“I decided that if I could paint that flower on a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”~ Georgia O’Keeffe
I’ve been thinking about scale. The relative size of things. Or, rather, my sense of the relative size of things — what’s important, what’s significant, what’s meaningful. Our sense of how we fit into the big picture. And how tricky it can be to hold a workable sense of scale; how wonky and disproportionate it often feels.
Am I infinitesimal or am I infinite? Yes. Are the problems we’re facing overwhelmingly complex, structural, systemic, and enormous, or can they be resolved simply by changing our minds? Yes. Is it all up to me or is it in others’ hands? Yes.
I think this is where the rubber meets the road. Dharma and destiny. The human and the Divine. Right here in your heart and mind, and mine, and ours.
Sometimes it sure can seem like anything that we dream and hope and do is just a drop in the bucket. But then again, any full bucket is full of drops. So let’s drop on in.
I am reluctant to oversimplify theoretical quantum mechanics just to make a spiritual point (this happens too often, and it seems irresponsible). But since I’m not a physicist, the best I can offer is an oversimplification. So — forgive me if I’m misrepresenting the science of this in any way, but I believe it’s more or less accurate, and I think it pertains:
If you go deep enough into the tiny, tiny subatomic universe — a world of electrons and quarks and vast inner space — you discover that on this level, the nature of reality is more like energetic possibility than particulate actuality. It exists as waves of possibility instead of distinct things in time and space. Indeed, these subatomic entities routinely defy what we usually think of as the basic rules of time and space — they can time travel, they can be in two places at once, they can leap from one place to another instantaneously… Albert Einstein called their behavior “spooky.”
It’s pretty mind-blowing to consider that the fundamental “building blocks” of physical reality may not be physical at all. That is, they don’t really become physical until someone observes or measures them. You might say, when someone chooses them.
Thus — something like Consciousness, Choice, Intelligence appears to be at the heart of physical reality.
Which is very cool, yes? It seems like it should follow that if this is what’s so on the subatomic level, then the same ought to apply on the human scale. The human scale is made up of a whole lot of subatomic, after all. If consciousness can make a single quark go left rather than right, let’s bring it to a gazillion quarks — let’s choose reality, manifest and actualize the whole enchilada on purpose!
Frustratingly, it doesn’t seem to work so simply. That’s not to say it doesn’t work at all, but it just gets a lot more complicated. Because on the human level, these gazillion quarks and electrons aren’t subject only to my conscious observation and choice, they’re part of a shared reality. And shared reality tends to be pretty resistant to spontaneous change — it’s circumscribed by our agreements regarding time and space, constrained by unconscious assumptions, and limited by habitual expectations.
Which is kind of a bummer, but it’s hard to imagine things functioning very well otherwise, with people and things popping in and out of existence and constant disruptions of the space-time continuum…
So, how about we try it on the meta-level, with enormous and inclusive scope. If the nature of reality is infinitely changeable but remains annoyingly bound only by our self-limiting shared agreements, then what if we changed those agreements?
Not just “change your thinking, change your life,” but CHANGE THE WORLD’S PERCEPTION OF REALITY AND THEREBY TRANSFORM THE ENTIRE FREAKIN’ WORLD.
I do think that possibility is fairly infinite on this grand scale, too — group mind, the collective, cosmic consciousness. We reach “tipping points” of global change and renewal. When enough people know the world differently, it changes for everybody. We see this in social and cultural movements, evolving values and ideals. When we shift our shared understanding of reality, it affects literally everything — who we know ourselves to be, who we are, what we see as possible, what is possible.
I find it quite reassuring, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the world’s problems, to remember that if enough of us simply change our minds, there will be nothing we can’t achieve together, solve together, create together.
Alas, this can be frustrating too. Because while of course I long for the healing of the entire world, that can get pretty abstract and feel like a really, really long-term thing. What I’m dealing with most of the time is my immediate human-scale concerns. The Transformation of Life Itself is great, yeah, whatever, I’m all for it. But how about this life, my life? This body, these hopes, these dreams…
The scale of it all is funny. On the micro-level: anything is possible. On the universal, collective level: anything is possible. On the individual, human level: a riddle of hangups and impossibilities. That’s how it seems, anyway. I don’t believe it has to stay that way. But I think we have to own and hold it differently if we want to experience it any differently.
Part of it is a matter of how we identify in it and with it, I think. Are we the weather or the sky? Yes. The ocean or the wave? Yes. Our personal reality, our own lived experience, is always and right now what we’ve got to work with. And how we work with it absolutely affects the whole. Which in turn gives us new material. Back and forth, infinity.
And whether I’m zooming-in to the vastness of inner space and the infinitude of possibility therein, or zooming-out into the boundless space between solar systems and galaxies — it’s always up to me as much as anyone else what that space gets filled with. If anything, it’s full of my choices, my meanings.
Drop on in to that infinite bucket and remember that you’re not just the drop but the bucket, too.
Yowza, this is seeming more heady and conceptual than I intended. I shoulda known better than to try to untangle the nature of reality. Join me this Sunday, with the divine Patty Stephens, at 10:00am at Maple Street Dance Space. As always, my talk will be available on the website (BOSQUECSL.ORG) by Sunday night. XO, Drew
©2022 Drew Groves