New to Earthuni? Join Here Free       Already a member? Log in here

May you bring light

may you bring lightThis year, may we each bring more light to our world. Igniting others to do the same.

But how?

On the quantum level the material world is not continuous! Each instant, its substance is entirely different. This means that all that is holding the world in place is a consensus reality. We recreate what we expect to see.

But what if every moment we choose to make a different choice than before? Then it surely also means that every next moment we have the chance of a completely new reality.

And what if more of us experimented with this idea: that every moment offers each one of us a moment to course correct.

Pilots flying from A to B are off course 99% of the time due to cross winds and other factors. So how do they arrive at their intended destination? They course correct, making tiny adjustments moment to moment.

So can we. We can pay attention to the vision we hold and to keep course correcting moment to moment. If in this moment we make a poor choice there’s no reason to make the same choice the very next moment. And if, through habit or fear, we find ourselves making the same old same old choice, we can delight in reminding ourselves that this very next moment we get to choose again. We have free will. We can risk the adventure that comes with choosing differently. The grand adventure of choosing love and peace, of choosing life, of choosing joy, of choosing kindness, of choosing integrity and honesty, of choosing hope, of choosing compassion, of choosing species diversity, of choosing half the world rewilded, of choosing to protect all song birds, elephants, humpbacked whales, coral reefs, sword fish, rare wild crops, a solar powered one grid igniting and reigniting the world, reversing laws that don’t serve life.
We can choose life for our planet. We can choose breath. Free octopus and orangutang, dugongs and door mice.

By simply choosing love this very next moment, and the next and the next…until we all do.

Footnotes and battle scars

Each birthday is a round number
Another smooth pebble in your shoe
Wearing you down or
Enlivening you
With stories to share
Battle scars, lessons
Like little gifts from the crows
To the girl who loved crows
Bringing her small offerings each day
Perhaps a paper clip or a button
Or some other small shiny object
Each an oddity. Beautiful in itself
Likewise my little gifts to you
A few words, whenever they land
Chiselled or half polished
Found on the fly
Rescued from oblivion
Carried by the wind under my wings.

Stuck vs unstuck

It’s easy to tell others what to do about feeling stuck: “Just move something and that rearranges everything..”
But that hasn’t worked for me recently.

Fortunately Joy Drake offered a simple formula:
Awareness + Choice = Change
Awareness – Choice = Stuck

What I see now, thanks to Joy’s magical formula is that I have way too many projects on the back-burner and haven’t been willing to choose which to let go of til now. And each back burner is accumulative no matter how low flamed.

Choosing which to turn off is really challenging for me. Like letting go of one’s children. 😉
How about you? Where are you not choosing?

Perhaps we need a “do NOT do” list for 2023.
what NOT to do this coming year rather than resolutions?

I like Tim Ferriss’s thoughts on this – the Past Year Review:
Divide a page into 2 columns: With the headings: +ve and -ve
Then look back at your calendar from 2022 and decide which events enlivened you and which drained you.
Then make a note to yourself to do more of the one and none of the other.
Perhaps stick your “do NOT do list” on your bathroom mirror or somewhere else you can’t miss seeing…
What enlivens you and what doesn’t? That’s what I’m asking myself daily this year.

Photos by Rhand McCoy on Unsplash and Anotia Wang on Unsplash

Going nowhere fast? (The hidden gift)

Sternenberg, earthuni


Recently, while cycling uphill in fog, I hit a patch of ice on the road. Suddenly my wheels were spinning but I was going nowhere fast. Sound a bit like your life this past year? Me too!

Late November, I cycled to a friend’s house for a birthday tea and walk above the fog line. Both of us live on a remote hilltop in Canton Zurich that’s high enough to keep its brow just above the white blanket that covers the valleys below for days on end. It was a cold day but the sun was shining and it wasn’t far so I went by bike. By the time I cycled home, the fog had crept up from the valley, blurring, then blanking out the trees and road ahead. My intuition whispered, “walk up the next hill” but my ego said, “Me walk? No way!” A few minutes later, on an uphill curve, I hit a patch of black ice.

