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Our Future

I asked Ashlyn, our 15 year old daughter, if she and I could sit down to have a look at what is going on in the world and try to come up with a strategy based on resilience and adaptability in a changing world.

She declined my invitation.

She looked at me, dispassionately, and said "Mom, there is no way to know where this world is headed, and I'm not giving my energy to trying to figure that out. I'd rather spend my energy staying healthy so I can adapt in the moment to whatever happens."

This makes me think of the Bible passage about being clothed like the lillies in the field or provided for like the birds of the air.

She just trusts. She is surrendered. Whatever happens, she will get through. She puts her energy into relationships, art, and joy. The world is not hers to control, and she rests in that humility.

I come from a generation that felt the burden of taking charge, changing the world, innovating and advancing technology, and we rose to that call. We have used our skills, creativity and intelligence to advance technology more in two decades than ever in recorded history.

I want Ashlyn to get focused. Set a goal. Take on the world. Bend the future to her will.

She is not interested.

Maybe she is wise. Maybe the incredible advancements of the past hundred years have pushed the envelope. Maybe we need to take our foot off the accelerator for a few generations.

I am currently binge watching Alone on the History Channel. Ten participants are taken to a remote wildnerness location. They are each allowed to bring ten items of their choosing, and they are left alone to survive. Whoever survives the longest, wins a cash prize. Over and over the participants talk about the freedom of living these simple lives. Their focus is on eating, sleeping, staying warm and dry, finding clean water, conserving their energy. They say that life feels "real" out there, unlike their lives back home. People visibly grieve and mourn returning to their lives when injury or illness forces them to leave. They clearly miss their families and loved ones, and sometimes that heartache is enough for them to "tap out," and yet there is something tangibly magical about living so close to the land and having their efforts immediately bear fruit.

The participants have a spiritual gratitude for every piece of food they eat, having to gather or hunt it with their own hands. They often openly weep when finding a rabbit in the snare, or when their arrow finds its target. They talk about the land coming to "know them" and then deciding whether or not to provide for them. It is not a matter of will alone, but a relationship forged between the human will and the will of the land itself. If the land finds their heart true, it will leave food and resources in their path. If not, the land will reject them.

I see an echo of Ashlyn's humility in these sentiments. She will do her best to be resilient in each moment, making her heart true so that the world will provide for her. My very cynical generation did not get this memo very well. We were much more focused on attaining and achieving and terraforming the world to reflect our will, than humbling ourselves to accept the will that the world may have for itself.

Byron Ballard writes about these being Tower Times. If you are a student of the Tarot, then you know the Tarot card of the Major Arcana. The Tower represents old structures crumbling, foundations cracking, the necessary undoing that leads to renewal. The culmination of generations of accumulation, acceleration, unsustainable growth, has led to a necessary Tower moment. The scaffolds we have built to support top-heavy systems of massive growth and exploitation are falling. What comes after the Tower? In the Tarot, the next card is the Star.

The Star signifies an inner illumination, a clarity that comes from taking a hard look at ourselves. We are self-assured, confident, self-posessed. We have found our North Star. This is what awaits us when the dust clears. An emergence of a new meta-story that comes out of a shared North Star. If our children are an indication of what that new story might look like, it is going to be beautiful. And it will come out of a shared will, not just what humans want for ourselves but where our will intersects with the will of Life itself.

For now, I will join Ashlyn in her call to lovingly attend to this moment, making my heart right so that I can access the wisdom and vitality to adapt to a changing world. I will listen for the will of the land itself, and hope that it finds me worthy of provision. As the Tower rolls on through, I will dream of the day the Star rises, without trying to pin down that future in a way that serves my desires alone. Our future belongs to relationship, and it will emerge out of relationship. The time of the lone wolf, the top dog, is over. The future belongs to those who listen, adapt, and cooperate.


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