How good to hear reality and truth spoken at the start of the UN Climate Summit.   From Leonardo DiCaprio — The new “UN Messenger of Peace”:

What is your story of awakening to the reality of Planet Earth?

My friend and colleague @RyanEliason often describes an experience that took place when he was nineteen years old and encountered a clear cut in a forest that he had enjoyed as a youngster.  At first the nineteen-year-old Ryan was just shocked, as he surveyed the land now scraped down to its clay soil.  As he observed the damage and stopped to let the reality of the situation sink in, the enormity of the loss hit him.   The sacred place he loved was gone forever.  He began to sob. 

For Ryan this was a moment of deep truth, of profound awakening—and the experience changed him forever.  Even today, as he tells this story, his authenticity shines through and transforms those around him.

In my own life, especially as a sensitive, young person, I braced myself against such a moment for years. To me, these losses seemed so painful that I pushed the experience away,
even as I felt a pervasive sadness over the state of the world and
worked to “save it”.  This was  more of a depression that a deep
awakening.  Then, after attending Sophia Center in Oakland, California, I
traveled to Genesis Farm Center for Earth Literacy in New Jersey where
my own awakening awaited me and the story of Earth finally sank in

The day it happened day started innocently enough. I was engaged in a course on genetics taught by Harvard-trained chemist, Larry Edwards and was loving the deep knowledge of the genome.  As we studied the magical evolution of life, I came to understand the story of how this genetic instruction code was passed to every being along the way to our becoming human.  Our class walked through 3.7 billion years of evolutionary R&D and I was captivated.   I experienced deep awe and thought: “This is so amazing… so elegant… and so very sacred.” 

Then it hit me: the human, evolved from a pre-cellular creature into the thinking complex conscious being with these instructions. The physical evolution that took place over 3.7 billion years is re-created in nine months in the womb: from single cell, to multi-cell, to growing a tail, to evolving the cortex, all of it.  We remember the instructions step-by-step.  The human being remembers, within this special set of instructions, what brought us from molten rock to this day.  Alongside us, the living systems of which we are an integral part, evolved as we did.  We were designed to be here together—living together in a system with all of creation.  We are preprogrammed to expect beauty and awe as part of our experience.

When I fully understood our current moment, I was filled with an awareness of what our species was doing to the genome in our short time on this planet.  From accelerating and causing extinction events, to nuclear releases and genetic experimentation… I suddenly felt the enormity of our arrogance and the weight of the loss.   Like Ryan, I  too, and just as suddenly, began to sob.

Some may see these tears as weak or even ridiculous.  I see them differently.  These tears are a spontaneous response to desecration.  It is what happens when you allow the pain of the world, the loss of the sacred, to really sink in.

This grief, like all grief, can change you forever.  And like all grief, we walk through the denial and sadness and anger to emerge with a commitment and purpose.

It is as if Earth and the Universe are filling our human awareness with these sudden moments of clarity.  That is why when I am asked to defend what it means to be “green” or am stereotyped as a bleeding heart or a tree hugger, I sometimes find it difficult to respond in words.  Is a response even possible?  Certainly not without recalling the story of how it came to be.  I see the world so differently than how I saw it before that profound moment. There is no question about that.   The transformation happened in a process that I can only describe as grace.

In my case, devotion to preserving, protecting and restoring living systems is not something I chose to undertake or even dreamed up; rather it is something that happened to me.  If you spend enough time quietly studying or being with the natural world, and contemplating its beauty, its amazing science, and its interconnection, I predict it will happen to you too.  

Science is not at odds with the sacred—it serves a doorway—the more we learn, the more awe is possible.

Do you have your own story of profound awakening?  I’d love to hear from you.

Dare to Dream

Aligning with a “Big Why” – the dream that comes from your
heart – is cited by many entrepreneurs as the biggest single factor in
creating focus and taking quantum leaps forward.  This was confirmed in my interview with successful entrepreneur and business coach Ryan Eliason in The Big Why Telesummit earlier this year, I asked him to what he attributed his success.  His answer: committing fully to his biggest vision– his “Big Why.”   Doing so clarifies what we want and need, helps us identify what needs to happen next, and it helps us more easily say “no” to distractions so that we can say “yes” to the most difficult next step.

I am still uncovering my purpose.  I do not always know what it is, but I definitely know when I’m not aligned with it.

“I did not know.  Turns out, it is something I discovered gradually”.

“When the energy is right sometimes it’s like a magnet you just cannot resist.”

“There have been many long years when I personally had no idea what my “big why” was but I was still guided by it. It was the fact that there was a “Big Why” that comforted me in those times.”

“My “Big Why?”  This is something I just feel in my bones.”

Our “Big Why” can also be described as our audacious intention or plan, something that resonates with both our mind and our heart.    It may be a life purpose, a goal or dream or even a deep need.  It is usually something that we are deeply passionate about and it almost always is a stretch to achieve.  If the thought of your purpose both passionately excites you and creates butterflies in your stomach at the thought of pursuing it, then you are on the right track.

 The root of the word “audacious” is “to dare,” or “to be daring”.  When one chooses to be daring, it is as if the world organizes itself to help make it happen.  The intention acts as “a compass” You may not necessarily know what form the plan or organization is going to take and what you are going to need when you start, but with a compass, you can at least know if you are pointed in the right direction.

The first step in an entrepreneurial endeavor is to commit to your most audacious Big Why The approach  doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s not going to necessarily be the only thing of which you decide, but a decision has to be made to commit to a big intention

The steps for finding your “Big Why” may vary for you—you may already know it or maybe you do not.  I would challenge you to experiment.  Explore and discover the nutrients that you need—activities, practices or ways of being that feed the soil of your spirit so YOU can create the conditions for your work to emerge into the world–whatever it is meant to be—large or small.  When we set our intention—it helps to think big, audacious even.  Our intention fuels our further work.