I have several times, more this year than others. Most of my time is spent in rather mundane pursuits of tending to chores of daily living. It offers security and comfort and predictability. On rare occasions, I am in a situation totally different, that transcends the mundane and profane. It moves me to see myself as part of a larger body. The wishes and goals of that larger body become more important than my own. We all experience it to different degrees.
A year ago, Melanie and I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time. We got up before sunrise and made our way to a lookout point to wait for sunrise. Slowly the colors and shadings of the canyon became more clear. As the sun broke the horizon, we vowed our love in celebration. It was a spiritual moment.
More about stair climbing below the squiggle.
Another time that made me feel part of something much bigger than me came last spring during the campaign. I had been doing my part as a local volunteer knocking doors and calling. As one thing and another changed, I found myself in the role of team leader. One day, the regional organizer called me about being one of the 25 people selected to meet the President before he spoke at a local event. What an honor.
He is just a man. He laughs, cries, jokes, and makes decisions all the time. But, he is part of something much larger. He represents the hopes and dreams of tens of millions of people. He stands for the things we dream of, the things we feel are important in life. He speaks eloquently for us. That day he shook my hand. He put his arm around my back as we posed for a picture. He thank me for my work on his behalf. During his speech later, I vowed to do all I could to help him. I felt part of something the transcended me. In a sense, I had climbed the stairs from my everyday world and reached another level. I was conscious of so much more, evidenced by the cheers and excitement of the thousands around me and all over the country.
This feeling of being part of something more than oneself has no political affiliation. It cares not whether you are Republican or Democrat. It doesn't matter if you are Asian, African, of any color, or creed. It comes in the presence of both good and evil. How many times in history have we seen people sacrifice even their lives because they have climbed the stairs and moved to a place much larger than their little world? They die for a cause.
After my presidential visit, and a couple of other special events this year, I thought a lot about this phenomenon. It was exciting. I realized how movements can become powerful forces both for good and bad. The experience and realization has been sitting in the back of my mind. Today, I watched the following 18 min TED video by Jonathan Haidt. In it he talks about why we desire to become part of something larger. He proposes some reasons why we try to transcend from our normal lives. He uses the metaphor of a house and a special stairway that allows us to rise above it. I urge you to watch it.
What about you? Have you had similar experiences? What in your life helps you transcend the day to day living and reach a different and more special place? Is it religion? Is it meditation? Is it drugs? Do you do it alone? Or, with a group? Is the experience positive or negative?