffe that can’t carry the weight of your own neck and you’ve got two elephant feet facing opposite directions! All that pomposity and boasting has got you headed for quick sunset. Looks like your charades and chinanigans have finally gotten the best of you!
EU: Look at me closely. I am a survivor and I’ve still got flesh on my bones. Diversity is the new stability and I embody not one, but many.
US: You still need me.
EU: Then why is it you who keeps needing my help?
US: Alright already, okay, so we’re both a little bent out of shape. What d’ya say we bury the hatchet, take a deep breath, have a hug, and start fresh? Buddies?
EU: (Sober face. Silence.)
US: C’mon, I promise we each get something we want…
Symbolism for Giraffe: an elegant animal whose four long legs reflect the four agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz – Be Impeccable with your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best – seeking the best in life, reaching for the savory and satisfying morsels.
Before giving voice to my two caricatures, I checked in with the professionals…
Riding on the Backside of Old Man Time
“Not what I signed up for this. I was promised respite in a free world but look at me, a workaholic with knees that don’t bend anymore, even my hips hurt. Hardly remember what I stand for because I can’t feel my feet. Old before my time; it’s not fair. It’s also scary. I live in fear of ‘the fall’ and it’s a long way down. Any moment, all I have to do is lose my guard for an instant, and boom! Then what, where would the world be without me? Lost. I can’t let that happen. Thank God, for Hollywood. Always reinventing my Super Hero, delivering just enough shock and awe to keep ’em scrambling. No time to notice I haven’t got a leg to stand on. But you know the drill: the ends justify the means. Yeah, for better or for worse…but honestly, I don’t know how long I can keep doing this. I’m close to broken.”
“Who doesn’t have skeletons in the closet? Who hasn’t felt the hand of violence, despair, disease, and death? You can’t just walk away and forget, not if you wanted to survive. My world is a little bit safer because I remember. I remember the cycles of feast and famine, war and peace, austerity and prosperity. I remember the endless spirals of convenient disguises and lies. No wonder that I can’t wrap my mind around trusting a union of 28, maybe 1 or 2, but the odds are against me, history says so, and yet… and yet I truly yearn for a European spring and I’m still substantial enough to create one. If only my senses weren’t trained on the rats! I keep asking myself, are we really nothing more than a bunch of merciless conquerors or are we a sincere species striving to exercise an eloquent civility? Is it ‘I know and therefore I am not‘ or is it ‘I know not and therefore I am‘?”
It’s strange to see what emerges from the unconscious. You might ask, “theirs” or “yours”? The truth is both – and the percentages don’t matter – because there are good leads inside these raps. They are stimuli, not leg iron facts.
Now, you, have a go yourself, and use your money symbol. Draw it – or simply hold it – and give it room to speak uncensored. Those who do, send me both your drawing and your notes, I would be honored.
Okay, I will, but not in the way you expect.
Who doesn’t have $$$ on the brain?
We’ve got bills to pay, and the upcoming vacation to save for!
But what about the psycho-social effect of money on our beings?
Art therapy allows the psyche to express dynamic relationships without words.
Words have been known to muddy the waters of clarity because they tend to channel our minds in a train of thought that is socially logical. Art therapy allows us to be organically logical.
So, I decided to think about the US Dollar and spontaneously draw its human body.
Then I thought about the EURO and spontaneously drew its human body.
This is what I drew.
Never in my wildest imagination – or logic – would I have suspected these economic caricatures to emerge. Yet, they describe very interesting psycho-social behaviors.
Obviously, I drew them, however I was not thinking about my personal relationship to either. Rather, I was letting my unconscious draw their character much the same way I begin to flush out characters in a screenplay or novel.
Before I share my immediate notes on these drawings … notice how the drawings make you feel and what thoughts surface as a result of those feelings.
Great. So, here are my quick notes.
Be aware that I’m not delivering facts. I’m delivering my first impressions of the nonverbal body language in these drawings. There’s more…. but we’ll have to peel back those layers mindfully.
wiry, taught, uptight, back against the wall, stingy, scoliosis (all over the map, loss of connection with core intent/direction), kyphosis (burden of proof, social pressure and subjugation, hung up on $$$), dangerous, dubious type (beware), unstable, wooden legs, walking on stilts, wood chunks for feet (handicapped) inability to feel truly secure and move forward with ease, digging the heels in, holding the fort at all costs. Worried, perplexed eyes staring down the long nose, (can’t see beyond its own agenda), wondering how it got into such a fix (?) and how will it ever get out (?), ears blocked due to overload, tight jaw (defensive), mouth hanging open (disgruntled). Old before its time. Misalignment has the body tipping forward, weighted by this large head (mental intensity) well aware it is unable to break its fall. Its axis of power is in the gut, immediacy, the call to action, impulsiveness, and the win however its gut protrudes in a belligerent, defensive stance that belies its deeper fear of precariousness and uncertainty (can it pull off its plan?)
full-bodied (well fed, knows the body needs sustenance, substantial), feet on the earth but each foot is going in a different direction, head is a proud death mask, looking to the past, its nose (sense of direction) has become its spine (its core identity and legitimacy) and the justifcation for the who, what, where, when and why of its choices; the frowning mouth shows displeasure and righteous indignation and defiance since its head is centered over the pelvis and legs – in spite of the scoliosis – eyes that have seen too much and are blinded by what they have seen. Scoliosis (indecision, torn between two routes, past and present) yet structurally less precarious that the US DOLLAR. Its axis of power lies in its acceptance of lineage and ancestral wealth (longevity), visceral certainty that things will inevitably work out, the wheel of fortune will continue to turn, the ups and downs will be survived. However, since its attention and its larger foot cling to the richness of history it does not see how debilitating that history has become to its future, how history (the past that is no longer) has sucked it into a kind of existential time-warp that has radically compromised its contemporary alignment – leaving it with an historic leadership mask but no contemporary leadership mind.
Now, it’s your turn. What did you see? How did you interpret what you saw?
If you’d like to draw your own MONEY CARICATURE, here’s what you do: think about YOUR NATIONAL MONEY and then draw a human body. DO NOT CENSOR your hand, allow the drawing to emerge and PLEASE DO NOT include your personal feelings about your national money, or money in general.
Stay tuned because the story has only just begun. We’ve only scratched the surface!
Next time, I’m going to listen as the two of them talk!
Standard Definition of GRAFFITTI: Drawings or inscriptions made on a wall or other surface, usually so as to be seen by the public.
My definition of GRAFFITTI: Our contemporary equivalent to ancient ‘cave drawings’, singular grass roots testimonies that depict the inner turmoil of subjegation to a social contract that violates our human integrity and suppresses our passion for living full – and free – and responsibly.
THE CRY to stop the epidemic AIDS. Red for anger, for all the human blood shed, all the lives and dreams lost. Black for death, disease, secrets, isolation and containment. Yellow for social IR-responsibility. THE NEED: to protest the slaughter.
- man as hunter and woman as homemaker
- male dominance and female subservience
- catering to the belief a man’s biological needs are different than the female’s biological needs, and therefore
- making psychological and social allowances for male gratification, including betrayal, abuse, and violation of women.
Drugs – like Agent Orange – tested on the military… or Drugs imported back into the country in the body bags of soldiers for the purpose of selling on the streets. Economy. Greed.
Anyone remember the days when “That’s dope!¨ meant “That’s cool!”?
Putting a human face on a sick fish TESTIFIES to our crimes against the very environment we need to keep healthy if we are to survive.
The social state corrupts.
Graffitti is grass roots art.
Graffitti is the human soul testifying….
Graffitti is the human soul testifying….