Reclaiming What Makes Us Human (Part 6 of 6).

March 6, 2021

Reclaiming What Makes Us Human (Part 6 of 6).

May 29, 2023

We live in a shut down time. COVID will eventually let up and we will again start to gather, with pent-up revelry and passion. Our Roaring Twenties await us, just as happened post-Spanish flu and World War I. Can the choices we make about how we gather help inform and unite us in addressing equity, sustainability, and the climate crisis?

If Greta Thunberg and Malala teamed up to create a festival, what would it look like? Can fun and function coexist? Is it time for a Gaia Gala given that this pandemic was just training wheels for how we collaborate on solving the climate crisis? Given the democratic backsliding we’ve seen in many countries, will we need to take it to the streets to flex our collective power? These are the kinds of questions that face our new relationship with gathering.

There’s a great opportunity during this unbalanced moment to reset our personal bearings, to recalibrate our social compass. Understanding why we gather, what makes us gather, and even how best to gather moving forward (for the greater good) can bring greater human consciousness to our subconscious desire to “smoosh” together. But, just smooshing together again - with no higher purpose - would be fun as well.

Natural Ecstasy

The word “ecstasy” derives from Greek words meaning “to stand outside of oneself.” Brene Brown, an academic who understands the human condition better than anyone I know, wrote this illuminating essay on Why Experiencing Joy and Pain in a Group is So Powerful. She finishes the essay (written a year before the pandemic) with this rumination on what she’s learned studying the value of gathering:

“Before this work, I didn’t know why I put so much value on these collective moments. Why I intentionally go to a church where I can break bread, pass the peace, and sing with people who believe differently than I do. Why I cried the first time I took my kids to see U2 in concert and why they both reached out and held my hand during my favorite songs. Why the University of Texas fight song always makes me cheer and throw my “Hook ’em” sign up. Or why I’ve taught my kids that attending funerals is critically important, and when you’re there, you show up. You take part. Every song. Every prayer—even if it’s a language you don’t understand or a faith you don’t practice. Collective assembly meets the primal human yearnings for shared social experiences. A collective assembly can start to heal the wounds of a traumatized community. When we come together to share authentic joy, hope, and pain, we melt the pervasive cynicism that often cloaks our better human nature.”

Have We Entered a Post-Festive Era?

I don’t think so. We’ve seen the green shoots of this new era during our Sabbatical Sessions that replaced our MEA workshops during the pandemic. With a variety of health protocols attuned to the times, we expected people to self-curate their extended stays in Baja and that, while an open-air community might emerge, people would mostly keep to themselves in paradise. Instead, what my co-founders Christine, Jeff and I have found is that people are thirsty to connect (using proper precautions) to focus and brainstorm on some of the gnarlier issues of our era.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim cited that times like the Enlightenment period, the Crusades, and the French Revolution happened because there was a societal predilection to commune when rapid change is upon us:

“In certain historical periods, under the influence of some great collective upheaval, social interactions become more frequent and more active. Individuals seek each other out and assemble more often. The result is a general effervescence characteristic of revolutionary or creative epochs...People live differently and more intensely than during normal times.”

He writes that uncertainty and confused agitation is not the normal state for society and, in fact, foments revolutionary thinking and actions and a joyful solidarity:


“A day will come when our societies will once again experience times of creative effervescence and new ideas will surge up, new formulas will arise that will serve to guide humanity for a time. And having lived during these times, men will spontaneously experience the need to revive them through thought now and then, that is, to sustain the memory of them by means of festivals that regularly recreate their fruits.”


This summer may be the time for “social recreation,” not just in the form of fun and frivolity once public health protocols allow it. But, also, it’s time for us to use gathering as a means of “re-creating our social connections” and our collective will to evolve, not just as individuals, but as a people. To recreate is to re-create. Now, that’s something we can celebrate post-pandemic!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Manifesto. It’s certainly a departure from our normal Wisdom Well material, but this message needed to flow from me. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Just like we all have that yearning to reconnect and feel our humanity in person. This is why we gather.

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