ANCHOR TO THE WIND: How to Be a Good Person

A couple of weeks ago, I privately shared an insight I’d had with a friend. They were impacted by it and suggested I share it more widely. 

I said that I would.

But I didn’t. 

At least not yet. 

I’m telling you this to prepare me to share it with you, now and here. 

But first, why didn’t I share it more widely?

Because it’s edgy for me. The reason why will become clear shortly. 

It’s one of those insights that opens a whole new level of freedom.

Like that time during the pandemic when I read this quote by Bayo Akomolafe; 

“The fugitive cannot afford to speak truth to power. Marronage, the act of removing oneself from the control of the slave plantation, wasn’t preceded by honesty or truth-telling, but creative deception and a refusal of the epistemological imperatives of the master.”

At a time when I was facing a choice of either vaccinating or losing my freedom to move, this single insight provided me with a whole new set of options.

At the bottom of my hesitancy to share is the simple fact that the freedom we want is frightening. To live beyond the pale – as in beyond the rule of the crown – is to live in the wild. 

And the wild is filled with dangers.

To be free is to go first and alone. To be first and alone in the wild, uncharted, unruled land is even more dangerous. 

Alright, enough with the preparation and justification. I’m ready to tell you now.

My realization was that, ultimately, at the base of most of the fears, worries, and concerns that keep us from standing up, standing out, leading, speaking, and creating at our highest level is the thought that we might be a bad person

The fear that we are not ‘good’, by the standards of our society, our parents, or even our God, haunts us with a soft hum, like an old metal fan slowly turning in a hot and dry room. It’s not helping, but nonetheless, we are so accustomed to it being there, that we feel we need it.

This worry and concern about not being ‘good’ and its determiner being out beyond us presents us with an insurmountable task. Not only can we never measure up to this invisible and moving target, but even more so, we have no say in the matter of measuring overall.

Really, it’s not our being good enough that limits us. It’s that the determiner of that goodness is beyond us rather than within us.

What if we could decide for ourselves what is good and what is not?

What if we could snatch the sceptre from the hand of the almighty and judge for ourselves our own goodness, rightness, and worthiness?

This would be an awesome power, indeed.

For in one fell swoop we would go from questioning our goodness to deciding and knowing it with the certainty of a sovereign King or Queen.

Where though, would we anchor our faith in our capacity to decide?  How would we know that our judging ourselves is not a willy-nilly choice at the mercy of our appetites and selfish desires?

Such power is frowned upon for the assumption that if we were to choose our own rightness, we would become disentangled, and eat each other alive. 

There is a deep story that our shared fallibility keeps us safe. We lean on each other to make up for our faults.

But this is only one angle in the case of interconnectedness. 

Another angle would be that each of us, in our perfection, adds together to make something greater than us.

If we are to untether ourselves from the opinions of our family, society, or God – if we are to cast the line wrapped around the cleat at the center of our soul, then we must know how we will live without an anchor. 

How will we live, as Mark Twain encourages, ‘beyond safe harbor’?

My insight was this; 

I can anchor my goodness with my sails to the winds of love.

Love is not a fixed point. It is not a bouy whose position will be known tomorrow as it was yesterday, 

Love is in motion. At times it is calm and at times it is wild. 

When we anchor our goodness not to a fixed point opinion on the lands of people or gods, but instead to the ever-changing winds of love, we are holding the sceptre. It is the rudder we till and the lines that lower and cast our sail. 

We have agency and yet, at the same time, we are trusting something deeper and more real in that its nature is ever-changing. 

What comes when we decide that we are good, and we allow ourselves, moment by moment to be guided by love rather than the thoughts or ideals of the common, we come into an ecstatic certainty and power. 

We are struck with a new capacity to weather hurt, failure, messes, and disasters that come our way or even that result from our own doing.

Without the fear of making a mess, our capacity to create launches exponentially to new heights. 

It doesn’t matter anymore if we spill the fucking milk. 

We know that we are good. 

And we know that love will take us wherever we are meant to go

No matter what anyone, above or below, says or does. 

Loving us all, JPM

PS  – When I tell you that my advanced intensive in London will be the deepest conversation of our lives, I mean not only emotionally deep but more importantly philosophically deep. We will cut so far into the layers of how you see yourself and the world, that a new you will come out—the one in there already, who wants to be free. Grab your seat now here, before they are gone.