“As we apprentice ourselves to the way of nature, we begin to understand that all of life is in a continuous cycle of giving and receiving. It is the honouring of this cycle that makes us feel at home in ourselves and in relation to the rest of nature. In order to experience true belonging, we must not only acknowledge the gifts we are receiving, but also give our beauty away, no matter how it may be received by others.”
~ Toko-pa Turner, Belonging (bold is mine)
“The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human – at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems, in a time-developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience.” ~Thomas Berry, “Reinventing the Human,” in The Great Work, 159
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
~ Søren Kierkegaard
I have been tempted to close this blog in many occasions. There’s not much interaction, I tell myself, I rarely get a “like”, a share or a comment, so why bother? What’s the point of having 1,164 followers (as of today, May 15, 2018), if I have no idea and no control on whether my writings affect others, help others, inspire others to do something?
Lately, I have turned to nature for answers, and studying ecopsychology, ecology and systems has definitely helped: elements and beings in nature never “expect” a response, responses just happen. Trees continue to breathe the world alive every night and give it to us again every day. Birds sing, butterflies fly, flowers flourish, mushrooms emerge, all synchronizes with everything else in an ever going dance of indescribable creativity, joy, death, grief, rest and rebirth…and not for a second any of them (stone, cedar, leaf, worm, deer…) ask whether their lives are important, have a purpose or whether they, as individuals or species, belong.
Only we, humans, do that. Only us are wounded enough to bring those questions up to the space.
In a coaching exercise (a visualization), I realized how much I miss certain things and how much I long for them to be in my life: a meadow, a garden to call mine, doing nothing but sitting under the sky, walking in nature, playing with animals, watching chickens do what chickens do, running, camping, sitting around a fire with friends and family, reading more, writing more, learning about herbs from the herbs themselves, playing with magic in the kitchen through fermentation, bread and cheese making, listening to others in non-structured “coaching” sessions, having deep and honest conversations about almost anything, kissing, hugging, holding hands, building things with my hands, playing with mud and wood and breading/weaving baskets, exploring “primitive” survival skills and teaching them to others, singing, dancing, backpacking…
The funny thing is, I’ve done and still do many of those things. Just not enough!
This week, I’ll be travelling for 10 days to OUR Ecovillage to co-facilitate alternative/resilient and sustainable economics, locanomics, indigenomics, the right livelihood and social entrepreneurship practical tools. I will also be co-facilitating the worldview of the EDE and a workshop on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”. Apart from my everyday work as career coach for immigrant job seekers and entrepreneurs, I work as the social media and communications “wizard” for the Work That Reconnects Network and the local Food Action Coalition/Seeds of Change Surrey. I’ve been teaching Food Sovereignty workshops at UBC-Farm, the local Food Bank and the now closed Homestead Junction. I have been teaching resilience, First Aid and disaster assessment and planning to dozens of groups and communities. I am now co-facilitating an online Permaculture +beyond Permaculture course along with other 40 permaculture practitioners around the world (registrations still open), I have been presenting at conferences and seminars and now will be collaborating with Regenepreneurs...I’m still dreaming on launching my own online and in-house regenerative entrepreneurs coaching business (Ethical Pathways) and offer 1-1 and group coaching for those in need…
My life is in many ways already a miracle beyond what anyone could have expected for the daughter of a refugee/activist/single mom who didn’t have the best of the childhoods (at least at the psychological/emotional levels). I didn’t get to study high school or university like “everyone else” (although I’m not along here, there are millions who still don’t have access to this type of education in the world). I never had land, or money, or family support. I stayed on my own in Venezuela at age 17, determined to make a life different from what “fate” seemed to have designed for a girl like me…
In many ways, however, my life has been an effort to demonstrate I belong, to find a place, a people and a time where I can feel whole at last.
And I found it, but not within the usual suspects: I have grown tired of expecting “others” to like me, love me, accept me, make me feel whole and that I belong to their family, group, community. My life/patterns are seeded with misunderstandings, people who leave, people who ignore or even abuse me in different ways. I have grown expecting emails not to be answered, “friends” disappearing for no reason, no phone calls or texts, no surprises, no thank yous, having to ask and justify myself for every step I take…
I’ve found that I am already whole and have always been: that my body is perfect as it carries me everywhere and manifesting through the senses, pains, joys and discomforts, all what’s good or wrong (it never, ever lies!). I have also discovered that my emotions, including those of anger, fear, shame, frustration, disappointment, etc. are all ways my Self has to communicate with me and send me warnings or cues that something is off and I need to change direction or attitude.
I have also found that I belong, I’ve always belonged as each leaf and twig and worm and bug and mushroom and water molecule and stone and right of light, as each one of you who are reading so far and those who will never read these words…belonging is not something we have to work towards: it is already here, in this space and time, and it is the reason we exist.
For years, I have facilitated workshops for those looking for a career path, a job or to open their own business or become self-employed. As many other career coaches, I have used and abused the formula of “exploring your gifts, strengths, skills, interests, etc.” and then researching/exploring the “market”: who are willing to listen to you, accept your gifts you have to share and, most importantly, giving something in return that you can use in this society: usually in the form of money…
The problem with the “formula” above is that it depends on a “public” willing to “pay” (respond in some hopefully positive way). It is, in many ways, based on a capitalistic way to see the world, through transactions of value/capital and the concept of markets. Not only that: if someone discovers they have something to offer, do or express that cannot be contained, something that burns inside but this doesn’t have a “mirror” in the world (a response that results in $$$), then the person is told to tweak their offerings and dreams, or to offer them for free, like they have no “value”…
But that is not how nature works, and not like history has worked either: nature is in an endless emerging and creative mode: it can’t help it! It shoots “weeds” through pavement, grows flowers through Chernobyl and Syrian destroyed towns, creates new species, rebirths every spring after the apparent dead of winters. She never asks whether these emerging and creative offerings will be well received. She doesn’t care whether the soil, water and air have been polluted, she births and births without exhaustion, and when a new experiment is “ignored” it never “fails”: she will release it in a few years or in another environment until it takes hold!
What if what we have to offer, what is pushing through our chests and throats is an expression of Nature, like birdsongs and wild flowers and new species? What if we have a guaranteed “niche” as everything else in this magical and mysterious world and we have no reason to ask for, justify or demonstrate that we are already whole and we belong? How would that play out in our life and career decisions? How would that reflect out there in the way we treat each other and Nature?
What if our Path is the Path we are already living, and we just can’t see the full shape until we get far enough and turn back: then we see that all those apparently random dots, failures, misunderstandings, detachments, challenges and neglects were guiding us to what we have become and what we have always been in the first place?
“Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the Earth process. Humanity has seldom participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet on which we live.” ~Thomas Berry, “Ethics and Ecology,” in The Great Work, 106
“By bringing forth the planet Earth, its living forms, and its human intelligence, the universe has found, so far as we know, its most elaborate expression and manifestation of its deepest mystery. Here, in its human mode, the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in a unique mode of conscious self-awareness.” ~Thomas Berry, “The Viable Human,” in The Great Work, 56