The wheels of my bike started spinning without any forward movement. For a few moments, it felt like I was on a robust stationary bike bolted to the floor. Except I wasn’t indoors. I was on a mountain pass, riding a racing bike, with smooth, ultra thin tyres on a sheet of ice. To avoid falling over, I steered off the ice onto the other side of the road, a risky thing to do in fog, but I needed traction to stay upright. I swerved too far, and went right over the edge. Next thing I was on an unplanned cross-country detour, bouncing down a steep grassy slope into a narrow field. Beyond the field were trees on a precipice so I tipped my bike to one side, gave a little yelp and crash-landed in an unglorified heap, sooner rather than later.

I lay there for a few seconds, thanking heaven for the softish landing then I untangled myself from my bike and took stock of the damages: I had some bruises, but no bones were broken. My favourite beige corduroy trousers had a black oil painting of a bicycle cog imprinted on one leg. The brakes on my drop handlebars were slightly bucked but were still functioning. Not much was dented besides my dignity. So I picked up my ultralight bicycle, carried it back to the road and did what my intuition had whispered earlier. I walked my bike up the hill.

Towards the top I met three men fixing a tractor. “Why do you push such a fancy machine up the hill?” they teased. I told them I’d just hit a patch of ice. There was silence as I walked past, each of them possibly brooding over their own near-death experiences while navigating these frigid hilltop roads. How strange though to have a few Swiss farmers taunt me like that. My neighbours are normally over polite and reserved. Was it a way of venting frustration over a non-cooperative tractor, mixed with pack bravado? More likely it was totally innocent banter. They were flirting because I had looked much younger from a distance and then, as I got closer, they realised their folly. I was probably a bit over the hill anyway to be riding up this one.

What I’ve learnt over the years: if you pick up flack from others, be gentle on them, they are innocently mirroring your own internal Greek chorus. In this instance my inner chorus were chastising me firstly for not listening to my intuition, secondly for riding a summer vehicle in winter and thirdly also for walking…

Think of your ego as the air-filled tyre of a bicycle, designed to soften the bumps in life as long as its not under or over-inflated (3). The different facets of your personality are the bicycle spokes, which when balanced and working together keep your wheels turning, allowing you to make progress by constantly adapting to slight changes in the environment. But what happens to all this when the whole world locks down, frozen in fear? There’s no traction anymore and we are in danger of sliding out of control.

Fear is the ice on the road, and there are no sign posts to remind us that the road condition is a state of mind.

Last week I was back on my bike again for the first time since my fall. I noticed how cautious I’d become. Even though it was a much warmer day and there was no ice, I behaved as if there was. Every dark patch on the road was circumvented in case it was slippery. By steering off course to protect myself from imagined danger, I risked putting myself into far more danger by losing my response-ability to oncoming traffic. I slowed down and chastised myself for repeating the same experience and started thinking that maybe I ought to get tyres with studs or with spikes for gripping on ice even though I’m not likely to go cycling in icy conditions.

This whole incident makes me reflect back on this past year.

2020 gave us all ample opportunity to watch fear in action; not only to see more clearly how we personally respond to fear, or perceived threat, but also to observe the extent to which fear is used to regress and/or steer individuals, groups or even entire communities.

How much of our social and political world is in fact pure ice-scape? Structures built with frozen hearts to control others due to generations of unfelt, unacknowledged collectively inherited trauma.

Observing ourselves and how we personally respond to real or perceived threat is the hidden gift and opportunity offered to us by these times.

Explorations and Resources

Fear vs fearless? Why we might not feel fear
Fear is a debilitating foe and usually goes unrecognized because it hides its jagged teeth behind a myriad of masks: distraction, overwhelm, frustration, anger, numbness, over-pleasing, burnout, strong man or hero worship, thinking thinking thinking to avoid actually feeling (dissociation)….. The list of things we do to protect ourselves from feeling fear is endless.

