Finding Your Karass

This blog is for me and not for you but also for you if you want if you want it to be.

The other day I went and saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak. Yes, you read that correctly. I, Brock Bivens, a 24-year-old straight male (and what is identity anyways? we all contain multitudes) paid real American Dollars to go see Elizabeth Gilbert speak. I was perhaps the youngest man there in a sea of women. And you know what? It was incredible.

I first came upon Eat, Pray, Love last summer during the midst of a bad break-up. And then I read another of her books. And then I watched her TED Talks. And then I re-read Eat, Pray, Love. Are you familiar with that distinct feeling of when you read the work of one author, or see the paintings of one painter, or watch the films of one filmmaker and their body of work resonates with you on such a profound, personal level? Like it just feels like being beside a nice warm fire? Or on a super comfortable memory-foam bed? Or like riding on a mythical creature through a magical forest? That’s how it felt. I feel the same way about Buddhist author Pema Chodron and actor Tom Hanks and comedian Marc Maron and the late author Kurt Vonnegut and many, many others. I have never met these people (well, I met Tom Hanks once, but that’s a story for another day. NAME. DROPPED.) but I consider all of these people to be mentors in my life.

Speaking of my buddy Kurt Vonnegut, he made up an extraordinarily wonderful word in his quintessential novel, Cat’s Cradle. That word is Karass and here is the definition he gives: “humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God’s Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass.” I love that definition. I love that there are people you may never know personally, but together you are all working toward a common goal. I love that those people may change your life for the better, without ever knowing that they changed your life at all. In short, they are your mentors.

When I think of qualities I share with the people I listed above I think of a few things: Empathy, a desire for creativity, a struggle with the self, an attempt to be a good person, and a sense of humor about the absurdity of life (Just your daily reminder that we’re all gonna die someday. Loveyoumeanitkisses.). Now, you may be saying “Brock, you don’t know these people, how do you know you share these qualities?” I don’t. I only have my perception and my personal experience. I think that’s ok though. We’re taught so much these days to use logic and science to explain everything, but I’m a real big fan of feelings. And I just have a feeling about this. That’s all. Now maybe that’s too Hippy-Dippy Oregon for you (and let’s be real, I’ve smoked a lot of that LEGAL weed lately), but I dare you to feel deeply. To feel connected to those around you and those you may never know. I think the world needs it.

You might also be saying “Brock, those are all just general human qualities that you said you shared with them.” Good. You understand my point.

Now, I want to know. Who are the mentors in your life that you have never met? What do you share with them? Let me know below. And if you’re unsure, then just dive into a book you love, watch a movie that makes you smile, walk around your favorite art gallery. You might just find your Karass.

P.S. Read her new book, Big Magic. You won’t regret it.


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