“City life is millions of people being lonesome together.” -Henry David Thoreau
Last weekend I attended an incredible wedding. Hanging with college buddies whom I rarely see, dancing late into the night, celebrating all that’s good in life. Around 10pm on Saturday evening just as the wedding band started to rock, somebody I didn’t recognize approached.
“Dave, it’s Reid Johanson, great to see you!”
But before I could remember the gist of my acquaintance with this Reid Johanson, I realized he had invaded my personal space. He stepped within the one foot no fly zone and was standing six inches from my face. Yes, Reid is what they call a close talker, voted the #3 most annoying characteristic in a human being.
“Reid, hey,” I answered wiping his spit off my cheek.
“Been a long time Dave! I hear you are wearing Speedos and stretching people for a living!”
“Stretching yes. Speedos no,” I said taking a big step back and regaining my personal space.
“I coulda figured you’d end up in Speedos living out in Cali,” Reid said reentering my space.
I could smell his breath, see the food in his teeth, and spot the giant whitehead zit on his chin.
“How you been?” Reid spat.
“Other than these airborne transmitted STD’s I contracted, I’ve been great,” I answered. “I’ll tell ya’ Reid, that syphilis is hard to shake.”
But Reid didn’t move out of my space.
Then I put my hand on Reid’s shoulder giving him a gentle pat hello followed by a subtle push away. But Reid thought I was trying to hug him and proceeded to step even closer toward me assuming I was also a close talker. What could be worse than two close talkers? I certainly didn’t want to find out.
Have you not had such an experience? Is it me or is it awkward?
Finally, I removed the breath spray from my pocket, acted as if I was spraying into my open mouth, but instead aimed the nozzle toward Reid, and sprayed eight times onto his face. As Reid backed off to wipe his eyes, I pretended to be refreshed before walking away as if nothing happened.
For decades, we as a society have been “close talking.” Too much force, hustle, and effort has brought us closer to our goals, wants, and needs; while diminishing our capacity to step back and reflect.
Emerson said, “There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid and volatile.” In other words, the universe is feisty. With the state of the environment and the decline of the economy, I believe we are experiencing what it feels like when the universe Pushes back a “close talking” society.
The result: newfound time and space to recognize a deeper function of humanity. There is much we fail to notice in a high-paced life. Take the superorganism as an example. No this is not a Ron Jeremy reference. The superorganism is a collection of little organisms that together act in service of the whole. For instance, a single colony of leaf cutter ants (see above photo) have millions of workers divided into a diversity of castes. Together, these ants perform intelligent actions that an individual ant would never dream possible.
Unlike the ants, Americans as a whole have not joined forces on a united cause since the mission to the moon back in the 60′s. Once again, finally, we are starting to join forces. This is the good coming from all the bad happening in this world. We are being Pushed away from the pursuit of cosmetic perfection; Pushed away from individual material dominance; Pushed away from addiction to oil. And slowly but surely, the human superorganism is taking shape.
Whether it’s Americans making a peaceful but radical change in leadership that in many countries could only be achieved thru a coup, violence, and massive loss of life. Or the 2,000,000 person strong wecansolve.org which is slowly but surely outmaneuvering oil companies to force the issue of climate change. People from every class, caste, and corner are starting to find their place in the superorganism.
Next time a close talker invades your space, notice how he forces the issue. The closer he comes, the more tempted you are to push back. That’s exactly where we stand at this unique time in history. As a society, we can’t get any “closer.” The more one forces, hustles, and strives for individual gain at the expense of the whole, the harder the universe will Push back. Frank Zappa said it perfectly, “In the fight between you and the universe, back the universe.”
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