Something happens on the flight path between New York City and Cleveland, Ohio. Something I've previously described here, and something I experienced again this month when traveling this familiar stretch of air.
On a plane, some 24,000 feet high, all of the infinite possibilities and connections of this world seem to suddenly make complete and total sense through every layer of my being. This time, it happened while I was reading Carlo Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, and as I read, this is what I felt, this is what I learned:
Life is a series of fleeting connections.
For me, fleeting connections began as a phrase. A phrase describing ephemeral moments of vulnerability between strangers in New York City.
I first heard the phrase while talking on the phone with someone I met at a meditation retreat. He said that all human relationships - however long they seem to last - are ultimately just fleeting connections. And he was right. After all, everybody dies. But those moments with strangers in the city felt the most fleeting to me, so I borrowed the phrase and used it as the title for a blog, where I told stories about these fleeting experiences with strangers.
Then, the phrase evolved. It evolved as I evolved, and I started using it to describe moments I was experiencing during meditation and yoga and Reiki - moments of connection with ethereal beings, with other people’s souls, and with the great infinite mystery. Moments of clarity like the one I experienced on the flight between New York and Cleveland, but these moments, like with all other connections, don't simply stay put and remain the same. They too disappear.
And that's why all of this spiritual stuff is ultimately a practice. Because the experiences are fleeting, so we need tools to help us keep remembering and keep connecting. Meditation, yoga, tarot, astrology, Reiki - these are all tools. Tools that teach us that there is so much more out there than just the daily minutiae, the to-do lists, and the shoulds, But of course, they are also a way of reminding us that there is beauty within the minutiae.
I've had marketing people tell me that I should change my business name. That what I'm offering people is not "fleeting," and who wants to buy something they can't firmly grasp? And they're right that the practices I teach are not fleeting. The practices and the teachings stay with you, but ultimately, all of this is fleeting. And that's kind of the whole point. That's the big teaching, and the more I learn about this mysterious world, the more I love this name: Fleeting Connections.
Carlo Rovelli explains how the very substratum of our reality is unstable. Fleeting. Quanta leaping through time and space. Things only existing through interaction - through fleeting connections - with each other:
"Quantum mechanics and experiments with particles have taught us that the world is a continuous, restless swarming of things, a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities. A set of vibrations, as in the switched-on hippie world of the 1960s. A world of happenings, not of things."
Nothing can be pinned down.
All things - me, you, the stars, the subatomic particles, the blanket of space and time, and the energy radiating between us - are in a constant state of interaction. My reality and your reality is a direct product of the reactions caused by these fleeting connections.
Even time is not an objective reality. Time is a consequence of the interaction of things. It is a reaction that occurs within a system of moving parts:
"The passage of time is internal to the world. It is born of the world itself in relationship between quantum events that comprise the world and are themselves the source of time...There are only elementary processes wherein quanta of space and matter continually interact with one another. The illusion of space and time that continues around us is a blurred vision of this swarming of elementary processes."
This swarming of things, as Rovelli so beautifully describes it, is our reality. You do not move through empty space. There is no such thing as empty space. You move within this interactive system, and as you move, the world reacts to you, and you react to the world.
We are in a constant state of conversation with the universe.
This conversation is always happening, and when we actively engage with it by living mindfully, acting with intention, and just generally being thoughtful human beings, we shift the conversation.
I theorize that when we work magic (ritual spells, Reiki, etc.), we are performing active actions that - like all things - have reactions. We are simply engaging with this conversation in another, powerful way.
When you take this approach to magic, you may start to see that the entire world is quite magical. That we are always moving and interacting. That there isn't a huge difference between signing a legal contract and writing a mantra. The difference of course is intention and perspective and what is happening in the mind, and the mind itself is a powerful place. Thought is part of the process:
"Our free decisions are freely determined by the results of the rich and fleeting interactions among the billions of neurons in our brain...There is not an "I" and "the neurons in my brain." They are the same thing. An individual is a process: complex, tightly integrated."
If you really want to know what all this magic work is about, this is it: I teach people how to work with their thoughts and their perceptions and how to actively engage in the conversation they are having with the universe. That is all. The effects are often astounding, and I wonder if it's all just like the Brazilian butterfly who theoretically flaps its wings and causes a tornado in Texas.
