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Living the Big Picture

It's time to find our place in the mystery of life.

The mysteries of life

Psychology looks at individuals and couples, families, small groups and larger groups. It comes in all flavors from behavioral to contemplative and everything in between. Lots of people get lots of degrees and training in all aspects of the field, from being on the front lines (working one on one with people in distress) to being in the background doing neuropsychology research, with hopes of finding information that will help us understand who we are, why we are the way we are, why it hurts to be human so often and what the heck we can do about that.

The big picture is always there, staring at us, calling on us to look at the big questions. But, the goal is not to answer the big questions and it certainly isn’t the goal of thinking we get to SEE the whole big picture. The goal is to feel our selves, within the big picture. Looking at the big picture, we see its amazing uncertainty, lack of clarity, refusal to make us promises or offer us firm answers, to not only the big, but the little questions. And yet here we are square in the middle of that big picture: one tiny piece of a giant, incomprehensible puzzle.

And while we stare at the nighttime stars to get a feel for ourselves, small as we are, in the big picture, we just as easily stare into the invisible worlds below our feet to see the big picture. From the enormous amount of unseen life within the earth, to the very life forms that live within and upon us, the big picture holds us from the macrocosm to the micro (really, really micro) cosm. It’s always a laugh to think about some of the creepy facts we read about those teeny tiny life forms. One thousand species of bacteria and fungi make their homes on our skin! That’s a thousand species, meaning millions of little critters. (…)

I guess the truth is out. We are part of one great mystery, unfolding within us and outside of us. We may not find the answers to the big questions: Why? Why me? Why this? But we can learn to live comfortably and with a touch of equanimity with the questions. Rilke reminds us:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Live the questions now and rest in them. Not knowing is a good enough place to be, because we know (deeply) that those things we grasp at knowing, slip away. Feeling feet on the ground that holds us, hands reaching to the skies that carry us, we belong just here, just now. No answer is needed.

We are the big picture!