movement and meaning

11 absolutely, everyone wears 1

Rites and rituals just aren’t what they used to be.

I don’t mean they were all good, either – did I really want to be sent out as a hairdressing apprentice for “skyhooks” at the local ironmongers?*

The best of these bring meaning to the movement of our lives: childhood to adulthood, education to work, a new role, moving geographically, friends bonding, and more.

The value of a rite is in how it helps a person or a community to move from one state to another, empowering them to know exactly what is changing and how they’re doing.

The value of a ritual is in how it affords a person or group frequent, even daily, habits which make it possible to move in their chosen, desired direction, allowing them to reflect, evaluate, and correct their thinking, relating, and behaving.

What this means is, we can create better rites and rituals which make it possible to bring movement and meaning together so they flourish and thrive in a person and tribe, enabling people to bring their heads, hearts, and wills together, to become a force of nature.

Rites and rituals may sound as though they’re about attachment to the past, but a closer look reveals the best are about alignment or realignment to the future.**

I have loved the following words from the moment I first read them.  The context is a student speaking to their tutor:^

“But do not try to bring them to where you are, either, as beautiful as that place might be to you.  Rather, invite them to go to a place neither you nor they have ever been before.’^^

(*The ironmonger asked me to wait whilst he looked for some, and even though I knew I was being had, I had to go through with it.  Another rite of passage I heard of was for metalworkers.  As part of an initiation rite, apprentices would be told to pick up a block of lead.  When they did realised it was aluminium, it was too late!)
(**This is the real sense intended by the term “repent”: realign to your future Self.)
(^The tutor was a Roman Catholic missionary frustrated with how the church’s approach to the Masai people wasn’t working.  I believe the words hold true, though, for anyone regardless of their worldview.)
(^^Vincent Donovan, quoted in Brian McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses, the 
Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?)

data producers

10 when we are half right 2

“Civilisation occurs and maintains itself when the two forces – the striving and the ordering – approach equipoise.”*

Action and reflection make the most sublime things happen – we could substitute the word creativity for civilisation.

Paulo Coelho sees himself as a pilgrim when he avers:

“To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life … I can only speak to my soul when the two of us are off exploring deserts or cities or mountains or roads.’**  

This sounds very much like all action; perhaps Coelho doesn’t see how his writing is reflection.

More happens in journeying and reflecting, in striving and ordering.  Experience don’t come to us as big data but as small data.  When we see the bits and bytes of the world or a relationship or an idea or a practice, we can reconstruct these in an infinite number of new ways.

Or to put it another way …

Not long ago, most of us were data consumers.  Data is what happened to us or we found ourselves counted in, but now we are data producers.

It’s infectious.  When we identify our small data we can help others identify theirs.

(*Writer Clark Emery, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**Paulo Coelho in Aleph.)

small data

9 big data

‘I remember the many occasions on which help has come from precisely those people whom I thought had nothing to add to my life.’*

Often, we receive people and circumstances and environments as big data.  The trouble is, though it can be impressive on a good day, big data is largely indigestible and ends up being viewed as irrelevant.

Maybe I say to you in a feedback situation: “You work well with people.”  This may sound fine, but then you begin wondering:

What kind of work was I referring to?
What kind of skills was I observing and how can they be developed?
Was it a case of people getting what they wanted from me or was there a deeper impact?
Did I mean you work better with others rather than alone?
Was it about leading a team or fitting in?
Getting things done or helping the process along?
Do I know that enjoy doing this, or it drains you?

These kinds of questions are about small data:

“Big data can be made smart data if it can be made smaller, by transforming it to become contextual, relevant, and delivered to the right person at the right time in the right format.”**

I read this and realised small data is what I help people with when it comes to improving talents and performance, or which way to go next or the challenge to go for.

Small data helps us to make the journey, because it’s the journey which keeps us alive.

We then become the kind of people who can bring something to others, those who didn’t realise it wasn’t the big data they needed, but the small stuff from people who know how to work it.

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(**Michael Fauscette, quoted in Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)

and what will we do?

8 hmm, still no connection

‘We are moving from simply being the creators of data through our behaviour to the real-time consumers and owners of our own data.’*

Data alone doesn’t maketh the man, or the woman.  We need knowing and practices.

In this moment, we stand between what has been and what could be.  In this we are joined to everyone; our story is everyone’s story.

Still growing up but never arriving, I’ll never be perfect or complete but I am realising I am enough.

Practice one: keep open to receiving from all around – humility and gratitude keep us open.

Practice three: keep giving – gifting something meaningful to others which I have found to be meaningful to ourselves

And in-between: practice two, employ our magic to make something unique out of what we receive in order to give- every day.

(*From Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious.)

we are not the special ones

7 no matter how much

‘To fundamentally shift the strategy canvas of an industry, you must begin by reorienting your strategic focus from competitors to alternatives, and from customers to noncustomers of the industry.’*

The idea of being special ones requires a scarcity worldview.  We’re becoming more aware, however, how we live in a world of abundance.

