Cleanup Time on the Last Frontier


by Carol S. Hyman

When in the course of human events it’s time to stop acting like children, somebody’s got to go first. Without maligning kids, who have many charming qualities not least being their fresh appreciation of the world, they have a necessarily limited perspective. They’re also prone to whining, complaining, name-calling, and expecting somebody else to take care of things.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones acting like that these days. It’s time to grow up. Whether we know it or not, human beings have the power to alter the energy of reality. When we don’t know it, we tend to move through life propelled by the momentum of conditions we inherited and in habitual reaction to things around us. But we have an inherent, and in most of us latent, capacity to awaken from the daze of conditioning and dissolve the fog of habit. Doing so allows us to break the addiction that presently holds so much of our species in its grip – the tendency to complain and cast blame on circumstances or each other – and expands our perspective so we see what will bring the most benefit right now. Call those who take responsibility for meeting this evolutionary challenge Human Vehicles – capital letters are warranted.

 

That’s because it takes hard work to clean things up.

 

Years ago, I was one of several hundred people at a meditation program in a grand old hotel we’d rented during the off season. With no staff on duty, housekeeping and kitchen tasks rotated among the participants. One night the activities after dinner went into the wee hours, well beyond assigned time slots for rota. Someone stood up, clinked a glass for attention, and asked for help in the kitchen where piles of dirty dishes waited.

Stillness settled over the room. The silence lengthened. People looked down uncomfortably. Then the charismatic vice president of the organization stood up and volunteered himself and the rest of the board of directors for the job. To great applause and with only modest grumbling, off they went.

Some time later, I ventured down to the kitchen. Not only was the job nearly done, but they were singing and carousing and having so much fun that I wanted to join in. “Anything I can do to help?” My offer was declined, as I would later learn several others also had been.

 

Willingness to step up and do the work that needs to be done is the mark of being a grown up.

 

Doing so cheerfully rather than with resentment, or even resignation, is the mark of a truly well-balanced person, of genuine sanity. Sanity doesn’t mean behaving like everybody else if others are acting like spoiled children. Instead, genuine sanity is living every moment in accordance with how things actually are. This requires facing reality, which isn’t easy. That’s where the hard work comes in, and that’s why true sanity is so rare. Human Vehicles take responsibility for being the grown-ups of the species.

We start by training our own minds. As we gain confidence in our ability to rest in the underlying awareness that maintains our sense of continuity, Human Vehicles apply introspective discipline to gain insight. This allows us to release toxic patterns and liberate the intelligence and energies bound up in them, so we can collaborate toward a world of mutual benefit for all species – okay, maybe not mosquitoes – and the planet as a whole.

Once we learn how to direct our attention, we detect the patterns within and around us, and discern the advantage that can be brought into each moment. Human Vehicles realize that bringing benefit is the most meaningful thing we can do with our lives, and to tell how to do that requires us to sit down and explore our inner experience directly. Inner space is the last frontier and learning to navigate and detoxify it is the only way to avoid, in spite of our best intentions, making a bigger mess. Who knows? We might even make cleanup time so much fun other folks will want to join in.

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