Human to Human is a daily blog. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts are 300-500 words, often with photos, intended to be read in five minutes and inspire reflection, individually and communally, on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth.
Today begins a 4-week series that I will be cohosting with Quanita Roberson. The series is on race, equity, power, privilege, diversity, inclusion. Yes, it is a lot. It will be with a group of 20 people. The invitation to offer this series came from a good desire — from an organization that wants to be good citizens. Attentive citizens. Kind people. Awake people. I’m excited about this series. I’m also a bit nervous.
As is often the case for me, particularly for beginnings, I find myself thinking and feeling my way through what might be some of the most clear and simple words to share. That set context. That welcome people. That settles the feeling of people there. That softens all of us. That gets me in the room (on the screen) and that helps others get in the room (on the screen). Beginnings matter. Tone matters.
As is often the case for me, I can find multiple key points, but find myself needing to winnow them down to two or three. Well, here’s some of what might show today. I am learning to trust the words that come through in the moment, my hope being that whatever I speak contributes to a commitment to be belly true together.
- It matters that we be in good, inspired learning spaces together. That means being curious together. It means contributing our stories and experiences. It means that we be willing to be surprised. It means that we be will to sit in an unsettledness together. But let’s be clear. This is about deliberate learning in a community of people that want to do good.
- It matters that to be in good, inspired learning together, that we create even more relationship together. All of what we do is relational. All of the learning that we do is relational, and can be amplified because we are deliberately in learning as a group. Relational means with self, with others, among others, with circumstance. It means we need our brains, our hearts, our bellies. We need clear thinking. We also need intuition. Without relation, information is too often a hollow and disappointing shell.
- It matters that to be relational, we start with assumptions of kindness. With grace. With patience. With pace. Kindness, conscousness, and flow with life itself. So that we might each and all be good noticers together and contributing to the journey of the whole of us. It matters that we find paths together. Even tiny experiments that grow and improve what we are all discovering together.
Yup. Here we go today. In complex journey, yet I hope framed to simple essence. We don’t have to know it all together. We just have to have spaces to find more of our way, and I believe, to celebrate the efforts we are making, and to further enculturate ourselves to lives of learning and practice for good. That starts with a good, simple beginning.
I’m grateful to my friends Casey and Kelly for invoking one of the poems I published in A Cadence of Despair. The context was the start of a listening circle, to hear stories of dear people in thoughtful noticing of their lives.
The poem speaks to needs. The poem speaks to a kind of clarity and claiming that took some time and some struggle before it arrived. The poem speaks to hungers that many of us have, and that perhaps at times, need deliberate exploring.
I Have Three Needs
I have three needs.
Wanting to feel vibrant.
Wanting to feel alive.
Wanting to feel awake.
Not, protecting and conserving.
Not, sleepy in soul.
I’m also grateful for my friend Tom, who has been sharing his observation that some people are down to one or two remaining nerves, and that for some, these are exposed nerves. Tender. Vulnerable. In a way that tips people over the edge with small occurrences that they would otherwise handle well.
There is something cumulative among us.
That behooves us, I believe, to contribute with some added gentleness, to vibrant, alive, and awake together.
I learned this morning of an acquaintance, a colleague, that died over the weekend of CoVid complications.
It is a surprise. It is a punch in the gut. It is grief.
I know that many of us know this grief personally. And if not personally, know it collectively.
The US is making headway with CoVid. With vaccine development and distribution. With reduced CoVid hospital occupancy and reduced CoVid related deaths, despite the cumulative total of deaths now passing 500,000.
The insight that I’d started to write for a different circumstance is now elevated here with this loss.
It is relationship that carries us through everything. Relationship with ourselves, facing what is real in our respective and shared journey. Relationship among us, any of us, whether tasked with jobs or familied together. Relationship with the whole of it, the complexity of circumstance and times in which we live.
How we open ourselves and how we offer ourselves matters. Centrally.
I’ve been thinking of this time, February & March as lapping time. The calendar year has passed through 12 months to now lap first CoVid memories. A first canceled trip. A first closing of a facility. A lap of being laid off from the job. A closing of the border. And of loss of dear ones. Lapping brings poignancy.
Yes, relationship matters, including relationship with grief.
And here we are.
My wish for any of us, self included, is enough growing relationship, to find kind ways through all of this. And today, for the family that surrounds loss of this friend.
Thanks to one of my most lasting teachers, I’m learning a lot these days about little yes’s and little no’s. To be in the joy of little yes’s and little no’s. To be in the simplicity of little yes’s and little no’s. To be in the now, the present moment, of little yes’s and little no’s.
I love the freedom to feel removed from gigantic yes’s and gigantic no’s. Not forever. Because those matter too. And, not avoiding or denying or fearing the gigantic. But rather, to become unensconced for a time being. And, yes, here’s the deep learning — to know that little yes’s and little no’s corded to a clear and enduring value, have a way of revealing intricate and powerful life.
I’m thinking of what it must be like to be a sculptor. Yes, there are some broad chunks to be hammered away, but the bulk of the work is in tiny chisels and buffings adhered to a vision. I’m thinking of what it is like to paint a large landscape. Again, though there are important broad strokes, the painting emerges from thousands of tiny touches of brush.
I suppose that what is behind this learning for me is a continued desire for liberation of thought, heart, and intuition. Little yes’s and little no’s offer some respite from rather noisy and cacophonous insistence that is patterned to 21st century living. So much of the unchecked masculine in the world goads us with insistences of more. Or of bigger. Or of broadly scaled everything. When for most of us, it is our little offerings and commitments compounded over the years that reveals the remarkable.
I’m thinking of the way that a value like kindness shows itself as culture over the years in our lives. It’s not that all of us are meant to become a grand tada. But there is a way that little acts of kindness grow to galaxy — the little yes to hold the door open for the person behind you; the little no to stepping on the ants crawling across the sidewalk. The little yes to shovel snow for the neighbors without being asked. The little no to amplifying an unfounded bit of gossip.
Little yes’s and little no’s reveal who we are. They confirm who we are. They nudge us into what we wish to become. Little yes’s and little no’s fractal us into our broader being. As who we are individually and as who we are in groups.
So, today, my ode is to the tasty freedom and beauty of little no’s and little’s yes’s. My ode is to one step here and one step there. My ode is to the power of little yes’s and little no’s that interrupt harm and that amplify another choice in how any of us offer the good that we have to the times and circumstance in which we live.
Little is also a choice, and sometimes a surprisingly big one.