Maybe we see something others don’t, though?  Something we can bring for the good of everyone?

Individuals and institutions and societies and cultures and stories can all suffer from the curse of the “special one.”  When Eckhart Tolle avers, ‘Awareness is the greatest agent for change,’^ he’s referring to the necessary Human journey from ego to eco, from our present self – with an untrue understanding of self, to our future Self – which has the potential to grow much more, which will involve  the company of others.

Outpouring love is the inherent shape of the universe, and when we love, only then do we fully exist in this universe.’**

(*From Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy.)
(**From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(^From Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)

no idea

6 on the lookout

We’ve no idea what we are going to walk into today, but we can all live as if something might happen.*

This provides us with an advantage.  We can be ready to bring something good and graceful and even loving to someone or some situation.

‘If your only goal is to love there is no such thing as failure.’**

(*All our plans changed today when cancelled trains meant we needed to take our daughter south into England, but remembered someone was stranded in England and arranged to bring them north when we returned.)
(**From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)

imagination with a cause

5 imagination with a cause

‘I still haven’t reached a decision.  I only know that a life without a cause is a life without effect.’*

What if, with the Big Bang, the possibility of love was sent careering across the void. It has found expression in Humans – who knows where else – and we don’t know just how far it can expand.  We do know we have not travelled to the outer-reaches.

Sometimes we react in love, other times we respond – to prompts of one kind or another that come from beyond us.

We’re also capable of freely acting out of love – to imagine and initiate – not waiting for a prompt, moving from within.

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)

natural faith

4 faith only works

I wonder whether faith is a natural Human state?

What is it that makes us set out towards the new, the unknown, the other?

So, I’m curious about how faith helps us to connect, beyond being with someone or something, to being in relationship.

Faith takes us into the borderlands, the places between people, between things, and between people and things.

‘A movement into a borderland is different.  It is an extension of one’s homeland, not a separation from it.’*

For you and me, as a place of faith, the borderland is not somewhere beyond me or beyond you, but is an extension of who you and I am, a place of presence rather than absence.

There are contexts and spaces which help me to be more aware of this.  Usually though, I forget, oblivious to my personal border controls, my unwillingness to explore beyond, displaying a lack of faith.

We each have our own way of meeting others.  I get overwhelmed with large numbers, others are in their natural element in a crowd.  For me, to see the individual helps me to see everyone.  This is part of my natural faith.

Whoever we are, we’re naturally creatures of faith, something which takes us across the borders and thresholds and boundaries, into the worlds of others and into the future.

(*From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)

for those who enjoy diversity

3 all for one and one for all

And for those who do not – everyone makes up the numbers on diversity.

Lewis Hyde writes about politicians betraying the people:

‘In times like these the spirit of the polis must be removed from the hands of politicians and survive in the resilient imagination.’*

Strictly speaking, polis is about shaping of the city for everyone who lives in it.  We now live in a global city.

The diverse city was observed with delight by Walt Whitman in the nineteenth century.  On an omnibus ride through New York he took in all the sights, people from around the world and all their activity, the buildings, and the trade which had furnished them:

“You will not wonder how much expectation all this is, on a fine day, to a great loafer like me, who enjoys so much seeing the busy world move by him, & exhibiting itself for his amusement, while he takes it easy & just looks on & observes.”**

Whitman’s description of himself as a loafer here catches my attention.  He reminds me of the flaneur or flaneuse: someone who does not quickly move through life and thereby misses things.  Neither do they make up their mind about something or someone hastily or lazily.  Instead, they take their time to remain open for as long as they can to as much as they can and towards as many as they can.

Such a person sees the importance and uniqueness of the one as well as the needs of the many.  Richard Rohr puts this well when he identifies the relationship of holons and fractals:

‘In these discoveries, we know that the part contains the whole or replicates the whole, and yet each part still has a wholeness within itself – the “appreciative accumulation” is what makes the whole Whole.’^

If we betray the one, we betray the many; and, if we betray the many we betray the one.

(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**Walt Whitman, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)


2 the future won't be

“Bless and you will be blessed.”*

I wonder, what kind of best-future can I imagine?

One that is flawless?

Or one that is graceful?

I can’t imagine living in a world which is flawless.  I can imagine a world in which we always seek to respond to the flaws within and around us with grace.

These words from Madeleine d’Engle remind me of how, as a child, I used to wonder whether I’d ever survive in an adult world:

“When we were children, we used t think she we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable.  But to grow up is to accept our vulnerability.  To be alive is to be vulnerable.”**

I’ll get many things wrong today.

Sometimes, as the world gets bigger, I feel I’m becoming “clumsier.”  But I don’t want to stay clumsy, I don’t want to repeat my mistakes.

Here’s another way of to understand gracefulness, one that doesn’t clumsily stomp on the feet of others or the planet:

‘Graceful is artistic, elegant, subtle and effective.  Graceful makes things happen and brings light but not heat. … It’s not a gift, it’s a choice.’^

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(**Madeleine d’Engle, quoted in Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(^From Seth Godin’s Graceful.)