Right now I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which means I’m aiming to write 50,000 words in a month. For the uninitiated, that’s a novel the length of The Great Gatsby. It’s approximately 75 pages single spaced in a word processing document. I’m pretty sure this new novel I’m working on is the worst piece of writing in the known universe, but I’m pressing forward.

The advice for those writing during NaNoWriMo is to tame your inner editor. Instead of hitting the “delete” key when you think something sounds awful, just keep putting words on the page. Let the writing be bad. There’s something liberating in indulging in that mentality. To revel in it. To acknowledge, “I know this can be said better but I don’t care.”

As someone with a history of perfectionism, it’s difficult for me to stop judging end results, but that’s what I’m encouraging myself to do right now. I’m acknowledging the new novel is bad, that it will likely change a lot before I’m finished, but I’m letting that be OK. I’m not nitpicking myself in the moment and instead giving myself freedom to relax, to explore, to try new things on the page. It’s fun!


Some things will cause you to shake your head they’re so bad. Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I notice this principle, “Let it be terrible,” applies not only to creative projects, but also to the physical body (sometimes). Headline, I’m fine, but on Saturday night I was in a car accident. While driving through an intersection, a car ran a red light and hit the driver’s side of my friend’s car. We swerved to the right and the impact jostled me so I banged up my elbow and knees against the console very, very minorly. It’s my right shoulder blade that hurts this morning from the whiplash.

I took out a tennis ball and massaged the shoulder blade but it still hurts. I don’t think anything is dislocated; it just hurts. Because I was in a car accident. And instead of rushing to fix it, change it, solve it, I said to the pain, “I’m here. I’m listening, body.” I’m letting the pain be here, I’m letting things be terrible because sometimes that’s all we can do. The body heals on its own timeframe and that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.

It reminds me of this NY Times article I read a few years ago where an American woman had a hysterectomy in Germany. When she asked about painkillers post-surgery, her medical team said she’d be given ibuprofen and that’s it. When she talked to one of her doctors about it, he said, “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest.”

It confounded her, but it turned out her doctors were right. She didn’t need painkillers – she needed rest and patience. She let things be terrible, she let her body feel terrible, and that was her wisest course of action. For this month I, too, am letting things be terrible in more ways than I anticipated, and that perhaps is a greater accomplishment than writing the worst novel the world has ever seen in the course of 30 days.

I dream of a world where we let things be terrible sometimes. A world where we let our creativity flow without any hindrance. A world where we check our self-editors at the door. A world where we let ourselves feel pain when it arises because it provides us with important information to guide our lives and direct our attention.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I keep seeing suns everywhere — as a ceramic decoration on the side of a house, on cartoons, cards, etc. The sun is “talking” to me, which makes sense because I keep thinking about shining. What does it mean to shine? Where and how do I shine? Where and how do other people shine? Can I boost my shininess?

There are multiple definitions of “shine.” One of them is to emit rays of light, to give light. Another is to be eminent, conspicuous, or distinguished. I like to think of personal shining as emitting metaphorical rays of light in a conspicuous way. It’s the process of showering the self upon the world; much like the sun does for Earth. There’s a method for figuring out when and how we each shine. An Instagram post by Astrology with Andy said astrologically speaking, “The sign your sun is in [signifies] traits you identify with and/or are important to you. The house your sun is in [denotes] the area(s) of life where your sun sign’s qualities can best, and most easily, shine. The aspects your sun makes to other planets [shows] how to help your sun shine (and possible pitfalls that can dim its light).”

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I want to shine brightly. Photo by Benjamin Patin on Unsplash

As for me, my sun is in Sagittarius, sits in the 11th house, and conjuncts Uranus. Qualities associated with Sagittarius (and thus ones I value) are optimism, knowledge, and broadmindedness. The 11th house is the one of friends, community, groups, etc. so I shine in groups of people. It’s no surprise that while I get nervous speaking in public, I also love it. And because my sun is conjunct Uranus (a planet that has rabble-rouser/innovator energy), I shine specifically by either standing out as a vanguard, and/or in unusual communities such as 12-step groups or a fringe spiritual organization, for instance. I’m laughing and shaking my head because that’s exactly true and once again points toward the merits of astrology. Anyone who thinks it’s b.s. just doesn’t know any better.

