Anybody else ready to move on from this political dumpster fire? Let’s #GetSynaptic

File:Proposed Excitotoxicity by Activation of Extrasynaptic NMDA Receptors.gif – Wikimedia Commons –  Wikimedia Commons | License details

So, Joe Biden is now the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. There are a variety of challenges to the results going on, recounts, protests, and so forth, but a whole lot of people seem ready to move on. And that’s fine. I’m more than ready, myself.

Just for the record, I’m politically unaffiliated, and I see real problems with both major parties. I have issues with the whole party system (and I’ll be talking about that inhuman condition a lot more in the future), so don’t send me hate mail for siding with Biden. I hate taking sides, for a whole bunch of reasons.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here’s the deal with me. I’m ready to move on from politics as it’s been played for as long as I can remember. I’m even more ready to move on from it, the way it’s been played for the past 40 years or so, with each side (Democrats and Republicans) becoming ever more entrenched in their ideology.

I’m ready to move on from each side carving up the cultural landscape into their own set of “talking points” that they own and dominate.

I’m ready to move on from the name-calling and the demonization (literally) of “the other side”, falling back on all sorts of elaborate explanations about how “they” are evil incarnate and must be vanquished, no matter what the cost.

I see that kind of behavior on both sides of the political playing field. Both sides demonize the other. Both sides use inflammatory language that brings the souls of the others into question. Not only does that harm us on the side we’re on, by making other people seem less human, less deserving of respect and compassion, but it also alienates the “opponents”, because they can see very clearly how intensely they’re being disrespected.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I saying it’s okay to kill, maim, rape, troll, or otherwise threaten people you see as your enemy. The policies put in place by the US government for the past 4 years have gone directly against what I personally believe and hold to be true.

But all the while, I’ve seen opponents of that approach behave in ways I could never sign off on. No way, no how. You can’t claim the high moral ground while doing things the way the Democrats — and other political parties — have been doing them. It just doesn’t square with my own experience and belief system.

It also doesn’t square with how we’re built. Within our bodies, we’re made up of billions upon billions of separations between nerves. That’s especially true in our brains, where we’ve got more nerves than most of us can even imagine. Each of those nerves has a bunch of connections that reach out to other nerves to pass information. Our neurotransmitters jump those gaps in a wild “storm” of neurological activity, as chemicals get passed from one nerve ending to another.

It’s how we function. We can’t function without those storms. And the minute that connection stops, we start to die.

It’s not the separation that kills us. It’s the failure to cross the gaps that does.

Which is a big reason why I dropped my political affiliation a while back and refuse to sign on to a Democratic or Republican or Libertarian or Green or Democratic Socialist or Constitution or Natural Law party. Because the party system as it is now is killing us. It’s killing us by keeping us separate from each other. It’s killing us by “owning” certain “talking points” and consolidating power around a select group of people who all agree with each other. It’s killing us by making it impossible to have a civil conversation between people with different perspectives, and making the other side out to be crazy or stupid or hateful or naive.

Party leadership has been doing it for decades, maybe even centuries. The guy in the White House has been doing it — ninja level ridicule with all that name-calling — for the last four years. And as one side has gotten less and less humane, the other side has decided to meet them, match them, and out-do them, each side using terms that the other doesn’t completely understand. But that’s okay, because the “right” people understand, and all that matters is strengthening the bonds of the tribe.

Using separation as a political tool is exactly the opposite of what we need, as a country and as individual human beings. It not only dehumanizes others, it dehumanizes us, as well. Anytime we stop the flow of interaction between separate sides, we make ourselves more brittle, more easily insulted, more easily broken, more easily manipulated, more easily fooled. And the less capable of connection with different others we become, the more it matters how much we’re connected with “our own kind”.

The gap widens. The divide expands. That’s not the problem. The real problem is that we don’t know how to get across that gap and actually communicate outside our own little circle. And that makes us — literally — less human.

So, if you’re feeling all morally superior because your political viewpoint prevails under one circumstance or another… or maybe because it hasn’t come out on top… and you can’t see the perspective of the other side, nor do you want to… you can stop feeling morally superior now. Because what you’re doing is being non-human. You’re going directly against the way you’re built — the way we all are built.

Of course we’re going to disagree about a whole lot of stuff. Of course we’re going to have extremely different outlooks. Of course we’re going to oppose a whole lot of stuff we don’t agree with. That’s normal. It’s to be expected. But when we stop making an effort to understand, and we stop making an effort to reach out to others and interact with them, just because they don’t agree with us… well, then we do ourselves a disservice. And we insult the very essence of our humanity.

