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Cheryl is a  Learning Doula--a person who supports others as they learn, unlearn and emerge into their wealth and possibilities. budding pioneer of the field of learning and development. She is an established personal accountability and self-help author and has formed her business around the principles of autonomy, authenticity, and the courageous questioning that she writes about. Her new book, The Last Evaluation (coming soon) visits these principles in the framework of genuine and seamless living and working.

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The Operation Was a Success, but the Patient Died—How Progress Keeps Us from Moving Forward

February 16, 2017

 

We’ve come a long way, baby. As a result of evolution, revolution, inventions, and higher thinking we’re not what we used to be. We’re faster, more comfortable, more abundantly blessed, less fearful, and safer as a result of all the progress we’ve made as a species and as residents of this place that technology and good brains, has labeled Earth. We have the momentum to keep moving, keep pushing, keep discovering, keep educating, and to keep thinking our way to more and better.

 

As a participant in this whirlwind of movement, I have a question. Where are we going?

 

What is the destination of bigger, better, smarter, and faster? What’s the goal of living longer, colonizing Mars, survival of our progeny, and being grown in a lab instead of a uterus? What’s the reason for all of that?

 

To be honest, I’m exhausted, my feet hurt, and I’m hungry. I need answers.

 

As a participant in this race, I have questions. What’s the ultimate prize for these accomplishments and what’s the hurry?

 

Yes, we are progressing. We’re getting from point A to point B more efficiently and we’re getting stronger so we can run further. However...

 

As a a fellow patient in this asylum, I have  questions. How far have we actually gone? Are we absolutely sure we've progressed?

 

Isn’t progress a move forward? Isn’t “forward” supposed to take you some place?  If so, where are we and do we like this place? The statistician George Box said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful”.

 

As a runner in this relay, I have a suggestion. Let’s look at how useful “progress” has been.

 

What’s the use of progress, if I’m afraid to be an immigrant in America? What the use of progress if I’m punished for making decisions about my own body? What’s the use of progress if my worth is determined by my skin color? What’s the use of progress if I’m marching for my right to love whomever I want to love? What’s the use of progress if my existence is monetized and used as a pawn in a global game? What’s the use of progress if I can’t drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat natural food? What's the use of progress if I have no idea of who I am or where I'm going? 

 

Progress (as we define it) is fine, but what’s the reality of what’s happening now? If the patient is dead or dying on the table, who cares if you were successful in performing the root canal, extracting the kidney stones or replacing the lung?

 

If the "thing" that makes me, me is no longer alive to life, what's the use of finding UFOs, synchronizing with Artificial Intelligence or living forever? How useful is this "progress"?

 

What’s the use of progress if I die never having had the freedom to live?

 

It’s clear that what we call progress has moved us and gotten us nowhere.  

 

As a voice in this cacophonous confusion, I have an idea.

 

Progress is really distraction. Progress is the thief in the night that steals my “right now”.  

 

Up until this point, life has been a fast moving blur. Sunrises and sunsets have come and gone in a blur…in the august name of progress. Seasons have changed in a blur…in the holy name of progress.  Loved ones have lived and died in a blur…for the righteous sake of progress.  Rights have been given up and stolen in a blur…at the sacred altar of progress. Freedom is being imprisoned in a blur…as we praise and worship progress.

 

As a perpetrator in this habitual behavior and mindless endeavor, I’m taking a stand to cease this game of “progress”.

 

I’ve stopped running, and my vision isn’t so blurry. I can see that I’m going nowhere. I can see that I can believe what I want. I can see that I am my own authority. I can see that I am responsible for my own actions. I can see that I have nothing to be afraid of.

 

I can see that progress starts and ends where I now stand.

 

From this place of ambiguous certainty, is where I ask the questions that make my vision clearer and clearer. My seeing is my salvation…not progress. My “right now”, present, and clearer vision is what moves me forward…not future progress.

 

Yes, evolution, revolution, higher thinking and discovering other planets is movement, but we’re not going anywhere; and I refuse to die on this table while I am engaged in and continually celebrating this thing we call “progress”.

 

My refusal began with writing “Firing God”. My refusal is my talk this weekend on “My White Privilege”. My refusal to die, or to sacrifice those here with me to “progress” has compelled me to participate more fully in my community through volunteering at nonprofits and on committees. My refusal to die while life is a blur, involves me speaking my mind even when protocol, etiquette and job security say I “shouldn’t”.  My refusal had me saying “God bless you, too”, to what I saw as a genuinely delightful human being. His energy was so beautiful I would have said “Hail, Lord Satan” if he rolled that way.

 

My  refusal involves telling the very hard truth about me to me.

 

All of this, while seeing clearly that progress starts and ends where I now stand. I am already “forward”. I am already alive.

 

Now I can put up my tired feet, rest, and live.

 

No progress required.

 

By Cheryl Abram, author of Firing God and Tales From Eternity: Armageddon, Orgasms, Kittens and Gravity…Fun and Entertaining Pointers to Truth. Contact Cheryl at her website www.CherylAbram.com

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