A few years ago I was in the midst of my university undergraduate degree in psychology. I worked at the student pub, which it turns out, is where my actual education occurred. Students from all different disciplines, Math, Crim, Biology, Chem, Political Science, Archaeology, Performing Arts, Business, you name it, they were there. There was a group of us that were quite tight. There was me, the Psych Major. Id, the Stats/Math guy. Al, the English crazy person. Joel, well, he’s just a Marxist really. And so on. I loved these guys and gals, they were funny, smart, and after a lot of beer, very very deep.
One night Id and I were having a deep conversation about life, connections, numbers, psychology and many other fuzzy things. I think it was Id who either came up with or related this analogy:
Picture a caterpillar on its back, its body covered with a sheet of paper with all its little feet sticking through. Just looking at the feet, not knowing what is underneath, you would never know they were all connected, part of the same entity.
I loved this image. It spoke to me.
I suddenly began picturing everyone as merely a foot, an arm, a whisker, a mole, as part of a much bigger, complex whole. I felt connected to the universe and everyone in it in a way I hadn’t felt before. That’s when I wrote this:
I am a foot,
you are a foot.
Our feet touch outside,
minds swirled inside.
breaths of one another.
Inhaled in a dream,
I breathe you out in the day.
A few days later I started to think about what my purpose, my foot. I was sitting outside, watching figs drip off the tree in my backyard, and I wondered what the purpose of that tree was. Was there one purpose? Could there be? The tree produced fruit, provided shelter for small birds, it could someday be used to heat a home, cook a meal, or build a house. There was no way to really know what the ultimate purpose of this tree was until it was gone, done, finished, and a careful analysis was done of its total contributions.
Then it hit me. The purpose of this tree could be many things. But, whatever that purpose is/was, it was what it was doing. Right now. But, to ultimately know what this purpose was one would have to wait until long after the tree was gone to figure it out. And even then, opinions would differ as to which purpose was the most important. Some would argue that all functions of the tree were equally important and as a whole this tree could not really have one distinct purpose.
Then I looked at my feet. My wiggly toes, bumpy ankles, winking white toenails. What was my foot, my purpose? Did I have one. What was I doing. Was I doing anything at all?
This changed me. Forever. I had always had in the back of my mind that someday I would have a purpose. That something would become clear and I would do that. Now I realized that my purpose was something I was doing right now, my energy, my thoughts, my actions, my words. What was it? What could it be?
I decided that I could determine my own purpose by simply being, doing, saying things that upheld what I wanted that purpose to be. And I had one. Something I wanted to do, but it was big, and difficult, and simple. I want people to love each other, help each other, not hate each other, be one, be together, to walk together. All the feet need to walk in the same direction if the caterpillar wants to get anywhere. If they all go off in different directions, then the caterpillar will be stuck in one place, forever.
I try to live my life in a way that honours this. I don’t hate people. I try not to be mean. I don’t believe in evil. We are all connected, part of the same being, we just need to start walking in the same direction.
I don’t believe in a god of any kind. Because I don’t think god is what people think it is.
There is something already inside of us. It does not dictate to us what we do, should do, will do. It is the other way around. We are the gods, the force behind everything that happens, or will happen. We are our own purpose, we are a part of everything, every tree, every animal, rock, ocean, star. Our atoms vibrate next to each other, passing on messages, feelings, thoughts. Every thought you have, every action, ripples through everything and leaves your mark.
Make it a good one.