And that needs to stop.

The good news is, it can. We can. We can stop this willful, artificial separation and actually start interacting with each other. As people. As human beings. We can get past our personal political opinions and accept the fact that others have different experiences, and they’re entitled to their viewpoint — just as we are. We can start dealing with each other with respect and consideration. And our leaders can start behaving that way, too. I’m old enough to remember a time when the “left” and “right” were diametrically opposed, and yet we all managed to live together and actually enjoy each other’s company. I grew up having intensely heated arguments with people who didn’t think like me, at all. And yet, we ended each conversation agreeing to disagree, and we remained friends.

Imagine that… people with different opinions remaining friends, rather than tearing each other a new one… It can happen. It used to. And we can get back to that, absolutely.

But we have to want to. We have to be willing to do the work that goes along with it.

And we have to be willing to sacrifice a bit for it — our self-righteousness, our gloating, our mental-junk-food-elation at the suffering of others.

Personally, I’m not sure there are many people who have the nerve or the appetite to do this sort of thing. Everybody’s too drunk on their high-horse, and who wants to lose that buzz? But I can’t see any other way to move forward. And I’m going to do what I know to be true about the way we’re actually built to survive… even thrive. I’m going to keep roaming beyond my own little perspective (not sure I actually have one of those, actually) and keep paying attention to what’s going on out there — past, present, future… here, there, and everywhere else. You can do what you like, but this is the only way I can see us getting past this dumpster fire we’re in.

Seems worth it to me.

You may agree. If not, that’s fine, too. Do what you please. Just don’t harm others in the process.

A time to heal and unify the United States? Maybe…

Source: Samfunnsfaglig engelsk (SF VG3) US Politics US Politics – 2008-2018

So, the 2020 U.S. presidential election is over, and whether you agree with the outcome or not, the fact remains that there’s a pretty significant division between Trump voters and Biden voters. There has been for years – a division between Trump supporters… and everyone else, that is.

I’m not getting into my own politics here. There’s plenty of room for that elsewhere. Let it be known that I would rather be kind, than right. And I absolutely positively don’t believe in caging children who have been ripped from the arms of their mothers. I understand how others can justify it. I just can’t.

Anyway, now that Joe Biden is the projected winner of the election, everybody’s talking about how he’s going to unify the country. He’s been crossing the aisle to build alliances with “the other side”, his whole career (as I understand it). And people expect him to continue to do the same.

Which is fine. He can try. And it may work with some folks. But frankly, I think the divisions of this country are too deep and too ingrained in people’s identities, for the supporters of his opponent to reach out to him, or respond to his advances. There’s too much at stake for them, particularly when it comes to who they believe they are, and who their constituents expect them to be.

Likewise, I really believe that the folks on his side have a deep-seated investment in maintaining an autonomous ideology, a frame of reference, that is theirs and theirs alone. It’s been four years, since they had the chance to exercise any sort of influence, so now that they’re ascending, they’re certainly going to do it.

And there’s not necessarily any reason for them to reach out to the other side and build bridges. Not when they have their newly won position at stake.

This might sound dire. It might sound depressing. But think about it.

People need to have their own identity. They need to have their tribe. And the lines between the old tribes have become so blurred, over the past 40 years, that it’s hard to tell exactly who belongs where, anymore. The old ways of growing up in one place and living out your years there… or getting a job at one company and eventually retiring from there… being the member of the same church, or the same softball league, or the same social circle your entire life… well, that doesn’t happen for all of us in this country, anymore. Heck, some of us don’t even stay in the same families, our entire lives. Others of us “rotate in and out”, as our family’s levels of tolerance and acceptance fluctuate over time.

And as we lose our connection with those once-built-in definers of Who We Are and What Matters To Us, we have to come up with our own. We need meaning. And we can’t find it in the institutions around us, anymore. We need a sense of belonging. And that’s not a given, anymore, either. So, we look to our invented tribes, our political parties, our cultural enclaves. And we dig in. Because even though we may not agree with everything that’s said and done by our leaders or other members, they’re our leaders and members, and that’s what counts.