This is the idea behind chaos theory. The idea that "tiny changes in circumstance can have major ramifications later on." And this isn't as chaotic as it appears on the surface. There is order in the chaos. Even if we don't readily comprehend that order. (50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know by Joanne Baker)
Truth is found in open minds.
Throughout history, people have challenged the status quo. Driven by curiosity, they have pondered and experimented and explored.
And thinkers who propose new ways of looking at the world are often left feeling discouraged, invalidated, and unappreciated. In fact, the man who first proposed thermodynamics was so dismayed by the world's reaction to his ideas that he killed himself. Of course, we now agree that he had the right ideas all along.
There are truths in nature. The truths are not defined by what we believe to be true. They simply are true. They exist beyond us, yet we exist only within them.
As Rovelli says, we are observers from "within the midst." As such, our perspective - our mere ability to observe - is constrained by the laws that we ourselves are trying to understand.
Early on in my relationship with my partner, I sat across from him at a table in a restaurant on the first floor of his apartment building on the Upper West Side. I was talking about creation, the universe, the idea that it all must have started somewhere - a point of origin.
He said, "we only think about things in terms of starting and stopping and having points of origin because that is how we think. What if there is something that functions without starting and stopping and without any source that is simply beyond our reasoning?"
People often discuss God as Source. They perceive the universe as a grand creatrix. They choose to believe that creation looks like human birth because that is how we experience creation. And maybe they are right, but what if there is something even grander?
All of this is to say that if you want to touch truth, stay open to your crazy ideas while at the same time, be willing to be wrong.
Better yet, be careful not to ever feel too right about anything.
People tend to get stuck in stories and struggle to evolve their understanding of the world. In many ways, we are all still stuck on Newton's theory of gravity drawing the apple down to the surface of the earth. But we know now - and have known for some time - that gravity is not a force that pulls things down. We know that it's part of a field of space and time. That the subatomic world is ripe with paradox and behavior that deviates from the rules of logic. Yet most of us continue to live our lives as if A+B=C therefore A=C-B.
Things are not so straight forward. Reality is a blur of fleeting connections, and when you start breaking reality down to the quantum level, there are only a few rules, and they are completely illogical. They are rooted in paradox and uncertainty.
At its core, our world is not a logical straight line. It is a magical, mind blowing mystery. Infinitely large.
How did scientists arrive at this understanding of the world? Intuition. Vision. Ideas. Hypotheses that were tested and confirmed.
My personal theory is that intuition is a form of sensing that it is experienced on a spectrum. That certain people are naturally more intuitive than others, and that - to an extent - anyone can strengthen their intuitive senses and move themselves closer to the psychic end of the spectrum. And those people on the farthest end the psychic spectrum are simply people who are more attuned and sensitive to quantum processes.
After all, has there ever been a groundbreaking physicist who wasn’t psychic? Sagan was a Scorpio, and of course, Einstein was a Pisces.*
Living is a grand experiment.
People often ask me: what distinguishes you from other healers? First, I cringe at the word. Then, I wonder why they care. Lastly, I answer - imagining that I’m not truly alone in this - that I approach spirituality like a science.
I’m not here to espouse doctrines. I’m here to experience. To honor those experiences. To share them. To follow their tracks and contemplate what it may mean and to always be ready to be experience something new.
In my spirituality, nothing is fixed. No story has all the answers. Everything is open.
I am an observer of consciousness and experience. I track patterns. I experiment by testing patterns and ideas through living. Living is a grand experiment. All experiences have results buried within them.
Don’t just believe things because they’re in a book. Don’t take one person’s experience of reality as the whole truth. Piece pieces together. Integrate it with your own experience. Understand YOUR reality. Understand that you shape it and that you’re a shape within it. That you emit heat. That you move. That you are in a constant state of interacting and exchanging information with the world around you.
Magic is not supernatural. There is nothing in us that escapes the laws of nature. Magic is completely natural. Magic therefore is not magic at all. It is just the world we live in.
*Two signs known for their intuitive abilities.