Engaging in something bigger than ourselves
Everything in our own immediate experience supports the notion that we are the center of the universe. The world is there in front of US or behind US, to the left or right of US. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to us somehow, but ours are so immediate, urgent, real.*
Wherever we are located in the world, we essentially refer to ourselves always as “here,” and things other than ourselves, always as “there.” Seeing ourselves as located in-here, and all else out-there is a built-in default orientation, placing us in one sense as bystanders, to our lives.
Often we think of “I” as that which goes on with us internally (our attitudes and moods, feelings, emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations, etc.). Other times we think of “I” through a filter of some theory, idea, memory, belief, etc. Stopping at either of those default places, however, doesn’t allow us to investigate the full panoply available in being human. It’s not that we want to leave behind that whole gestalt, rather we want to hold that whole world of feelings, theories, etc. in a different way, so that they illuminate (vs. limit) what we encounter day to day.
Transforming our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the world requires a radical departure from our default orientation. When we’re fully engaged in something larger than ourselves, it turns out that what’s going on with us internally has very little primacy. Rather than being limited by who we’ve considered ourselves to be, opportunities for being and acting powerfully show themselves. When we recognize that the world, the communities that make it up, and what we refer to as “I” are in fact not in-here, but out “on the court” of life, we have the freedom to choose a richer and more expansive game. And it’s there that we’re called upon to meet the call of a possibility bigger than ourselves.
*Adapted from David Foster Wallace, Commencement Speech (Kenyon University, 2005)
CEO of Vanto Group
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