On and On and On: Jack White on Identity, Awareness, and Responsibility

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In this song Jack White is singing about the human challenge of growing in identity, awareness, and responsibility. Sometimes this challenge can be experienced as a vulture on the shoulder. Have a listen:

There have been times in my life when I have wished that I was a tree, even longed to be a tree. All a tree does is grow and stretch for the sun. A tree has such a simple life. It has no worry, it feels no fear. It doesn’t have to contend with self-reflection or self-awareness. It’s not caught up in the psychological tension and challenge of growing in self-awareness. It does not have to form its own ideas of the world. It simply grows, free of complication.

A tree grows in its own remarkable and unique way. No two trees are ever quite the same. It listens to no suggestions or commands on how to grow. It suffers no confusion. It does not struggle with its own identity and life direction as we can do.

A tree feels no unnecessary shame or guilt. Its growth is not limited by the actions and abuse of others – unless of course storm, animal, or human cause it harm. Even in the face of this harm no pain, no angst, is felt.

It does seem that a tree lives a life unfettered by the things that can cause us so much complication and pain.

But can it love? Can it be aware of love?

It is said that us humans are Planet Earth become aware of itself. I like this. In a real way then, we are the awareness of trees (of all life on Earth).

This awareness is a gift, a gift we can experience as burden. This gift means that we can grow in the earthly experience and expression of a self-aware compassion and love. Christian spirituality maintains that a God of love can help us grow in this self-aware love, a love that is unique to each one of us.

A practice like Christian Meditation can help this growth. Faithful attention to the mantra brings our attention into the awareness of our being in Love, in God, at the centre of all Creation. In time our restless, distracted, perhaps even disordered minds are transformed by this Love. We grow in the freedom given to all Creation. The experience of responsibility and growth becomes exciting.

Growing in love means experiencing the unity we have with trees, with all of creation. Growing in love also means daring to experience the unity we share with each other. As this happens we come together to support each other on our journey into human life and responsibility.


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    1. Hi Osvaldo.
      Glad to hear that you like the blog – thank you. I guess, for me, writing is always happening. Part of the process is putting words to a screen, paper. When I come to sit down in front of the computer I already have an idea what I will write. Ideas tend to grow in me when I am living (more or less) contemplatively – that is at a natural pace with time for meditation. Currently I have the time, space, and the people around me to do this. Because of this, my ‘output’ has increased. I would say: slow down (if you can), read into your interests, and commit to your contemplative practice. Mine is Christian meditation, it can be anything that centers you into that still point within you, that place of deep peace and silence.
      I hope some of this helps you…good luck with it all.

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