Being aware of all this has me wondering two things — 1.) How can I activate my shininess more? And 2.) Is what I want even possible? Is it even in the cards for me to be a bestselling author? My astrological chart essentially says, “You have an intense desire to be renowned, it’s important for your self-esteem, buuuuuuut you have to work incredibly hard to achieve that.” Astrology isn’t everything — the Divine beloved is more powerful than astrology and can make anything happen, but still. I’m not feeling all that hopeful or optimistic, and as mentioned earlier, those are traits I prize.

AND instead of falling into a pit of despair, which frankly feels tempting, I’m reminded of a concept in many spiritual philosophies, including mine: “You have the right to action but not to the fruits of the actions.” My spiritual teacher says, “Wherever there is an action, there is a corresponding reaction because every action gets either reflected or refracted. The wave produced by the action will be either reflected or refracted. Both reflection and refraction are reactions. So whenever you act, whatever the nature of that work, that is the kind of reflection or refraction it will produce. But that reflected or refracted reaction is not in your hands. To do whatever you do, that is your only right.”

To do whatever I do is my only right. How it will be received, who will read it, how popular I’ll become as a result, etc. is out of my hands and not up to me. All I can do is what I’m doing and in this case that means putting words on a page.

I dream of a world where we recognize our own unique talents and gifts. A world where we shine those gifts upon the world. A world where we understand that as much as we want to control outcomes, we cannot. A world where we realize all we can do is put in the work and let go of the rest.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Bumping Elbows

I feel vulnerable right now, sensitive. In part it’s because rain has come to the Bay Area (along with a flood warning) and I have seasonal affective disorder. However, I feel vulnerable and sensitive right now also because I’m in a weird liminal space. An in-between space. The pandemic is raging on, but many people have returned to life as normal, or something like it. They’re going out to eat, they’re hanging out with friends indoors, they’re going to parties, they’ve returned to the office, or will soon. Life looks pretty much like it did before the pandemic except for wearing a mask certain places and perhaps flashing a vaccination card here and there.

For me though, there’s not really a normal to return to, at least when it comes to certain things, like community. The community I had pre-pandemic has been decimated. Not because anyone died, but rather because so many people have moved away. Not everyone — I still have local friends — but enough to be noticeable. The things I did in community — meditating as a group or attending a 12-step meeting — take place solely online now. And it’s possible they’ll stay that way. I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t really matter because in the moment, what I want doesn’t exist: in-person community.

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Slot me in there! Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

I have lots of online community (Zoom calls out the wahzoo), but the kind where I can bump elbows with someone? Where I can see more than their head and shoulders? Nope. As the world opens up and people are getting together again, they’re reaching out to friends and community members. I’m noticing that’s not an option for me. I have numerous individual friends, but they aren’t friends with each other. They don’t know or hang out with each other and have no reason to unless I corral them together. Frankly, I miss that — people united around a common interest and developing comradery because of it.

My spiritual teacher says, “You should have more and more contact with people, contact with whom will be helpful in your development.” And elsewhere he says, “Even a good person or a sádhaka [spiritual aspirant] needs proper maintenance, for in a world of constant change, care must be taken that the change be always toward the better or the higher. Keeping good company is essential for this positive development.”

Good company is crucial and there’s something to be said for the kind that you can touch. I have a need for presence that is very much not getting met. I don’t write this to seek solutions. I’m writing it to express myself and also put into words something other people are likely feeling. Somebody out there must be going through what I’m going through. If so, you’re not alone. I’m over here too, wishing for the same thing.

