Tis the Holi-day season. The solstice is here, the turning into the light, once again. May I substitute the word LIFE for LIGHT for a moment. How does that sit with you? Turning into LIFE? That’s what we are all about, in The Coming Home Project, coming back to LIFE, learning to play the LIFE game, and learning to play it in a new way – as partnership. I believe that is what the Earth has been waiting for – a partner. There are things we can do together that we can’t do alone, that neither of us can do alone. The kicker is that to partner, we have to both be on the same page – we BOTH have to be committed to LIFE over everything else! Nature is, she does nothing that is not furthering LIFE. When will we be able to say the same?
I know that life is frustrating, confusing, and even scary. I also know that as a person of good will, you want to DO something. We think that something has to be grand or big or notable in some way, but it doesn’t. What it DOES have to be is enlivening. It HAS to be something that furthers life on this planet. Life is not just existence, but it is joie de ve, the joy of life. Whatever we do has to further joie de ve!!! For ourselves and for others. I even question if we can find and experience joie de ve by ourselves. Often, when I have that experience I have it in nature with everyone else, all of the other living things that are experiencing that too. That is why we love nature so, their joy reminds us, and refreshes us to that experience, something we forget in the ‘rat race’ we have come to call life – but which isn’t.
In this time, we are called, IMHO (in my humble opinion), to hold the pain AND the joy together. I believe that the joy will only be a large as the pain is. Our capacity is stretched by our experiencing both, by our willingness to hold both, to feel both. As I say this, I am also cognitive of the fact that none of us can live so intense a life to experience either of these emotions all the time. So, yes, there are times for difference and even for peace and harmony, but that is not the same as blocking them out.
We need to shift all our being and all our actions to only those that are meaningful, in this way. So that our life, our whole life is dedicated to bringing forth joie de ve in every way that we can. There is not enough time to wait until …. This is NOT the time to put things off. WE are needed and We are needed NOW.
We can’t do this alone, in fact, the whole purpose of doing this, of finding and expressing joy, is to learn that we can only have that experience in community, with others. That means that we must find others who understand the urgency and problem (separation from life) in the same way we do and together figure out how, together, all of us can live our life in ways that bring life - joie de ve, to all the other living things around us.
Join us in The Coming Home Project, listen to our podcast, Awakening to Gaia’s Voice, catch our weekly videos on Facebook – you are NOT alone!
I have been trying to tell the Earth's story in a way that blends science, systems thinking, and indigenous wisdom, as I share the patterns and systems life uses to create and sustain life. The Earth, as life, has values that are reflected in the patterns of behavior we see all around us, and that we call nature. We are seeking direction, but it is already here! Her four intents and sixteen values form a framework that channels life's energy in constructive and interdependent ways. Coming out of our dream of separation, into the light of connection, of interbeing, we need frameworks that remind us how to play well together. By together, I mean interbeing with all other life on the planet. How do we treat other life as kin? How do we hear their voice, before we are able to actually listen? I believe the Resilient Values Framework provides one answer.
That said, nature needs us! We are a keystone species, at the moment, and what we have done, needs to be repaired! I believe it is time to stop fighting those who will not change their mind and start supporting planetary life in every way we can. For me, this means turning to the nature around me and seeing how I can help. Our life depends upon soil. Soil is one of the main ingredients in rain. Without soil, we will not have rain, and without rain, the planet will continue to parch, until life discovers how to eliminate and balance the stress we caused, by denying life so eloquently. I think this is what you sensed, in your statements about my chart (even though it was not 'correct' at the time) when you said I would bring something that would help us all.
We need to be active in providing a counterbalance to those life defying behaviors that currently characterize what Western humans think of a 'normal.' This doesn't look heroic, in the moment, but it will be foundational in the stories we tell each other later. We are only just understanding how the Earth really works. Everyone, every other entity alive, has been charged with ensuring life continues to thrive, only we have resisted and even despised that call. In our hubris, we have only been concerned with our own survival, and in so doing we have been convinced that others living limits our chances of survival instead of understanding we depend upon them for survival. Now we need to use our great powers to ensure, just that, the survival of others. In doing so, we will survive. If we do not then, instead of being a help, we become a hindrance, and that will not be tolerated, it can't be!
I am embarking on a project with my city, Spokane, Washington, to enliven the soil. If we can get the residents to understand their own self-interest can best be served by enlivening the soil they have responsibility for, then our city will become much more resilient to both floods and fires, and the vibrant green we will be surrounded with will also increase our chances for rain while, at the same time, facilitating the refreshment of the aquifer we depend upon for drinking water. This may sound a bit prosaic, and even only bleakly connected to the imperative we do something to fight climate chaos, but it is what is needed now. If we don't address the heat, we will be cooked. Stopping doing the things that are making things warmer, which is our current strategy, is only a part of the picture. Facilitating and supporting the current methods of cooling that nature has already designed is another.
