I no longer make new years resolutions as I’ve nearly always got a new idea that challenges and scares me a little. Something exciting that has popped into my mind that feels a bit too risky to turn into reality. Something that, if it went wrong, would leave me rather exposed and make me look like an idiot. Something with the potential to trigger shame and amplify self-doubt. It is always easier to talk myself out of doing anything that feels risky and to play it safe instead. So I try to short-circuit this defence routine by reminding myself of the broader perspective of the status quo.
I remind myself that I’m a human being. A rather odd creature that has evolved to walk upright, exposing its soft belly and vital organs to the world in a rather vulnerable way. A creature that, when compared to others species, has evolved to have little or no hair to protect it, no scales, no external armour. A species that cannot fly, nor survive under water for very long. A species with rather blunt teeth that is unable to tolerate extremes of hot or cold. A creature that cannot run or climb particularly fast, jump very high or fall very far without risking significant injury or death. A creature that, in its naturally unarmed state, is a poor predator and vulnerable to other predators if it ventures too far outside of the confines of its shelter. A creature that has a rather long gestation period and typically only produces one offspring at a time. A creature whose main distinctive evolutionary trait of an enlarged neocortex curses it with a divided mind from other human beings and the rest of the natural world, resulting in a variety of delusions and dysfunctions that give rise to destructive internal or external conflict. (The other advantage of opposable thumbs allows us to make tools and weapons to make this conflict easier!) A species that, in broader evolutionary and geological terms, has only just arrived on this planet so is essentially an odd-ball newcomer/gatecrasher. (If we were to take a 24 hour day to represent the 4.6bn year history of our planet, it is said that modern human beings only show up at around 11:59pm)
If this didn’t feel risky enough, this rather unlikely creature finds itself wandering around the surface of a massive rock that is spinning at around 1,000 miles per hour. A rock that exists as the result of a massive cosmic explosion and is now, along with a number of other rocks and balls of gas, flying through space. A rock whose orbit exposes it to a wide range of cosmic events and space debris. (Historical trends tell us that we are long overdue another mass extinction event.) And, at the centre of this orbit is the sun. A colossal 700,00km wide ball of fire and gas that burns at up to 15 million centigrade and is continually expanding as its fuel supply runs out, eventually exploding or consuming all within its massive radius. A radius that is an infinitesimally tiny spec in the infinite void of space.
And, zooming right back into CSS HQ, here am I sitting at my computer, writing this blog at the start of another year on the Gregorian calendar. Within this broader context, what are the odds of me experiencing this moment of conscious awareness as I am right now? Far from feeling insignificant, I feel like miracle! And, how risky do those new ideas feel now?
I have come to believe that chaos (as we generally refer to it) doesn’t really exist. It is just our experience of being too close to something to see the patterning. If we are able to zoom out far enough it seems that everything has a pattern of some sort and we can find our place within it. And, if we are able to bear witness to this without collapsing into feelings of insignificance or hopelessness, embracing this broader context as an invitation to be playful with not knowing, it can change our perspective on everything.