What Do We Do Now That We Know What We Do?


It’s ridiculous to suggest that this is an easy time, or that we should be grateful to witness the greatest human catastrophe in all of history, unfolding right before us.

While we used to lament that we had 5 minutes until the catastrophic end of the world as we knew it, we’re now decidedly 5-past-midnight. [The United Nations has declared there is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place.”]

We can no longer go back. There is no “fixing” the climate.

More of us than ever will live in a Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) for the rest of our lives.

And the climate is only one of the meta- or poly- crises, as our current business-as-usual social organizations (i.e., governments, corporate and non-profit sectors) allow the craziness to continue.

Who would name the tragedy and trauma of the world unraveling as we knew it, and the simultaneous destruction of the planet and its species, as a gift? A blessing?


What If We Are the Lucky Ones?


We know that trauma, individual and collective (and even ancestral), is the primary source of activation or inspiration to make drastic changes in our lives.

Where would we be as humans had we not been responding to centuries of devastating atrocities, both self-inflicted and external?

Would we have evolved at all had it not been for the ‘grist for the mill’ that causes us to reflect and act?

We might’ve stuck with the sticks-n-stones and fires and cave dwellings had it not been for the threats to survival that created more advanced defensive tactics, food procurement and tribal instincts, among other facets of evolved living.

Like Kurt Vonnegut, who was gifted the experience of war from which to launch his stories and turned his experiences of WWII into the guts of famous books like Slaughterhouse-Five, we use our own tragic experience as fodder for redemption of our personal enslavement.

Our pain becomes our potent activator.

It’s not until we learn to uncover and resolve the shadow of our interconnected tortured souls can we catalyze a different way of being as humans.

To learn to love ourselves and create a new path forward.

We use our lives, and collective experiences, as the means to move to the next era. The next paradigm. A new phase of who we are individually and collectively.

What if here, this place of existential crisis, we can consider ourselves fortunate to have this moment to expedite our liberation from the unconscious?

To release the untenable constraints we’ve been steadfastly protecting through our compliance, our abeyance and our collusion?

Does Our Existence in the Anthropocene Make Us Lucky?


And yet, some days I’m hard-pressed to consider myself “lucky” to be here now.

I’m writing this sitting in the Denver International Airport. It’s a busy bustling place.

As I got off the plane arriving from my current small-town in SW Colorado, a safe haven from large crowds and mayhem, I was overwhelmed with the energy of the open structure of the airport.

I felt lost, not accustomed to the chaos.

As I sat down, my body began to settle in and root itself, even in this concrete and glass structure. I felt my left foot buzzing intensely, then noticed that it had found a way to ground even here.

Just like I’ve begun to view every trauma, tragedy and mishap of my life as a gift for me to evolve and become more conscious of my own aberrant misalignments and to calibrate to become more and more of myself, my body is also guiding me to do so.

Even unconscious to me, my body now guides me to safety. Calm. Groundedness on the planet.

Because I’ve had to. To survive my life, I’ve had to respond to the circumstances. And thus I grew. And grew. And grew.

Plenty of Chances to Grow


There is no shortage of circumstances to respond to now.

As humans, we didn’t respond to the growing concern about the climate “warming” 100 years ago. Or 50. Or 30. Or even 10.

And we’re still not responding adequately.

Though we are growing up. Faster and faster. More and more.

We’re all becoming more aware of how our internal calamity (the fears, trauma and limited beliefs) are reflected in the outer world as the existential crisis on this threatened planet we call home.

Albeit late, 5-seconds-after-midnight on the clock to planetary destruction and species extinction, we’re just deciding that now it may be time to respond.

There’s never been a better time for opportunistic navel-gazing.

So to engage with deep self inquiry, exploration, deconstruction and realignment to who we really are is truly our only chance of surviving this crisis.

Why the Odds Are Actually In Our Favor


I’m not suggesting a pollyanish, magical thinking approach to considering how or whether humans will survive these metacrises.

Nor am I suggesting that we keep barreling down the highway to overstimulated unprecedented economic growth for the benefit of shareholders or profit-crazed sectors.

But there are massive shifts in how our world operates that lend themselves to a more optimistic trajectory than our media outlets and pundits would allow.