I dream of a world where we each have a strong, in-person community, or even more than one! A world where we spend time together in large groups because we recognize how important it is. A world where we understand good company is crucial for our mental health. A world where we understand we aren’t alone and we connect with people who are like us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I love a good Hero’s Journey as much as the next person. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a common story arc found in movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Lord of the Rings where the hero goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed. The hero can also be female, as we see in The Hunger Games.

However, despite swapping out a male character for a female one, the hero’s journey is not the same as the heroine’s journey, meaning it doesn’t address the psycho-spiritual journey for many women. (I’ll also add in here it’s likely the hero’s journey doesn’t work well for some men either.) Joseph Campbell popularized the Hero’s Journey in 1949 with men in mind and said “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to.”

Um, thanks Joe. I mean, on the one hand I get that he’s pointing toward wholeness and encouraging men to embrace the more feminine aspects of themselves, but on the other hand, what about us ladies?!? For women, there’s the Heroine’s Journey, developed by Maureen Murdock. If the Hero’s Journey is about ascending a mountaintop, the Heroine’s Journey is about descending to the underworld. When a friend said that to me recently, my response was, “Yeeeesssssssss,” because that’s EXACTLY my experience. All of my demons have been internal. All of my personal development work has been about confronting my own shadow and reclaiming wholeness.

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For some people, they undertake the heroine’s journey. Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Part of confronting the shadow comes from interacting with other people of course. I’m not saying the Heroine’s Journey takes place in a locked room. We see this in two popular movies that follow the Heroine’s Journey arc: Pixar’s Brave and the first Wonder Woman movie. I remember when I watched both those movies for the first time how touched I felt afterward. They impacted me in a deep way and I could see myself reflected in the characters that I couldn’t as much when watching the original Star Wars, for instance.

What makes the Heroine’s Journey different? Instead of ending the story after successfully conquering ogres and dragons, the heroine becomes disillusioned and realizes she feels unfulfilled. Something is missing in her life and she falls into despair because of it. She yearns to reconnect with her whole self – the feminine, soft side and the wounded masculine – and integrates the two. After doing so, she interacts with the world beyond binaries and understands complexity.

This is forever what I’m working on and in fact is a part of the spiritual journey as well as the journey society is taking. My spiritual teacher says, “Until recently there was a defective idea in all the corners and amongst all the groups of people on the Earth, that males are blessed beings, and not females. In your family life, you know, you feel that the parents cannot have any sense of disparity in their mind regarding their sons and daughters. Both are equally important; both are equally loving. I said my sons and my daughters are just like two hands of mine. They are just like the wings of a bird. A bird having one wing cannot fly.”

My teacher is speaking specifically about the role of women in society – women need to be respected and treated just as well as men – but I think the concept also applies within a person as well. We are like birds and can’t fly properly if one wing is more dominant than another. The Heroine’s Journey is one mechanism that supports our return to wholeness and one that I’m now embracing.

I dream of a world where we realize the Hero’s Journey is not everyone’s journey. A world where we understand the alternative, the Heroine’s Journey, could help us become more whole. A world where we integrate all aspects of ourselves – masculine and feminine – in order to fly freely through the world like the beautiful birds we are.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

This week I read a Twitter thread about the creator of the latest Netflix phenomenon “Squid Game.” According to several news pieces, Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote the show in 2009 but was rejected by studios for 10 years. He once had to stop writing the script and sell his $675 laptop because of money struggles. The Twitter thread author, Ifę, @ifetalksback, said as a writer they find the story terrifying more than inspiring.

As part of the thread, Ifę said, “They’ll be like ‘I had to wait 15 years, my mother don’t speak to me anymore, I lost a finger to typing so much, I can’t remember the last time I saw the sky. But now I have a show,’ And the comments from everyone who ISN’T a writer is like ‘NEVER give up bro, so inspiring.’”

