Because of an ongoing project I have, I’ve developed a habit of pulling quotations from the Internet, from books, from talks, from wherever I may find them. I ran across one this morning that I think fits into an experiment I’ve been pondering for a while now. It’s a quotation from the scientist David Bohm:
“A single fluctuation adding its strength to other fluctuations may become powerful enough to reorganize the whole system into a new pattern. The points at which this happens are ‘bifurcation points’, at which deterministic description breaks down and the system follows one of several possible forks in the road.”
As I read this quotation, it got me to thinking about a perspective I’ve heard repeated in a number of different contexts, about the importance of small groups, all around the world and in every community, that come together to focus on doing work for the community, creating prayer groups, generating small groups that raise money for local, national, or international causes, and on and on. The key element in this dynamic is the presence and commitment of individuals who are of like mind.
What I wondered was: are we really aware of how the actions, or inaction, of each and every one of us impact the larger contexts within which we live? And, that got me to thinking about how I spend my time and the moment-to-moment choices I make. Do my choices and actions contribute to the well-being of my world? Are there things I do that add to the suffering around me? Sometimes, in what seem to be the insurmountable difficulties of our human family, I find myself wondering if my small, everyday life has any kind of impact at all.
Then, when I read a quotation like the one above, I remember that even the smallest action or intention can make a difference and I again become mindful of how I live my everyday life—of the qualities I bring to it, the small actions I take on a regular basis, my choices about how I spend my time and use the resources I’m blessed to have: enough food, water, electricity, heat.
For this week’s experiment, I invite you to notice how you move through your world, to be aware of the choices you make, the qualities you bring to your own experience and to the experience of those you encounter along the way. Notice how you relate to and use the resources available to you, the respect you bring to them, the mindful way you engage them. Following Bohm’s quotation above, which “fork in the road” do you take as you move through your daily life?
As with all these experiments, this isn’t an invitation to judge yourself. Instead, it’s an invitation to notice, moment to moment, what choices you make, what attitudes you cultivate. The beauty of this kind of noticing is that it offers choice points where you can notice if you’re going down a road that enhances your quality of life, and the quality of life of those around you, or if you’ve stepped onto a path that doesn’t feel good after all. And, as always, remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion, as its presence supports a tendency to experience an open, engaged way of being in the world.