Offerings, Gifts and Invitations
Of Metaphor, Memory, and Orientation.
It's morning time. I'm seated at a small wooden table overlooking one of Bristol's busiest pedestrian intersections. Bright light pours in through the large south-facing windows. I look down at the stack of pages on the table before me.
A sea of words. I skim through articles, so many small black words in static formation across the white rectangular page. I swim through them, one stroke at a time. Then, every so often, something will jump out at me. A word here, a sentence there, an idea that reminds me of something else I've read, an experience I've had, or that sparks my curiosity.
Different ideas stand out and complement each other. Sometimes they echo each other. Even though the ideas are applied to entirely different domains, such as biology or business, they speak to the same essence or pattern. Other times ideas contrast each other. One stands out against another, making each one shine even brighter.
I gaze out at the intersection and let the waves of words swell within me. I watch the people crossing the street, even though they're all in their own world, their movements are synchronized by the traffic lights. For a moment, their actions sync up into a sort of dance - I imagine how bringing different ideas together could create something beautiful and cohesive.
When I was young, I would spend hours looking for agates on the beach. These beaches were not warm, soft light sand beaches, but miles-long stoney beaches with dark, cold sand, and cool Pacific waters.
Although rugged at times, agates can reflect the qualities of a crystal, they are a form of quartz. Turn one in your hand, and you'll notice a sparkle or perfect stripe running across its surface, denoting the many layers that often make up their shape. Sometimes yellow, red, or even blue, agates stand out amongst all the other stones. Every agate is unique, yet each one embodies a rough, imperfect beauty.
If you were to look at the altar in my home, you'd notice a curved line of agates at the bottom. Each one rests on the others in a relaxing pile formation.
Years ago I put them there without fully knowing why. At the time, I liked the aesthetic of it. Looking back, I can see that perhaps the reason I put the agates there was foreshadowing this facet of my journey that I've been living into but didn't quite have the language for yet. This facet of gathering little pieces, objects and ideas amidst all the information and bringing them together in a different and sometimes sacred space. Then sitting with them and noticing what they offer me, and what qualities arise that didn't exist until now, at least not in my awareness.
And this is the process I'm in right now with my literature review. I gather beautiful pieces and curious pieces of information without fully knowing why I am drawn to them or if they will create something cohesive. And I wonder how we attend to cues, words and bits of information that do not exist within our current frame. How did I attend to the agates without knowing what they were offering me?
There may be an element of following what we're attracted to, what we find beautiful and what we're curious about. Even if we still need to understand why fully. In this process, there's a sense of surrender.
As a child, I would roam the beach for hours without guarantee of finding an agate. In the moment when I would find one, my heart would swell with delight. I felt the world was acknowledging all of my searching and offering me a gift. I felt met by something larger, something I didn’t have language for yet.
At times, this process of gathering pieces we're drawn to without knowing what they mean or how they fit into our lives may feel a bit cluttered or chaotic. But in the background, there is a sense of moving towards a greater whole, even if we can't see the larger shape or pattern yet. There is something coherent about beauty. Knowing that something is beautiful can feel decisive. We can notice that something is beautiful and instead of trying to grab onto it, we can open ourselves to receive more information about why we were drawn toward this thing.
Following the things that jump out to us and being willing to move through the uncertainty and chaos of many bits swirling together may be a part of what Zhok (2022) speaks of as Gestalt cognition.1 Even if part of us is focused on the pieces, another part of us can perceive a larger whole within something fragmented, even if just for a split second.
From agates, on a vast beach, to ideas that jump out from a sea of words, the things that catch our attention can offer clues and lead us closer to a larger, more beautiful whole. I return to my part, to the sea of words and wonder if 'this is what this is', somehow reminded that I already know.
What I’m reading:
The Practice of Everyday Life , by by Michel de Certeau (Author), Steven Rendall (Translator)
This book describes ways of reclaiming of our autonomy through the daily practices that may often be overlooked. De Certeau speaks about tactics available for reclaiming our agency in the face of the forces of commerce, politics, and culture. Although this book is a bit theoretically dense it helps illuminate the role of imagination can play in shaping the layers of our life that may otherwise be viewed as quite mundane.
Friday, August 25th, and Saturday, August 26th, 9:00-11:00 am AEST
Thursday, August 24th, and Friday, August 25th, 9:00-11:00 am PDTFor the first time I teaching one of my classes, The Places in Which We Find Ourselves, for a second time!
I taught this class in early June, and had the most touching time. Even though I was drawn to offer this class, the topic of ‘place’ if far more potent than I realized. Because of this and based on the wonderful feedback I received, I am excited to be offering this class again!
In the class we consider questions such as: how we can belong to the places we move through and inhabit?
Through exploring the qualities of place that transcend geography and how our environment shapes our thinking and perception, we look into the supportive and qualities that places offer. We will also consider why we're drawn to certain places and consider practices for creating a supportive space around us through the idea of altars.
Space is limited to 8 participants. Learn more and register here
Friday, July 28th, 9:00-10:30am AEST
A 90 min session focused on a live demo of unfolding a process in a co-learning format. Over the years, people have asked for more demonstrations, so I have created this offering.
Over the years, students have asked for more work's in the centre! They say it is a wonderful opportunity to see work happen and learn more about themselves in the process.
Together we will unfold the process through a holistic and process-oriented approach to surface more information and increase our awareness of what is present and emerging for that person. We will then discuss the structure of the work and have time for questions and insights from the group about the work.
The flow of the session will be roughly as follows:
Inner work to arrive and connect with a question
Discussion of themes that emerged
Learn more and register for the July session here there are 5 spots left.
Zhok, A. (2022) Phenomenology and Complexity. Foundations of Science [online]. 27 (3). [Accessed 04 June 2023].