We are on the brink of a seismic shift. It is in the air, like electricity. It is in the spaces between people and it is shaping our relationships. We are at the ‘edge of chaos’ (in Complexity Theory, the place between order and chaos where synchronicity thrives). And some of us are dancing.
Dancing on the edge is a precarious place to be. We are pushing at the boundaries of what is possible. We are learning and growing together. We are seeing that collaboration is the only way forward. We are seeing that challenging the old ways as a means to create change leaves us feeling unfulfilled, exhausted and usually has little effect.
We are seeing. We are seeing better through the haze, and things are becoming clearer.
Many of us are gathering. In cities we see the emergence of multiple groups of folks coming together through shared interest, mostly mediated by the potential that technology offers. We are experiencing an awakening. Of mind and heart. Of connection, of our interdependence, to each other and the Earth.
What I notice is the energy that life on the edge of chaos offers. A clear playing out of the raw creative process. An idea expands, fills with energy, goes out of the self into the world, grows, forms, mutates, and moves on. And then the cycle repeats. On and on. A never-ending loop of intuition, sparking of impressions, generative patterns, expansion of energy, all full force into it. And then, collapse.
How does one hope to comprehend this experience? Our understanding is surely limited if we view ourselves as a separate entity. It is only in relation to the other we truly know. What is knowing anyway? What it is it to be?
How do I know where I end and you begin?
Life is rich and full of wonder and serendipity. There is a feeling of having torn through a veil, my body peaking into a new realm. Awareness, expanding. Compassion, connection. But the words don’t come easily. It’s as if the brain cannot settle on a theme to explore. Neurons are messy and jazzy. Something has changed. I’m dancing on the wave of the ripple.
I’m resting and exploring creatively in the gaps in between. I am dreaming big about what is possible. I am sitting with ideas and seeing if they have resonance. At some points I am directionless. I need something to push off. Something to resist against to aide motivation.Or perhaps it’s inspiration I need.
And so it is that I have time to write now. Right now. I often think that if I just had the time and space I could write something good. Here’s my chance to share with the world my following of the new way. Here’s a chance to look for examples of the New Story in the city. What comes next is up to me I suppose.
Bardo. Where we are, our time. Charles Eisenstein talks about how we are in between stories. Otto Scharmer knowingly recapitulates ‘what’s dying, what’s waiting to be born’. His use of repetition clever and a sign of him being one who has a following. Repetition is important then, in the telling of the new story.
We are in a world of dreams, illusions and mystery. The magic that bubbles beneath the surface goes unnoticed mostly. We are too distracted by the screens. We aren’t headed for the war of the worlds, well perhaps we are. More likely though, we are headed for the war with the screens. The battle to call people back to the reality of the real world that we have all been so disconnected from will be a difficult one. Difficult because what is there to offer in exchange? What’s the deal? Meditation may be the thing we all need, but how do you convince a 20 yr old screen junkie to stop, put it down and just breathe?
Feeling is hard because we are distracted. Feeling is hard because we are addicted. We are protected because feeling is hard. We are cloaked in caffeine, coca-cola, crisps, crap and wine that slows our senses. Because, to feel is too much. It hurts. And it’s happening to us all. The system is letting us down.
~The system is broken beyond repair.
For a long time I tried to understand why equality and diversity policy in organisations doesn’t work. I know now. It’s targeting the individual and assuming behavioural change through policy directives is a lever. For 30 years we have tried to change the women to fit the system. We have built a culture of victim blaming. ‘If you don’t want to get raped, don’t wear a short skirt’ has to be one of the greatest insults of our time. But the victim blaming is everywhere. Don’t want to get killed by a person driving a car, wait for the green man. Don’t want to be fat, don’t eat the sugary fatty delicacy pushed in your face at every single waking moment.
The system is broken beyond repair, and it’s not my fault. It’s not your fault either, it’s not our fault, it’s not their fault. Blame cannot be ascribed to individuals in this system game. The beast is too big. The beast has become more than the sum of its parts.
The last year has been a journey that started with Marie Kondo, moved to Minimalism, onto Theory U and then a big dive into the world of Systems and Complexity, activated by experience of delivering the British Councils Active Citizens programme with Career Women Wales and then a falling into The Republic of the Imagination.
What then is a systems and complexity approach to social change? For me it is about learning and personal development. It’s about gift, and it’s about purpose. It’s about helping my self and others to grow empathy, listening, flexibility, creativity and innovation.
By empathy I am referring to having a sense of the other, authentic communication, compassion, a leaving behind of egocentric individualism, return to a whole sense of self through a move from ‘I’ to ‘we’, and awareness. How can we cultivate empathy? My feeling is that it is about spending time in circles connecting with people who live in our communities. It is also about how we grow our own self-awareness through meditation or some other such practice.
Listening is about deep listening, really listening. To our internal selves, our intuition. To others. To the world around us and our environment, including all of nature and the living things we share this beautiful Earth with. Listening means stopping, noticing, feeling. Listening to our feelings. Understanding our emotions. Being guided by our intuition.
Flexibility, learnt through movement of the body is about loosening up ideas, being open to what’s possible and freedom from a fixed or set way of doing things. Managing when unexpected things happen, dealing with complex situations. It’s about developing the confidence to act in ways that challenge the status quo, but from a heart place, with compassion, love and non-violence. It’s about awareness of the bigger picture, the wider context we are working in, achieved through communication with folks outside of our echo chambers and via real reporting of the news, which is perhaps a myth of our time. Who says what’s real anyway.
Creativity is vital for human beings. As we move forward into the new story, creative skills are going to be the ones we need most as we guide ourselves through this bardo. We have to be developing creative skills in all people now, especially young people. And we need to get back to ourselves by getting back to the wild.
Innovation is about doing things differently, moving out of your comfort zone, taking a different route. Making different choices. Following new paths. Building new paths. Having adventures, taking risks. Sharing love. Allowing your self to feel the connection to others and the world around you.
Share the story of the change you want to see in the world with others, in conversation, often.
I like this peace-ful approach to how to respond when it is unclear, I found it on the internet.
- Pause and take a few deep breaths
- Experience the moment
- Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
- Choose what you feel is the best for you to do
- Enjoy the choice