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Transition • Posted: Dec 31, 2012 12:01:47Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Tonight we transition to a new year in the current calendar. Why the transition is not made at the winter solstice or at the beginning of spring is a peculiarity of history. Current culture is always a flawed compromise between recognized tradition and more highly refined insight into the actual workings of nature. Misfit between the two is sometimes inconsequential and at other times highly consequential. Take, for instance, the practice of blood transfusion. Today, the notion of transfusing blood from a healthy person to one who is sick or bleeding profusely in hopes of saving their life is commonplace. But at the time transfusion was first tried, common practice was to induce bleeding to save lives. The thought was that blood was poisonous waste that had built up with no way of escape. There was no notion that it circulated, distributing oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies throughout the body. The discovery that blood did circulate, with the accompanying suspicion that it did so for good reason, prompted French physician Jean-Baptiste Denis in 1667 to try transfusion. It seemed to help his first two patients. A third patient died. And no one knew why for more than two hundred years until Austrian-American immunologist Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in the early 1900's. Further discoveries involving sterile technique, RH factors, proper storage, and screening for pathogens and toxins have brought us to where we are today with further research looking at the possibility of synthesizing artificial blood or generating it directly from a patient's stem cells. The point is, though, it has taken nearly 350 years for our culture to fully assimilate and make good use of the novel notion and new knowledge that blood is not only vital to our existence, but that it can be safely and effectively shared between us to help save lives. (Please reference the book Blood Work by Holly Tucker for the complete story.) The same thing is happening today. Today, there are many new, possibly highly consequential ideas being explored and offered to us. But, while some in-the-know rapid adopters are on to them, most of us are either ignorant of them, sometimes by complacent intent, or are highly skeptical, hesitant, suspicious, and even fearful of them.

What seems to be happening for many of us is that who we think we are is increasingly being called into question. Sure, we are being offered a new self. But is that the self we want? And, what's so bad about the old self we have right now? The constant churning in our heads of those questions has become tiring and we are growing resistant to more and more of it. At the same time, in other parts of the world, folks are clamoring, sometimes violently, for a bright new shiny self while others beside them are violently resisting what is new and potentially destructive of a self they don't want to lose.

The young lady above is in transition. She's waiting for a friend gone to the restroom and for a train out of the city. In the meantime, she's checking her email, her Facebook wall, and possibly the world's news on her smartphone. She's swimming in a constantly changing sea of information and coordinated movement, trying to both maintain equilibrium and edge ever closer to realization of her most deeply felt aspirations. Judging by the healthy bloom on her face and the relaxed expression of focus, no one is currently stepping on her, crushing her, threatening her, or pulling the rug out from under her. Whatever transition she is involved in is happening at a more or less comfortable pace for her. Not too fast and not too slow.

May it always be so for her throughout this coming new year, and for each and every one of us all.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012