I agree – on the one hand, it’s always inspiring when long-awaited dreams come true, but on the other hand, I find the story to reflect poorly on not only the film industry, but also us as a society in general. Hwang had to literally sell one of the tools of his trade in order to make ends meet. That’s not OK.

pay for spiritual writing

The picture says it all. Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says it’s the duty of society to support its artists because artists are pioneers. “If those who are the pioneers of society … if they are forced to starve or half-starve, this will certainly not be to the credit of human society. It is unthinkable that these creative geniuses should curse their own fate.”

Seriously. Artists – and that includes writers – have a special role to play in society and letting them struggle is not cute or inspiring or romantic or whatever notions we have in this modern world. It’s a travesty. Especially during the pandemic, we’ve seen the importance of art and literature. What would we do, how would we survive if we didn’t have books to read, movies to watch, games to play? For many, escaping into entertainment was, or is, the only way to feel joy during an otherwise extremely bleak period. And yet we let artists like Hwang Dong-hyuk toil away and then romanticize his rags-to-riches story? No.

What would happen if artists were supported and didn’t need to work “day jobs” or have numerous “side hustles” or live with 10 roommates just to survive? What sort of art would they make? What would they be able to accomplish if they weren’t constantly worried about money? In case you can’t tell, I’m PISSED this is the situation we find ourselves in. Not only for artists, but for everyone.

Who does this capitalistic, hypercompetitive economy work for? Very few, that’s who. And the reality is we don’t have to live like this. I don’t know how we release ourselves from the shackles of capitalism, but I do know there are other ways to live. Ways in which people are guaranteed the basic necessities of life like food, clothing, education, shelter, and medical care. Ways in which people are valued over profits, the environment is respected, and we as a society are able to satisfy our higher intellectual, artistic, and spiritual aspirations. Ways in which artists like Hwang Dong-hyuk don’t have to sell their laptops in order to pay their bills.

I dream of a world where we not only praise artists and writers, but we value them with our wallets. A world where we support artists and writers so they can do what they were put on this Earth to do – create. A world where we understand artists barely making ends meet is appalling, not romantic.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

P.S. This might be a good time to mention I have a Patreon campaign. If you value my work, consider contributing.

This weekend a friend told me his friends are getting into cryptocurrency so they can make a lot of money. My response was, “So they can do what? Retire early and satisfy every pleasure they have? Or build a rocket ship into space while there are people literally starving to death?”

I mean, I understand the impulse. Our society lauds the accumulation of wealth. When Jeff Bezos launched into space, morning shows allocated 212 minutes to discussing it. In contrast, they spent 267 minutes for all of 2020 discussing the climate crisis even though the climate crisis is a far bigger story that impacts the entire world. In the U.S. anyway, we treat money like it’s the most important thing, as if being wealthy is the greatest accomplishment of a person’s life. We see this not only in media coverage, but also in how wealthy people are allowed to become richer. We aren’t taxing the rich to fund things like schools, roads, bridges, healthcare, or anything that would benefit the many. No. Instead we’re letting people accumulate wealth unchecked so they can visit space for 10 minutes on the backs of people who are working in inhumane conditions.

I’m not someone who thinks money is the root of all evil. I don’t think we should go back to a time of bartering for all our needs. Money makes life more comfortable, absolutely, and being poor is one of the hardest, most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. But why are some people allowed to make millions in one day while others are working multiple jobs just to cover all their expenses? And furthermore, what’s the point of making so much money you can buy a private island?

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The point of life is NOT to buy a private island. Photo by Sam Deng on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says:

“A mind, driven by many psychic [desires] is the prisoner of innumerable predicaments. In such a condition, the human mind becomes extroversial, multi-directional, weak, and static. It is propelled by the principle of selfish pleasure, which leads it down the path of counter-evolution. … As people have to satisfy their unrestrained psychic [desires] with limited objects of wealth, they often create interpersonal and inter-group conflicts. The collective psychology arising from many objectified human minds gives rise to social inequality, economic exploitation, political repression, religious bigotry, cultural perversion, and the all-round degradation of the individual and society. Crude psychic [desires] cause the degeneration of individual and collective mind, and thus bring about the downfall of the society.”

