Wonder & What If Thimbles?

As a young boy growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I suppose it was episodes of Star Trek (the original series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy) that opened up some of my initial sense of wonder in the world, that there was so much more to be discovered. Star Trek and, a decade later, the original Star Wars movie. Those and, a couple of Grandmas who wanted to grow my imagination. All of that and, a bit of painful life experience that had me reaching for meaning. As far back as I can remember, something in me sought for what was not seen as much as what was seen. Something in me sought for alternative ways of doing things, not just the established norms. Something in me sought relationship to what was timeless, not just what needed to be squeezed into a todo list.

With that as backdrop, I recently wrote this poem below, stringing together some of the “what if” questions I carry now, in both my work and in my personal learning, as I’ve sought even thimbles full of the unbounded ethereal, that likely started when I was a boy


What If, What If?

What if, what if,
this life could be lived 
as connection to the infinite?

What if, what if,
the infinite were found
in but a thimble of experience?

What if, what if,
those thimbles of experience
were available anywhere?

What if, what if,
changed everywhere?

Life is but a dream,
calling for our waking
to the infinite of the every day.



Mystery, Spirit, Trust


It’s natural for us humans to make sense of things. To make sense of the journey. Individually and collectively. We can’t not. Due to the kind of brains that we have. I would suggest also, due to the kind of hearts we have. We seek meaning. We can’t help to seek pattern.

Seeking and seeing pattern is generally a pretty good thing. It helps us to see the broader arc of time and circumstance. It helps us to see the broader ecosystem of experience.

The shadow side of pattern is getting stuck in reductive linearity seasoned heavily with the lure of predictability. Its outcome is a kind of numbing. Shutting down an ever-changing dynamic into a fixed and rigid entity.

I was in a sense making moment Sunday. Glad. With friend and colleague, Quanita. We were thinking about the group we had worked with that day. We were seeking for what was underneath the facilitation, and further, what was underneath the intent to create strategic plan. We were seeking more of the story that our people were searching for together.

Here’s some of what we came up with:

  1. Mystery. Let’s not kid ourselves. There will always be mystery. Unknown. Uncertainty. Unpredictable. Nuanced detail. But mystery. In the team. In the family. In the movement. In the organization. Mystery has a different invitation than confirming a list. Mystery points both to awareness of inner, and, awareness of outer.
  2. Spirit. The operating system in mystery requires orientation to spirit. The unseen. Some layer of divine. Some layer of serendipity. Or self-organizing. Or organic appearing. I know that people have quite varied reaction to references to spirit. I would suggest there is something well behind the rational of our good brains that is in play.
  3. Trust. It’s different than knowing. It’s a gut layer of intuition. It’s internal, but most likely, arising from the external too. Trust is a choice. It’s leaning in when not fully knowing why. It’s being willing to connect ideas and thoughts and feelings without being fully clear. It’s less managing the movement of water in the river. It’s more getting in the river.

These are invitations. Mystery, spirit, and trust. In my experience, people are hungry to have these welcomed. So as to speak the truth. So as to go together, in reclaimed clarity of how we undeniably exist in connection. Naturally.

Sorrow Filled — It Comes With The Times

This morning has been sorrow-filled for me. No particular incident. Perhaps several smaller things that have grown. But, perhaps just a mystery wave that has felt gigantic. I continue to learn about feeling those waves. Just because. And not particularly connected to this picture above (but I like the blatantness of these trees fallen — life and death are natural in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains).

The American Psychotherapist and Soul Activist Francis Weller talks about how all of us must develop an “apprenticeship with sorrow.” My brain can hear that. Makes sense. For all of us and the varied experiences of sorrow that are part of being human. My heart can hear that too. Except when I feel that I’m drowning in the sorrow. Again, mystery.

Quanita Roberson and I encountered each other as participants at a writing workshop. That was 2013. We’ve grown a friendship and a colleagueship over these last six years. We’ve grown a body of work that is soulful. Soulful enough to go to places of deep sorrow. In ourselves and with others.

