Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Vast Lane to Elementary School

HOT FLASHBACKS is more than a place to learn about how your past contains a prescription for a cool future. It’s a way to live life in the Vast Lane. Not the fast lane, but the Vast Lane where you on-ramp the High Way. It’s the route that takes you on an ever-exciting journey whose ticket is an open mind. That open space in your head is a pocket where beauty and insights can pop in.

My first spiritual teacher taught me that life is a school. So, let’s board a yellow bus for our trip in the Vast Lane, just for sentiment’s sake. While we’re at it, let’s go to elementary school. That’s where most of us went in a yellow bus.

I don’t mean kindergarten through sixth grade or whatever grades are considered elementary in your school system. I mean the four elements--the stuff we’re made of—and the universe itself—earth, air, fire, and water. We are, indeed, in elementary school all the time. Life itself is a constant interaction of this quartet both in the physical and metaphorical sense.

I remember being shocked when I first heard that we’re composed of the same essentials that make up the earth we walk on and the stars in the sky. I had never considered that much bigger view. I barely had an inkling of what it meant, yet I knew it was profound.

With time, I came to understand that this fact proves the great interconnectedness of all people and things, not just on earth, but also in the universe. Dr. David Suzuki, a Canadian science broadcaster and environmental activist, cites this fact in his documentary
Suzuki Speaks, first and foremost, as the reason why we should protect the earth. Whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves because we are the earth.

He illustrates in a very visual, special-effects way, how we constantly create and recreate the earth in a physical sense. The air we inhale and exhale is exchanged with all life forms and has been since life forms could breathe. Fire is captured as sunlight. Photosynthesis feeds and literally fires us up. Most of the human body is composed of water, needed by every vital system to survive. We, in turn, become part of the earth’s biological and the hydrological cycles, evaporating, condensing—ultimately making our liquids, even our tears, into rain. Our flesh? Earth. Even though we hear this often spoken in a figurative way, we literally share many of same components in our planet’s top layer, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

In the vastness of space—even on the surface of our globe—we may only seem like specks. But specks add up. We are part of the earth as much as the trees, the mountains, the great rivers. When America was taken from the Natives, our souls lost their cosmic view as much Native Americans lost their land and dignity. Here’s to all the indigenous people, not just in my own little corner of the world, but to the original land lovers who had it right all along.

DNA, life’s common building block, was only discovered in the early 1950s, not even a nanosecond ago, considering the 13.7 billion years since our hot, tiny universe was born. Living in the Vast Lane requires us to embrace mystery. These are just the facts, apologies to one famous TV detective of the same era as this discovery. Perhaps just these facts will spark us to live in awe of who we are and what we are a part of.

In her enormously witty and profound one-woman show,
In Search of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily Tomlin’s character, Trudy the Bag Lady, advises us to practice awe-robics every day.

Have you started your workouts?

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