I’d say we’re seeing that now. Society certainly seems to be moving in a downward direction in many regards. So what’s the point of life if it’s not to get as much wealth as possible and satisfy every selfish pleasure that enters your brain? Take it from someone who is rich and famous, Jim Carrey, who said, “I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer.”

The answer instead is to eradicate all inequalities and contribute to society in such a way that we’re supporting each other, taking care of each other. The answer is to live in this world, to ensure everyone has their basic needs met, but also recognize there’s more to being alive than material gain. Ultimately what we’re seeking is infinite pleasure, infinite happiness, and that only comes from something that is also infinite: communing with the loving consciousness that pervades this universe.

I dream of a world where we understand despite what much of society tells us, the point of life is not to get rich and famous. A world where we realize satisfying every selfish pleasure only leads to our downfall and the downfall of society. A world where we appreciate material goods, but also recognize ultimately life is more enjoyable if we serve society and commune with spirit.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Don’t Look Too Far

Anxiety kicks up for me when I start to contemplate the future in a negative way. When I imagine worst-case scenarios like all my clients will end our relationship, I’ll drain my savings, and I’ll never move out of this one-bedroom apartment. It’s not a pleasant rumination. The answer seems simple, doesn’t it? Stop imagining a negative future.

Instead of imagining a negative future I could imagine a positive future. I could also do that thing spiritual teachers everywhere advise: be present. The latter is what’s coming up for me today. In fact, there’s a quote I like from a daily reader and this morning I planned to thumb through the entire book until I found it, except no need. I opened the book to exactly the quote I had in mind! It’s by Pindar who said, “Do not peer too far.” The affirmation in my daily reader is, “For today, I neither want to know the future, nor to live in it before it arrives.” Truthfully, I do want to know the future, but only if the future is line with my dreams, not my nightmares. However, the message for today is, “Be where your feet are.”

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Keep a little mystery. Don’t look too far. Photo by Katie Gerrard on Unsplash

In the present moment am I OK? Am I able to pay my rent? Is there food in my fridge? Do I have a place to sleep? Am I getting enough connection? If the answer to all those questions is “yes,” I’d say I’m doing alright. What also helps me become grounded is to use my senses. What are five things I can see? Four things I can feel? Three things I can hear? Two things I can smell? One thing I can taste? Being in my body brings peace because the body only knows the here and now, nothing else.

It’s also helpful to remind myself life can be surprising and delightful. For instance, in the middle of writing this, a friend called me up and asked me if I’d like to go to an outdoor party in the redwoods with a pickup in 45 minutes! I said yes because why the heck not? I love redwoods and I haven’t been to a party in ages. If I knew the future, I wouldn’t be surprised or delighted by the spontaneous turn of events, and spontaneity goes hand in hand with joy, according to research.

Eating lunch sitting among redwoods and then lounging in a hammock afterward while I watched the wind blow needles off the trees was pretty delightful, I must say. And it’s not what I had planned for my day, which made it all the more enjoyable. Eckhart Tolle speaks to this in his book The Power of Now when he writes, “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love — even the most simple action.”

So that’s what I’m doing today, living in the now, being present, reminding myself the future is an ever-evolving situation that I’m not able to predict anyway. But this right here I can do something about, and for today, that means not peering too far.

I dream of a world where we realize looking too far ahead will likely cause anxiety and instead we stay present. A world where we understand the present moment is a point of power. A world where we remember life can be surprising and delightful, but only if we let it.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Whenever I’m waiting on checks, like I am now, I think, “Maybe I should get a part-time job,” and then I apply for part-time jobs and never hear anything, not even a “no.” Inevitably I get reassurance from the universe that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing either because I’m contacted by a potential new client, I accept another freelancing assignment, or I receive a sign. This past week the universe sent me all three.