How fear trips up even the smartest minds
In extreme cases, if we think our survival is at stake, fear trips up even the smartest among us through a slippery manoeuvre called “the amygdala hijack”, a temporary regression to a far younger developmental stage, by freezing our higher thinking and feeling capacities in order to run an older default survival program from our ancestral past. But what if this older way no longer works? The danger is to keep going, with wheels spinning, until we fall over.

Fight, flight or freeze.
We each have different levels of tolerance before we shut down, depending on past experience of our inherited nervous system.
This depends not only on eary childhood experiences but also our family’s unique survival pattern. Also bear in mind the hidden faces of fear: which of the many ways (distraction, overwhelm, anger etc) do you attempt to keep your mind spinning in overdrive in order to avoid feeling fear all together?

As I look backwards for clues on how to move forwards, I notice how many of my decisions over the years were fear based even though I didn’t think so at the time. For much of my life I thought of myself as fearless. But now that I start to pull off the various masks that fear hides behind, I see examples of disguised fear, such as noticing how distracted I have become, or how much over-thinking I do to avoid feeling, or when I’m isolating myself instead of reaching out, or closing my heart to avoid risking vulnerability. Each of these is a form of wheel spinning, doing whatever worked in the past, over and over even though it no longer works. Each of these actions may have been intelligent and effective at an earlier stage, but now isn’t appropriate or effective In extreme cases of perceived threat, I have witnessed myself going into freeze mode even though this is certainly not in my best interests. Right now our very survival depends on the opposite – the recovery of deep feeling: our sensitivity and capacity to feel ourselves, each other and the needs of other species.

My biggest take out from this last year is how crucial it is that each of us learns to identify, observe and manage “the amygdala hijack” phenomena – moments when we are being (or have been) regressed to earlier developmental stages in our lives due to perceived threat. And remind ourselves to breathe, or change how we are breathing, in order to take back our agency individually and collectively in order to recover enough sensitivity to survive as a species. This is probably the most important work we can do individually to support life and biodiversity on this planet. More about this.

What I’m exploring regarding the amygdala hijack: Stephen Porges on Polyval Theory. Here’s recent embodiment podcast with him with tips, such how to cultivate a sense of safety in our own nervous system. Here’s an audio book on befriending your nervous system by clinician Deb Dana, using polyval lens.
I’m also exploring Thomas Huebl’s recent book: Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.
I found this podcast discussion between Thomas and Terry Patten useful.

Also re-listening to calls with Markus Hirzig (most senior student of Huebl). many of these are in the Earthuni free auditorium on this theme last few years.

As a daily practice I recommend transformational breathwork and/or Systema. Any form of yoga, dance, consciously coordinating breath and movement or breathing technique will be helpful in some way to bring some of us out of our minds and more into our bodies.

I plan to unpack this theme more for myself and others. Register here for notification of future interviews on this topic. ( and bookmark this site for more articles exploring my own experience of the hidden faces of fear, such as distraction, overwhelm, over pleasing, over thinking …)

2. Exploring the bigger picture regarding the question “Why am I here?”
To find out more about your purpose and build a balanced wheel of support to keep moving,
instead of wheel spinning, visit my other site on hands and purpose Here’s a recent interview I did with 2 very talented podcasters, Celine Foster and Jeremy Glazer on this topic.

3. For more cycling stories. “Feeling Stuck? Think like a cyclist.” read here

New Start?

Perhaps one day, we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say, “Hallelujah!” Even though we don’t yet know why.

If you google “Hallelujah” (as I just did to check my spelling) you will find Leonard Cohen’s spine-tingling “Hallelujah” on Youtube and straight after it, another Cohen classic: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”, with birds gliding over Victoria Falls.
there's a crack in everything that's how the light gets in

In Africa this waterfall is called “the smoke that thunders” because you can see and hear it from a great distance, long before you experience it fully as a place where the world cracked open.

