Discover more from Catalyst To Change: Offerings, Gifts, and Invitations
Offerings, Gifts, & Invitations
Goodbyes & Afterimages
After saying goodbye to a place, or to someone or something dear, what stays with you, for days, weeks, and years later?
If you close your eyes days after you say goodbye to someone or something, what will stay with you?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed the goodbyes I’ve been saying to people and places. I said goodbye to Africa, to two of my health providers who’ve gone on leave due to health emergencies, and to a pivotal teacher of mine who passed away last week.
When a person who’s been central in my life, starts to change form; grow frail, get older, or lose some of the abilities I knew them to have, it’s easy for me to focus on the absence of what was and to miss the way things were. Often part of me will begin to imagine a future with the changes or the absence. I’ll feel the future as a reality now and practice facing and feeling what could happen. It happens instantaneously, but I think I do this to prepare myself. The Stoics practice something similar in facing fear.
But beyond the gap and grief of what was, I’ve noticed there’s something else that endures, an afterimage.
For the past several months I’ve been studying phenomenology; a philosophy and one of the research lenses/methodologies I will be utilizing in my doctorate studies over the coming years.
When I was first introduced to phenomenology, by my mentor, and now Director of Studies, Dr. Charlotte Von Bülow, she invited me to close my eyes and recall an experience I’d had days before and enter into the afterimage. She walked me through recalling the nuance and detail of the experience and feeling how it lived on in me in the here and now. Afterward, she described how this was a way of connecting with the afterimage, the sensory impression that stays with you after you experience a phenomenon.
We all experience afterimages, in a way they are akin to memory. I experience an afterimage as a portal into the visceral qualities of an experience as well as a kind of time travel. When I engage an afterimage, it’s as though I am resubmerging myself in the essence of the original person, place, or thing. I can re-enter the afterimage anytime I like, and each time I do I will notice something slightly different. It’s a gift that keeps giving.
I close my eyes and remember a session with my teacher, who has now transitioned onward. In this session, we worked on a dream of mine. I’d dreamt of a house with different levels and stairs going up in a spiral. Together we unfolded the scene and climbed the stairs up to a new level. Here at this upper level, the light was thick and luminous. It illuminated more of what was there. I could see the dust and particles moving within it in slow motion. The light shone down in beams all around me, time slowed down and the space within and around me expanded.
I remember her closing her eyes, and being able to connect with what I was experiencing in my inner world. I always felt she could sense beneath the surface, and bring a sense of magic into the mundane. For example, the house could have just been a house, but we explored it and found there was so much more to discover within it.
I remember walking home after the session. The afternoon light was shining through the linden trees that lined the street in fat golden beams. Now resubmerged in the afterimage, I see and feel how the light in the dream and the light in my waking reality mirrored each other.
When someone or something changes form, another aspect of them lives on. One way we can access what this is through the afterimage. Now, in the presence of a gap between what was and what will be, I’m taking a moment to notice what endures. Sometimes I need to close my eyes to do this, sometimes I need to be reminded. I’ll walk down the road and something I witness; a flower, a certain smell, or the feeling of the wind on my skin will remind me.
Even in the face of death, fife persists in various forms. Death makes way for life to arise in new shapes and configurations, not just in the literal regrowth of a new shoot from the ashes of what was, but in the realm of afterimage and memory. These forms too, give rise to new life in other places within and around us.
Close your eyes and notice what wants to be remembered, what lives on?
What I’m reading:
Social Presencing Theater: The Art of Making a True Move, By Arawana Hayashi
Last month while I was in Cape Town, I met a wonderful woman, Marian Goodman. She works as a practitioner around the world with Theory U. Speaking with her and my colleague Carri Munn, we found many synergies between the work we are doing with impact networks and the work Marian is doing with organizations and governments. Marian recommended this book, so I bought it.
This book describes the origins, principles, and practices of Social Presencing Theatre, an embodiment practice created by Arawan Hayashi. SPT deepens reflection and supports individual, team, organizational, and social transformation. The book contains practice instructions and case studies of how SPT has been engaged in companies, schools, and social projects. I am just beginning to read this book, yet I am drawn to this idea of making a ‘true move’ as it relates to how we engage with the world. I look forward to reading and learning more.
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible - by Charles Eisenstein
I heard about Charles Eisenstein years ago, yet only began reading his work over the last two years. His voice helped me navigate the pandemic. One thing I admire about Charles is how he brings heart to his work and inquiry. As a ‘genre-defying social philosopher’, to use his words.
This book is written as a series of shorter chapters with headings such as Truth, Scarcity, Story, and Consciousness. Each chapter sheds light on the world in its current patterns as well as paints a picture of what is possible.
What I’m listening to:
Complexity Between the Lines- The Great Simplification - Podcast with Nora Bateson
In this episode, Nora Bateson speaks about systems, as a way to move beyond the descriptions from physical science that try to understand the parts and pieces of complex systems we exist within.
Nora describes the dynamics of systems including the importance of relationships, ‘blurring the edges. She also speaks to the importance of approaching a complex system with humility, ‘to the ambiguity we can’t see’. I love this invitation as it invites a different attitude, one of openness and ongoing learning.
Starting: Friday, September 30th PDT / Saturday, October 1st. AEST
4:00-5:30pm PDT / 9:00-10:30 AEST
How do you meet the world? How is the world meeting you?
What is wanting to unfold through the conversation of your life?
In my upcoming offering, Constellations, we’ll explore these questions among many other things. This will be a monthly group learning session held over the course of 4 months. Each session will allow time for reflection, and the sharing of ideas and metaphors to support connection and insight. Through experiential exercises, we will explore practices for staying connected to your inner knowing and aligned with clarity.
This will be different from classes I’ve taught in the past because the content will evolve with the themes that are present and moving through the group.
Each month there will be a 90min session a month, office hours; times to drop in, ask questions, and explore topics in a smaller group between the monthly sessions.
I will share my most current learnings, and relevant research as well as create a supportive and engaging container for you. The group will be limited to 6-10 participants.
Photo: Patrick 5E, Unsplash