One of my favorite songs is by Arcade Fire, Windowsill:
“I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more.”
This is such a provocative suggestion.
What if we simply decide to move out of the “house” our “fathers” built? We just have to notice that we want something new, then start to build our new “house” in some small, meaningful, intentional and purposeful way.
I don’t want to live in a house where my brother and his partner are shunned by their families or community because of who they are. I cannot force everyone in America to believe that. So I make sure to celebrate their marriage and imminent new arrival with them. And my children were part of their wedding. We’re building a new house of love and acceptance.
I don’t want to live in a house where I don’t know my neighbors, but I know the names of people who are on reality television. Bitching about the state of TV won’t do much good. So I never pass up a chance to hold a conversation, meet someone new or accept an invitation. I’m helping build a new house of connectedness and tangible relationships.
I don’t want to live in a house where money and wealth drive elections and decisions, creating cynical spaces between people. Becoming St. Francis or Siddhartha doesn’t sound like a solution (or much fun). So I follow Wendell Berry’s advice and try to live in a more thoughtful, responsible way. I’m building a sustainable house that doesn’t need annual 3% increases to survive and therefore, doesn’t have to sell its soul.
And I don’t want to live in a house where we separate each other into winners and losers, forcing people to live ostracized lives of various violence. But railing against “the system” seems useless to me. And acquiescing is boring. So instead, I start by making my own life more inclusive in personal ways. I use whatever influence I have to support innovation and help people plant the seeds of the future. I am slowly constructing a new house built on a DIY-open-source and convivial foundation where anyone can join in at any point, and do anything that fits their fancy.
The beauty of this is that it gives me a great deal of power over the daunting circumstances that want to lock me into the present. These obstacles disintegrate once I take those first doable steps. And it places the responsibility for change squarely on my own shoulders, where it belongs and feels comfortable.
All of this relates to our work at Starfire. We’ve gone through some pretty big changes in the last few years, and we’ll be going through more changes over the next few years. We announced to the public two weeks ago that the outings we’ve offered for the past 20 years are ending in 2014. You can imagine the emails and voicemails I’m getting. But we also announced the creation of our new gatherings, which we’ve been piloting for six months and so far, are really something that I think will be more meaningful in people’s lives, and more effective in ushering in more inclusion in the world. They give us new ways to step boldly into the future.
This is why I’m so jazzed about this Mayan Apocalypse thing. First of all, it’s great for ridiculous jokes about putting off work, buying $18,000 works of art on credit cards and warning Bridget that she’d better appreciate me a little more in our precious last seconds together.
But more importantly, it’s just going to be great.
I should clarify…I don’t plan on any fiery deaths or cataclysmic judgment from on high. But I do plan on this world ending…as it is…and that’s a not a bad thing.
You see, I take a more personal view of doomsday. No one knows the hour. That’s true. In fact, the “end of the world” occurs for about 154,000 people around the world every single day. Their world ended and none of them knew the hour.
So I get excited about how this world will end. And I get most excited thinking about ways I can actively bring about the end of this world. And I don’t mean this in a “nuclear bomb” or a “takemycountrybackshoveitdowntheirthroat” kinda way. I mean in a personal “build the house you wanna live in” way.
While it’s tough on us all to go through this “end of the world” or leave those comfortable houses our fathers and mothers built for us, the call is there. We must act.
The Mayans were right. The world will end tomorrow, in millions of unnoticeable and unsung ways, and it will end the next day….and the day after that…and the day after that…And each day it will be built anew by our actions and decisions. I love the sounds of all that construction.