What is the sign the universe sent me? The animal totem giraffe. A giraffe was mentioned in a book of essays I’m reading, during a Zoom meeting someone held a small giraffe toy in her hand, and giraffes were mentioned in another book I’m reading. Sometimes animals are just animals, but in this case at the sight and mention of “giraffe,” I felt a zing in my heart and my brain seemed to zero in on the word so I know it’s a sign and not a mere coincidence.

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Giraffe wants to say hi. Photo by Photo Lily on Unsplash

There are numerous interpretations for the symbolism behind giraffes, but the one I liked the best comes from uniguide.com where Kristen M. Stanton writes, “The giraffe totem is a helpful symbol for reminding yourself that what makes you unique is one of your gifts to the world. It is your unusual qualities and life experiences that will help you to fulfill your purpose on Earth.”

If that isn’t the most perfect message to receive when I’m doubting myself and my abilities, I don’t know what is. Just as I think I should throw in the towel on my business, the universe tells me, “No. Your uniqueness, what makes you ‘you’ is needed in this world. Keep going.” While this post is about me, I’m pretty sure my experience is a universal one. How many times do we compare ourselves to someone else and find ourselves lacking? How frequently do we feel like we’re not doing the “right” thing because our life doesn’t look like someone else’s? Giraffe reminds us our uniqueness is a gift to the world. That it’s precisely our personal qualities and life experiences that matter and are worthwhile.

The concept is also in line with my spiritual philosophy. The central tenet of my spiritual practice is the universe is coming to know itself through me and you. We are the human expression of divinity. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience, to quote Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Other people who speak to this idea eloquently are Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Pope who write in their book Journey of the Universe, “[J]ust as the Milky Way is the universe in the form of a galaxy, and an orchid is the universe in the form of a flower, we are the universe in the form of a human. And every time we are drawn to look up into the night sky and reflect on the awesome beauty of the universe, we are actually the universe reflecting on itself. And this changes everything.”

I am the universe reflecting on itself. The skills and talents I possess are gifts to be utilized. I am here to share those gifts and I’m privileged enough to be in a position to make money from them. The universe keeps reminding me, “Yes, you should be writing. Yes, that includes ghostwriting. No, working for someone else isn’t in your best interest.” Sometimes I remember that on my own, but sometimes I need encouragement. And this week that encouragement came in the form of a giraffe.

I dream of a world where we understand we are each unique, talented, and special. A world where we understand we were not meant to fit in because we are the individualized expressions of cosmic consciousness. A world where we realize we are the universe coming to know itself through us and that means we are wonderful just as we are.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Something that’s been on my mind a lot, as I’m sure it has for many others, is the situation in Afghanistan. I’m watching in horror as the Taliban is taking over once more and all the progress from the past 20 years is disintegrating. How does this happen? Why hasn’t the narrative we’ve been sold – that the U.S. brings democracy and freedom to other countries – work? (I know we invaded Afghanistan in response to terrorism, but we also tried to establish a Western-style democracy.) It doesn’t work because there’s a very specific dynamic at play.

When a foreign country invades to supposedly make things better, they are often viewed as a bully throwing their weight around. They become resented and are seen as meddling in affairs they know nothing about. And if the foreign power does set up projects and organizations to aid the local denizens, those projects and organizations often crumble when the foreign power leaves. Why? Because the foreign country is enacting subordinated cooperation instead of coordinated cooperation.

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Coordinated cooperation all the way. Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Where people do something individually or collectively, but keep themselves under other people’s supervision, that’s subordinated cooperation. It’s the traditional power structure we see, well, pretty much everywhere. It’s the traditional work situation where a boss issues commands from on high and the employees follow those commands. The employees have less agency or power and aren’t as invested in their work because they don’t have a say.

In the case of Afghanistan, our military trained and equipped nearly 300,000 people to take over when we left. It was justification for our withdrawal. What happened when the U.S. withdrew? That army dwindled to only about 500 people.

U.S. News and World Report stated the local forces “simply put down their weapons, defected to the Taliban willingly or because their families faced threats, or succumbed to the other forms of bribery and waste that American inspectors general have been publicly documenting for at least a decade.”