It takes standing on its fractured edge, with water thundering in your ears, getting drenched while peering down through the rainbows, along with the very real risk of tumbling over the edge, to be filled with awe.

This is what the present is for most of us, a jagged edge running through our hearts, minds, lives. We’ve been cracked open. A new start? Perhaps an opportunity for more light to shine through each of us towards each other and the fragile interdependent web of life of which we are part. Dare we whisper hallelujah?

How can art triumph over violence?

“Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy.”

What to do about the growing number of disappearing journalists, the escalating violence towards environmentalist activists, or concerned citizens who dare to speak up about pipelines going through their sacred grounds, or about their disappearing butterflies or virgin forests, and now #BlackLivesMatter protestors risking life and limb for social change. Is there a way for humanity to survive and thrive and even leap up to the next level of co-creation instead of fighting violence with yet more violence? And what to do about “Silence gives consent”? How can we actively contribute without becoming yet another statistic? Or without stooping down to the same level as the perpetrators of violence? Or instead of numbing out and flicking to the next channel? (Question I’ve asked myself for decades.) This article explores two ways each of us can take positive action to ensure a better world for ourselves and future generations.

About a year ago I watched a youtube video of Jordan Peterson giving a talk on his 12 Rules for Life, an antidote to chaos. (Petersen is a highly controversial figure and I’ve been advised to cut him out of this story as he isn’t really relevant to what I’m writing about here. Maybe I will in future, in a shorter version of this piece, but for now I’m leaving him in so you can follow how I got to re-discovering Solzhenitsyn.) This video (which you don’t need to watch) led me to getting his book by the same title (which you don’t need to read) plus a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Experiment in Literary Investigation: The Gulag Archipelago” which Peterson mentioned while discussing the 8th rule in his book, which is Always tell the truth, or at least don’t lie. (This part, inspired by Solzhenitsyn, is about 56 min into his video.)

Solzhenitsyn in Sternenberg, Switzerland Summer of 1974

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Sternenberg, Switzerland Summer of 1974. Solzhenitsyn Center

I’ve been sitting with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel prize acceptance speech on my lap ever since. Almost to the point that its burning holes right through my feet.

This incredible speech, written 50 years ago, feels like it was written for us now, as a call to action.
The truth of it rings in my ears but still I feel frozen. What to do?

I feel a strong affinity towards Solzhenitsyn because, after he was expelled

from Russia, he spent a few months of 1974 hiding out in the hills above Zurich, in a remote rural farm cottage in Sternenberg, belonging to a fellow writer and historian, the then mayor of Zurich, Sigmund Widmer. We moved to this region three decades after Solzhenitsyn’s brief stay, but still his spirit lingers here. As I write this, I can see his old rooftop peeking through the forest on the next hill across the valley. It feels as if he’s gently reminding me to read more of him, follow his guidance, put my head down and do my bit. His books are enormous volumes, each nearly as wide as they are high, and quite daunting just for that fact, never mind what’s in them, taking us to places we wish to never visit in this lifetime nor in any parallel or future lifetime either. And yet his work is about the ascent of the human spirit against all odds.

Solzhenitsyn needs to be read now, least we find ourselves going down the same slippery totalitarian slopes he and his countrymen explored during the last century. Solzhenitsyn’s epithany, after a decade in hell, was to connect the dots backwards to how seemingly petty lies and deceit about one’s own life, due to a desire to fit in or survive, lead to bigger lies and eventually participation in, compliance or turning a blind eye to massive crime against humanity and our planet. This process of decay and how it happens is really something for us to look at both individually and collectively, irrespective of ideology (which itself is another danger that he points to and thoroughly dissects).

