We are not so very different

September 11, 2009

I walked in the mountains yesterday. There is a trail winding it’s way up a mountain side. It splits at one point, a path goes on, following the mountainside into a valley, another leads up to the very mountain top. I wanted to stand at the top of the world yesterday, so I climbed up. The way up is steep and I was out of breath in no time, paying attention to nothing but my burning legs, my hammering heart, my lungs that were about to burst, and the annoying little flies trying to dive into my eyes with great determination. My dog did not like the path, she kept falling back, stopping, I had to drag her forward. “There is a mountain lion here” I realized half way up the slope. I couldn’t see it but it’s presence was as clear and strong as if it was standing right next to me. I kept on climbing, I wanted to see the view from the top. It took me few minutes to catch my breath. There were mountains stretching down below me towards the valley where the city lies, tinkling with lights, and the ocean beyond it. The sun had just set leaving the sky a luminous shade of lavender and pink. I stood at the top of the mountain and felt the mountain lion’s presence. It was it’s territory, I knew. And what if it shows up? I thought of scaring it away, of yelling on top of my voice, weaving my hands, shaking sticks. I heard that this is the appropriate response in case of meeting a dangerous wild animal. “Nonsense” it occurred to me “why should I attack the lion? this is it’s place, why would I challenge that? I have no quarrel with the lion. If it comes and wants me gone, I will leave”. The lion didn’t come and I walked away after a while. The sky darkened, the mountain path was full of shadows, the night was falling. My dog was scarred, skittish, starting at the slightest noise, but I was not afraid. I belonged there, in the wild, in the mountains, with the trees and the birds, with rocks and mountain lions. “I am nature, just like the trees, like the lion, like the birds” I realized. I could feel the life in my body, the air in my skin, the earth in my muscles. “The mountain lion and I are not so very different”, I thought, “we are both animals, we are both nature. The lion has a way of expressing who she is that is different than my way but, ultimately, we are not so very different at all”. We are no so very different – humans, animals, trees, birds, rocks, oceans. We are nature. We don’t have nature, we don’t own nature. We are nature. And because we are nature, all of us, we can relate, there is a common ground, a space where we can understand one another. We can relate when we allow ourselves to open to the possibility of relationship. “We are not so very different” I thought in the last few weeks, as the battle over health insurance raged on. “Why do republicans fight the change so desperately?”, I wondered. “Are they all evil psychopaths who wish to exterminate half of the population for the sake of profit? Or are they scarred and fighting for safety for themselves, for better life for their children, for care and support? Isn’t that what democrats want, what Obama wants? Safety, better life for children, care, support?” Republicans way of organizing it, of expressing it, is different than that of democrats but, ultimately, they all want the same things. They strive and fight for the same reasons. Are the CEOs of large corporations corrupt, greedy monsters, who care nothing for anyone or anything other than the number on their bank account statement? Are they willing, intentionally and with cold blood, to bankrupt nations and poison the earth, so that they can buy yet another house, yet another car? Or are they looking for safety, for protection that they believe comes from power? Are they striving to create empires that will provide for their families for generations, that will give safety and support to their children? The corporate way of organizing it, of expressing it, is different than that of “regular” people’s with nine-to-five job and a mortgage but, ultimately, we all want the same things: protection, support, safety. We are not so very different. And because we are not so very different, because we all strive for the same things, there is a common ground, a space where we can understand one another. We can relate when we allow ourselves to open to the possibility of relationship. How would the world change? If all we did was to realize that we are nature – humans, lions, birds, trees, rocks, fishes in the ocean? If all we did was to realize that we are not so very different, that we all want the same things, that we strive and fight for the same reasons? How would the world change? Without organizing, fixing, overthrowing governments and revolting against the powerful and wealthy, without creating new systems, new sets of rules, without imposing new, “better”, order, without inventing new technologies, without saving the earth and rescuing the planet, but only with the simple realization that we are all nature, that we are not so very different – how would the world change? It might turn into a paradise, for everyone, overnight.

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