Today I listened to a lecture about sourcing our power to realize our own destinies from the greater web of life – for the third time. For something as weighty as the topic of realizing one’s destiny, you really can’t assume that you’ll get it all just by listening to a teleconference over the internet once.
I mean, I guess one could say that for a topic as weighty as destiny, trying to figure it out or learn anything of value through a podcast, internet teleconference, twitter post, facebook update is either foolhardy or delusional. But, I’ve been through all that before. That’s the voice of my inner naysayer.
I adore the concept of destiny, even those times when I don’t believe in it. Which is to say that when I’m in ritual space, or after a beautiful experience making love with someone, or under the influence of certain psychoactive plants, or simply on a day when the sun is shining and I feel stress-free and connected to our great mother’s pulse, I know that there is a deeper meaning to my life, your life, and the lives of all of us who were born during this time of great upheaval and great transformation. When I’m stressed out over paying my car insurance or when my cell phone drops a seemingly important call, it’s sometimes easy to believe that those things are Real Life.
While listening to Claire talk about destiny and “aligning with the agenda of the intelligence of the universe to activate the deepest parts of our selves,” and “bringing forth our gifts in ways that will be the greatest contribution to all life,” even though it was the third time I’d heard her say the exact same words, I suddenly found myself shaking with soundless tears as a rush of energy moved up and out and through me. It was as if the deep part of myself she was talking about had suddenly broken through a dam made of credit card statements and student loan promissory notes and grocery store receipts and report cards and a thousand other paper tigers, and like a river of living energy was flowing through me.
“Our universe has an agenda: for us to create a world that truly reflects the beauty of consciousness itself – heaven on earth,” Claire was saying, when I came back to myself and could hear her again. “We’re waking up with a desire to express our gifts in ways that give our lives meaning because they contribute to an evolutionary process of transformation. This is us waking up to our destinies.”
There is a beautiful distinction in her definition of destiny as waking up to our highest potential as co-creators of the evolutionary processes of life, as compared to fate: destiny feels light, right, and open in my body and heart, whereas fate feels heavy and stuck, like something with its talons clawing into my back between my shoulders where I can’t reach back and dislodge it. Fate is the inertia of the social and political systems of the past, the trauma of ancestral stories not yet healed, the limitations of our own minds that come from a culture that doesn’t support dreams and imagination, the way our lives will be if we don’t wake up from the sleep-walking trance of consumerism.
When I was a little girl, my father used to joke with passersby that I was the messiah – an assertion based mostly on the fact that I’d managed to come into the world despite the good intentions of not just one but two forms of contraception. He said that they’d look at me, confused, and say, “Isn’t the Messiah supposed to be a man?” To which he’d reply, “Where in the Torah does it say that?” No one, apparently, knew.
I knew he was joking, but beneath the joke was something deeper and more resonant – I knew that my father thought that I was very special, and because he felt that way, I did, too. I’ve never had any illusions about being the Jewish Messiah, but in my heart I’ve always felt like there is something important that I’m supposed to do, something big and beautiful and meaningful that I’m meant to be a part of.
Many times in my life, I’ve felt ashamed about those feelings, convinced they were a reflection of American egotism and our perpetual myths about the individual hero who rescues the world. And yet, even when I’ve tried to disown the feeling or downplay it into something I considered to be more politically or spiritually correct, it’s never been truly gone. And, what’s worse, is that the feeling that I’m somehow not living up to that potential of beauty and power is painful even when I’ve attempted to tell myself that I shouldn’t have those kinds of aspirations. So I’ve been living with the pain of feeling like I’m too much and not enough at the same time – for a long time.
The beautiful thing that I’m waking up to, though, first through Joanna Macy’s teachings about the Great Turning and now through the work of Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas, is that there are many of us – probably all of us – who feel like we were born to do something wonderful, important, beautiful, and powerful and that whatever that thing is, it is needed right at this precise, perilous moment of the history of our planet. And the other thing that I’m seeing is that if I believe that about you, and the guy that is driving the Bart, and the people I meet in the grocery store line, and perhaps even my cat, there’s nothing egotistical or self-centered about it. Believing, as my father did, that there is something uniquely special about me is not the same as saying there is something about me that’s so special that it makes me more valuable or important than anyone else.
So I’m starting to breathe and release into a sense of wonder and curiosity and amazement, free from my own self-judgement, about this thing I’m calling destiny. Not just my own destiny, but also Jason’s, destiny and the destinies of the people in my community and the people who live in countries that I will never visit and who’s faces I will never see. We’re all in this together. What could we do, if we were all actively pursuing those things that give our lives the most meaning, that will make the grandest, most potent contributions to the lineage of our human ancestors and descendents, to our wider family of earth-beings, to the development of that great intelligence which makes itself known through the dance of the stars and planets and time and space?
I feel inspired and juiced up just thinking about it. The next step is figuring out how the heck to do it.