Friday, June 22, 2012


Familiars.  A school of philosophy, even neuroscience and psychology talk about how we create familiars in our minds as a way to anticipate the world. When you consider the barrage of stimuli that bombard you every single second, familiars remove those stimuli from thought so we don’t have to think about them.  In psychology, when events occur that clash with our mental or perhaps emotional maps of familiars, conflict arises, like a GPS that is lost and constantly recalucating or telling you to take a U-turn. At their essence, familiars are designed to help us function in the world.

Familiars, however, have a down side. They simply become, well, familiar and unnoticed. Mark Nepo, in his book “Awakening” suggests you take something familiar out into the sunlight and just notice it, let it become ‘unfamiliar.’ Sitting here at my little porch table I pondered my coffee cup. The thread lengthened and I pondered how everything around me is an act of creation. Think about it. The pencil or pen you hold did not always exist. They are an act of creation in someone’s mind. The paper, computer, Post-it note, phone, the light in your office or kitchen, the car and all its multitude of parts, the TV, cell phone, the house (not a cave) and every item (including indoor plumbing!) have not always existed. Each is an act of creation, an idea, a tinkering here and there until it worked, and voila – what did not exist is now a familiar. Even your partner, husband or wife, co-worker, friend, security guard at work who greets you, the delivery person, the mail person, the stranger in the elevator or checkout line – they too did not always exist, they too are acts of creation, shaped by Life and their own tinkering here and there as they respond to life and develop their own familiars and voila – a human being, a person now exists. The thread really gets tangled when you pause and consider how everything around you is an act of creation – and then consider the creative acts required, the individuals, logistics required to make that act of creation available to you right now at this moment.  
Both the fragility and resilience, the softness and devastating power of Nature remind us of the act of creation – and the loss incurred when we rely too much on familiars.  Even GPS systems come with a warning to not simply obey the voice – you could end up in a corn field, lake or drive through a building.

 I pause and ponder all the familiars – physical, emotional, spiritual and those people and objects around me.  Oh, we need familiars to function. But perhaps that is the key – function. They allow us to function they make no claim they offer a life or living. Function versus being or being alive.  To be alive, I have to stop, notice, and appreciation the act of creation, make the familiar – unfamiliar.  The essence of sacred.
It’s not that unusual
When everything is beautiful
Just another ordinary miracle today.
~ Sara McLaughlin “Ordinary Miracle”

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