The day I "Occupied" Wall Street
As any hermit in the woods knows–there’s a big “Occupy” movement going on in the world. Even though I’m sometimes oblivious to national politics surrounded by Upper Peninsula trees without a TV that works, I know this much: people seem to be sick to death of big banks, a feeling of powerlessness, and a sense that we’ve lost our moorings as a society.
First there was “Occupy Wall Street”. (Because that’s where the big banks–and maybe the stock market–has its proverbial home.) Then the movement spread to the cities. There’s Occupy San Diego. (Our son and his wife went to a rally downtown San Diego back in October.) There’s Occupy Atlanta. There’s Occupy Marquette, for goodness sakes. And, are you ready for this? My friend, Bertha, went to an Occupy L’Anse group. Four people showed up down at the park. She swears it happened.
The Occupy movement is supposedly–among other things–and I suppose you’ll correct me if I’m wrong–a response to the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party folks are mostly right-winged conservatives and the Occupy folks are more liberal, although you have Libertarians in the Occupy movement and maybe a few liberal tea lovers in the Tea Party, so who am I to generalize?
The bottom line: people on the right and left, and probably points in-between, want things to change. They want things to get better. Less unemployment, more happy faces, more money, less capitalism, more church-goers, less church-goers, more joy, less banks, more government, less government. People point their fingers wildly in every direction saying “This is wrong, no, this is wrong, this is right, this should be changed. Get out of my park! No, we’re going to stay here because SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!”
There are at least two kinds of people in the world. “Innies” and “Outies”. (You know, like when you’re born, whether your belly button sticks out or sucks in.) Outies are those who try to change things externally. They look outward at what is wrong and attempt to alter it. Then there are the Innies. They look inward and try to change themselves first. They believe that by changing themselves–the world will reflect that movement and change along with it.
Of course, I’ve simplified things like crazy in that preceding paragraph. Because we all know we have both Innie and Outie tendencies. We work both angles. We work on ourselves, and we work on the world. Just like the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are often polarizing words that create war and anger. If we look deeply within ourselves, we’ll find places where we are liberal and where we’re conservative. We’re BOTH, unless we’ve repressed ourselves into an ideal, which we often have.
Back to “occupying” ourselves. I am 69.9% an innie. Raise your hand if you knew that.
I believe in attempting to occupy myself. It has been a quarter-century effort and it’s the most important thing I’ve done in this lifetime, even if full occupation never occurs. Instead of going west like the pioneers, I’ve chosen to go inward to the mind and spirit, and it’s been more challenging than stampedes and arrows and getting lost in the Rockies and eating your fellow travelers.
As human beings, we rarely occupy ourselves. We rarely occupy this precious sacred life, this precious sacred moment we’re experiencing. We’re lost in mental and emotional worlds which attempt to describe, label, justify, judge, lasso, discern, understand, impress, destroy and re-create.
Our human wars are outward reflections of inner confusion and wars. The big banks of our inner world are the belief structures which run the energy of our days. The stock market is our investment in what we choose to think and do. Our government is that which determines and runs our ideas and lives.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the human condition, we are so often out of control! We have voluntarily given our allegiance to our inner banks and governments and stock markets instead of our innate inner knowing–what some people call “God” and what others call the “Higher Self” or “awareness” and others argue doesn’t exist.
There is an inner sense in each and every one of us that knows. It knows what we must do. Before our first thought touches down into a cemented belief, it knows. We cover up this knowing with a hundred–no, a thousand– beliefs which sometimes serve and sometimes don’t serve us. This knowing exists even before we’ve labeled ourselves a separate individual self.
The invitation to truly occupy ourselves is our birthright. We can continue to live in the “mold of man”, our mold created from childhood, or we can determine to discover what lies beneath what our thoughts attempt to convince us, day in and day out.
There are many paths to help us occupy ourselves. Religions from time immemorial have pointed different ways. Meditation–the act of witnessing the mind while concentrating deeply on a sole object–loosens our rigid definitions of the self and world. Non-duality teachings point toward ways of fully occupying this present moment, this one and precious life we’re experiencing.
Zen folks often point toward having a Tea Party: slowly mindfully preparing and brewing and sipping your tea. If you do this consciously enough, you’ll begin to realize that so many of the arbitrary thoughts and beliefs which keep us “unoccupied” in our life are simply not true. After many years, you may even discover the boundaries between “self” and “tea” begin to weaken.
But, enough of this! Choose to Occupy Wall Street or Saint Louis or Chicago or L’Anse. Choose to have your Tea Party. But whatever you choose–choose the truest invitation of all. The invitation to truly “occupy” ourselves and this blue-green spinning planet fully.