A bedtime story

Once upon a time there was born a baby universe.

It's been almost 33 years since the first IPCC report was issued. Instead of triggering a global wakeup call to policymakers around the world, global emissions have only increased since then—by a whopping 54 percent. That's in no small part due to the fossil fuel industry's deep-pocketed opposition to climate action at any level and its unfettered access to elected officials.

Like most babies, it didn't have a lot going on for itself at first. It existed as nothing but a plasmic ocean of energy roaring outward from its point of origin, as simple as could be.

As the universe matured and cooled down a bit, things got a bit more complex. Atomic systems began to emerge. Stars started to form. Matter as we know it began to coalesce.

The emergence of stars allowed for the birth of heavier elements, which in turn allowed for the birth of planets. But while there was matter and light, the universe was still "dark" in a sense, because, like a newborn baby, it lacked self-awareness. There did not yet exist any perception in it.

That all changed as the universe continued cooling and complexifying. Just as the stars gave birth to planets, a planet gave birth to living organisms.

Just as was the case with the birth of the universe, when life first arrived it was as simple as could be. It remained in that state of radical simplicity for a very long time, like a kind of incubation period, before hatching and exploding into organisms of greater and greater complexity.

As evolution took its course, the baby universe gradually became more and more capable of experiencing itself. It opened its eyes. Sensory systems were evolved. And nervous systems. And brains.

The dawn of life brought the universe into a new stage of rapidly telescoping complexity. Matter was suddenly complexifying not over the course of billions of years but millions, and brains were emerging as the most complex form of matter.

As organisms and their brains became more and more advanced, the universe became capable of consciously perceiving itself in greater and greater depth. Colors. Sounds. Smells. Tastes.

And, eventually, thought.

The human brain is the most complex matter in the known universe, and once it arrived on the scene the telescoping of complexity went from happening on the scale of millions of years to thousands of years, to hundreds of years, to tens of years. Humanity's ability to perceive and understand the universe with unprecedented depth and complexity allowed for more and more rapid leaps of innovation which have shaped the very face of this earth.

The arrival of the human brain gave the universe the ability to experience itself through not only sensory organs and nervous systems but through thought and through science. Suddenly the stardust was able to not just look at itself but to think about itself. To philosophize about itself. To meditate on itself. To explore itself. To run experiments on itself. To know itself with greater and greater intimacy.

Telescopes and microscopes of greater and greater sophistication emerged, giving the universe the ability to peer inward and outward with greater and greater depth. Instruments enhancing perception and measurement exploded in advancement. The arrival of computers augmented the human brain's ability to think and understand, and the internet connected those augmented human brains across the planet.

And that's where we now find ourselves: in the midst of the highest and most complex point of self-perception the universe has ever achieved, which is only continuing to telescopically elevate. We ourselves as individuals participate in this unfolding of universal self-perception when we learn things, when we share ideas and information, when we explore our own inner worlds and bring consciousness to our inner processes, when we contribute to collective understanding, when we help humanity move out of its evolutionary animal conditioning and become a more conscious and sane species.

The story of the universe is a story of expanding perception. The story of beingness getting better and better at perceiving itself. We collaborate with that unfolding when we expand our own awareness both inwardly and outwardly, and when we help the rest of humanity expand its awareness both inwardly and outwardly. Expanding awareness is what life is about.

We can know this is true because expanding awareness, perception and understanding is the only thing that has ever made things better. It's what has made scientific innovations possible which have enabled us to live longer and better lives. It's what has made societal changes possible which have caused us to treat each other more kindly and fairly. It's what causes personal transformations which allow us to move through life with greater skill and harmony. The more aware the universe becomes on any level and at any scale, the more pleasant human life becomes on that level and at that scale.

We are not separate from the stardust of this universe. We are one with its continual adventure of self-discovery, as surely as a wave is one with the ocean. That's why we only feel truly satisfied in life when we are consciously participating in that movement of discovery: when we are continually growing in self-knowledge, when we are learning, when we are helping others understand this life and this world. When learning, growth, exploration and expression stops, dissatisfaction sets in and life feels awkward, for the same reason it would look awkward to see a wave frozen and unmoving offshore.

We participate in the unfolding of universal awareness with any activity that helps anyone become aware of any aspect of beingness they weren't aware of before. Bringing awareness to our own psychological habits. Exploring the nature of our own consciousness. Engaging in journalistic activity. Bringing attention to injustices and abuses. Creating art which helps people see and experience differently. Learning. Teaching. Exploring. Discovering.

That's how we feel like we're at harmony with the universe, and that's how we bring harmony to the universe. For however long this adventure continues to unfold, the key to happiness and harmony is participation in the expansion of universal consciousness.

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