Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Broad Mindedness

What is really needed is broad-mindedness. As time wears on, and people have to find their niche, they begin to project the nature of their niche onto the entire universe. But the nature of the universe is that it is niched, which means that there exist all kinds of differing conditions. To get life, you have to go beyond one niche, and develop broad-mindedness.

As human beings, we have a tendency to believe only that which we can see, or hear, or touch, or taste. Even our hugr or odr tends to develop that which our senses present to us, elaborating, extending, inferring ... But the ond that Odin gave is the broad-mind, the mind that has the ability to stretch beyond our present capacities and perceptions. It is, in a sense, very much related to that capacity the Christians call "faith", and on the other hand, to what our ancestors called spa. It is an ability to leap beyond the given, and stretch our mind out towards other possibilities.

As people grow older, they tend to believe less and less in possibilities, believing only in those possibilities that have come their way, and even then, only those they were able to turn to their benefit. As people grow older, they have a tendency to become jaded, giving more weight to betrayals than to opportunities, and trusting their distrust, so that they become more narrow. In a sense, they focus on what works, which is practical, but without, at the same time, working to extend what works. In order to extend what works, we must be able to go beyond our conditioned narrowness. The jaded often see this as hopeless idealism, but really it is an ability to engage in flight, which does not disclude an ability to ground. One can be broad-minded and quite practical at the same time.

There is no problem with building a home, so long as that does not make you a homebody (heimsk). Odin expects us, at the very least, to travel broadly with our minds. What this means is that getting established, in that nest of possibilities, opportunities, disappointments, and successes that wyrd has thrown your way is ok, so long as you don't go on to presume that everyone else is facing the same wyrd-nest. Wyrd's web is vast and niched, full of all kinds of different weaves. You can most certainly know really well and from a very grounded perspective your own nest of the web. But you must exercise extreme caution in generalizing to what "life" in general is "really" all about.

I have seen this tone even in heathen writers I admire who have a lot of wisdom. They begin to think that there is one way of doing things, one right way of living life, and the fact of the matter is, there are nine different worlds, and all kinds of different ways of living life successfully. In fact, that's one of the wonderful things about a "world" is that it is not a totalitarian-unified system, but a "togatherness" of niches and nests that makes for a whole. A world is a wonderful place because it allows so many diverse niches to co-exist. This doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that "anything goes". It is true that in any environment, there are practical challenges that simply must be met and overcome if one is to thrive. But the particulars of these challenges (as well as the opportunities) are nuanced and rich.

This is why our gods give us rede, not rules. All that can be given are rules of thumb, maxims, generalizations which must be applied to specific, differing circumstances. One size does not fit all. The cosmos is a web of all kinds of different sizes. Don't believe anyone who says you must conform to a particular niche. Your wyrd is your wyrd. Find your own niche. Broad-mindedness teaches that there are many.


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