Earlier this week, a friend I greatly respect shared a letter from her Shaman about the new era we entered into this week. I know, I already lost most of you the moment I said the word Shaman, and hey, I understand, I think I lost myself there too.
Being from the San Francisco bay area, I've had to deal with all kinds of crazy New Age things for most of my adult lifetime. Back in the 70's it was hard to go a couple of blocks without running into a bunch of crystals, or all kinds of cults. I've heard it all, and it's given me a strong aversion to phrases like “Mother Earth” or “the dominant paradigm”, which this letter was happy to use all over the place.
There's some mixture of belief in the Mayan calendar ending and astrological stuff, and whatever else, that makes a lot of New Age folk believe a New Era is currently beginning. The letter advised that there were 3 particularly meaningful days around the Solstice, and that an especially important time would be right in the middle of those days, which was Friday the 21st at 3:15 AM.
As I read the letter, I struggled to get past all the annoying New Ageisms, and you know, the disturbing truth is, somewhere inside, I partly believe some of that stuff. Not in the Mayans, and not in the paradigm babble, but underneath, there's a spirituality that isn't far from mine. I'm some crazy combo of Christianity and all kinds of other things, and I tend to be an “it's all good” kind of guy underneath my often cynical and jaded exterior.
All this is to say, I do harbor the secret suspicion that we really might be on the dawn of a New Age. It's definitely the optimist in me, which struggles a lot with the part of me that thinks we've ruined the world and we're going to be living in Soylent Green any day now. Still, in spite of the believer in Sci-Fi movies that lurks within, the optimist surprisingly often wins out.
I know it's a stretch for most people to see, but that's the part of me that found myself at protest events in the middle of the night a year ago, I really believe the world can be a better place, and that we need to give that a chance. So keeping with that middle of the night schedule, I set my alarm for the magic 3:15 time. The letter had advised to do something meaningful for about 15 minutes or half an hour to help usher in the awesome new beginning we're about to embark on.
A few days ago, I unplugged my alarm clock, and when I reset it, apparently I screwed up and set the time 12 hours off, so when my alarm was supposed to go off at 3AM, the clock was set as 3 PM. Huh? All that is to say, the intended alarm didn't go off. Still, my occasionally dependable inner clock woke me up to see why I wasn't awake yet. The problem is, that inner clock isn't quite as accurate as a real alarm, and I got up at 3:30 AM. Just in time to have missed the important moment. Yes, I slept through the dawning of a new era.
I sat, contemplated, considered, thought about doing some kind of ritual like dancing around the living room with the stuffed animals. But as I breathed in the nice crisp and cool Oakland air, I realized, a new era is always starting, that we are always on the verge of the future and whatever it will be.
It's not that important to me to ritualize and signify some turning point; we are always turning, we are always beginning. We are always starting a fresh start.
If we depend too much on thinking that some cosmic force is what will start a new era, it's too easy for us to sit back and watch that happen, and to think praying in the middle of the night is all we need to do. If my inner New Age groovy guy believes in some of this stuff, my inner radical and do-gooder Christian believes that it's only going to happen if we all pitch in and do the work.
And with that, finding I was content to have slept through the special moment, that I'd missed my chance to ritualize, I said a short prayer, thanked God that I'm alive and for the daily blessings I receive, and I went right back to sleep.
I slept really well.