Hosted by Susan
As part of a series exploring a caring and sacred worldview, my colleague Micah teaches me the meaning of his guiding mantra: “I am working on expanding my definition of self, in everything I do, and in all the ways I do it, so that when I act selfishly it will be for the betterment of the whole.” We start our conversation talking about how deeply he identifies with being a father. Now that his parenting role has shifted, he’s learning to listen to his intuition telling him to let go of a sense of urgency to know - right now - what that will mean for him. Growing up “not this and not that” across several identities, instead of trying to fit into others’ boxes, he focuses on being comfortable with who he is. As a young person, he comes to realize that what he is seeking in this life can be found in the practice of mindfulness. But formal meditation, especially for someone allergic to routine, was frustrating until guidance from Shawn Harrison teaches him that it's less about a goal like enlightenment, and more about just showing up. Informal mindfulness practice is now woven into his days, whether he’s walking down the street or leading others to tune into what’s happening right now.
Micah’s tendency to ask questions no one is asking led to isolation and struggles with depression in his early life that softened when he took on the responsibility of becoming a father, motivated by a committed love for his children. This is important part of his journey to expand his definition of self. Our conversation suggests that an expanded definition of self is about breaking free of and healing from the harm inflicted by the individual-size prisons we put ourselves into; about the gift we offer ourselves and others when we can get comfortable in our own skin; about the gratitude that arises when we find alignment between what we can offer and what is being asked of us; about experiencing and expressing love and connection; and about acting for the betterment of the whole. And about that - about working toward change - Micah says: “There tends to be an imposed limit to what I can truly do…but the only imposed limit to how much I can love is imposed by me, and I can work with that. When I expand past what my limits previously were, transformation happens.”
Bonus: Discussing this quote, we talk about how Einstein and Micah align and diverge - listen to learn more! A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of their consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Micah (he/him) is of mixed race (black and white) and mixed religion, and grew up in two different socio-economic homes. He is a cisgendered, working/middle class parent of two living on Munsee/Lenape land in the Mahicantuck Valley, commonly referred today as Kingston, NY, working to prove possibility and to liberate the imagination in order to see a Just Transition.