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The real competitive advantage of our species

Sunset over the Mekong River, fisherman in a boat

Let me not keep you waiting.

The answer is:

The capacity to witness beauty.

That, I would assert, is the real advantage we humans have over every other species on this planet.

What other creature here on Earth is halted by the setting of the sun and its awe-inspiring display that casts brilliant, luminous beams of light across the sky?

Not a dolphin nor a parakeet. A cat or a kangaroo. Not a honeybee or a snake.

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes us do that?

Maybe this is the first time. Pretty wild, right?!

Now, what about love? Love is complicated.

I myself have a coloured history with love, and many of the people I serve in my coaching practice have similar stories about the scars they bare from being in the arena of love and intimate human connection. Be that on a deeply personal level, or a confusing professional level. There's a tenderness there.

It can be wonderful. It can also be downright painful.

It can have us feeling one with everything, even for just a moment. Or it can have us feeling completely, and utterly, alone.

According to the second law of thermodynamics, any time a system is isolated, the level of chaos in that system increases.

Read: aloneness increases dis-order.

The word chaos comes from the Greek khaos, meaning abyss or void. In Ovid's famous poem 'Metamorphoses', written around the time of Christ, he opposes khaos to kosmos (cosmos): divine order.

I know it like the best of us, that when we're hurting, when our relational scars are touched by life, it's tempting to withdraw. It's tempting to decide to do it all ourselves. Heck, I've made that decision a thousand times over! To latch onto that identity of the self-made (wo-)man and tough it out. To take that crap that's been thrown and use it to build walls around the heart.


"Lone wolf."

"Fierce warrior."

Whatever you like to call yourself to reinforce the idea that you must go it alone. That you must stay strong and push on.

But, do you remember that last time you caught it? The sun as it started kissing the horizon. Perhaps over a city scape. Maybe it was an ocean. A forest. Pastoral lands. Perhaps it was simply a glow that filled the sky and caused you to exhale a little more deeply. Whatever it was. Go back there. Close your eyes for just a moment, and really be there in your mind's eye.

[Like really, do it.]

How does that feel? Now tell me, how is it possible that you are truly alone?

I propose that being in connection with such beauty, relating to and co-creating with it, is evidence that we simply cannot be alone. Aloneness, isolation, is part of the illusion we reside in as human beings. We all have our own flavours of that, some more chaos-inducing than others. Because a perception of experience is very much a real experience when it comes to natural laws (if you're looking for a reference for that one, the first of the Hermetic Principles states that "The All is Mind; the Universe is Mental").

We're not crazy. We're human.

Love has an infinite capacity to connect us back to the whole, to bring us back from isolation, from the abyss, into a sense of wholeness and mutuality. And while that is true, what I said earlier can also be true.

Love is complicated (not least because we make it so, but I digress).

So my invitation to you is this - take the beauty way.

As you're building back your ability to trust yourself, to trust the world, to trust those you love but perhaps fear to lose, start with seeking beauty. Let that pursuit be your major assignment.

Dare I say it, let that be your purpose here (as distinct from mission, but we can talk about that another time). Let's make the best use of our competitive advantage as humans residing on Planet Earth:

Bearing witness to beauty.

You can find it in a sunset. But you can also find it in many other unexpected places, too.

If you're willing to take this as your assignment, I invite you to get in touch and let me know where you found beauty.

Your readership is deeply valued, and I'm on the beauty way with you.

Thank you for co-creating with me.

Thank you for being here.

P.S. Sharing with you below one of the most moving sunsets I have ever experienced in my life. This picture was taken in 2015 over the Mekong River in Laos. The photo does it no justice, so you might need to take my word for it. In that moment, I had no doubt that I was part of something much larger than me. My only regret--pausing from my bliss to try to capture a picture of something that could never be captured! This idea continues to bring me comfort. May it do the same for you.


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