January takes her parting bow today. After a respite that melted most of the snow and foolishly tempted both plant and birds into thinking spring was soon to be, I awoke to a once again cold, white winter. Curious, too, my start to this year as it’s taken the month to imagine and begin to see glimmers of the returning light.
Right now, I’m in the third, middle week of the U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, Self, a MOOC (massive open online classes) hosted by MIT, featuring Otto Scharmer and his team. Together with 25,000 people from over 190 countries around the world, we’re participating in a novel, highly experiential process to “learn how to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future,” by introducing the consciousness – that quality of awareness and attention – as the variable affecting the quality of the results we create in any social system.
“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” — Bill O’Brien
I’ve written about Theory U before, described other times when I’ve journeyed down the U, shared how I knew in my heart and bones the quintessence of this work when I first heard Otto present his ideas in 2003 at Shambhala-Alia – even before he called it “Theory U. “ Last year several of us held a study of this course’s featured book, Leading from the Emerging Future, and twice now, I’ve co-hosted a 2-day learning lab, Leading in Emergence, designed as an abbreviated journey though the U.
So given this “more than passing” familiarity, I was bowled over when last week, for the first time I actually heard that the emerging future needs me, needs us, to be born and to have life. While perhaps pretty obvious to many, I was deeply moved by this. It’s not that I’m a passive, or even active participant. I am, we are, midwife to that future that comes from Self, or Source, or God, or pure creativity, whatever you call the embodiment and enactment of love.
I just realized above that I wrote, “I’m in the middle of the U.Lab,” a perfect description for where I really am, both literally in the course, and metaphorically in my life – at the bottom of the U. Work has been slow to start this year, and at the moment, I don’t see much on the horizon for the next few months. Perhaps for one of the first times, I’m not too anxious about this.
I spend many dark dawn morning hours sitting with my Peggy dog, imagining we’re both filling up on each other before she takes her parting bow. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. Every time a vacation bargain crosses my screen, my Magpie-Crow-Raven cousins get seduced by the “shiny,” but by day’s end I delete what I know down deep is only a distraction. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. I feel the uncertainty, unfamiliarity and void with letting go of a life-long honed identity that once served well…with cancelling long held dreams that no longer matter …with releasing relationships that use me up. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. This year, The Scientist officially became a senior, and I celebrate a new decade, and face the reality that yes, while only a number, 60 is NOT the new 50; that I, he, we are entering into new and unfamiliar territory that we know will be marked by more letting go. I remind myself, this is where I am right now. I see how my Peggy dog has become the symbol for all that is letting go, dying, as was so starkly, heartbreakingly, blessedly revealed to me in a dream last week, a dream that when I recall, resounds deep in my gut.
So now I have time to ponder and play with something a dear friend wrote in response to my blog wherein I wrote about having been struck with Bell’s Palsy, an illness that cracked me open, whose effects continue to reverberate, and is, I now know, one of the boons from the threshold I crossed when I took leave from work and traveled to Europe in 2010-11.
“I went along for the ride (in a virtual world) when you went to Europe and I smiled and laughed and remembered my own trip many years ago. I wondered if maybe I was becoming stagnant as I don’t go too far these days and seem to be so very comfortable just being in my home. Then it occurred to me that what better way to live your truth than by getting up everyday and simply living your life? Not as a teacher or mentor or guide, but just living each day with the spontaneity that comes with a brand new day.
I am not saying we shouldn’t give back and share our knowledge, but sometimes life makes us sit back and just be, while we look at the balance or imbalance that currently is our reality.”
Perhaps this is the future that is asking to be born through me now.
For now, letting come winter’s pause to attend.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy