Life is nothing if not a process of self discovery. It sometimes feels as if we’ve been given these miraculously complex biological machines, a mixed-up jumble of skills and challenges, good impulses and bad, set inside a box we call reality along with others both like and unlike ourselves, and left to spend our brief lives figuring out exactly what it is we’ve really got here. Oh, and lest we think we’ve actually figured anything out at any point along the way, everything is also subject to change at any moment.

Buddhism teaches that separateness is the central illusion, that all is essentially one, and that there really is no such thing as “the other.” All experience is universal, what happens to one happens to all, and there is nothing we can do to, or for, another that we do not also do to ourselves. The primal imperatives of self preservation and perpetuation compel most of us to adopt a perspective of essential selfishness, tempered with varying degrees of accommodation for the rest of the people that seem to be here (I say seem because the only reality of which we may be relatively certain is our own). But some appear to have a natural inclination for an inclusiveness that feels both surprising and profoundly right.

Like parents who take both joy and comfort in the observation of growth, David’s older fans enjoy both recognition and wonder at watching him undertake his own process of self discovery with every step along his now very public path. David seems to take these steps with a certain measure; he’s not tentative, exactly, there is a definite sense of commitment, but it’s clear that he likes to get his bearings before he relaxes entirely. I venture to think that David has been relaxing lately.

It’s a kick to see the exuberance now on display on stage, where he has been indulging with relish in the frat-boy shenanigans of Alpha-Delta-Mavid, and in his interviews, where his effervescence is undoubtedly motivated as much by the undeniable accomplishments already accumulating as by an increased comfort level with the demands of celebrity. Through all the haranguing about his demeanor during the competition, I never doubted for a minute that David would blossom in these realms; perhaps I’m only a little surprised that it is happening so quickly and to such an enjoyable extent.

But more than the delights of sharing in David’s new-found comfort and exhilaration is the joy of seeing his continued emphasis on the collective energy that is associated with both his work and his success. He never fails to to acknowledge his audience. Although the notion that one’s life is an entity unto itself–a coordinated trajectory combining the individual and the group dynamic–may be somewhat more obvious to, say, an entertainer, it still conveys a fairly sophisticated spiritual sense. Note that David doesn’t say, in some common and even slightly pandering manner something like, “it’s all because of them that I’m here.” He says of his fans instead that “they’re as much a part of it as I am” (heard during a recent radio co-hosting segment). This to me conveys an unusually subtle understanding.

David knows full well that “it”–the phenomenon of David Archuleta–is a fundamentally shared experience (he has even started referring to himself on occasion in the third person), an experience for which David is the blessed and grateful conduit of love and light and power and promise, and we are the blessed and grateful recipients and participants. If the rest of the ride is gonna be anything like these first few minutes, we had all better buckle up.