So, while people are thrilling at the thought that we might be able to build bridges between the “battling” sides (more hand-wringing about that imagery will come later), I’m not holding my breath. A lot of us might like the idea of people putting down their swords – or better yet, turning them into plowshares – but a whole lot of people also like the idea of keeping separate, being at odds, and keeping their identities intact.

For some folks it’s the most that they have.

Information Processing Scenarios In Human Brain

When we usually think about changing our life’s direction, or coming up with new ways of thinking about situations, we often look beyond ourselves. We look to the Far East and the ancient Greeks for inspiration, or we look back into history to find familiar patterns that have come before and can also help point us in the direction we’re going. Now, however, we have the additional capability of looking somewhere completely different for clues about how we work, how we are put together, and what actions lead to what effects. Deep within our systems, at the cellular level, there are dynamic processes very similar the information processing scenarios we confront on a daily basis in our modern interconnected world. I believe understanding them can help shed light on our human condition, as well as point us to new solutions for age old problems.

In fact, I would hazard to say that at this point in history, our neurology can offer us more relevant clues and insights than ever before, precisely because we are presently inundated with information on a scale far beyond any our predecessors confronted. I think it’s fair to say that the ways they apprehended the human experience were products of their world – the conditions of which we haven’t seen for generations. Our forebears never had to handle this volume of information, so looking to them for how to figure all this out will have limited success, in my opinion. On the other hand, our neurology is typically bombarded with a mind-boggling quantity of data points, inputs, bits and bytes, zero-and-one signals, coming from all 15+ of our senses. If we can figure out how our systems unconsciously handle all that data so well, maybe we can figure out how to do something similar more consciously, more intentionally.

Just as the poets of old looked to a mountain in the distance or sunset on the horizon, contemplate the crashing of ocean waves and birds in the sky, and came up with insights that applied to our human existence, so can we now look deeply into the microscopic landscapes of our hidden internal world and do the same.

Even if you’re just a “pedestrian”, not a formally trained scientist with an advanced degree, it’s absolutely possibly understand what’s going on in our neurology. Research is increasingly public, the internet is filled with educational videos and really good courses from really good schools. The average person has greater access to this information than ever before, and thanks to the world wide web, we have access to a lot of people who are happy to explain it all and help us make sense of it. In any case, you don’t need to grasp esoteric minutiae to turn it into metaphor. Few of us understand the nuclear reactions taking place inside the sun, but we can still appreciate the beauty of a sunset and what it means to us after a long and demanding day. We don’t understand the exact mechanisms of the weather, but we still think of our lives in weather-like terms. It may take a lot of science to unlock the mysteries of our neurobiology, but fundamentally it seems to me that once we understand the underlying principles, they’re every bit as pertinent and meaningful as the sight of a herd of bison thundering across the Great Plains, or the silence of a turtle sunning itself on a rock in a pond.

What Each Of Us Does With The Information We’ve Discussed Here, Is Up To Us

What each of us does with the information we’ve discussed here, is up to us. It can definitely change us… if we allow it. For myself, change has been unavoidable. Realizing that I’m simultaneously separated and connected in complementary ways has really changed how I think about the world and interact with others. It’s set me apart, but it’s also invested me more intimately in parts of my daily life that I used to take for granted. The persistent visual memory of the synaptic cleft has changed how I think about success and failure, and how I approach challenges at work and at home. It’s even changed how I talk to other people. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, dialing into a conference call at work, or scheduling my busy day, I’m constantly reminded of the fact that my system isn’t going to transfer all the available data to me, some things are going to get lost along the way, and I’ll need to figure things out, as I go along – hopefully with a little help from my friends.

You may or may not choose to join me. You may or may not think anything I’ve said is worth considering – or remembering. But if you’ve gotten this far, I suspect that you have a genuine investment in looking beneath the surface, digging deeper into what most people don’t think much about, and getting creative about some new ideas for how we can bring our world from the state of perpetual involuntary fragmentation to a process of intentional, continuous connection.

This much clear: We have within us an amazing ability to connect across distances, bridge gaps and find meaningful experiences in the midst of that flurry of electrical and chemical signals. That’s some pretty powerful stuff. Not everybody has the pressing need to take this information and run with it, but if you’re one of the few who chooses to, I thank you.

You and I are distinct individuals, divided by almost immeasurable distance of many kinds.

But because of that separation, we are never really alone.

