It is amazing that an 800 year old puppet whose name sounds mysteriously like the word "yoga" has been the most widely accepted prophet of recent times. Why indeed it is our good friend Yoda of Star Wars fame that put it so poignantly -
"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we... not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you. Here, between you.. me... the tree... the rock... everywhere! Yes, even between this land and that ship."
I know I run the risk of losing serious credibility by leading off with a quote from Star Wars. Then again, I saved all of my trash for a year and that didn't seem to affect my credibility. I figured another risk couldn't hurt :o)
What's interesting to me about Yoda's words is that if I
replace the words "The Force" with a number of other words, the meaning of his
statement does not change. If anything it becomes even clearer.
Replace the words "The Force" with the word love, or god, or earth, or manna, or maya, or quantum physics, or time, or Jesus, or Moses, or Muhammad, or Buddha.
Pretty incredible, isn't it?
Before I go on, I want everyone to know that I did not engage in this project with a specific intention to to create a platform for me to share my ideas and beliefs with the world. Yet the response to my efforts has been so significant that I now feel that it is my responsibility to elucidate and to share more about my experience, who I am, and what I try to do in this world.
Now, many of you may be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with trash?
It has everything to do with trash. Because trash was simply something I focused on this year. I focused on it because something about it didn't quite feel right and I wanted to learn more about it. I also wanted to do something that would challenge me to be disciplined, to change my behavior from something so heavily patterned to something within in my control.
I know, from the comments I have received from many of you, that you get it. You understand it. This was, and still is, a meditation, a practice, a focus, a teaching, a learning, a research paper. Call it whatever you call it in your specific world. Use the word that makes most sense to you. To me it was an active experience that required my full participation. I couldn't cut a single corner because I had to be honest with myself and I am my hardest critic and most staunch taskmaster. I have a relationship with myself that is based on total honesty and integrity. I am not allowed to treat myself any other way. I won't tolerate it. This experiment challenged my relationship with myself. That was and is the point.
Of course the subject of the focus also matters - trash. While we may not all agree that trash is a problem and even if it is, to what extent it is, it surely seems to be a ubiquitous phenomenon. We all have a relationship to trash. To me this means that if something is held in common by vast numbers of people and a significant portion of the people think it's a problem, then I should learn about it and discuss it with others.
I'll write that again - Learn about it. Discuss it with others.
Many of you have commented on this blog or sent me emails
that express significant frustration, anger, mistrust or sheer animosity about
my experience. I know that whatever makes you feel that way really does make
you feel that way so I thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me.
It's important for me to understand the way you see the subject. I appreciate your zest and passion.
As my goal is to learn as much as I can, and therefore see where I can change, where I can improve and adjust to be the best person I can be, I would like to ask that if other people also have negative opinions of what I've done, please share it with me.
One thing that might help me to understand your point more easily and more readily would be if you share the information in a relaxed, respectful way. From my experience, people, myself included, respond better to an invitation than to an argument. Antagonism seems immediately to breed defensiveness and agression and starts the process with a large and everpresent rift.
I love that people have thoughts about this project. As with most things, if you disagree I will likely learn something from you and then I will grow.
In truth, I am motivated most by believing that I have something to learn not something to prove. Another way to put it is that I have something to share not something to judge or someone to accuse.
I was fine with all of the dissenting opinions and some of the mean spirited remarks. In fact I was actually enjoying them. Seriously.
Until someone called me a Democrat.
Can you believe that?
Iâm not a Democrat. No way.
Iâm also not a Republican. Forget about it.
In fact, I'm not a Demoblican OR a Repulicrat either.
Why in the world would I ever want to define "ME" as just one of those two things? Aren't I much more complex than one of those two descriptors? Why would I want to limit that way I see, experience, understand and share the world to a single group of people? Especially a single group of people who think the only way to see the world is through the lens of politics. While it is an important lens, it in no way is the only lens.
At this moment in my life, I prefer the lens of living - dealing on a daily basis with the things that really matter to most humans - family, friends, work, play, art, spirituality, love, sports, pets... and the dark stuff too - broken hearts, dying loves ones, stress of all kinds (economic, physical, mental, emotional), disease, poverty, war, crime. There is no way in the world we can understand all of these things, and no way we can understand what each other thinks of these things, if we only have two options.
