There once was a story about a monkey. The really peculiar part of the story was that this particular monkey was not especially creative or unique. It wasn’t the biggest and it wasn’t the wisest. This monkey wasn’t known for doing anything exceptional at all actually. This particular monkey was known for washing a sweet potato. It didn’t create this method and it wasn’t the first to do so. It saw another monkey sharing its island and as the saying goes it repeated the practice it had learned.
Despite many other monkeys doing this and learning in much the same way it was different this time. This particularly ordinary monkey washed its potato and like a flint spark finally chipping off the monkeys all over the surrounding islands were lit with the spark of genius that started in the very first sweet potato-washing moneky.
The story says that once this critical mass was reached monkeys separated by many miles of ocean began to learn this skill at a wildfires pace. It took the first monkey and every monkey in between in order for the idea to spread but once it spread it was a kind of transcendence from the normal learning flow. The idea was that at a certain point, a certain critical mass an idea or knowledge can spread through the lives within a species faster than the see and do pace of a wordless species. It is a kind of field that is produced by ideas or thoughts and if it becomes strong enough it can be tapped into with greater distances than sight and maybe even faster than human communications.
Now I couldn’t tell you if this is a true story, I simply don’t know if I can believe everything I read. Maybe monkeys can teach each other how to wash sweet potatoes with their minds and maybe it was just a tale to entertain a bunch of bored scientists somewhere. I know I’m inclined to wonder: What if?
If ideas can teach mind to mind then how does that change the meaning of the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Could being that change actually create that change?
I ask this because so much of my life has been spent wondering how I want to be in the world. Who do I want to be and how can I be the strongest most vibrant version of myself. I always thought I was on this journey for my community, for my greater-than-blood family. I thought my process of soul searching was a two step process.
Step one: Become strong and good.
Step two: Use my strength in service.
But what if its only a one step process?
The only thing I have to do is become the person I want to be and change is like dominoes. It all sounds awfully democratic to me. It doesn’t make it easy, it does make it simple though.
It means ideas matter, learning matters. It means even the meekest introvert changes lives without the need for a single speech.
I couldn’t tell you the truth, I don’t know the truth.
It’s a nice thought that some monkey out there is teaching the other monkeys how to crack rocks together properly. It’s a nice thought that some gentle-hearted young human thinks the world is a gentle home.
Sometimes the nicest thought is the one that floats.