At lunch yesterday the subject of Seth Godin came up. My friend had read his book “The Dip.” He is quoted by J.D. Meier (who works at Microsoft and leads project teams on Agile project. He has authored several technical books.) He said, “Seth Godin is an author, an agent of change, a meaning maker, and an Idea Merchant.”

 The “agent of change” interested me.  I was reminded of  when Obama threw his hat into the presidential race; and the buzz word was “change.”  And when he finally got into office there was a collosal global rush of air that was released like a when you’ve held your breath for too long.

 It seems to me we are all agents of change when we consider the list of heroic acts of people who have changed situations:  Egyptians protested against the 30 year reign of Mubarak; 3 women are the recent recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for being full participants in peace building work in the most war-torn countries; and then there are the ongoing protests against the financial institutions across the world in support of the “Occupy Wall Street Movement”.

 “Do people really change?” I asked my friend.  He said, “Naw, some people do change, but the vast majority don’t. And those people that do change are never truly comfortable in their new skin. Even when people are like “Oh, you’ve changed”, it’s like “No, I’m finally able to be myself”. Like The Scorpion and the Frog.  This is who you are, deal with rock and roll.”

What brings about change? What would force anyone to change their direction and ways? Another friend described a questionnaire he had to fill out at a medical office and he was surprised at some of the psychological questions such as “Have you ever thought about suicide?”  Shocking at first, but after thinking about it I wondered if anyone can honestly admit they have not thought about death.  Yes to consider suicide is something deeply wounding, but considering suicide for the clinical and objective curiousity of it.  (The story line of the movie “Kissed”  is about a a child’s romantic ideals about death, and how it turns to necrophilia, and the study of embalming, and finally affecting her relationship with a man who kills himself so she could love him in his death state.)

 If there is any agent of change that is powerful and lasting I’d vote death as the winner. I wear a pendant made from a tusk of a Wooly Mammoth that was unearthed in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It has been carved into a skull. I wear it most times (even to work.) It’s a reminder to me of change, and acceptance of the nature of death and dying. My whacky point of view is that it is life that kills you. When I think about that pendant and its source I think that death brings me life, because it makes me aware of the finiteness of time as perceived in the living form; and how we cling to permanence such as our ideologies, practices, philosophies and our niches and fetishes that gives us identity.

 Our identity is perceived as valuable, and we attach idenfication cards as a means of giving us form: driver’s license; passports, social security numbers. There is now the crime of “identity theft”. I can name a few forms of identity change of hands: stealing dead peoples’ identity for collecting welfare benefits; stealing peoples’ financial data; FBI’s witness protection program; identical twins playing pranks on people.

 How we change internally and externally changes our identity and how we relate to the external world and how we feel about ourselves; this incorporates a change in attitude towards ourselves, how treat ourselves and how others will treat us. It’s so reciprocative.  People go for hypnosis sessions to change habits. People pay lots of money to get nose jobs, boob jobs and lifts and tucks. People will still lose their advantage over their willpower and binge on sweets. When the masses overturn the oligarchy in Wall Street what “new” face will sit in the executive board room? Are we bound to repeat our history based on DNA and our conditioning?

  “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.” – Steve Jobs

 But he did preview that with:

  “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

Bringing it all home, what is it in practice for me? The smallest and simplest thing makes so much difference. I hate to say that I will probably still hit the snooze button tomorrow morning. But I’m still hoping not to, and that will be like letting out that breath of air I’ve held too long.  Follow my heart…  Do what matters…There is no formula…

I will close with a couple of Bruce Lee quotes:

  • Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities – thought, feeling, will – to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it.
  • Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo. 


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