This morning I did a little exercise: I have tried to imagine the world as it is.
I have imagined myself being there with all my idiosyncrasies.
Then suddenly my girlfriend was also there, carrying her own character, preferences and behaviour.
We started to interact, chat, move around.
Then suddenly my parents, relatives and friends appeared in the image. All of them were carrying their stories, their struggles and successes, their desires and their interactions.
Then I’ve imagined all the people I know and that I’ve ever met in my life. We started to be a small crowd.
I’ve then tried to stretch the image a bit more. I wanted to imagine every person who is alive on earth right now. That’s more difficult to imagine. There are many different types of people: Italians, English, Europeans, Chinese, indigenous Australians, Africans. Many different types of people.
To imagine proportions I have thought about sand. There was me, a small grain, all the people I know and I’ve ever seen, a handful of sand, and all the people alive at the moment, a beach. I am not sure about proportions but, hey, you’ve got the point! The beach became gigantic when I’ve started to imagine all the people that existed and that will ever exist.
It is not a surprise that when I went back to consider the little grain (i.e. the writer), suddenly all it’s troubles did not matter very much. We’ll it is not exactly so. The fact of having to address difficulties was still there, what changed was the perspective of it. Suddenly a million of other possibilities on how to respond to life, how to move around in this big river which is carrying all of us, arose. The attachment to one specific desired outcome in life was kind of gone as suddenly there were all of those possibilities given with the interaction with so many people. Also the importance of myself in this huge river was much reduced.
You know, I did this exercise again some years ago. At the time, though, I did not enjoyed it as much. This was because all the time I’ve attempted this exercise I was struck by a wave of fear of annihilation. I feared that being small compared to the whole meant that I was meaningless. Now I know it’s not like that anymore. The sense of meaning is relative to the circumstances one lives. At the same time, also, what is more clear is that our physical and psychological expression is always accompanied by a background of unchanging awareness. No matter what we do or who we are, that field will be present and unchanging.
What a big freedom we have! We can be big, small, or anything at all. What we truly are will be unchanged and always present anyway.
What can we do with all of this freedom then? We’ll we can play, just like I did this morning.
We’ll, what else to say? If you have a free half an hour give this exercise a try. You’ll see how freeing it is!
If you want to play some more check out this video below (from 1977)