Once upon a time, there was a planet spinning in infinite space. It looked sick, miserable, exhausted and ruined. Smoke and dust rose from its grey, blistering surface as it spun heavily, coughing and choking past another planet. This other planet looked brilliant and shining with health, sparkling green and blue with lush vegetation and beautiful wild animals and other life forms covering its surface. “Oh, dear sister", said the healthy planet to the sick one, “What's wrong with you? You look terrible...” “Nothing is wrong, I'm fine, perfectly fine", said the ill planet. “But you don't look fine to me”, said the healthy planet, “you look terribly ill, sister, please tell me what is the matter with you?” “I can't talk about it, no, it's too embarrassing, just leave me alone...” replied the ill one. “Come on sister, perhaps I can do something to help you. What can be so bad you can’t talk about? Tell me - what is it?” “Well, I’ve got...’HOMO SAPIENS’ ok? Now, leave me alone!!!” “HOMO SAPIENS... said the healthy looking planet and smiled with relief...it is not that bad!!! I had it myself, eons ago. It doesn't last long, trust me, and it will go away on its own in no time at all!!!” The above story, in which each and every one of us participates, can be taken as funny, sad or (as fitting our world of complexity and paradox) both at the same time... Looking back at some events which happened during the year 2016, it is easy to find many reasons to feel despondent about the state of our planet, but before spiralling down this dark avenue of thought, let’s pause and remember we can explore everything through various perspectives. Quantum Physics discovered, what most wisdom traditions have known for generations, that the observer participates, influences and affects what is being observed. Everything is connected with everything else via quantum entanglement. The way we choose to look at the story we participate in and at any situation, every thought we think and the smallest action we take, create ripples which expand and can cause, like the ‘butterfly effect’, a massive impact at a later date. "Keep mindful of where you are heading or you'll end up where you are going" (Lau-Tze)
Edgar Mitchell, (Apollo 14 astronaut, the sixth man to walk on the moon, who died in 2016 on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing) was heading to the moon, but as he discovered, it was his journey back home that was the important one. Seeing the Earth from outer space on his return he experienced a profound shift of consciousness, an awakening to the interconnectedness of all things: ‘[In outer space] you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch!' " Jim Lovell, another Apollo astronaut, also experienced a shift of awareness out in space: ‘We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon you can put your thumb up and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you've ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself — all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are, but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy loving here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.’ Storytellers know that it is possible to shift consciousness through travelling to an 'inner space' rather than outer space. When we listen to an inspiring story and imagine the thoughts and the vivid images they contain, we can experience 'fresh thoughts’, see things from new angles and be transformed. What we focus our attention on expands to become our world. Inner images and feelings triggered by the story, through our imagination, have a similar effect on our energy and body as outer 'physical reality'. New scientific understandings find plenty of evidence to demonstrate that when people feel and think positively, their well-being may be improved, their immune system strengthens, it supports recovery from illness and it can positively affect and transform their environment. It can also support seeing and accepting illness and death for their essential role in the process of healing and transformation. It is 2017 and we have a choice to make. By focusing our attention on the problem, on what is wrong, it will grow bigger. Combined with no hope (or as I rather call it: 'limited imagination') we have a prescription for continuing conflict and even more disasters. By shifting our consciousness to focus our attention on the solution, using our creativity and infinite imagination, by cultivating community, gratitude, appreciation and love we can cause ripples to co-create the right environment to see what we wish for come true. It is in the eyes, hands and hearts of the beholders to see beauty and possibility in every occurrence and accept whatever is happening as an opportunity to grow and learn - turning disturbances to blessed opportunities and rivals to teachers and friends. Cultivating such consciousness doesn't mean to deny or ignore the truth of painful and damaging aspects of reality! We live in a time when the Oxford Dictionary 2016’s Word of the Year is post-truth – (an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’). The extensive use of this word in the phrase ‘post truth politics’, around the time of Brexit and the US election is a reminder and a wakeup call for us storytellers that using words, we can deceive and be deceived or choose to become truth bearers and seekers. In this time, we are called to develop an attitude which will enable us to quietly perceive what is happening, and then use our free will to focus on solutions rather than problems, seeking growth and learning. We can start feeding the situation the thoughts and emotions that creative imaginative artists experience in any artistic process when they courageously face the ongoing challenge of trusting chaos when it arrives and seeing its necessity for the formation of a new creation. At the School of Storytelling, we welcome you to join a range of freshly created courses made to meet the needs of this time. Explore and celebrate with us the fact we are facing an existential creative challenge, arrived at a perfect mess, seemingly impossible to solve; the perfect conditions we humans need to wake up, ignite our creativity, trust our imagination, have honest truthful conversations, change our ways and co-create a responsible, sustainable chapter of transformation for this planet. Classifying ourselves as 'HOMO SAPIENS' is so 2016…it is not the end of the story.
Wishing you all an Epic New Year! Roi Gal-Or