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.
And then, there is the generosity of lilacs. Gonna stay with that for today.
Yup, I could learn quite a bit from lilacs in how I carry myself as a human being.
I think this is a writing for two parts. One today. The other tomorrow. Or soon.
I’m trying to find something in words that isn’t meant for words. Or, is meant for experience that is beyond words. It might be beyond mind, at least for the way that I try to access it. I have the feeling that this “no mind” disposition matters. To find being that is beyond the word, “being.”
So, let’s start with the picture above and a poem. The picture is an iris. Rather large in this photo, but also noticeably large in life. It grows in a small garden near my front door. It’s a garden I tend. This iris hasn’t bloomed before (the ten years that I’ve lived here). I’m not sure why. I have a few other iris in different small gardens that I tend. They are mostly purple. This one, pink. This photo is me with my iPhone. Nothing spectacular. Yet what feels spectacular to me is the energy of beauty. I’m biased here. I’m connected to this iris. I’m connected to this garden. I have energy in it, and I suppose, it in me.
Beauty matters. Yup, it could be in varied form. The barren desert. The stormy sky. The tear trickling down the cheek. The thistle. Beauty is an attitude. Make that, seeing beauty is an attitude. And it’s more than words that represent it. It’s more than mind that accounts for beauty. I have the feeling that that matters.
If all that a person did was to develop attitude for seeing beauty, I bet a lot of very complex things would fall into greater harmony. Hmmm….
Now the poem, which is an attempt to use words to encounter something that feels beyond words. Thanks for staying with me on this. Let’s call this one, On Being.
The term “sacred cow” connotes untouchable.
Anything shy of unequivocal reverence for said sacred cow,
be that a practice, an idea, a creature, or a geographic location,
approaches absurd and even dangerous.
Yet, strangely, it is known that the sacred
also needs sacrificing time to time,
to renew the scarred and scared that make it holy.
I offer that mind, words, knowing, and seeing
are among the sacred cows of contemporary life.
I’m finding myself seeking to surrender reliance even on these.
For words, beautiful words,
create only representation of that which is.
And knowing, gorgeous knowing,
is always reductionism.
Seeing, lifting relief from cosmic infinity is miraculous
except when it obscures the exponential vastness of the not seen.
And then there is mind, luscious mind,
this finely detailed and impressively scaled organ,
that privileges particles over waves.
What I seek is the being
that though informed immensely by mind, words, knowing, and seeing,
rests wholely in its simplicity
in the unfettered lap of infinity.
Well, it’s been quite a week in the United States. Primarily I’m talking about demonstrations and riots in support of equity and justice. George Floyd, a black man, was killed a week ago in Minneapolis by a police officer, a white man. That white man faces murder charges in criminal court today. The demonstrations and riots included peaceful gatherings. They included statements. They included grief and suffering. They included invitation to stand together. Some of the demonstrations included violence and wanton acts of destruction.
There is pain in this country. The largely un-faced part of that pain is the beginnings rooted in slavery and colonization. Many people are living remarkable lives in a remarkable system of economic growth and production. However many are not, also. And many are not safe, seen, nor treated with dignity. And, arguably, the unsustainableness of a production system that is not in harmony with nature itself, is boiling over the edges of the pot.
There is pain in this country. It’s a pain that pushes even CoVid to the background.
I’ve written previously about Meg Wheatley’s book, Who Do We Choose To Be, published in 2017. Meg has always had a gift at discerning an important question and then anchoring it in impactful principles.
Her book feels grounding to me, in these times. One for it’s fundamental centering in such a question. Who do we choose to be, when the pot is boiling over? Who do we choose to be when we are angry and mob mentality is spreading faster than CoVid? Who do we we choose to be when the white-washed mythology of the country causes pain, suffering, disease, and death?
I would suggest we human beings are at a very important turning point in our time as a species. As Meg names in her subtitles of the same book, it is time for us to face reality in much more deliberate ways. It is time to take a knee — such an impressive solidarity gesture — to offer ourselves to the great unknown of where we go from here, knowing that it isn’t back to where we came from.
I don’t know where we go from here. I do know it is powerful to get to the more reaching questions, even if they are painful and require many of us to face deep-dungeon-fears in our individual and collective psyches about who and how we are.
There is pain in this country. It is our willingness to turn toward each other, and our willingness to grow more matured and integrated psyches, that might just pull us through into the new.
There is pain in this country. I’m glad for the gestures of human goodness from average citizens that start with saying hello to the person next to us, then grabbing a broom to begin sweeping, while perhaps reflecting thoughtfully and quietly, sweeping our interiors to find the courage to go to the unknown together, in who we choose to be.
Lupines are one of my favorites. These particular lupines growing in my garden are about three feet tall, the top one foot of which flowers. Where I live the flowered top comes in early May and lasts for about a month. I do my best to encourage these lupines to grow and to give them room to reseed themselves. I post this picture here mostly because I love the lupine beauty in it. I also post this picture here because it’s not a stretch to admonish for beauty in groups of humans in varied task, production, and adventure together. “Beauty” is one of the narratives that deserves more attention and intention.
I’m convening several online classes on circle these days. One group is a client system I’m cohosting with Quanita Roberson, a system that works in some very tough and challenged settings. Two groups are open enrollment participants that I’m cohosting with Amanda Fenton, participants that also work in a variety of settings in which thoughtful listening and speaking are becoming more imperative. I would suggest that we are all trying to create more beautiful spaces together.
Quanita Roberson and I recently recorded a podcast, 23 minutes worth that we called, Circle Buffet. I was really hungry to follow a few threads of learning about circle as methodology and as way of being. The podcast has a bit on emergence. It has a bit on the importance of being circle and doing circle. It has an anchor in the importance of creating connection.
So, here’s to cultivating beauty amongst human beings in dialogue, learning, and connection. Here’s to making room to reseed. Here’s to reclaiming the tone and possibility of beauty, even in difficult and challenging circumstance.