“The Utopia is a vision of the rational form of society, and it is best seen, not as an end,
but as an informing principle.” – Northrop Frye.
Cast off that shell
Don’t resist the unknown
Your understandin’ is open-handed
Hold it closed and you’re alone
– Jerry Jeff Walker, Shell Game 1
Who needs a pep talk? Perhaps the would-be citizens of a new human city—but not necessarily to raise their spirits. Today’s thesis, which is simply that most people don’t socialize enough, fits with promoting the new human ideals of tolerance, collaboration and supporting mystical concepts like the hive mind, time travel and global peace.
Heaven knows, the conch community is super-friendly, to go by the evidence of how people get along with each other, strangers included, after a couple of hours of ecstatic dancing. (Why even show up to dance if you’re not at least somewhat socially adept?)
But most people (arguably) don’t socialize much. Arguably, more people in the wealthy West are motivated by fear rather than by love, whether or not they’re aware of it. Perhaps that’s because our possessions tend to coccoon us, the way cars carry us about in bubbles… But that’s another story.
This is a pep talk for the lovers of life, on whom rests the fate of the human race.
On any given beautiful day in the pockets of beauty in this city (places, that is, where you can walk among others walking) you will see the physically beautiful specimens of humanity we’re famous for, people from everywhere. Because this is a busy commercial hub and we’re part of that new and changing group called Canadians, most of us look and act busy; perhaps we’re busy looking cool, if not important.
So much of the beauty is lost for lack of exercise of a few facial muscles, the ones that form smiles! Sure, a smile begins in the heart. Still, the desire to smile can be cultivated: thinking of gratitude, recent pleasant occurences, the pleasure of walking in peace among strangers… thoughts that trigger smiles need not be heavy-duty. They can be bidden as easily as imagining a butterfly or noticing the grace of a passing cyclist.
O ye of the consciousness community (the conch), for whom compassion and being in the moment is superhumanly close at hand, resist and counter the facile moping of fellow citizens! Smile wantonly, crazily in our oppressed public realms. Advertise your self-confidence, your budding self-awareness and your curiosity about what’s inside everyone!
Connect and support
The presence of others who are available for encounter and exchange is such a powerful lift for a human! By offering ourselves—our moments, our focus, our minds as receptors—we are ourselves stimulated as we stimulate.
In taking advantage of a chance to start a chat with a stranger, such as the person who by chance sat beside you in the closing circle of a dance, we reinforce the deeply healing power of being social. It’s powerful for putting aside our mental burdens and for practicing being ourselves. It’s powerful for bringing to life what we know: a human is complex, way deeper than what we might think if we look and judge (everybody judges!) in silence.
Connecting and paying attention—socializing—is pretty well all that heals a society. Without it, politics, activism, religion, organized sports and other pass-times are sterile at best, at worst a distraction.
1. A pep talk is “an exhortion to activity”, commonly used to describe how a coach speaks to her team before a game.↩