Transformational Levers

Never before in history have we had so many transformational levers in our favor.

We live in an unprecedented era of developmental awareness and focus.

Not only does this focus derive from the long history of research and practice in the fields of human potential, personal and spiritual development…

… but the pandemic created a fish-bowl experience of seeing both ourselves and others. This me-you-us orientation created the opportunity for advancing our perspectival awareness and empathy.

During the pandemic, we evolved as humans.

We now see the world differently, and it looks like us. This is both our beauty and our mess to resolve.

And from this place, we have more tools, skills and modalities than ever to affect how we as humans bring ourselves to the task to respond differently.

Not only have ancient AND contemporary traditional healing modalities become more acceptable and their use more prevalent (who could talk about even being in therapy OR acupuncture OR psychedelic meds before the 21st century without feeling stigmatized?,) the world is awash in new fields of study and application that have fomented the interconnectedness of our body-mind-energy-spirit-soul apparatus we call being human.

Frameworks, Theories and Playbooks

And never before have we had so much intellectual ardor, research and development, practical application, rigorous debate nor a panoply of innovative experimentation aimed at resolving some of the world’s most insidious and entrenched crises.

So many intentional people and industries aiming their hearts and minds in the right direction. Just one of these is the Inner Development Goals, the focus on our inner developmental capacities which parallel the externally-focused U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Even if we haven’t yet figured out many long-term (or even many short-term) solutions yet, there’s a lot of human-power being spent on fighting the good fight.

I’ve recently been invited to join one of these efforts, the Institute of Applied Metatheory, a social action think tank, to help catalyze effective social experimentation by applying integrative metatheories to identify and leverage transformational fulcrums.

To apply “big picture” thinking to big problems, rather than continuing the insanity of our current approaches that aren’t making a big enough dent.

Agile & Lean Experimental Methods

And the expansion of innovative methods of experimentation have expanded far beyond the walls of academia into every sector of society through the proliferation of the “lean,” “agile” and “design thinking” technologies embedded in the tech industry and now expanded into most fields.

We now know how to use those processes to innovate, experiment, fail and revise (or scrap the initiative if the failure was too great) so there’s less waste of time and money as we launch new ideas or products into the world.

The Psychedelic Revolution

While this could fall into the category of transformational levers, the drastic resurgence of research and practice (and use!) of psychedelics seems to warrant its own category.

While the conservative attempt to politically control a rising tide of personal liberation in the last quarter of the twentieth century put an end to the plethora of research about the efficacy of entheogens, the underground exploration never stopped.

Only as the world awakened and there was demand for better faster solutions to the cultural repression of our sociocultural systems did the underground become above-ground again.

Now academic centers can’t use their funding fast enough to demonstrate the utility of the various forms of mostly natural substances to increase the cognitive liberation that happens when we journey beyond our egoic mind.

The Merger of Science and Spirituality

And, ironically, the closure of the gap between science and spirituality has obliterated at least some of the mainstream insistence that woo is irrelevant, social science is fluffy and the academy is out of touch.

The playground has opened up for spirited conversation and cross-sector initiatives between science and spirituality, medicine and magic, quantum reality and practical ideas.

We have awakened to a new dawn of how the world really is, and who we really are.

The odds are definitely stacked in our favor.

If only we believed it to be so.

What Happens When We Let Go of Both Apathy AND Doom?


As a global narrative, we seem to have quickly shifted from climate crisis denial (i.e., “it” doesn’t exist OR there is still time to “fix” the problem) to the reticence that there’s anything most of us can do about it.

For most people, now that we know (for sure) that it’s real, the problems appear too big to tackle.

Yet many radical actions are being taken to counter the apathy of either of these denial approaches, e.g., scientists taking to the streets.

But radical global shifts won’t happen until there is a majority of voices demanding change, which will only happen when MOST of us believe that the NEW world is worth saving, and not resorting to the false belief that we’ll go back to what was.

We must have reason to hope for something different.

But we don’t need wishful thinking, nor optimism of the intellect.

We must have a faith that we collectively can look at the difficult truths of our time with courage and a profound determination.

We must believe that we can work together to build a different system, and to create the necessary pressures to transform the current (and future) systems we live in.

