What patterns are showing up in my world? was the catalytic conversation I had today with my tribe from Centre for Human Emergence (CHE) Canada. It’s Fall here in the Pacific north-west. The wind blew off all the leaves from the acer tree outside my window, exposing trembling dry maple pods. What a change from just a week ago when it was splendidly garbed in the flaming red of harvest season.
How like the outer weather of the world this seems! Greece hunkered down into techno-economic solutions. Italy beating a hasty retreat before the same fate overcomes them. Occupy Wall Street booted from their tent cities. Steve Jobs’ death robbing us of our handheld change hero. Contraction abounds. Grief deflates hope. Nothing positive seems possible.
How like the inner weather of ourselves this seems! Our CHE despaired of all the ways we know to solve such dilemmas for our teams, our work and the world but which aren’t currently accepted, because people are hesitant and reluctant to commit. We noticed that the world seems to be moving on an ever-accelerating escalator of downward shift. Or is it?
Maybe what we are noticing is a process of muddling? An age-old response to transition that now is the mess that makes the daily news bite? Because muddling doesn’t come with an operations manual. Muddling works in fits and starts, one step forward, two sideways and one back. Muddling is a kind of dance between the impulses of “me” and the scoldings of “we”. Muddling slows things down. Muddling even involves stopping the world. Returning to roots. Returning to our tribe.
Muddling allows openings where grief can break through and do its job of letting go, to let come. (But where in today’s world do we make time or space for grief?) Muddling is the fumbling of grandparents and the playfulness of children. Muddling occurs in the interstitial zone of all natural cycles – the slack stage of tides, the end of the season, the still-point in rhythm. Muddling is the unrecognized shadow of risk-taking where lurks the dreaded experience of uncertainty and impossibility.
But maybe the world is merely going through a global season of muddling? Maybe this is a natural stage taken to a global scale? What is needed most for muddling through our daily lives at home, work and world? Maybe simply the acceptance of this time of turbulence and uncertainty? Acceptance that looks like grandparents loving all the children tussling on the playground? Acceptance that looks like children expecting the embrace of their grandma no matter how silly they have been?
Muddling may well depend on the wise elders holding a non-anxious presence long enough for Occupy Grandchildren to mature into Occupation Warriors who wield the swords of wisdom and compassion, that give us the confidence to recalibrate and rebirth new lives, new work and new ways. Muddling may look inept and inelegant but it may be the very wisdom that is most needed to allow for a rest, time for the sap to return to our roots, a seasonal contraction that will allow for healing and regeneration. Muddling may give us the space for the return of confidence, and the next stage of human emergence. That’s what my CHE tribe reminded me would happen (naturally) when the seed pods on the maple tree dropped deep enough into the earth for new life to sprout.