It’s A Compelling Thought That Breaking Down Separations Of Church, State And Culture Will Produce A Peace We Crave

It’s a compelling thought that breaking down separations of church, state and culture will produce a peace we crave. But is it a well-founded hope? Does it actually make sense? Is rejecting separation and joining together with everyone “as one” actually the thing that will save us from our fragmented state?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. After all, as we’ve seen on the past 100+ pages, we are – on the most minute scale of our anatomical structure – separated from our world in millions, billions, even trillions of ways. The nerves that promise to connect us to the world beyond our skin are up to one meter long. And the synapses which process the signals once they cross the even wider distance from sensation to brain, are divided by clefts that cumulatively add up to hundreds of thousands of miles worth of distance. Even the most rudimentary mathematical calculations reveal the scope of the distance we must cross to construct the world of our sensing. And along the way, data gets dropped. Sensations don’t completely translate into perceptions. Our physical distances result in time lags and gaps in understanding that both help and hurt us. We’re walking, talking lessons in limitations, and we don’t even realize it.

The fact of our separation from the world we think we can directly connect, is not the easiest idea to embrace. We love our proximity, our connections, our direct experience with the world around us. The idea that the most intimate manifestation of our connection to the world around us – direct contact via our senses – cannot exist, makes people understandably nervous. When I floated the idea to my friends about a year ago, the very idea sparked discomfort, unease, even outrage. How dare I say that we cannot possibly be in direct contact with anything?

It’s a challenge, to be sure. But our discomfort doesn’t change the fact that, by our very construction, we’re riddled with gaps that keep us always at a distance from everything and everyone in our lives. We’re even separated from ourselves.

So, what do we do with that information? Do we simply dismiss it? Do we tell ourselves that it’s just an exaggeration that has nothing to do with us – really? Do we shrug our shoulders and say “Yeah, whatever…”? Or do we take a closer look and find out how on earth we manage to live our lives as fully as we do, in an essentially fragmented state?

I believe if we look closer into our innermost “micro” processes, we can relate what we learn to our larger “macro” lives. We can find plenty of correlations between the transmission of sensory data across neural networks and the ways we interact with our world. And what we learn about how our neurology negotiates microscopic distances, can shed light on how we might work more effectively with the separations that fill our larger “macro” lives. What better use for all this, than to take a lesson from our internal systems to better understand and engage with our external world – and each other.



Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

A police officer fatally shoots a mentally ill black man who is “acting erratically”.

Another police officer is shot dead, execution style, while sitting in his idling cruiser.

Twitter users gang up to troll people they consider their cultural opponents and try to drive them out of social media altogether. And they get plenty of help from a proliferation of programmed Twitter “bots” which mimic human speech and interaction so well that they elicit thanks and praise from the real people who thought they were their living, breathing allies.

Politicians announce that they’d like to deport certain types of people, control the movement of others, and build walls to keep others out, and a significant percentage of the populace sings their praises and lines up to vote for them. The opposition responds by clogging airports with demonstrations, filing lawsuits, and creating sanctuary cities where “illegals” can reside without fear of deportation.

Radicalized young men walk into nightclubs in Paris, France and Orlando, Florida and open fire, killing tens of people just enjoying a night out. Or they drive vehicles into crowds of pedestrians just trying to get from Point A to Point B.

At every turn, it seems our modern world is fracturing into a million disjointed pieces, with battling factions at each other’s throats. We’re divided by politics, race, religion, class, values, gender, and every other conceivable way we identify ourselves. As reassuring as our factions are, they don’t seem to be helping. If anything, they’re hurting.

Wouldn’t it be much better, if we overcame our separation, if we turned away from our schisms, our contrast-and-compare approach to life, and came together as one? John Lennon promised us it would happen, if we could just imagine… and put our divisions behind us. Not far from the ashes of the bombed out Bataclan nightclub, a French pianist set up a grand piano club and playing “Imagine”. He was surrounded by hundreds who joined him in his song of hope.

Accepting Our Separation, Our Other-Ness, Is Critical To The Survival Of Diversity Of Thought, Belief, And Experience

Accepting our separation, our Other-ness, is critical to the survival of diversity of thought, belief, and experience. It’s also a healthy way to check ourselves and not fall prey to our own arrogance. Yes, it feels good to be certain. It feel safe and comforting, to be sure. But it’s a false comfort. It’s a conceit. And it certainty hurts both us and everyone around us, when it takes over our thinking and tells us we don’t need to question our assumptions, our motives, our actions. Our systems are not built for 100% surety. We may crave Undivided Unity, the way we crave chocolate or a day at the beach, but we can never truly have it. We can only have the sensation of having it – and as we’ve learned, that sensation can’t be trusted. And knowing that is a first step towards actually preventing certainty from trashing our lives – and the lives of everyone around us.

