What We Get Is What We Get

Thanks Quanita Roberson for sharing this Octavia Butler quote. Butler was an American Science Fiction writer, among other things. She died in 2006.

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward
is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool
is to be led by all the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief
is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant
is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

What I love in this quote is that Butler points to the obvious — what we get when our leaders deny who they are. It’s consequences.

What I also love is that Butler points not just to “them” out there, but also to what is unresolved in us, the deep layers of inner work, when we attach ourselves to the leaders she describes. We attach ourselves to a liar, perhaps, because something in us wants to be told lies.

I like imagining a few additional choices of leaders. Hmmm…. To be led by a visionary is to be invited to welcome the vision in ourselves. To be led by a sage is to be encouraged to grow wisdom in ourselves and those around us. To be led by one not afraid to admit vulnerability is to be join a revolution of awareness and awareness and emotional maturity. To be led by one working out their humanity with honesty is to be embraced to participate in this great turning and evolution of human species. And, and, and….

Glad for these kind of people, thank you Octavia Butler, who point to and integrate inner with outer, telling it plain on the outer, yet with an edge of invitation to look deeply within.


It was about 15 years ago that I was introduced to rock balancing. It was buddy Chris Corrigan that got me going. That, and an Art of Hosting facilitation in Ontario, Canada on the shore of a river with rather giant stones. I loved the beauty that was created through a momentary focus, with minute adjustments not knowing it the particular two (or three) stones could hold each other, and an acute awareness that it might all fall within moments.

I suppose there is a connection between that on the shores of that Ontario river and some much smaller balancing that I do these days. Like this picture above with a few stones that are on my desk / table. The praying monk is about two inches tall. It was a gift from a long time friend and colleague. The white jagged stone is about the size of a small fist. I got it from a trip to Yukon a few years ago. It even has a bit of Fool’s Gold in it. The rounded and smoothed stone below is also about the size of a small fist. It’s from the coast of Whidbey Island, Washington. I use each of these pieces as talking pieces for online circles.

So, back to balance. This particular stack is rather precarious. I laughed when I made it last week, feeling a bit of the absurdity in stacking and balancing these. The monk is particularly tipsy. Standing as it were on one foot. The Fool’s Gold is, well, Fool’s Gold. It has tricked many a wanting fortune-seekers appearing as one thing and yet turning out to be another. The rounded black stone is close to a sphere. It’s less of a platform, but more of a point on which to balance.

Yup, absurdity. But not perhaps that different from the absurdity of balance these days for any of us finding our way. In work. In family. In community. Some of us are still far from travel to be with the people we love and work with. Some of us are leaning to the edges of reclaiming face to face time. Schools have reopened. Yet many of us are adjusting to surfaced CoVid cases and renewed shut down. What once was a reopening is becoming a reclosing. It’s challenging isn’t it. Not just the exterior of behavior but the interior of emotional balance.

For me, balance has generally been a term that needs some clarification. Balance as in “everything under control” has always felt misguiding. That’s not the way that life is. That’s not the way the working together in teams is. There is something that many of us long for in our dance with certainty and uncertainty. Balance for me feels more like a good mix of both of these, and growing a comfort with not balanced.

So, though it started as a playful image, there is something to be said for our prized objects and experiences feeling a bit tippy, right. And for the way that our desires and efforts are stacked on a couple of, albeit beautiful, but pretty wobbly and moving foundations, right.

Balance these days, like it was with Chris when on that river shore in Ontario, is an experiment. To be enjoyed, but not taken too seriously as something with longevity. Stones fall. So do people. It still matters that we commit to experiments. And beauty, even if just for a moment, to then pick up and try again. In these times. In all times.


The Fifth Grade American Song Book — Christina Baldwin

Over 20 years now, Christina Baldwin has been for me a friend, a teacher, a colleague. A writing coach. A welcome for overnight stay in her and her partner’s guest room. A shoulder to cry on. An honest voice to count on. A profound thinker and contributor. A person who offers tea and a wedge of cheese.

This recent post by Christina Baldwin, is just a good read. In the end, it’s a call to vote. To participate in the reshaping of who we are as people. Yes to what Christina advocates and encourages as a democratic responsibility and contribution.

What I also really love in Christina’s writing is her ability to offer story. “Once upon a time…” is just embedded in her way of thinking and interacting. She has a gift in contexting an era for what it was, including some of the blindness that existed in the time. And then recontexting that era in light of current era. Whiteness. Innocence. Injustice.

It’s a good read for the story contexting and for the end call to action. I’m grateful.

Presence & Courage

Last night I had dinner with a friend. It was take-out Mexican. Enchiladas. Rice. Beans. Some chips and salsa. Some guacamole. A bit of wine.

Last night I had dinner with a friend. It was at a park, South Fork. Where a stream trickles down from mountain. It is shallow enough to cross, which we did to wander through a bit forest, now colored with the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns of Autumn.

Last night I had dinner with a friend. We sat on the ground. We shared updates of each other. Challenges. Excitements. Wonders. Fears. But at a the pace of the stream trickling nearby.

Last night I had dinner with a friend. We also wondered aloud together about troubles of these times. Climate crisis (not climate change). Middle East peace (and manipulation). Election integrity (and more manipulation). A little CoVid.

Somewhere in the dinner, in the park, and in the stories, we talked about presence, and how it takes courage to show up just in the moment that is in front of us. To be both in the troubles, yet fully in the here, and the now.

Last night as my friend and I had dinner, a mom walked by holding hand of her two year-old daughter. We all talked for a bit. I felt lifted by the natural smile of this two year-old.

This is one of the key skills of this day, isn’t it. To be turned to the troubles. Or aware. Or grounded. Or active. Yet also, turned to only what is in front of us. This is deep inner and outer work, isn’t it.

Last night I had dinner with a friend, and learned again that the meal was the friendship. The meal was the connection. The meal was the the support together of being aware and awake to the big picture, yet fully, and I’d say courageously, in only the moment and presence of the now.