What would a better world not only look like, but feel like?
I had this fantasy the other night.
I imagined myself waking up in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house, in my neighborhood. Everyone I knew was there, the farm I work trade for veggies was there, everything was as it is now.
Except there was no currency. I mean, there was no monetary exchange for goods or services. There was no money. No bartering either. No assessing value or keeping track of hours or getting on the payroll.
But I had everything I needed and there was no fear of it being taken away or being deprived access. The community would never let me go without a home, the clothes I need, food, healthcare, transportation, nor time or the materials to create.
I had everything I needed and I didn't have to work for it. Even just writing this, I feel the joy of imagining a world like this.
I went about my day with loose plans, but because there was no shortage of available labor - people wanted to work because they loved to help others or their community at large - I had the freedom to change them should something come up. It was incredible how smoothly it all ran.
I saw myself spending time doing some basic chores for a neighbor who was older, chatting away as I did tasks like cleaning and laundry. I went to the farm, gabbing away with friends as we worked. There was no pressure because there was no fear because there was no shortage of hands to help. It got done, and if there was some snafu, we just dealt with it.
What was wonderful was that there wasn't a bunch of unnecessary work being done that didn't benefit the whole, and so there was a ton of free time to be creative - sometimes just for the joy of it, sometimes to express something, sometimes in the form of innovation to solve any number of problems. And there was more than enough time, too, for exploring relationships - with ourselves, with others, with the natural world, and the subtle worlds in between.
I saw myself coming home refreshed and energized, diving into my art with exuberance.
There was no ongoing systemic psychological or physical trauma, so medical care was mostly used to address the occasional accidents, birthing issues, and life mishaps. Chronic illness was mostly not a thing because chronic stress wasn't a thing. Because we understood that working to benefit the whole ensured our individual well-being, and prioritizing individual well-being resulted in a healthier society, there was no desire to maintain caste or class hierarchies, or any form of social or economic oppression. We both wanted individuals to have the freedom to blossom into their gifts in whatever unique ways they did, and wanted to uplift the well-being of the community as a whole. Conflict resolution and restorative justice were the norm. A diversity of thought and perspective was as celebrated as any other form of diversity. Life was so easy it was almost comedic. Who knew it could be so good? And so simple? For some folks, I'm sure there's a desire to scoff at all of this fantasizing. The analytical mind can come up with all sorts of reasons why this wouldn't work. I've certainly simplified things here. We often unconsciously believe that the way things are now is the only way our systems can be. And yet, over the course of history, there have been countless ways that human beings have organized systems to distribute goods and services, manage resources, and maintain positive social dynamics. The way we live now is only one among many, many ways to live together on this planet.
What if we lived in alignment with that which enhanced individual and collective health? It's so obvious it's almost laughable. And yet, why don't we?
What if we contributed to the well-being of others because it enhanced the system in which we are embedded, and we experience the repercussions of a more resilient, adaptive, thriving system because the individual parts that comprise it are themselves resilient, adaptive, and thriving?
What if we restored natural spaces because it made us healthier?
What if we prioritized rest and connection because it ultimately made us more creative and productive?
It might seem too fantastic to believe for some, but often the simplest answer is the right one: Maybe the fastest way to a truly sustainable world - environmentally, economically, and emotionally - is to devise one that gives our bodies what they crave: rest, connection, freedom, an opportunity to be of genuine service to our communities, and space for authentic expression. This is based in the knowing that the restoration of the human nervous system becomes the foundation for the creation of revolutionary systems that make life so enjoyable, we can chuckle about it. And reap the benefits of truly free human beings now able to embody their distinct gifts for us all.
So there's room to play with this in a couple of different ways:
- Get comfortable, feel the sensations of your body touching the environment, notice your body relaxing, and then ask it: what would a sane, thriving future look like? And see what images and words come to you.
- Or try it the other way around: As you imagine a better world, or the world I've described here, how do you feel? What sensations do you notice? Take some time with it, letting those feelings strengthen in your attention.
I'd love to hear what you notice.