When we let go of our arrogance, get humble, and simply decide to learn, we can actually make some genuine progress. We can get down to the work of honestly seeing our partial knowledge for what it is – not a cause for blame or shame, but a natural part of who we are as finite individuals in an ever-expanding universe, who rely on the input of innumerable others to keep us on track. And when we not only accept, but welcome our shortcomings as opportunities to grow, we give ourselves the chance to make the most of our humanity – as well as the humanity of everyone, like us or otherwise.

So, we need to be strong in our separations. We needn’t fall back into the standard-issue despair we so often feel, when we contemplate our divisions. Nor should we judge separation as being the sole source of our suffering. Separation is only one side of the proverbial coin of our lives, and it presents us with a vitalizing challenge – to rise, to respond to the world around us, much as our neurons and neurotransmitters do inside the “wiring” of our systems, in a perpetual, self-sustaining process of discovery.

Rather than rejecting distance, we can treat separation as an invitation, an opportunity. After all, our weaknesses are the places where we can get strong. We need to find the gaps where we come up short, and strive to cross them. We can use our separation as an impetus, a springboard, a prompt. Just as we need to be persistent in our connections, we need to be humble in our self-awareness. And we need to step up to challenges of separation – personal and cultural – as opportunities to learn and become what we have never before been. Forget the fear. Never mind the dread. Get on with the business of getting honest and getting real. Remember, the process of learning, a process of growing is never-ending within you, every moment of your life… and it can take you in whatever direction you choose.

So, don’t pull away and stay that way. Don’t disengage from distance. Don’t dismiss separation. Connection is an illusion, but it is anything but useless. Find the gaps, identify the separations, discover the distance… and then step up to find out how you can more actively cross those gaps, connect the dots, and create bridges from what-is to what-will-be. Separation is not our enemy. Fearing and rejecting separation and refusing to connect across it, is. Fortunately, our systems show us that we are already adept at bridging innumerable, every moment that we are alive. The challenge is, How to apply what we now know, to overcome bad habits of shortsighted insularity we cling to as though they were our saving grace? Separation isn’t tearing us apart. Our intolerance for separation is.

Can we fix this? Will we fix this? Who can say?

It’s up to you.

It’s up to all of us.

And anything is possible.

Othering Need Not Be Destructive

Likewise, recognizing the Others – those who are clearly separate and distinct from us – offers us a unique opportunity to expand our understand of the world, and ourselves. “Othering” need not be destructive. At least, not if we’re committed to completing the circle and connecting with those Others. It can be inclusive. Recognizing our differences, fully appreciating them, and then acknowledging the problems that the gaping chasms cause between us, is one of the best ways for us to find the motivation to cross that chasm, to reach out and make the kind of contact we all long for.

If we don’t recognize and value the inherent Other-ness of others, what motivation do we have for expanding our understanding of them and their perspectives? We don’t. We can’t. Because we think there’s no problem. After all, we’re not Othering them, so we’re not harming them. We’re experiencing them as just like us.

But that only works for the person who’s avoiding Othering. When we say “I don’t see race, I don’t see color, I don’t see differences”, it is a problem. It may feel like we’re being inclusive, but we’re actually excluding Others and the differences that make them unique and whole in themselves. We’re short-changing and oversimplifying the connection between us by refusing to see the parts of those others that don’t square with our own perceptions. We are conveniently overlooking the ways that their sensibilities and experiences run directly counter to our, and what those differences mean to them. We infantilize the relationship and deprive everyone of the chance to expand their understanding of the full range of human life.

We tend to think that we’re capable of objectively raising our consciousness and weaning ourselves off of destructive behaviors like Othering. But the fact of the matter is, many of those behaviors we consider destructive are only a problem if we don’t fully engage with them and explore their full meaning. The real problem is not that we have uncomfortable differences. It’s not that we have conflict and disagreement and discord. It’s that we often don’t know how to negotiate those differences, step into the gaps, and explore what else is possible, as a direct result of those conflicts.

Other people aren’t exactly like us. Not even close. And when we tell ourselves that imagining no divisions will bring us together, we’re missing out on a huge opportunity to really understand the experiences and perspectives of people who are nothing like us, in no small part because their lives and their histories bear no resemblance to our own.

