Marius and I bumped into each other in the house kitchen, where we popped open a bottle of red wine and began snacking on dates, almonds, cheese, crackers, and chocolate. “I was in the sixth grade,” Marius told me, grabbing a cracker, “and the teacher asked me why I was late for school. I gave a smart-aleck answer because I was drunk.”
Travel inwardly and outwardly until you hear something, a distant and unfamiliar melody, sung in a foreign tongue around a strange fire. Break bread with those you find there, the “others.” Listen to their stories. Pay tribute to their gods and warriors. Honor their ancestors. Feel their hearts.
Who among us does not want to be seen, to be fully understood and appreciated, to be respected and honored for whom we are? Who does not want to be wrapped in that warm blanket we call “unconditional love,” where we feel we can do no wrong, and where our shadow side is just as celebrated as our light? For are we not a mixed bag of light and dark, health and injury, joy and sorrow, a flawed and fallen creature who longs to be accepted “as is”?
Knowledge alone does not bring about change in the core of a person. Only honest observation, steady practice, and repetition will do that, driving knowledge into the “muscle memory” of the soul.
What does it mean to be really valuable to others? Does it mean creating something that has immediate market appeal? Is that the measure of our value, when we are lauded by our contemporaries and peers? If yes, then all of the unsung heroes whose remarkable ideas that made our modern life possible are abject failures. Since that does not ring true, I submit there is another way to think about it.