Four Layers of Context — A Shape That Reclaims Scale

There is a shape that is haunting me. By haunting, I mean staying with me. And calling out to me. And occupying brain space. And companioning me. And, in a way, asking me to draw it on napkins and scraps of paper. And, in a way, asking for different colors.

This shape has four layers to it. It is one of the versions of “systems view” for me. The short of it in principle, is that everything and anything exists within a context. I suppose it has been my life’s work to restore context — to bring awareness of connectedness — so that we humans might reclaim imagination and indigeneity of all “things” connected.

  • The first layer is the solid line small circle in the center. I think of this as an experience. Typically small, a task, but can be large. For example, “send the report.”
  • The second layer is the larger solid oval that nests the small circle. For me, it’s and expanded layer of context. Send the report as part of my fulfillment of my job.
  • The third layer is the larger dotted oval that nests the first two layers. I deliberately draw it as dotted. Not so solid. Not so defined. More permeable. Send the report as part of my fulfillment of my job that is about contributing good to people through the job. It brings attention to the value of “contributing good” that is connected to “sending the report” but not the same.
  • The fourth layer is the spiral that overlaps it all. For me it is meant to be less linear. It is meant to be more ethereal. It covers the whole of the first three layers. It is more mystical, deliberately. Send the report as part of my fulfillment of my job that contributes good through my job that somehow values a life mystery that we live and is living us.

Something comes alive in me in these napkin sketches. Context. So as not to get corralled into believing that it is all about the small circle, layer 1, that we started with, which so easily consumes many of us in unending fires to put out.

On the one hand, it’s just a meeting. Nested within the context of building a learning culture, nested within the context of evolving life through a meeting, spiraled by an affinity for living life and welcoming life to live us in who we are and how we contribute our gifts.

The work that I am called to includes the multiple layers, be that for any of us as individuals, or as groups, or as cultures, or as creatures in an unfolding evolution referenced as 21st century.

Here’s to reclaiming scale, and I believe, our minds and hearts that know there is more going on here than just small circles.

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