What kind of marketplace of ideas is that? It makes me think of a grocery store where there are only two things to buy - the one on the left, or the one on the right.
I would't shop there, would you? (*note, if you do shop there, please bring a canvas bag so as not to take "paper or plastic" and subsequently make more trash. thank you for your consideration.)
The biggest thing I learned in all my years of study (I've had the privilege of access to studying at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA and Cambridge) is that intelligence is one thing. Wisdom is another. Intelligence is powerful. Very very powerful. In a world where information is the most heavily traded commodity and the most heavily coveted resource, intelligence is a tool of incredible force and immense magnitude. It can be good or bad, used for cunning or used to find solutions.
Wisdom, on another hand (not the "other" hand) is more
weathered, more mature. It has seen more playing time and has something more
relevant to say. Wisdom doesn't come just from books, from competing over grades, from
battling it out with each other to secure a greater share of resources from
each other. Even the most cutting edge economists know that mutual success is
more sustainable, ultimately leads to more wealth creation, and is therefore a
preferred strategy in any situation where survival and self perpetuation is the goal. Wisdom gives us access to this. Wisdom is a more powerful tool than intelligence as it combines information with real experience. It is dynamic...alive...adaptable...for the common good not the ego.
So can you believe it? Cooperation. It turns out that thing
they tried to teach us in kindergarten is what it's all about. That silly book was
right. We did learn everything we needed to know there...
Again, what does this have to do with trash?
It has to do with trash because trash was something I focused on learning about more intimately this past year. Then the media got hold of it and handed my life to you - for you to see, to question, to talk about and to criticize. Like it or not it is something you all can relate to so a dialogue has been created. And the best way to find solutions that work for all of us is to cooperate - to learn from each other.
And such is the beauty of the internet. A story about a guy (whom you all have described in so many different ways) gets shared with the world, and since the world finds it compelling, we all get to talk about it. There have been emails and posts, hundreds of them, from Romania, France, China, Iceland, Germany, New Jersey, Australia. All over our intimate, perfectly sized globe.
And this is where the GREAT LESSON lives for me â we all have more in common than we have things that separate us.
Another one worth repeating:
We all have more in common than we have things that separate us.
I challenge anyone on earth to take any two people and tell me that they are more different than they are similar. We all breathe, eat, sleep, drink, go to the bathroom, love, hurt, laugh, groan. Apparently, from the response to my self-experiment-gone-worldwide-phenomenon, a great number of us also create trash.
This does not mean we are all the same. Certainly we are not. As Frederick Langbridges put it, "Two men look out from the same prison bars. One sees the mud and one the stars."
We are different. The only way we can learn how another sees the world is to ask, and then to share.
THEY say the world is what YOU make it. I guess that means
the world is what I make it. Lots of THEYs and Is and YOUs put together makes one great
big giant WE. So I guess that means the world is what WE make it.
This project, then, has really just been a way for me to show you how serious my commitment is to participating in this experience called life with all of you. I am so committed to learning how to share this world with 6 billion people that I am willing to save all of my trash for a year. Every single piece. I am willing to put myself out there, to share my experience with you, to invite you to share your feedback, and to participate in a global conversation about something that impacts us all. I am that committed. In fact, it's the fundamental reason I'm alive. It's my purpose. I am alive, doing my best, like all of you, and I'm open to sharing how its going for me.
To quote another thoughtful human, Michel do Montaigne, "Not being able to govern events I govern myself."
I am playing the part of me in this story that we are all in together. It's the only part I know how to play. You are playing the role of you. I think I know what that's like, but when I think about it I realize I really don't know. It has a lot in common with the role of me, but a lot of subtle and important differences. If you tell me what it's like to be you, Iâll do my best to work with that. After all you are just as important as me.
In closing, for now, I guess we can all blame that diminutive environmental activist, Yoda, for getting us in this trashy mess.
Many of you want to know what's next...
Many of you want to know what you can do...
Many of you want to do something...
My next posts will directly address these questions.
And yes, one by one, I am still responding to all of your emails. There are hundreds, so it's taking a while.
Thanks for caring enough to be involved.