what are you trying to ask me?

‘Don’t assume that the person with the question has asked the right question.’*

A question can simply be a belief in disguise, intended to demolish the position or argument or hubris or silliness of another.

Finding the right question can be the difference between a face-off with the beliefs of another and stepping into an experience with each other, questions that become quests that carry us across thresholds.

Towards this, Rebecca Solnit offers some helpful ideas out of her experiences of labyrinths:

‘I understand the moral of mazes: sometimes you have to turn your back on your goal to get there, sometimes you’re farthest away when you’re closest, sometimes the only way is the long one.’**

Sometimes we can win an argument when there’s a deep experience developing into relationship on offer.  Solnit reflects on how there are things that cannot be seen by looking, only in walking:

‘And sometimes the the map is the territory.’**

What is true for geography is also true for our meetings with each other:

‘Part of what makes roads, trails, and paths so unique as built structures is that they cannot be perceived as a whole all at once by a sedentary onlooker.  They unfold in time as one travels along them, just as a story does as one listens or reads, and a hairpin turn is like a plot twist, a steep ascent a building of suspense to the view at the summit, a fork in the road as an introduction of a new storyline, arrival the end of the story […] symbolic structures such as labyrinths call attention to the nature of all paths, all journeys.’**

We have to walk with each other awhile as an experience that promises to open up the future beyond the past and the present.  That is, we find thoughts emerging in our meeting together of what the future might be like in our co-creation.

It sounds far-fetched but there are those who are exploring these possibilities in different ways.  Kio Stark tells of the Portals Project:

‘Imagine yourself stepping inside a large golden box and striking up a conversation via full-body video with someone in Herat, Afghanistan; Tehran, Iran; Havana, Cuba; New York’s, New Haven, or Washington, DC, in the United States, that replicates what it’s like to talk with them in the same room.’^

These are not meetings of people who have a lot in common or even like each other as far as their preconceptions and prejudices lead them, but in fact:

‘Most users come away with positive, moving experiences, and often say they wish there could be a Portal in every country. […] The project is both grandiose and compact in its aims.  The artful extension of people’s ability to interact with strangers far and wide ups the ante for the ways we can extend ourselves as cosmopolitans.’^

We do’t have to build a portal for this kind of experience – though we could, the construction and technology plans are available to build one and join the network.  Theory U^^ involves an “empathy walk,” arranging to meet up with someone we don’t know much about and go for a walk of an hour or so in which we the time is spent taking turns to find out more about each other, not with the sedentary questions but journeying questions.  It’s here where we encounter the emerging future.

(*From Edgar Schien’s Humble Inquiry.)
(**From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)
(^From Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet.)
(^^See Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)

 

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