Welcome to Mental Space Monday!
Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.
A concept that is imperative to include in our discussion of collective consciousness is 'Zeitgeist'. This term carries within it that indefinable magic that many German words have; often attributable to the fact that they are an amalgamation of multiple concepts all crammed into one word (luckily, this one only contains 9 letters, check out other Tapeworm words here). The origin of this over-arching term goes back to Philosopher Georg Hegel in the beginning of the 19th century when he said, "der Geist seiner Zeit" (the spirit of his time). Basically, "no man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spirit". Later, in the last decades of the 19th century, poet Matthew Arnold was the first to actually use the exact tapeworm "Zeitgeist" and it was all the rage in the Victorian Era as a way to describe the new mindset ushered in by the Second Industrial Revolution. More recently, the label has been adopted by Google for a body of trend lists and statistics and also by YouTube as a channel that celebrates "Inspiring talks, innovative minds." In order to understand this dynamic term we have to examine the etymology - the root and essence of a word. The literal translation of Zeitgeist is "time-spirit" and as we attempt to absorb a full understanding of such an indistinct term, we must gain insight from an inspection of both.
1. Spirit 2. Time
First, spirit has 2 parts: essence and breath. Both have a pivotal impact on the nature of the word and what it contributes to Zeitgeist.
A. Essence: This is the distilled, concentrated root of something. The essence is the true nature; what is left when you boil off all of the unnecessary parts and get down to the good stuff. There is no more Mr. Nice Guy, no more pleasantries and no more hiding. This is naked; this is truth and it's bald and unapologetic and undiluted. True essence is is vital to building a solid foundation if you have any hope of your spirit being structurally viable. As a society, this is means creating a bedrock that allows us to explore how much we can accomplish and how great we can become knowing that we do not have to worry about collapsing from within. This necessitates a genuine assessment of who we are, what we want and why. Beginning with authentic, well-crafted ingredients takes more time and effort, but like so many other things in life, it is well worth it. Brené Brown calls this life essence 'whole-heartedness'. Her life's work proves how imperative it is to build on this solid foundation. This kind of essence is like a perfume made with real essential oils. It is whiskey made with organic ingredients and perfectly distilled; it is a meal made with only free-range, farm fresh, organic ingredients.
B. Breath: This is the active part of spirit. Without a breath of something greater, the 'essence' part of spirit is inert, inactive, isolated. In order for spirit to thrive it must move beyond itself and interact with the essence of others. We have talked about entelechy - without this 'breath' the entelechy of our spirit cannot be fully realized. We are all ungerminated, unpollinated and a shell of what we could become. Add a little active spirit and we have collaboration. The breath part is the speaking, the communicating, the sharing. This is where we begin fanning the flames of our mutual intellect and inspiration. As Matt Ridley says, we have 'idea sex', and we are richer for it. Our collective essence is so much greater when we learn and build from the knowledge of others. When we create networks that utilize the strengths of each individual and combine them into a whole inspired by the breath of all of the pieces and parts. Just as we apply these principles to the spirit of society, they can help us thrive in our everyday, individual lives.
The other element within the term Zeitgeist is 'Time'. The power of this piece comes from the fact that we are all distilling and fostering our spirits together at the same time. In looking at collective consciousness, we are throwing our essential oils into the same perfume we are infusing our spirits with all of our flavors collectively. Time of course is a topic so large that it could be discussed until the end of ... itself - we will further explore later. The important part here is that if timing really is everything, zeitgeist synchs our watches to the same time zone so that we can share in experiences from a relatively similar point of view.
The coolest part about the Zeitgeist is that whether or not we are aware of it, we are living it. Every day, every new hit song, every #hashtag, every trending topic feeds the animal that is the zeitgeist. It's exhilarating to take part, isn't it? Each era creates its character, its own living, changing essence that is at once a reaction to that which came before, reflection of what is right now and preview of what we want for the future. This is the magic of zeitgeist. It is poly-dimensional, multi-faceted and ever-changing. As a society and as a collective group, we create it, feed it, participate in it and destroy it in favor of the next one. (This is innately connected to our other nerdy vocab friend 'Ouroboros' as we discussed earlier.) If life is a series of Ouroboros cycles, the snake eating its own tail over and over again, the Zeitgeist is the snake itself. It is the driving force; the life and the brain behind the perpetual self-reinvention. We as a society, as humanity, are the snake. We flexibly contort our mindset, our work ethic and our buying habits to whatever shape is required of the current conditions. We grow, we shed our skin, we enjoy our shiny new selves and then we eat our tail and do it all over again.
So go out there and get in the mix. Jump in the arena, experience the Zeitgeist and add your two cents to this cycle. If we all add what we have and who we truly are to the consciousness, we have the opportunity to contribute to the next regeneration - what do you want it to look like?
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Have a wonderful week, lovelies. Believe in your unique entelechy and actualize your wonderful.