I discovered the philosopher and bad boy pandit Ken Wilber around fifteen years ago. While doing research on the Baby Boomer generation I stumbled upon the book that made him famous: Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free (2002). Boomeritis is a condition Ken Wilber (from the Wikipedia blurb) “characterizes as the deadly combination of modern liberal, egalitarian worldview with a deep unquestioned narcissism commonly held by Baby Boomers and their children”. He is a bad boy, he is witty and he has a way of making everything he says sound absolutely true. And I love him. His work is a blast to read and talk about, and his talks (you can find many on You Tube) are a blast to watch. Promise.
After reading A Brief History of Everything I was totally ready and willing to go thigh deep in the snow with Ken Wilber’s philosophy. I was ready to read his masterwork: Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution. It was summertime. Time to read an enormous tome of philosophy.
It was somewhere deep in July when my 14-year-old dog Fricka had what would be her last massive seizure. She did not die from the seizure; she just was fully paralyzed. Her eyes were open, she was breathing, and her heart was beating. It was around one in the afternoon. Not fully knowing what to do I stepped out onto the front porch and went back to my half-read Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution by Ken Wilber. When it was nearly dark I put my book down, went back into the house, and sat by her until around three thirty in the morning. I sensed that death was imminent, and I was struck by the sudden thought that she might want to feel, smell, see and hear the outdoors one more time. It was very lightly raining, but so still that you could hear the crickets and the tree frogs perfectly. I hoped then and still do now that in those last few moments she could smell the warm summer air, feel the lace-like rain, hear the singing crickets and frogs, and see the light post lit maples in full summer lush one last time.
It is a funny thing to be standing outside on your front yard at night, in the rain, with a dead Weimaraner in your arms.
One of the key themes in Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution is that evolution has a pattern. Evolution appears to be going somewhere and that somewhere is towards an ever-higher, more complex state of consciousness (like say from a rock to a bird). Evolution is on a journey towards enlightenment. He does not go so far to suggest that evolution is like a god-person, rather evolution is like a force (and that everything—including ourselves—is part of this evolutionary mission).
It’s a very comforting and beautiful idea. For me the main afterglow from the book was how I look at stars. We are made completely from stardust. Through evolutionary time stardust managed to go from mineral to vegetable to animal and finally to man. Knowing that our most distant ancestors are stars and that we are the end result of their particles coalescing and evolving has permanently given me a mind to look up at the night sky and think, “You did it! We did it! You’re conscious now, and it’s crazy! Here’s the scoop: You are going to love food—especially salt, fat, and sugar. You are going to like altering your consciousness. There is something called Champagne. You are going to split in two and one side is going to fall in love with the other side. There is something called sex—it is difficult to explain, but you will like it. You will produce children, and you will love them more than anything mentioned above. You are going to love music, and you will dance without being taught or told to dance. You will love creating art, making scientific discoveries, and inventing cool stuff. You will even invent a telescope so you can see the old gang again. And lastly, you will love dogs.”
Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”
Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.