For the last eight years I have attended an Enneagram group monthly here in Tampa. The Enneagram is a psychological and spiritual system of personality types based on nine types: three governed by the heart, three governed by the head, and three by the gut. Type two, the Helper, Type Three, the Achiever, and type Four, the Romantic, are heavily into their hearts.
Type Five, the Observer or Investigator, Type Six, the Loyal Sceptic, and Type Seven, The Epicure, are thinking or “Head” Types. Finally, Type Eight, the Protector, Type Nine, the Mediator or Peacemaker, and last, paradoxically, but not least, Type One, The Perfectionist, are all gut types, governed by their very strong feelings.
We will talk about the 9 types some other time. For now I just needed to give some background for my type, number seven, governed by the thinking brain, the generalist, the epicure, jack of all trades, master of none. We will try anything, learn anything, study anything. We ski, we sail, we jump out of airplanes . We have a bucket list which is more of a barrel. And we do all of this because we are optimists, and hate pain and sadness. We are likened to monkeys and butterflies, because we never sit still, and fly or jump to the next fragrant flower or sensation.
I know I am a seven because I always wanted to live happily ever after, and I have. At 91, my bucket (or barrel) list has now become a fucket list, because I’ve been there and done that, and my body just can’t take it anymore. So, what does a 91 year old Epicure have to say about the perfect storm of 2020?
The perfect storm used to be the simultaneous convergence to two major hurricanes, a once in a century disaster. Now, our planet is collapsing from environmental abuse, not just global warming, but destruction of ecological systems, both plant and animal, and the collapse of human cultures and societies no longer able to govern themselves. Many millions are migrating all over the world because their natural habitats are no longer able to sustain them. Caste systems, class systems, racist systems, religious systems, domination systems, corporation systems, are all creating the most perfect storm ever imaginable. And now behold: the Covid 19 Pandemic is still destroying us physically, psychologically, and spiritually, with no end really in sight.
Now add to all of the above, the extreme polarization politically in the United States of America. Without nailing down any numbers, we have maybe 60 million people on the right, and maybe 60 million plus three on the left who think the other side is stark raving mad at best, and in league with the devil at worst.
What does an epicure, Peter Pan, Puer Aeternus, Everlasting child, like myself, do in this most perfect of storms? I revert to my type. The glass has never been half empty for me, and now that it is not as half full as it was for most of my life, there still is water in there. Drink it, and don’t complain that we are running out of water. All my life, we were told that hope is wishing the future will be better. As a seven, I believe that hope is not about the future. Hope is about the past. It took us 13 billion years to get where we are. We have survived cosmic explosions, in fact we are the children of cosmic explosions which formed a universe of galaxies, which formed a universe of stars, which formed a universe of planets and satellites. And lately, in this last hour, as Carl Sagan said, it formed us and all our fellow creatures on this planet.
Maybe I’m a cockeyed optimist, but I believe in us. I believe in the human spirit and I believe in a mystery called grace. I have no idea, really, what grace is, but I believe it’s just amazing. I’m sorry, I don’t have a plan for surviving this perfect storm, but I know for sure, if we keep despising each other, if we keep hating each other, if we keep bombing each other, if we keep shooting each other, we will not only not survive, but we won’t be worth surviving.
Amazing grace: to admit we are lost, and to find each other, in our humanity, in our common origin in the Ground of Being. It took 13 Billion years to get here. “When we’ve been dead ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing “God’s/Grace’s” praise, than when we’ve first begun.