“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.” (Norma Desmond)
While our destiny may move towards wholeness, becoming fully one, we remain only one. We make sense of our world through a fluid narrative that throws us our forgotten lines when we have botched the dialog or lost the story. Our personal script moves the action around our hero, our main character, our Self. The cast of antagonists are identified by their abstract otherness or culpability. Our misfortunes and phobias are relegated to the Company, the Man, or worst of all, the Family. The perceived insult is double sided – it’s nothing personal, or worse, it is. Curiously, while we assign our misery to others, we seldom acknowledge the vital role they play in moving the plot along ever closer to our intended destiny. For example, it is in leaving the crummy girlfriend that we found our wonderful wife. Our lives are filled with nameless actors who present us with our most splendid opportunities but fail to be listed when our credits roll. While we have little choice but to play the main character of our own movie we can understand and empathize with the maddening throng of extras that seem to be acting off-script for they too are movie stars of their own films. All subplots intertwine into a larger story in the Big Cinema.
The ancient axiom “As above, so below” is used to describe this concept of how the microcosm, a person, and macrocosm, the universe that person inhabits, are representations or even mirrors of each other. This saying is usually followed by a parable about how the smallest seed contains the same attributes of the greatest tree from which it fell. The point being that all things are connected not just by interactions, but by type. It’s not the six degrees of separation that brings us all together but the cosmic programming that we share. This means that many complex elements of the world operate in concert with each other because they are of the same nature and seek the same ends – growth. We may be forgiven for viewing our world as cinematic, artificially animated from a human point of view, because we sense that it is indeed alive and we relate to it though the only story we possess…our own.
The art of growth is in seeing our place as integrative beings in this world looking for our way and opportunity to flourish; not to escape our human condition. While we are not tulips in the field bending to every movement of the sun, we too are growing with the aid of the generative power of creativity to develop our full potential. Nothing grows on its own. All things require a nurturing environment to co-create its optimal state, or in our case, our best Self. We too are part of the ecosystem of life.
In the ancient Chinese Book of Changes or I-Ching as it is known in the East, the ramifications of this “whole yet a part of something greater” perennial philosophy goes beyond Man’s role of walking between heaven and hell, and makes him the conduit through which the universe is integrated. It is his drive to create and his urge to grow that makes the generative forces of the world manifest. He is the reunion of these parts into a whole. In this role, he is neither the master of all things, nor completely mastered by circumstance or fate. He is both creating and the created. He is the actor playing the film maker within the film.
We grow as part of an ensemble of characters that view us as part of their own story.