Fun word, right. Not so fun experience.
I’m finding myself in some deep enough learning these days that there is also some accompanying discombobulation. I’m going to say that is a good sign. It’s also a scary sign. Feels like, around some things, I’m not sure which way is up anymore. Feels like outer space, gravity free.
I’m doing some, shall we call it, world view learning. I’m resisting premature summary. I’m resisting premature regression to comfort. Not fully able to let the discombobulation volcano it’s way around me. But am getting close to the spewing lava.
Here’s some of the core of this version for me, spoken often by my colleague / friend Quanita — “what is right, real, and true is white and male.” Quanita speaks it in a kind way. But also in a clear way. It’s the kind of statement I’ve needed to hear, step away from, and come back to several times.
I’m a reasonable listener. I have reasonable depth of life experience. I’m not unfamiliar to world view learning — in fact, have followed and contributed deliberately to that layer of learning in my facilitations. Getting further to the core, to the aha, to the radical truth telling is compelling to me.
But today, or recently, discombobulation.
And, after a few days of this utter goo, I’m finding my way back to a few amplified truths that I choose to live.
- Awareness matters. Individually and communally. Let’s accept that awareness is a life long path. But also punctuated by some key moments that change the path. Some awareness must be done alone. Some can’t be done alone. I often say with groups that there is always more unseen than seen. It is one of the ways I invite people to curiosity and mystery. I relate to it being our jobs to connect and to learn, with kindness, even in the more ferocious circumstances.
- Improvements matter. Again, individually and communally. Practice matters. Experiments matter. Doesn’t have to be the full, end all plan. Sometimes the most radical and impactful steps are what we do in our own hearts and bellies. Sometimes the most radical and impactful is what we choose to alter among us. Sometimes the improvement is getting to the street to join the collective with presence, with marching feet, and with a sign that calls for attention.
- Complexity capability matters. Yes. There is a savviness that I continue to learn helps. Not all contexts are the same. Somethings are simple. Some complicated. Some complex. Some chaotic. And, these all live in most contexts, simultaneously. When we treat the never-ending complexity with too much simplicity, we are missing out. When we treat simplicity with too much complexity, we obfuscate.
Well, there’s three.
In a class this week, online, we might offer a “privilege walk” exercise. It is likely to include some questions that help to shine some light on the reality of white privilege. About college. About home ownership. And, I’m so glad for this with Quanita — we’ll also check the yardstick of success and privilege embedded in the questions. Are the questions themselves further reinforcers of what is right, real, and true as seen from the predisposition of white and male?
I am white and male. There is discombobulation that I experience. What to say. What not to say. Way to roll with. What not to roll with. To remain honest in the discombobulation — yup, that matters. And to be a skilled archeologist, willing to dig to caverns within myself not explored, nor mapped.
So, I suppose this is a small celebration of discombobulation. And an invitation, to explore the beauty, necessity, and trust that can come with discombobulation.