In his Nobel prize acceptance speech, after he winning the Literature award in 1970 for the novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich“, Solzhenitsyn lays out two ways we can each take positive action whoever, or wherever, we are in the world.

  • Firstly to look inwards, to observe and then clean up our own “fake news” or petty lies and deceits or bigger transgressions and participation in lies
  • and secondly, to allow whatever creative inspiration we’ve received as a gift that’s attempting to work through us to come forth despite all odds and be a force of good. To use our craft to make the truth indisputable and to help others rise instead of sink, by sharing our own personal experience in a way that gives others a direct experience across space or time and thereby perhaps able to make the next big leap rather than go all the way into hell too.

I personally found it useful to access Solzhenitsyn’s thinking though Peterson’s pre-digested material because Peterson shares his own personal stories about attempting to tell the truth and stay in integrity and also because he ingeniously put the guts of Solzhenitsyn message, an essential call to action, onto the first page of the forward he wrote for the abridged edition of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. By presenting us upfront with a well chosen extract from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech, he manages to condense Solzhenitsyn’s vast body of work into a bite-sized meme for today’s easily distracted audience. This extract touched me so deeply I’m still pondering Solzhenitsyn’s words and wondering and experimenting with how I can apply these principles in my own life.

Here’s a small part of this extract from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel speech so you can get a taste:

“Once we have taken up the word, it is thereafter impossible to turn away: A writer is no detached judge of his countrymen and contemporaries; he is an accomplice to all the evils committed…

“…what can literature possibly do against the ruthless onslaught of open violence? … violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with lies.….

“The simple act of an ordinary brave person is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions, His rule: Let THAT enter the world, let it even reign supreme – but not through me.….

“…but it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie! For in the struggle with lies, art has always triumphed and shall always triumph! Visibly, irrefutably and for all! Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art…”

“…..One word of truth will outweigh the whole world.”

Shortly after reading Solzhenitsyn’s words, I saw the power of art demonstrated by Saudi artist, Abdulnasser Gharem, through his brave and impressive artwork at the Basel Art Expo last year titled “The Safe” which alludes to the death of his fellow countryman, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul,Turkey, on 2 October 2018. And in the wake of his death, the enormous lies and coverups and inter-governmental deceit, collusion and expediency that is still on going. (9)

There was nothing to point you to Gharem’s masterpiece in the Expo hall except a long queue curling back on itself while it shuffled steadily towards a huge white box, about the size of a shipping container, with a single entrance: a closed white door, under a rather plush, Georgian over door canopy, also an untainted white.

The door was guarded by two expo officials who warned each visitor that what they were about to see might be disturbing (so you could opt out if you wished) before being ushering into “The Safe” alone and left in there for a 40 second solitary experience. What was inside? A white, soundproof padded cell smeared with blood red rubber stamped messages all over the walls, hospital bunk and stainless steel basin.

Rubber stamps inside the Safe - Abdulnasser Gharem, #abdulnassergharem, Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy

Rubber stamps inside the Safe – Abdulnasser Gharem

Messages such as:
“Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy.”
“Security without freedom is slavery”
“The difference between a terrorist and a martyr is the media coverage”

and several other messages, also some in Arabic.

While inside one could privately contribute to the artwork by replicating the rubber stamp messages or pen your own in red ink.

Abdulnasser Gharem’s larger than life art work is a brave act and a brilliant example of how art can triumph over lies. He is a beacon for artists and writers worldwide, not to crumble into despair or anger under systemic racism and oppression, but instead rise and soar — to become beacons for others… through art. To inspire us to self- reflect, see through the lies, have more contact with each other (7), open our hearts, feel and accept the numbness borne of generations of receiving or dishing out abuse, and in so doing inspire even more of us to create new ways of seeing and feeling; so that we all step up a few notches and into the highest possible versions of ourselves.