In the same article, Army Gen. Mark Milley is quoted as saying, “They had the training, the size, the capability to defend their country. This comes down to an issue of will and leadership.” His quote is very revealing – he said the issue came down to “will” and “leadership.” He’s a military man looking for a military solution. The military is all about subordinated cooperation and not coordinated cooperation so of course as soon as the head honchos left the army fell apart.

Imposing ideas and dictates upon another group doesn’t work. What does work is coordinated cooperation. It’s when cooperation is between free human beings, each with equal rights, mutual respect for each other, and they are working for the welfare of the other.

To quote my spiritual teacher, “Only the cooperative system can ensure the healthy, integrated progress of humanity, and establish complete and everlasting unity among the human race. People should work to enjoy sweeter fruits by establishing the cooperative system.”

A cooperative system cannot exist if one group is considered inferior to another. Nor can coordinated cooperation exist if it’s imposed upon the group. They have to believe themselves equal, to demand it, and not take anything else than they deserve. Local culture and customs must be respected and the local people must be the ones to initiate change – not someone who is considered an outsider. The situation in Afghanistan is a clear example of that.

I dream of a world where we employ coordinated cooperation and not subordinated cooperation. A world where we respect local customs and cultures while also empowering the disempowered. A world where we support change not in the form of imposition but instead in the form of nurturing.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Typically, when I want something, I want it with a fiery passion. I want it intensely, as if my insides are burning and the only way to cool the flames is to get what I want. However, I don’t have a magic wand so it’s very rare that I get what I want when I want it. That means I spend much of my time feeling frustrated and disgruntled. A friend asked me, “How can you make peace with wanting but not having?”

It’s a good question because the reality is I’ll always want something. There will never be a time in my life that I’m perfectly content with every single thing and waiting for that day to arrive before I feel peaceful sounds like a terrible idea.

What comes to mind is a concept in my spiritual tradition that states attraction underpins the universe. Not sexual attraction, just attraction, or a “force acting mutually between particles of matter, tending to draw them together, and resisting their separation,” to quote the dictionary.

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This little cutie wants something. I can tell. Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says, “To maintain harmony and balance within the universe, there is a mutual attraction among all objects: each microcosm is attracting the other microcosms. All finite microcosms … are entitled to [God’s] deep universal love with which He has bound each microcosm to Himself and in which His divine ocean of bliss is perennially flowing. Attraction is the innate characteristic of microcosms.”

Attraction is the innate characteristic of all living beings. That means we’re all attracted to something and that “something” is divinity. Knowingly or unknowingly, all living beings are in the process of moving from crudeness to subtlety. They are attracted to a divine center and thus heading closer and closer to pure, divine love, my philosophy states. What that means for me is instead of spinning out because I don’t have a bigger house or a book deal, I can pause, relax, and feel the sweetness of what it means to want something.

To want something, to be attracted to something, is an inherent characteristic of living beings and is a signal that I’m alive, that I’m moving, that I’m being pulled toward a deep, cosmic love. Ultimately what I want is infinite happiness, unlimited happiness, perennial happiness and that sort of happiness never comes from material objects. I’m not advocating for a life of abnegation because I don’t think that’s possible for most human beings, but a little awareness goes a long way.

Having an awareness that the object or experience I’m seeking will buoy my happiness for a little while before I go on to wanting the next thing, means I can acknowledge wanting itself as a sign that I’m alive. “Wanting” transforms into something I can accept, that I can have patience around, instead of a thirst that must be quenched immediately. If I recognize that wanting is a signal I’m moving ahead in life, that I’m on a path from crudeness to subtlety, then suddenly wanting a big house and a book deal but not having them yet doesn’t feel so excruciating.

I dream of a world where we recognize wanting something is a sign that we’re alive. A world where we’re able to make peace with wanting something without having it yet because we recognize ultimately what we’re desiring is perennial happiness, and that doesn’t come from material objects. A world where we understand we’ll always want something and that’s a good thing.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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