It is my belief that as we put our hands in the dirt and discover how to make living soil, we will also regain that connection and appreciation for all the rest of life, that we have lost. There is nothing more magical than compost. Seeing with our own eyes the transformation of garbage to rich, dark soil, is SO empowering! The magic that other living things create in simply doing what they do best - live - eat, and yes, poop, is so astonishing hopeful. Witnessing that transformation provides testimony to the ability inherent in life, as we know it, to recover fully, if supported by us. We will need this faith to support us as we learn to deal, and help the rest of life deal, with the coming heat.
Join is in The Coming Home Project as we work together, each in our own way, to regenerate and revitalize our Earth.
Science is telling us that each single cell is a ‘self.’ An entity, sentient enough to make the decisions it needs to make to keep living and even to reproduce. In the real world, these are not simple or easy choices to make. Each choice involves, at the most basic level, answers to the question, is this good for me, does it serve me to maintain an interaction, or can this harm me? If it is harmful, do you move away or protect yourself, and if protection is desired, then how. That’s a lot of fancy thinking for a single cell, yet the realization that there is something that is not self, and the information gathered to answer the simple yet complex questions above, is the start of the autopoietic process of self-making – for BOTH parties. That interdependent self-making is how Interbeing happens. Together, the choices both parties make from the information gathered, determines the kind and extent of the relationship they form. Enough of these experiences with the same or similar selfs, creates a pattern of behavior, over time. These patterns, over time, become automatic processes that become enacted when that same kind of ‘other’ is encountered. If the experience is continuous enough and often enough, then structures may be created that ensure the process will happen with less energy and attention. Structures can also be created when enough of similar selfs have made the same decision about similar ‘other selfs’ and they decide to stay together to deal with the situation. If enough connections are made, then networks can be formed to better facilitate the desired interaction. Over time, the new information gathered by all of these still independent selfs, may generate enough information to inspire a new set of choices that will generate an innovation – perhaps surrounding another desired self, who also recognizes the benefits of the relationship.
This process occurs with simple organisms as well as with larger organisms, like humans. For humans, the recognition of another person inspires an openness to information from and about the other that also answers the very same questions, but perhaps at different levels. The answers to those questions will determine the willingness to engage further, as well as the shape and kind of relationship that will be developed. If developing the relationship further, is chosen, then, over time, there will be developed a pattern to that relationship. If the relationship continues, then processes might be developed to make the relationship easier – say texting every morning. As the relationship continues, it may be that structures start to appear, such as expectations about response time, for instance. It can be that, over time, there arises a desire to bring in others and a network is formed. The addition of others with similar and compatible interests increases the flow of information, and this can inspire a shift that will create a novel and new expression of the group.
This process can be expressed as: Identity, Relationship, Information, Pattern, Process, Structure, Network, Emergence. In this model, no other can be recognized until a sense of self is clear. The acknowledgement of a ‘not self’ is a relationship that is codified by additional information and additional choices to respond to the experience of that interchange and the choice to deal with that experience. We speak of it from only one viewpoint, but there are always at least two parties, each doing the exact same thing. Each is making choices that the other will have to respond to and in so doing, each is making both their own world and the contributing to the making of the other's world at the same time. This is interbeing as an autopoietic expression of life. This is what Ubuntu means – I am because you are.
As we move into a new world where each of us is consciously contributing to the richness of life and is consciously working to ensure that all life is vibrant and vital, this recognition of our ability, responsibility and gift that is given and received in every interaction can become a deep experience of appreciation, gratitude and even reverence for the interdependence and reciprocity that envelops us every day, in so many different ways. As we learn to cherish the results of other’s choices, we also become much more cognizant of our own responsibility and power in making the world for others. To be engaged in world-making in ways that bring life to oneself and others, is to engage in co-creating a vibrant, robust, and thriving world, one we all want to live in.
Humans, in particular, world create on a daily basis through language. The words we use and the stories we tell are constant world-making tools we use without thinking. The words we hear and the understanding we make are yet another example of how our interbeing creates through our autopoietic actions. In English, in particular, our focus on nouns creates a separation that we don’t even see. The constant recreation of separation dismisses, makes invisible the connection that interbeing points us to.
We are doing this now, but with no consciousness or attention. We make choices without any recognition of the response of the other and how that will impact our own life. We assume that each action is independent and stands on its own. By recognizing this interdependent self-making, we gain more control and agency over the kind of world we are making, together. The autopoietic choices I make and in how I respond to your choices is the interbeing aspect of the world we are creating together. Together we create stories that explain and justify our actions, but without recognizing the world that is the result of these decisions. By paying attention to the effects of interbeing and the results of each of our own autopoietic choices, we can begin to artfully impact and design the world we want to live in.
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Kathryn Alexander MA has been absorbed by trying to understand how we should live. Is there some way to actually determine right from wrong and ensure a moral life - and there is. It does not conflict with any religion, creed or ethnic culture. It clarifies and strengthens them all, and at the same time can be independent of them, as it stands on its own. Live in connection with the Earth.