The best film example I’ve seen recently, of art triumphing over lies, is a true story about fake news called Shock and Awe by Rob Reiner This film gives us a glimpse of the enormous hurdles journalists are up against in today’s world. It premiered at the Zurich film festival in 2017 and is a true story about journalists Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, John Walcott and Joe Galloway trying to stay in integrity and do justice to their craft against all odds, in the wake of 911 during the lead up to the war on Iraq. I think it’s a must watch for us today, particularly while we are in global lockdown. If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt in the last few months it’s not to take any information at face value, no matter how respected the source. The whole lockdown experience seems a tailor-designed phenomenon for each of us to each earn a PhD in fakes news, specifically how to tell the difference between our own and everyone else’s. (3)

But what about all the artists or writers who can never hope to make it into an art gallery let alone the Basel Expo or into a box office hit or the pages of prestigious magazines or publishing houses without selling their souls via social media or to whoever is paying the electricity bill? How can they follow Solzhenitsyn’s advice?
We will explore ideas on this later.

And what if you don’t feel inspired to create anything?

As mentioned before, there are two parts to Solzhenitsyn’s advice. And the second point is really just the tip of the iceberg.

The first part is: What action we can take right now as mere mortals (every one of us) to shift our lives in the right direction. We can come back into integrity with ourselves by taking note of, and clearing up, our own “fake news”. The real groundwork to be done by all of us. And we can practice not colluding in nor condoning or turning a blind eye to lies in order to get ahead. Let’s not forget, any work done with an open heart and genuine intention to help is love in action (4)Besides, great art doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires collaboration, support, publishers … “Every tiny screw, cog or spring is needed to make a clock.” Eileen Caddy (5)

Triumphing over expedience

Certainly, all of us need to find a way to survive, or feed our families and perhaps the only reason we are here today is because our ancestors grovelled, complied, obeyed, or sold their souls outright in order to belong and therefore stay alive or because they turned a blind eye or prostituted themselves in some large or small way for survival of themselves or their offspring. But do we need to still carry on this soul barter?

Solzhenitsyn says no. That the “…the meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but…in the development of the soul. From that point of view our torturers have been punished most horribly of all: they are turning into swine, they are departing downwardly from humanity. From that point of view punishment is inflicted on those whose development..holds out hope.”
(Bwah! What a thought!)

A page further on Solzhenitsyn continues: [What I learnt from my prison years was] how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states or between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil. … it’s impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.” (6)

This sounds a bit like something Markus Hirzig said recently during a private call: “As soon as you realize that the whole game board is alive and responding to your every step, you make the next evolutionary jump. Your neighbors change. The game board expands.”
He spoke of this from an energetic perspective, adding that when we contract our energy due to fear from a younger period we literally make the game board smaller. “..and with millions contracting, the whole game board contracts
 and we don’t have so many abilities anymore. 
What was thinkable before (democracy, for example) is no longer thinkable.
We then have three choices says Hirzig: (2)

  • to go with them and also contract (making the game board even smaller.)
  • to leave/ not go along with them (through disassociation for example) and therefore also make the game board smaller(!!)
  • Or we have a third choice. which is to stay fully present but not contract with them through fear or shame or anger. Then we have the possibility to look around clearly and see what the next adjacent possibility is? What agency do I have? What’s there for me to do? (2)

So, knowing all this, why do I still feel frozen regarding taking action?

Starting where you are now

In his article, Turning toward our blind spot: seeing the shadow as a source for transformation Otto Scharmer writes that required action depends on where we are in our own process.

Scharmer points to a turning point in global consciousness, like the last straw that broke the camel’s back: “Something changed when we all watched the same images — 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the killing of George Floyd. During that unbearable experience, something broke down and broke open in our hearts, in how we relate to one another, and in how we want to live together.”

Says Scharmer, “What is ours and what is mine to do? How can I contribute to the pathway that we are building together?
Answering these questions may require us to look in the mirror at our individual and collective shadow and ask:

What am I not seeing? (Where is my view distorted by a frozen mind?)
What am I not feeling? (Where is my sensing distorted by a frozen heart?)
What action, grounded in this deep seeing and sensing, am I not co-initiating yet? (Where are my actions distorted by a frozen will?)

