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Cultural Butterfly


The Pandemic As a Portal to Our “Graduation” and “Commencement”

As we “graduate” from the pandemic, what are we commencing?

This is the season of graduation ceremonies for marking successful completions, achievement or mastery of some kind, usually educational studies. Of course, any completion or ending always has a new beginning as the other side, so graduations are also commencements.

One definition of a portal is a doorway or entrance that is large and imposing and leads to something that looks large and imposing. In that sense, this pandemic has been, and continues to be, a portal. Large and imposing in and of itself? Yes! Leading to a large and imposing unknown? Yes!

As we’re beginning to come out the other side of this pandemic as a portal, I’m wondering:

  • What are we graduating from?

  • What are we graduating with?

  • What are we commencing?

What kind of “educational studies” have we been involved with, or at least had the opportunity to engage in? Obviously, it hasn’t been the kind that we’re used to. I see it as studies in consciousness, in the awareness and practice of being part of the deeply interconnected, interdependent web of life.

What if the pandemic is a portal to our “graduation” and “commencement” to a higher-functioning, more conscious culture of right relationships and the full well-being of all?

During this past 1½ years of the pandemic I’ve seen and experienced more compassion, caring, kindness, generosity, love, humility, and deeper respect for all other beings than ever before.

What if we are graduating from a primary focus on achieving material accomplishments and individual self-actualization?

Those have been important in humanity’s evolution, and now we’re ready to graduate from those being the primary, or almost exclusive, organizing principle for our lives and well-being.

What if we are graduating with a “degree” or some level of mastery in “Material Accomplishments & Individual Self-Actualization”?

We’ve held that paradigm as being the ultimate pinnacle of our evolutionary journey, as Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael potently describes. Now it’s time to allow a new paradigm to emerge that includes and transcends it.

What if we are commencing a more conscious culture as an integral part of the deeply interconnected, interdependent web of all life, with more compassion, caring, kindness, generosity, love, humility, and deep respect for all other beings?

As Vandana Shiva puts it in this excerpt from Reclaiming Our Common Home:

"The path to an ecological civilization is paved by reclaiming the commons--our common home, the Earth, and the commons of the Earth family, of which we are a part. Through reclaiming the commons, we can imagine possibility for our common future, and we can sow the seeds of abundance through 'commoning.'

“In the commons, we care and share—for the Earth and each other. . . We are aware that all humans have a right to air, water, and food, and we feel responsible for the rights of future generations.

“Enclosures of the commons, in contrast, are the root cause of the ecological crisis and the crises of poverty and hunger, dispossession and displacement. Extractivism commodifies for profit what is held in common for the sustenance of all life . . .

“Reclaiming the commons and creating an ecological civilization go hand in hand.”

As with any graduation/ending and commencement/new beginning, this journey is new territory, the path(s) are yet to be discovered. It is where creativity and regenerativity live. It has also been called the “messy middle” for good reasons.

I’m seeing more and more signs that this journey is underway. For example, many people are nervous about and/or unwilling to go “back to normal”. I don’t believe going “back to normal” is even possible because we’ve been changed, individually and collectively, by this last 1½ years of “stillness”.

This excerpt from Maria Shriver’s 6/13/2021 blog, “Confessions Of A Former Busy Addict” speaks to that:

“When I look ahead, busy is the last thing I want. In fact, busy is the last thing I think any of us need. When we live, talk, text, and work from a busy place, no one gets the best version of us. I say this from personal experience as a recovering busy addict. I was busy, and busy was me. I was so wrong about busy, [emphasis is mine] and if this past year has taught me anything, it’s that resting and slowing down isn’t something to fear. It’s something to cultivate, to embrace, and to relish. What I’ve learned is that rushing or running through your life is a red flag, or at least it was for me.”

It can help to realize that for 6,000 years we’ve been swimming in a cultural “river” that I’ve called the “pusher/striver/driver” pattern. Shifting out of this will allow more satisfying, fulfilling, life-enhancing ways of being and doing to emerge. Here are just a few examples of some very different approaches that are showing up:

I’d love to know how this looks, sounds or feels to you. Email or contact me and let me know.

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