Sometimes we shake our heads and look around and wonder how happened to get where we are. Sometimes this is fine: we’ve had a chance to turn off our brains, relax, and drift with the flow, secure that we have no worries at the moment and won’t have them when we arrive wherever we’ve drifted either. We may even make some contacts that we will want to keep up with when we return to the regular rhythm of our days and that may become friends. However, although we may become relaxed, and lax, about our thinking and feeling, we cannot do so to the detriment of our usual lives; inevitably our usual lives are connected in one way or another with others’ lives; inevitably we must clothe and feed ourselves, and our family, if we have one. We must remain responsible for ourselves and our livelihood. So, while we must let go, drift, and unwind for a while; we must also hold on, stay on course, and wind up as well. The challenge is to maintain a balance between the two, to be able to recognize when drifting is called for and when buckling down becomes the priority. Do you think you have a handle on that balance?
Since we are alive we must always be in motion one way or another, even when we sleep. Unless we try to keep track of all our physical movements and our thoughts and dreams all the time, an impossible task, we will generate unintended consequences. In fact, most of the consequences that result from our actions are unintended, and mostly go unnoticed by us, though perhaps not by others. The majority of these occurrences do not immediately, or will not, cause harm. Oddly enough, those consequences that are thought about most, and even carefully planned, are the ones that cause most damage because we cannot know how every little things can and connect with or react to every other little thing, thus our good intentions fail and can bring about negative or dire consequences that require more fixing than maintenance of the planned improvement; or cannot be fixed at all. You may want to choose to do nothing, even though you are filled with good intentions, when you really don’t know enough about the situation to attempt to change it. And you may want to think carefully instead reacting blindly to situations that have aroused your joy or fury. Haven’t we all done things with unexpected, positive or negative, outcomes?
Toys are a fine thing to have, or to have the use of, for relaxation, learning, letting off steam and many other things. We all like some toys better than others, but a new toy is fun to experiment with, an old, familiar toy is a comfort and a friend, and a desired, but not yet acquired toy can be an incentive and a challenge. What we must remember is that objects are toys, living beings are not, and should never be considered so. If you damage, physically or emotionally, a living being you, or they, may not be able to repair that damage. When you purposely damage a non-living object, you may not be able to repair it, but the only living thing you may have damaged would have been yourself. This is no good thing either, but is less damaging to more parties, and may prompt you into a greater sense of responsibility than you displayed previously. We must decide when something can be considered a toy and when something is very definitely not a toy. Then we can make the choice whether to play games with an appropriate toy or risk damaging something that is not a toy at all. Would you choose not to choose, or would you choose to think before acting?
Sometimes we must be reminded of the big picture: we focus so entirely on the minutiae of our daily lives that we tend to forget that there is a bigger picture and that we have a part in it. To become so insular that you lose sight of everything but the microcosm that is you, your family and work and leisure friends is to deny that anything can affect you but those relatively few people. Whether you like it or not everyone is affected to activities of their larger community: city, region, and country among others. These entities can have an influence on even the food you eat. But we cannot forget that the little picture matters fully as much as the big one. Without keeping some focus on our little pictures we run the risk of alienating and losing the support of family and friends, or losing sight of the fact that we actually do need food and shelter, or miss out on the small pleasures that keep us going day-to-day. The key is maintain a sense of balance and to take a regular look at how we are responding to all of our environment, not just a part of it. Don’t you feel more completely aware when you are seeing both the big and little pictures of your life?
We are a species that appreciates and actively works to be surrounded by symmetry; if there is a right side to something, there must be a left; if a certain amount has been given to ‘a,’ then the same amount must be given to ‘b;’ if a piece of art looks wrong to us, it’s because too much or too little of a thing on one side or the other. What we strive for in and outside our minds is a balance; a balance not skewed to one side or the other, but a balance indicating that there is no danger of falling down or shooting up in a precipitate manner. We’d rather maintain the status quo than to rock the boat, though there are always some willing to shake things up to see what will happen or to jar loose fresh ideas or ways of looking at things. This can be a boon if we have become complacent or set in our ways or glued to one routine just because it is a routine. But it is important to look at all sides of an endeavor, large or small, and once you’ve done that, a choice can be made whether or not to maintain symmetry or opt for a therapeutic change. Wouldn’t you rather make a choice than follow blind routine?
Symbols are valuable as grounding and unifying objects; when groups of people are thrown together or choose to join in a common cause or purpose it is essential to choose a symbol that all can identify with and that can mark each person as a member of that particular group: a school or a competitive team, a state or a nation, a group protesting or advocating for a joint cause. One must be careful, however, not to identify too closely with a symbol, be it an animal or plant, a song or a document, or a leader or a slogan because if one becomes very closely identified with a symbol, one tends to lose their own identity and believe things about themselves that are not true. One must retain one’s own identity to remain an effective member of a group; to add anything new and innovative to the group one must preserve perspective. symbols, by their very presence, affect emotions in a mostly positive way and promote a feeling of community that we sorely miss in these times. A symbol, thoughtfully recognized and not abused, is a powerful tool for groups to have, not for individuals to cling to. Do you respect and get moved by the symbols in your life?
Like everything else, trash has its positive and negative sides: some trash can be recycled, but some can’t; some trash can be useful, but some can be toxic; some trash can be evocative and beautiful, but some can be evocative and ugly. There are two kinds of garbage that wash up on a beach, one kind we see as natural, but can be unpleasant to look at; the other is human produced garbage, and in general, it seen as unsightly and damaging to the original environment. What is important to remember is that we are guests on the planet and soiling our own home, or anybody else’s for that matter, makes living in our home dangerous and potentially fatal to us and to others around us. Yes, the planet, its inhabitants, and its environment have the ability to recover and regenerate, but that power is limited, not infinite. Garbage can be looked at as having a use if it is re-used, recycled, or other uses are found for it, but it is unlikely to be re-gifted in this way if it is randomly scattered around and if most people look at it say, “oh, how awful, someone should do something.” Reclaiming our planet is our responsibility and we should begin by being responsible with our own refuse, don’t you think?