what next (again)?

What next?

It’s a question that lies at the heart of the human story.

George MacDonald saw the importance of being prepared for comes next because there’s always next:

“If people would but do what they have to do, the would always find themselves ready for what came next.”*

As I read this morning, I followed with these words from Nassim Taleb about human hubris in a random world, when we make things fit our ways of seeing things:

‘[W]hen the map does not correspond to the territory, there is a certain category of fool – the overeducated, the academic, the journalist, the newspaper reader, the mechanistic “scientist,” the pseudo-empiricist, those endowed with what I call “epistemic arrogance,” this wonderful ability to discount what they did not see, the unobserved – who enter a state of denial, imagining a territory as fitting his map.’**

Taleb probably caught most of us in this aphorism delivered with his typical frankness, but there’s something within this which I find more hopeful than Sherry Turkle’s research into confessional websites, where she comes upon twenty two year old Nancy who confesses:

“I don’t have enough discipline to keep a diary.  I don’t think I’m important enough to do that.”^

Apart from this being a comment from someone who is being disabled by technology, the apparent lack of hubris seems to be a better place to be than Taleb’s hubris-people, believing so much, as they do, in their way of seeing things that they make everything comply  to it – after Procrustes, the character who slept guests in his iron bed by cutting body parts off tall people and stretching short people to fit.

However, I found myself thinking about the different tribes identified by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright who identify different tribes in the workplace.  Nancy would be in the second of these tribes, with the mantra My life sucks, although yours doesn’t.  Taleb’s characters, though, are likely in the third tribe – We’re great, but you’re not. Both are trying to domesticate life but life cannot be domesticated.^^

Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright, who point to five tribes all together, follow these two with two more, claiming that each must be worked through in turn – we cannot leap one or two.  The forth tribe claims,  We’re great, but they aren’t, but the fifth tribe expresses, Life is great, and we can fix the world together.   Unhappiness and discontent are the realities we bring our imagination to bear on:

‘Unhappiness can lead to new beginnings. […] Discontent can be a source of growth and inspiration.’*^

What next? never comes pain-free.  We’re growing, stretching, changing and being changed.  As we press on towards the heart of life, there’s love to find and make and share: love for others, love for our planet, and love for ourselves.  I leave the final words for Nassim Taleb:

‘Love without sacrifice is theft.’**

(*George MacDonald, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(^Nancy, quoted in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(^^See Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer Wright’s Tribal Leadership.)
(*^From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)

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