Recent events, and our current global crisis, have given us lesson upon lesson. If we are open enough to it, we can see the lessons coming towards us like waves crashing up on the shore. Often a wave will toss us, but when we can find the right rhythm and strength, we can surf.
Otto Scharmer, friend, teacher and colleague (Senior Lecturer at MIT and Founder of Presencing Institute) wrote in one of his most read, recent blog posts on lessons we are learning from the corona virus, “We are many. We are one.” He shared that this virus, almost immediately, showcased our global interconnectedness. My question now is: what will we do with this knowledge?
We have options. We always have options. Do we, as Otto says, turn towards or turn away? Do we fall back into our old (fear based) patterns of fight, flight or freeze — turning on Netflix and whatever methods of denial we can get our hands on? Or do we turn towards — showing up for ourselves and each other with courage and compassion, in ways that invite new possibilities for our emerging future? As much as it’s nice to say “everything will return to normal,” the reality is, a) it won’t and b) we wouldn’t want it to even if ‘it’ could just ‘return to the way it was’ because it wasn’t so great anyway.
During one of the launch sessions of the Presencing Institute’s GAIA (Global Activation of Intention and Action) Journey, I shared “everything we knew wasn’t sustainable is collapsing.” It’s true. Notice all of the shaky systems we knew weren’t working and all the ways they have either ground to a halt or almost immediately shifted. Here are some examples:
- Healthcare — in New York State, hospitals (private, public — whatever) were immediately requested to work together, in sync, to address this crisis. A system that was oriented towards profit (seeing empty hospital beds as revenue losses) immediately re-oriented towards deeper purpose: patient care.
- Education — in many ways, the education system we put our children through, while giving them literacy in the basics, has been churning out students who have no idea what their own gifts are and how to make a meaningful contribution in the world. By the time they get out of college (a gigantic investment/gamble) the jobs they may have trained for have already become obsolete.
- Business —my world view is informed by retail so, here, we’ve seen an immediate shut down of anything not essential. The shut down has affected supply chains and workers but it has also pointed to a larger issue — what of our ‘businesses’ is actually just ‘busy-ness?’ Otto talks more about government, tech and more in his article here.
So, if these systems are collapsing, what is the antidote? How will we learn to surf? What would we need to do NOW to build our capacity for resilience, be able to ride the waves of this moment and let the emerging future find us.
We are many. We are one. When we, individually and collectively, begin to see and sense the reality — when we actually sit with the ‘letting go’ needed in this moment, something new begins to arise. What is required for many of us, is a letting go of almost everything we thought we were — a letting go of identity. In some cases, it’s a letting go of what is dying — and an acceptance of the grief that comes with that. Grief comes in waves and stages, so even as we move through this moment, sense the possibilities, have hope, we also may have tears in our eyes and feel the brokenness in our hearts. That’s ok. Welcoming it when it comes, is part of the turning towards.
As we experience a collective seeing, we may feel the feelings rise up and through us. The key is to actually let them move through. The only way out is through and to heal, we have to feel. Another teacher, friend, and colleague, Arawana Hayashi says, there is ‘motion’ in ‘emotion.’ She has developed a practice called Social Presencing Theater, which essentially invites us back into the body — it’s a key way to turn towards. Arawana says, “Feeling the body can bring settledness and a basic grounding to our lives. That’s the body’s language — feeling.” She also says, “one of the ways to feel connection with ourselves is just to Stop.” I am constantly reminded of a key phrase someone shared with me years ago, “Embrace the stillness.” Even while we have all these things to do at home now, sitting with the stillness, feeling what is arising in the body, and allowing that to move through = gold.
Landing the Future
We are Many. We are One. The essence of this statement is an interconnectedness. When turning toward, we see the essence of our humanness and the thick strands that bind us in a web of connection. Throughout my life I have actively “missed” people constantly. Anyone close to me knows if I haven’t seen or talked to you in a while, my first statement is most often “I miss you.” It’s a deep feeling for me. I often consider it a missing of our in person connection or we haven’t talked in a while. Over the last few weeks, though, I’ve been missing people less. Why? Because I have been feeling into our web of connection in different ways. In part, this is due to technology, but technology is really all about how we, as humans, create and use it. We have found ways to more blatantly expose the web — almost like a spider’s web after rain — still standing with beautiful droplets like crystals. Or like we have been dusting for fingerprints and finally see them now. The key here is: exposing and activating these social connections (the field) to become a landing place for the future. As Kelvy Bird harvested in our Presencing Masterclass, “create a field of inspired connection… a landing place for the FUTURE.”
It has been amazing to see people come together like never before. Within days, we saw the numbers of people signed up for Women Together Connect jump from one hundred here and there to over 700 each day and over 10,000 people sign up to partake in the Presencing Institute’s GAIA journey. Inherently, we know what is needed now — to connect with ourselves and each other more deeply, to see and sense what is happening in our world, together. And the truth is, we are stronger than we realize. Arawana reminds us to have a strong back — held by the “strength of ancestors and teachers, all those who came before us, who have weathered many many storms.” We know, as people, we have immense capacity for resilience and to rise up and re-create the world we know is possible.
Lately, like many, I have been planting my ‘food security’ or as Kelvy calls it, “victory garden.” I watch the little seedlings sprout and often envy their tangible rootedness to the earth. Even if at the beginning that rootedness is quite fragile and I am reminded of the fragility of life itself on our little planet, I watch them get hardy as they are exposed to the elements. I watch them grow strong and resilient, taking nutrients from the water, sun and soil. Some become trees (trees, according to Peter Wohlleben, are the OG Social Network) — rooting down and rising up to the sky. I realize, we are actually not so different (despite the superpower Otto talks about here). We each need a little sun, nutrients from the soil and definitely many ounces of water/day. We root down in our own way, and as we do, like the redwoods in California, we connect with the roots of others — we share our nutrients (even as we physically distance ourselves from each other to keep the respiratory virus at bay) and we support each other’s growth to prepare for the new. Arawana talks about the way the crown of the head touches the sky: she speaks of sky as expansive and, as we sit with that feeling, the expansiveness of sky above us, reminds, “the future is open for us to create —the future is open for us to create: a good world for our families, ourselves, our communities.”
Maybe that’s how we learn to surf.
And, don’t worry, the other good news is, this growth zone meme is being passed around like wildfire (I hear praise is due to: Kenyan Doctor Anne Mwangi who created this and encouraged people to evolve and adapt it and Mr. Godfrey Okuma who shares it with all of us).
Also, friends, don’t worry, I WATCH NETFLIX SOMETIMES TOO.