R Buckminster Fuller’s Experiment in Living

September 2, 2009 at 9:16 am Leave a comment

R. Buckminster Fuller was an free-thinking imagineer who helped to popularise the Geodesic Dome. A defining moment in his life was when illness killed his young daughter. At this time he had a revelation, and became determined to make his life “an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

Fuller decided to live his life as an ‘experiment’. That is, to take each day, and each moment in that day, as a singular and unique event, in which he would be able to respond spontaneously and freshly to everything that happened to him. He decided to record for himself and posterity all of these events, and his response to them, and he left behind a huge archive of his life and times.

He used as a metaphor for the potential power of a single individual the ‘trim tab.’   He said,

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trim Tab.”

At a time when the individual seems insignificant in the face of huge global states and corporations, when the history flows seems like an enormous mass that cannot be altered by a single person acting on their own, it’s good to be reminded that one person can make a difference.

Each one of us exists as our own universe, a constellation of consciousness in which our thoughts and feelings make up the world that we inhabit. If we could take the same attitude as Bucky Fuller, and live each moment that we are given as a fresh, newly created and completely open opportunity to which we can respond spontaneously and creatively, then our lives can become intensely alive, and we can awake from the dead habit of conditioned existence. We may not think that we can  change the world and benefit humanity, but we can change and better our own universe and  in doing so can indirectly benefit humanity.

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Entry filed under: Thoughts.

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