Views Distant and Near

This is one of my favorite views in Utah County. It’s looking south from the Lindon / Vineyard area. I love the wetlands that though browned from winter, will soon green themselves to spring. I love the distant view of this part of the Wasatch Mountains. Still snow covered, an artifact of winter’s run. With melt on the way to hydrate the land and its creatures. I love the invitation in such a view to see both what is in front of me, and the longer view. Which is really what I love about working with people and groups in participative leadership.

Here’s to images and views that open our hearts to things near and paths distant.

Crumbled — By Saoirse Charis-Graves

I love this poem shared recently by a friend, Saoirse. She’s thoughtful and presences with a big heart and awareness.

I love this poem for its spirit of remembering and honoring both the exterior and the interior.

Enjoy.

And thanks Saoirse.

Crumbled
Saoirse Charis-Graves

The house has been standing a long time.

Bare wood shows through the chipped paint of the eaves.
Crumbled mortar leaves empty gaps between the bricks of the porch.
Heaves and cracks in the sidewalk leading to the front door
aa lend purchase to random weeds and grass.
The mailbox sits askew, one of the numbers tilted,
aa becoming a confused and downward “seven.”
Waves and ripples in the glass windows distort the curtains behind,
aa a wall of white blocking any view of what lies within.
Attempts to patch the foundation cracks lie crumbled on the ground,
aa a testament in sand to what has been.

The builder stands amidst the chaos of weeds and bushes,
Refurbish? Fix-it-up? Make it “like new”?
aa Or take it down,
aa clear the space,
aa start anew.

The teams arrive,
Tools in hand, ready to work.

The builder stands a moment longer,
Takes a deep breath,
Turns to the workers,
Gathers them into a circle.

The builder tells the workers the story of the woman who lived in this house.

As they remove the cracked wood and crumbling foundation,
aa they will remember who she was, her work in the world.
They will know of her heart as they lay aside the solid wood door,
aa and the bricks from the porch.
They will know the essence of her soul
aa as they carefully remove the wavy windows.
They will remember her name as they safely store the mailbox.

When the weeds are gone,
When the cracked cement is no more,
When mailbox and windows and bricks have been stowed away,
When the ground is bare and clean and flat …

The builder gathers the workers once again in a circle.

She says,
aa “Now we are ready.”

Adaptation

It is not uncommon to speak of the need for adaptation. Whether in organizations or families. Whether in communities or as individuals. As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change.

Like many, I’ve been impressed by the capacity to change and adapt. Sometimes people and groups changing by choice, crafting a plan or a practice. Sometimes not by choice, that nonetheless scripts to an evolution.

Today, I’m impressed with this particular daffodil. It grows in my front yard. I have several daffodils that grow in my yard in other locations. The stems are mostly a foot from the ground. This one, however, grows through a Mugo Pine bush. It’s stem is two fee tall. And then it flowers through its surrounding pine branch neighbors.

Each year I’m particularly wowed by this daffodil. Rather than being shut down, it grows through the bush. It finds the sunshine it needs. It reaches for the open space. And flowers.

Yes, one could learn a fair amount from this daffodil. I am.

Impressive. Impressively adaptive.

Convening Fatigue

As I listen with my colleagues, we are each coming to realize what I would call a kind of “convening fatigue.” The context in which I’m speaking is more to do with online spaces. So let’s call it online convening fatigue.

Online convening fatigue isn’t about whether the cause is good or not. It isn’t about whether the people are good or not. And, it isn’t about denying the stunning adaptations and connections that many of us make in online settings that open hearts and imaginations together.

As I listen with my colleagues, we are recognizing a very simple reclaiming — we humans aren’t meant to solely sit in front of computers. Even the most introverted of us are missing the incidental touch of a knee. Or the kindness of holding a physical door open for another. Or the collegiality of “can I poor you a cup of coffee?”

Online conventing fatigue is real. And, I am learning, it has a cumulative quality to it. It gets stronger over time with repeated experience.

Now, I want to be clear. I think we humans can adapt to most anything. The last year of all things digital has demonstrated that. And, I believe that if such a context were to continue for another ten years, we’d adapt further. Our expectations and reality of experience would change our DNA, removing some of this convening fatigue that rears in adaptive state.

But let’s stay in the present.

As I listen with my colleagues, we are each coming to advocate — hmm…, perhaps a bit stronger, insist — on self care as a priority. Not self-care as something to get to if there is time left over. Not self-care that is only at the end of the day when there is nothing left but crashing to sleep. Self-care needs to be higher on the list.

Self-care is of your choosing. It’s not yoga for everyone. It’s not meditation for everyone. It might be three minutes outside to deliberately breathe. Self-care isn’t just tending to physical body, or to spiritual body. It is also tending to emotional needs. Self-care can be a cup of tea. Self-care can be reading a poem a day. Or writing a poem a day. Lots of choices.

As I listen with my colleagues, we are learning that fatigue is real. We are learning that self care sometimes patches a gap in our personal and collective bandwidth. And sometimes, adds vitamins to the long arc of our adapting.

Here’s to speaking the truth of fatigue. And the kindness of witnessing it in others. Here’s to speaking the truth of some choices that move us with gentleness.