This is what I’m working on at the moment. Noticing when I’m distracted, or numb or the degree to which my heart is still closed…

A couple of years ago a friend sent me a video and later some books by Japanese/American artist Makoto Fujimura. I’ve watched this video a number of times and have shared it with many friends and clients. It’s an empowering message about culture care, about seeing “the gift” versus seeing everything in the world as a commodity. Like S’s message, about what we can each do, Fujimura talks about winter and preparing the soil for future generations. And this is exactly what art asks of us…and needs from us. Feeling what needs to be felt. And freeing this energy so that it can be repurposed. This is what our generations can and must do now.
Here is his empowering message to artists regarding expedience and what to do about culture care and honoring one’s “gift” in a world that sees everything as a commodity.

Fujimura echoes Solzhenitsyn when he says that the real power of art, literature, dance, poetry “is to help one climb into someone else’s skin and walk around… it helps us develop our empathic capacities; to be other-centred rather than self-centered.”
But he also points to art and culture’s current decay. Fujimura mentions the work of TS Eliot between the wars and of Ralph Ellison, author of The Innocent Man, who said, “If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it also has the power to blind, imprison and destroy.” Ralph Ellison

Fujimura asks, “Is it possible that in the beginning of the 21 century art has missed something? …Has art been imprisoned?…Have we forgotten art’s potency to revive and set us free?”
“What is happening in our culture when a scientist cannot be a scientist, when an artist can’t be an artist? There’s something wrong”
“…Can art be part of the effort to set us free?”
(30 min into video)

” The artist appeals to that part of our being which is a gift and not an acquisition…and therefore more permanently enduring.”
Joseph Conrad.
We have forgotten our gift. Or misused it. (8)

Fujimura’s advice: (refers to the book The Gift by Lewis Hyde)

“When the native Americans managed the waters they took the salmon as a gift…
Western forces came in and treated it like a commodity.”

“[Nature] is a gift. Culture is a gift…Always do work that is not going to be sold or published. Let it be a gift to the world…there’s magic to this. Give what has been given to you, deeper intuitive layers of love that the you have tapped into. That first love is so intoxicating. People say you can’t be an artist and you cannot stop. You know there is a reality you must serve and so you write, at 3 am without anyone knowing that you are writing poetry…
“Emily Dickinson took care of her garden…few people knew she was writing..”

Be like Emily Dickinson - do your work as a gift for future generations

Fujimura continues:
(41.40 into the video) “Emily’s desk was only 17.5 x 17.5 inches. I tell younger writers, that’s all you need but you have to dedicate yourself to that space. Do not let anything else go on at that table. Let your being remain on that space so you always have a place to go home to. You can always be inspired to write the last paragraph, last stanza of a poem even though you are coming back at 2 am in the morning. You are vice precedent of general foods…and have to get up at 5am you still write.”

“..…[Dickinson] was a gardener and knew a good bulb sometimes takes years to take root. If the soil conditions aren’t right or winter is coming good seeds will wait. She buried her poems into the soil trusting they would come out when the time is right.”
She wrote as if she was writing as a gift to us today.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also wrote as a gift to others. When he had nothing to write on he memorized his work by structuring it as rhyming poetry. Victor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning also wrote for future generations. So did many others. They wrote as a gift to us today. Let’s open and unpack their gift now rather than postpone humanity’s blossoming until another season, century or species picks up from where we are now.

Preparing the soil

And if we feel we have no seeds to sow and we think winter is coming, what can we do?

We can prepare the soil for future generations.

How can we do this? This is the work of Thomas Huebl, Otto Scharmer, Porges, Peter Levine, Michael Brown, Judith Kravitz and many others all working in the field of digesting collective trauma.
We can digest what needs to be digested after two world wars and a lot more. While there’s work to be done on a collective level there’s also work that can be done on a personal level.
As one of Scharmer’s students put it: everything in your life has prepared you for this moment in history.