I’m grateful for the insight that shows up regularly with Quanita. She’s a smart cookie. And I’m grateful for the added smart cookieing that we are together. Stuff shows up. It’s field. It’s openness. It’s attention to what is emerging. It’s rooted in the orientation that we humans are figuring a few things out as we go. Like sorrow.

Today, on a mystery sorrow-filled morning, I’m glad for a bit of wisdom and kindness with Quanita that points to all of us needing to become more skillful at sorrow / grief. It’s wisdom that normalizes the experience (I would say calls it out as a natural and needed growing for the times within which we live). It’s wisdom that says, don’t swim alone in the ocean that sorrow can be (ain’t no way that I’d swim alone, but I tend to take on sorrow alone).

Quanita and I will continue our offerings — they are with increasing frequency to help the people who are helping people. It’s not too late for Fire & Water, where I have the hunch, that the pod of participants and us will figure a bunch out together. Like sorrow. And waves. And inner world connected to outer world. Like wisdom. And community. And how fear impacts us. And hope too.

It’s All A Mystery


Last night I had dinner with a friend at a nearby Thai restaurant. We shared jasmine tea, cheese-filled wontons, coconut soup, sticky rice, and massaman curry. Delicious. And casual.

As expected, our conversation also was delicious. This is an old friendship in which over a couple of decades we have shared comfort that parallels the tea, fun that matches the wontons, imagination and color that is like the soup, big challenges that are sticky as any rice, and tasty delight that is the curry. A headline conversation thread for me from last night was the inherent mystery of it all. By “of it all,” I mean, life. “So much of it is mystery,” I observed to my friend. “All of it is mystery,” she replied. We laughed. There’s no need to be tentative together. It’s a delight to be with another that isn’t just speaking platitudes when talking about inherent mystery — because, after all, there are a few inevitable gut punches, not just spoons filled with sugar, in this kind of awareness.

We parted. Grateful. Filled.

Last night I had a dream. More mystery. About mystery. About simple behavior and a choice of operating mode that aligns with “it’s all mystery.”

In the dream I am with another friend. She is holding a vase of flowers. She is arranging the flowers and asking me, “does it need two stems of greenery or one?” In the dream I’m aware that she is asking a question as if there were an absolute answer. I respond deliberately to interrupt the assumption. “My hunch is to go with two.” She replies, in a way that attempts to subtly concretize my response, and to enable her a certainty, “So, it should have two?” I respond again, “My hunch is two. It doesn’t have to be two. That is your choice.” A third time my friend seeks what feels like an imposed absolute, “So, you think it should be two?” I offer one last clarity. “My hunch remains two. But it doesn’t really matter. I’m also a minimalist, so I value things that are understated.” My friend isn’t completely satisfied with my answer, but I feel I’ve stood for something that matters about changing the way we think. And I like that. I wake.

If all of life is mystery, it feels important to me that I change my language to reflect this inherent mystery and complexity. So many habits of language point us to removing uncertainty and subjectivity in favor of the certain and the objective. Many find the certain and the objective comforting — I can find oodles of ways that I  have in my life. But comfort doesn’t help us grow up into the inherent mystery that is life. It’s just a comfort. And feeds a well-perpetuated illusion that at its base, is intended to protect us humans from the fear that can arise from uncertainty.


All of life is mystery.

What if I and we lived as such, increasing the way that we encounter each other with curiosity about our choices and perceptions in how we are navigating the great mystery of it all. I know I want this. It’s a round world awakening, this time to get from the flatness of narrowed perception comforted by false certainties, to the roundness of more full awareness and embracing of subjectivity.

The waiter at the Thai restaurant tended to us well over the two hours what my friend and I were there. He brought us our tea. Then our food. After giving us some time to eat, he came back to check on us — “How is your food?” This is habit for me, in the mystery and grand subjectivity of things, to respond from the subjective. I smile at him, genuinely and appreciatively (thinking to myself that the food was really good), and respond, “I’m really enjoying it.”