Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.”
-from Cloud Atlas
Some of you might recognize this line from the book/movie “Cloud Atlas” which is based around the idea that the product of our actions, attitudes, and choices will populate the future of our lives, and lives to come. In the story the lives to come, it seems to be, are reincarnations of previous lives that the characters, semi-unknowingly, live again and again. I tend to think that they are not meant literally as reincarnations of our souls and bodies, but just repeated manifestations of the collective effect of our actions. Said another way, the ripples our life creates are eternal and do not die when our bodies give out.
This is an idea that is part of the basis for starting this blog and journeying through these many varied aspects of this same thought. I think that it is important when talking about this idea to establish one clear principle. This being that the future we birth is not only our own but represents the collective future of humanity in our lifetime and in infinite other lifetimes that come after ours. Through tangible means such as telecommunication, travel, and other physical means as well as through ideas, thoughts, and unseen threads we are bound together with the whole of humanity. What does this mean for our individual lives and the fate of humanity as a whole?
There is a certain fiber that weaves us together as human beings. An unseen link that is not only produced through our actions and effects on others, but that feeds back to our lives the choices and actions of others we share this life with. This idea begs a question: What responsibility do I have to others and others to me to lead my life by a certain moral code? What is that code and who decides what it is? These are hard questions to answer and ones that truly may never come to universal solutions. What we each have to find for ourselves is what this life means to us and how we wish to honor or ignore the connection we have to others and this life to the next.
Thinking about moral code and ethical fortitude I think about myself and how I determine my own path and the criteria by which I base the choices I make in life. Sometimes I feel as though the moral code by which I have chosen to abide is too rigorous, too strict, and is unfair to myself and gives others around me a negative perception of my personality. I have been told by other this is true, that the way I live makes them feel bad. This is terrible to me and often makes me question my choices. Am I sincere in my choices? Is the product of my moral fiber genuine or is it a manifestation of my self-consciousness and self-doubt. This debate rages on but I have come to know one thing. All I can do is let my heart guide me, do what feels right to me, and always measure myself by what I know is right. Outside of that I can not control how others see me.
In turn that moral code is the one by which I often measure others as well, fairly or not. I am often discouraged by what seems to be a complete and total lack of any sort of social or collective understanding or concern for our fellow people. Things like selfishness, dishonesty, cheating, lieing, and lack of ethical conviction puzzle me more than anything.
I struggle with this concept because, inherently, I want each and every person to lead their life as they see fit. Who am I to impose my will on others? Who am I to judge others as I feel others judge me? While at the same time my expectation is that the whole of humanity realizes that their choices have consequences for my life and the lives of my loved ones. By this measure, couldn’t I say that it is my responsibility to hold others, and most importantly myself, the highest possible standard of moral understanding and ethical practices? This is probably unfair of me and is something I will probably always struggle with. This doesn’t mean I am right or wrong, it is just a conundrum. To quote my favorite movie, Into the Wild, and excuse the language: “I don’t understand why people, why every fucking person is so bad to each other so fucking often.”
We must also explore the idea of the succession of life, or the reincarnation of our lives in some way. Whether you belive in true reincarnation or not is irrelevant. The concept we need to explore is the reincarnation of our ideas, thoughts, and actions. Just as we discuss the concept of legacy work, the creation of something and living a life that will leave behind something positive after we die, so too must we consider the wake left by our choices. In “Cloud Atlas” the seemingly insignificant choice of a single person has unimaginable consequences, both positive and negative, for people who live generations later. The sharing of an idea, the raising of a voice against injustice, the personal connection with a single person. These actions can roll forward, gaining speed and impact, and change the fiber of this world without us ever knowing it.
The thing that we must constantly consider and forever weave into the tapestry that is our life is that it is not solely our own nor is it our only chance to impact the world. Whether through a life after this one, or future incarnations of the world we leave behind, the impact of us can be great. Consider your connection to others as you make choices in your life. Consider the impact you can make with this short time on Earth. Remember that this is not only about you, it is about all of us, together, in the eternal cycle of life, death, and life again.