Without truth we can’t have democracy.

We can take Solzhenitsyn’s advice: see the mirror, reflect on our own lives and clear up our own personal toxic waste and come back into alignment with ourselves and our inner calling. We can do our own private “truth and reconciliation” process and write or share about our own experiences, even if only for ourselves or our close family. And we can not support lies and corruption on any level, particularly in our leaders or companies. This calls for a maturing in each of us that is quite difficult to see and requires reaching out for help to see our own blind spots. (1)

Today we are at a crossroads. One path leads towards a totalitarian possibility the likes of which we have never seen before. The other path leads to the flowering of humanity, through the renaissance and transformation through how we relate to our environment and each other on every level. (13)
Which path do you choose?
This is what I plan to do. Start from the inside out. Crack open my own heart and reach for the higher ground, and in so doing perhaps inspire others to do likewise.
And look towards art from others for inspiration, like this beautiful love poem to our Earth from Lindi Nolte, to keep our eye on the stars instead of the mud below.

“ The future is not somewhere we go to, it’s what we bring here now.” Thomas Huebl

Notes plus resources

Some resources I have found useful: Read more

Attentional Violence

penguin turning away from humanity, attentional violence
Photo by Francisco Arnela on Unsplash
Attentional violence. This is what we do to the “uncool” people. To the foreigners. Or to all those who we took for part of the furniture when we moved in. To the rare birds who make us squirm in our grey-feathered sameness. To the too dark or the too light. Hearted. To the too bright, too different, too “other”, thereby breaking the cookie-cut order and sweetness, shaped by the fear of not fitting in. To the marked or the damned or to our own daemon when she wakes us up at 3am in the morning with a seemingly good idea. This is what we do when we turn our back on friends because we don’t know how to help or we can’t deal with our own discomfort. This is what we do when we ignore our babies reaching out, or to our children when they no longer try, and focus instead on the continuous stream of chatter on our phones, the pings and pongs calling for our attention. Or what we do when we leave someone out in the cold, or out of our family tree or bibliography, because we think they don’t count or because they matter too much. This is what we do to Mother Earth when we turn a blind eye to what we’re doing and keep doing what we have always done. Attentional violence. This is what we do to ourselves. To our inner child. Who calls and calls and is never heard.

This post was inspired by Otto Scharmer who writes about three types of violence: direct violence, structural violence and attentional violence in his recent article on Turning Toward Our Blind Spot: Seeing the Shadow as a Source for Transformation.
Attentional violence enables and seeds the other two forms of violence, says Scharmer: ” This form of violence is less discussed, but equally important. Not being seen for who you are and who you could be — your highest future possibility — is a form of violence that diminishes your ability to act from that capacity. Perpetual attentional violence is collectively enacted — against others, but also against ourselves — every single day. The poor-quality public education available to most young men and women of color is just one example.”

Scharmer invites us to explore what we are not seeing, not feeling or not taking action on. (Frozen mind, frozen heart or frozen will.)
I like what he and Thomas Huebl are exploring together regarding collective healing through presencing in large groups.

The Return of Jennifer

Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 11.51.59Suddenly the name Jena feels too tight. And Jennifer has returned home, to remind me to step into a bigger, more authentic version of myself. She was a gift from my parents and only called on when it was “time to really get serious”. Therefore I’m happy to have her back. She’s needed now more than ever. Deep down all of us know that, “Everything that has happened to us until this moment, prepares us for what is happening now.”

What to do about all Jennifer’s diminutives?
Love and embrace them all!

Jena is my professional hand reading persona
Jenni is my previous life sports identity
Jen and Jenny are for people who have known me forever

Feel free to call on whichever person you prefer.
We’re one large family. And all of us open the door.