it’s been a nice busy end of the year. i have had a LOT of thoughts in the past week and wants to share highlights, out of context, because they all interconnect.
as you may remember i hit a cat while driving last week. that struck me like a wake up call, that there was something very important to pay attention to at this moment. i started by researching what cats mean, and based on what i learned, i became very alert and present to the lessons in my physical and spiritual worlds. here’s a harvest:
1) after the incident, people kept telling stories of their cats dying…people who had not read the blog or heard about my cat incident. each time i heard it i thought: transform/change [death] relationship between the physical and spiritual world [cat]. i realized that the universe will go over the top to keep repeating a lesson to you really get it.
2) i had an awesome series of facilitation moments.
3) i got to reconnect with a lot of people from various points in my life, many of them at an idea meeting which in a way was a healing meeting – lots of long-term relationships having a talk about organizing and culture shifting now.
here are some thoughts that built up over that time:
– Sometimes healing an unresolved problem requires you to ask a broader, more inclusive question, stepping out of your view of the problem.
– The Four Agreements are one of the most liberating facilitation tools out there – almost every group I bring it to takes it on as life agreements.
– Are we ready to be spiritual leaders – to engage people in much more than short-term campaigns which engage people in their anger, are we ready to organize our lives and share governance and vision in a way that inspires and uplifts greatness?
– How can we begin to see our work as transforming opposition for the sake of evolution, rather than smashing/killing an enemy? Can we make “ideas” opposition, instead of building endless lists of individual enemies?
– Looking back through history you can see ideas time travel through languages and contexts, unchanging. Superiority, for instance, looks about the same from Roman times to now – some people exist to serve others, without choice. Short-term organizing means that the growth of ideas is very slight over time. Are we ready for major idea evolutions?
– A recent re-reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War reminds me that the most effective strategy is to win without fighting – victory over war, not through war. What does that look like in today’s political condition? What does it look like in relationships, personal and professional – in movements?
– From a movement building perspective, I have often found that if the root of your work is opposition/reaction, just trying to win win win with 50 + 1% of any population, the organizers don’t have the authenticity to engage folks at the lifetime commitment level – and that’s the kind of movement we need to build right now, one that transforms people for life, not just getting their signatures in a moment.
– Who/what are modeling ourselves after? My favorite metaphors right now are dandelions and mushrooms – resilience is in those viral/fungal structures, as well as a clarity of identity. A mushroom IS a mushroom, a dandelion IS a dandelion…what are we as humans, what is our function? Are we Love? If so, we can’t operate like hate and fear, because our fundamental state is what will proliferate mushroom or dandelion style. To carry the metaphor too far, there is work above ground and work below ground, and I don’t know that we understand all the potential for the human organism just yet.
– Learning this lesson in Detroit the hard way –> The world, the country, the communities we work in – wherever you focus, there’s not a blank canvas to create on…There is perhaps a disconnected canvas. If you begin with the perspective that amazing work is happening all over, and you should seek it out and support it rather than starting up a new project, then there is a chance for real scale. But scaling up that work will come through investing in and building deep relationships. For national efforts, that means not skipping past the local infrastructures, even if they are complex to work with, to reach some romantic concept of untouched masses. On a personal level – you as a person are not a blank canvas either – all you need in order to survive is within you, within your life…do you know how to harvest it?
– I am not the only one who says this all the time, but i deeply believe it: Scale must mean depth at this moment in time, we need to re-root in the earth, in communities, in spirit, in work that is meaningful, in visions that are long-term.
– As I am working on this science fiction anthology, I have been thinking about how we make certain sci-fi norms into the real/now: Watching The Matrix, or Avatar, millions of people connected with the idea of being the change makers, the rebel forces. People in a cultural state can grasp the reality that we are the ones we are waiting for…how do we make people all feel that way in their real lives, as I imagine the American dream must have once felt?
– How close are we to evolving U.S. movement work beyond the borders of non-profit organizations and foundations, if what our movements need are structures closer to intentional communities [churches? militaries? farms? what form or structure would you most like to do your life's work in?]
– the universe teaches you what you want to know. as soon as i asked aloud a question around how to release the concept of enemy, a number of people i would have considered enemies at some point came into my life, so i can learn. i’m grateful
– I’ve been cooking a lot, and thinking about the lessons that come from working with food. For example:
a. Bursting garlic out of its skin taught me that there’s a perfect amount of pressure you can apply from outside that makes the skin no longer fit without destroying what is inside. This makes me reflect on how to work with communities/societies on releasing antiquated ideas of ourselves…what external pressure, and how much pressure would it take, for us to shed the skin of colonialism?
b. Baking bread is teaching me a lot about processes. A good baguette has to be prepared in a certain order, with a certain amount of time spent waiting for the dough to rise before and after it is shaped. I feel like a good organizational process is a lot like this…you put the right elements together, but you have to be really patient for the fusion, the inner expansion, to get a baguette with a strong skin, and massive delicious light inside. Additionally, the flavor of the bread gets better and more mature if you make use of the remains of the previous dough – the sourdough. Again, what are the long-term ideas and processes we can continue to mix into our work?
c. Food that I make, or watch get made, tastes better to me than any other food. I never suspected I could be the kind of person who would bake my own bread, make my own soups, look for local produce and feel the joy of serving a meal where I know the source of every ingredient, and I know it’s good for me…if I can do this, I suspect all humans can, because I spent years surviving on frozen pizza. It takes a certain shift in mindset, planning and how you value your time, but it is so deeply worth it.
– I’m surrounded by brilliant people. like, people who regularly blow my mind and who i think will change the world.
– the less i engage in gossip, the less i harbor suspicion, the more space i find within myself for miraculous experiences.
– i feel like i am in a major manifestation period of my life, through meditation and awareness, and having let go of some practices that weren’t serving me. one thought that came to me: when i fear the universe i fear myself. when i love and am in awe of the universe, i love and am in awe of myself. imagine then, the power when i align with the universe.
– meditation – in the shower, or the pool, or during acupuncture, or while cooking, or while sitting in front of a candle, or in the first moments of morning, or walking through the snow – lets me connect to the part of myself that is divine, aligned with the universe, and the place within myself where I can be a conduit for spiritual truth. at those times i understand that nothing is required of me more than being, and creating. simultaneously being present with who i am, who we are as a species…and creating who we must become, who i must become.
to that end, i wanted to share here the lyrics of a song i wrote a few years ago and sing sometimes:
isn’t this heart the only heart i have to give
isn’t this soul the only weight i have to carry
isn’t this dance the only one my body knows
this is the only way home
isn’t this path the only one my feet will walk
isn’t this song the only prayer my mouth with utter
isn’t this life the only life i have to give
this is the only way home
counting down til i am with family this year. i can’t wait to bring all this joy, awareness and attention to them.