And last time I checked, faith requires deep-seated belief systems rooted in our personal and collective efficacy that we can make things happen.

That we have personal and social agency.

That we are capable, powerful beings who can create shifts in our own lives and in the broader world.

And that in itself requires freedom.

The Freedom in Letting Go


When you realize you have the choice to formulate your precious dreams to serve your fellow humans and respond to the ever-evolving urgency of our shared world, you can take action that is free of strife, disillusionment or fear.

This kind of freedom happens when we show up to be and do our best, yet don’t take the outcomes personally.

We either will, or won’t, be successful at transforming the world we live in.

But at least acknowledge that it is your choice, your free will, to either suffer or be jubilant. To consume or contribute. To live or die, foolishly or intentionally.

Your Soul Brought You Here Intentionally


And there is a reason you came here. Now.

You are not destined to live a certain life, but the signs of your gifts, your contributions and your purpose are easily visible if you choose to look.

The Golden Thread of your purpose, or the pattern of your soul’s journey, is hiding in plain sight.

This thread is an indication, if not a prediction, of who you’re meant to be.

And every life experience you’ve ever had or will have are all that’s required for you to uncover what is yours to do in this important time.

One Small Step for You and for Mankind (and the Planet)


There is no doubt that we are living through the impacts of the anthropocene, also known as the Great Acceleration. The effects of humanity on the planet have created a distinct geologic shift.

And with that certainty, we also know that:

  • Life will never be the same
  • Y(our) experiences will now forever be different
  • The planet cannot sustain us at our current rate of (population or economic) growth
  • Planetary resources are both diminishing and shifting
  • Some human populations are closer to the brink of climate disaster than others
  • Species extinction is rapidly accelerating
  • Sociopolitical and economic forces are widely not responding to the unfolding metacrises
  • Etc

The odds seem enormously against us.

Yet, there are massive and drastic solutions unfolding. There are things we can do. Each of us.

My friends at the U.K.-based Majority Flank project that the next big thing is not going to be one thing; it is going to be lots of ‘little’ things, broadly aligned. That will be what the deepened activated climate majority looks like.

The four pillars of the Moderate Flank’s Theory of Change includes:

  • A narrative shift to plainer truthfulness, to promote a mainstream response to the clear and present danger,
  • Creating communities of awareness and resilience, so that we can handle the truth together,
  • Encouraging broad tangible and pragmatic actions, both coordinated and distributed, and
  • Promoting shared understanding or sense-making, so that we can overcome the obstacles ahead of us.

What is Y(ours) to Do?


I often notate that yours and ours are indistinguishable. And yet, I ask more of myself than I’d ask of you, or of us.

But I’ve always been in this game. I came ready.

And it is all our turn.

The biggest question I hear these days, from leaders who want to leave a legacy or millennials who want to turn things around, to young people who throw up their hands in despair…

…. Is “what can I do?”

How can I make an impact, when the problems are so big?

Like my friends at the Moderate Flank, I believe that the ONLY option we have is to face this dilemma head-on and figure out what is ours to do.

Mine. Yours. Ours.

And that means figuring out what is “yours to do.”

Living into the Possibility of Who You Truly Are


The simplest, most straightforward and effective way to discern what is yours to do is to examine what your soul brought you here to do.

You have access to your entire life force when you tap into and align with your soul’s intrinsic purpose.

If you think you’re too small or not ready or incapable of making a difference, it’s time to explore what is truly accessible to you to make a difference in your own life and in the trajectory of all of humanity on this planet.

It is not too early. Nor late.

The timing is just right.

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About The Author

I’m the Author of the bestseller, The Golden Thread: Where to Find Purpose in the Stages of Your Life. Download this free audio course to learn about your own Golden Thread of purpose.

I am a purpose activator and catalyst. I warn people they shouldn’t be near me unless they want to become a new version of themselves. That scares some people, delights others.

I’ve spent my life imagining a world where we could all become who we’re meant to be, awake and alive in a way that allows us to express our most innate, natural and purposeful gifts. I’m the creator and dreamer behind the Purpose Flywheel™.

Stay tuned or contact me to get started now.

Emergence Institute

Holly Woods, PhD

ⓒ 2020 Emergence Institute