You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.
I’m at the closing ceremony after a week-long gathering. We are sitting in a big circle, and the person on the microphone shouts out –Who is the most important person in your life? –ME ME ME! The crowd responses.
I’m observing a play party behind my mask. I see intimate couples in THEIR invisible bubbles fulfilling THEIR desires. In the opening workshop a few hours earlier the question is popped –What do YOU want tonight? What are YOUR dreams?
I believe that we are all gathering around a power game—a polarity. We want to be a tribe and to let go of the control that the ego-focused heretical society is pushing upon us. So I get confused, why is it then focus still so individualistic? Someone asks me at a festival –How are you doing? I feel perplexed. I’m not hungry; I slept well; I have no pain in my body. But then what? Actually, I don’t care so much about me in that environment, because I’m more curious about what the group can create together. I have a feeling that it was less ME ME ME ten years ago. I remember standing in another kind of ending circle then and screaming.
-We are love! We are LOVE! WE ARE LOVE!
Something was different back then. It was WE and not ME. I think maybe it’s because of the time of crisis that we live in: pandemics, economic collapse, political polarization and global warming. There is a feeling that now I have to take care of myself to survive, but that this is not what people need to feel alive. My friend Matthias Schwenteck summarized it nicely in the sauna a few weeks ago. People need to learn how to take care of their own needs, to move on the focus on the tribe. That is where the real pleasure is found because that brings a sense of meaning – to participate in something bigger than oneself.
To join the WE in a play party, it’s not enough to be there physically. One has to shift their focus away from the individual self. Maybe first towards a partner, but then eventually towards the bigger space. With space, I mean the time that we spend together within the four walls of a room. How can I act and react to the things that happen outside the invisible bubble of a couple? How can I take the initiative or support what is already unfolding? It’s hard to be the first to move from the individual to the tribal. People that are focus on themselves do not want to be pulled into a WE, because they are busy ensuring their experience. So there is a catch-22, to move into a tribe enough people must be willing to shift their focus together, as a WE. And they need a variety of skills working on different levels of intimacy to interact with a wide variety of people.
When talking about this with a stranger in my sauna club, he said that it all sounded very flower power hippie to abandon the ME for the WE. Almost most a religious cult. And I think there is a general fear of leaving the ME because it has gone terribly wrong in the past when tried on a large scale. Just look at fascism and communism. But I believe that it works well on a small scale. My theatre teacher taught me that ensemble life is different from everyday life. It’s collective, and the story is always in focus. During the second year of my studies, I went to a village in the poor and religious countryside in Tanzania. I was to teach an acting methodology without any words, and I met a place where God comes first. And then where the elders followed by the parents and older siblings. And finally, if there were any hours of sunlight left, there was some time for the ME to play football. But people were pretty happy, compared to individualistic Sweden.
I remember reading a book about a young girl growing up in a religious cult. She was kidnapped away from her church, or maybe I should say rescued, the first thing she had to learn was that she had her own feelings. Before she thought that emotions were only something communal – If the group was happy, then she must be happy. And if the group was sad, then she was sad. That’s is, of course, the far end of the spectrum. But nowadays I feel that many events I attend are on the opposite extreme where it is only about ME ME ME. And maybe I’m crazy, but ME alone gets pretty dull when it comes to sexuality and creativity, it’s a bit like masturbating. And if I am co-creating with one other person, it’s like having a lover in the invisible bubble that I mentioned before.
But there is something greater, that is to reach for the WE outside that bubble. Like, watching passionately and mirroring someone else emotions, or leading a stranger in a new direction with the touch of a fingertip, or lending a skilled hand in an interaction, or moving a piece of furniture around to change the room. But none of it works, if it comes from a greedy ME ME ME, because the ME scares people that are in the WE – just like the other way around. So if there is something I wish for in the coming months, its to create events where people feel fulfilled and skilled enough to move from the ME to the WE—balancing between the ME and WE, while focusing on the bigger space outside any invisible bubbles.