Personally, I believe the lure of Undivided Unity is a trap. It snares your mind in lazy habits, and it tells your soul that there’s no need to extend yourself beyond your own perspectives, your own context. It encourages you to stick with the company of people who think, believe, and live as you do. It also blinds you to the differences inherent in others (especially the differences they call out) and discourages you from interacting with people very different from yourself, because it “supports the illusion” of separation. The ideal of All-One may seem noble, but it fundamentally denies the inherently separate nature of our very beings, from the cellular level, on up.

Making Peace With The Pain

Making Peace with the Pain

Distance is not the enemy. On the contrary, rejection of distance is the problem. That bad habit denies our basic nature and runs counter to our innermost qualities. Separations are critical to us on every level. They help us define who we are – and are not. They help us figure out who others are (or are not) and how to interact with them. We cannot dismiss our differences or discount them, but we do need to learn to navigate them better. When we treat them as opportunities for links to bring us closer to others, rather than divides to set us apart (or at each others’ proverbial throats), it puts them in a whole new light.

When we refuse to admit that we are separate, we miss the opportunity to overcome it. You don’t work to change what’s fine, what’s fundamentally okay – you don’t build a bridge, if there’s no gap. So, if we never perceive the gaps – or we decide those gaps are something to be judged and avoided – we never give ourselves the chance to really extend ourselves across the distance between ourselves and others.

If we lose touch with our sense of separation, and we cannot see ourselves as distinct and distant from others, it makes it all the easier to jump to conclusions. We think we know what’s going on. We never stop to question ourselves and our biases. We may not even know our biases exist. After all, we’ve got it all figured out. Right? We freely make assumptions and impose rules upon others which may make sense for us, but don’t for people who are nothing like us – but we assume are. After all, we’re all brothers and sisters, right?

But when we recognize the pervasive nature of separation, the intrinsic Other-ness of our lives, we realize how vital – and how tricky – it is. Only then can we figure out how best to negotiate it. We need separation – even depend on it – to clearly define ourselves and our place in the world. And in understanding ourselves as Other, it also becomes pretty clear that we can’t just take things for granted, like community and connection and the veracity of the ideas we have rolling ’round in our heads.

We need to keenly feel the sting of separation, in order to more fully appreciate what connection we do find with others. We need a sense of distance from our world, to really value the ways we’re joined. A sense of deprivation can drive us to pursue truly meaningful goals, and a deep sense of lack can impel us to build something better in our lives. We need to realize just how much we do not – and cannot – know. And we need to suffer a bit from that. Unless we know how much we have to learn and how important it is that we learn it, we’re never going to ask the kinds of questions that actually produce answers.

The Value Of Separation Is That, Ironically, It Allows Us To Engage

The value of separation is that, ironically, it allows us to engage. It forces us to. Without our internal separations, we’d have no opportunity to experience the full range of human life. Without our external separations, we have no reason and need to bridge the gaps and fill in the blanks they give us the chance to expand and grow. It’s when we imagine that we are not separate that problems happen. We’ve lived in a neighborhood for however long, and we think that means we know all about who’s who and what’s what, we never really get to know the people who live down the street. We assume that the years we put in at our employer means they’ll never want to get rid of us, so we never explore other options for work…. and then get set back by our assumptions that umpteen years of experience in our chosen field entitles us to a place that’s familiar and reliable. By operating always within zones of familiarity, where we feel connected and a part of something familiar and predictable, we never get outside our comfort zone and expand, growing into something new and different.

In every living moment, there is a constant dynamic interplay unfolding both within us and outside of us. It’s a non-stop dance of separation – joining – distancing – connecting – that animates our spirits and our lives. We need that dance of connection, that conflict of opposites. We are connection. And we are separation, as well. As nervous as it makes us, distance is every bit as important to us as our connectedness as our own personal integrity.

Growth comes from the interplay of our separated state and our connecting process. All life comes from that, in fact. Like pistons of an engine, or opposing polarities on a magnet, we can use those opposing forces to either drive our progress, or collide in a fiery crash. Too often, we assume that a fiery crash is inevitable. But I believe that’s because we misunderstand the nature of our separations, and we underestimate the importance of them to our well-being. Perhaps the real answer to resolving the conflicts between connection and unity is less about stopping ourselves from being separate and more about not stopping ourselves from being separate.