You WILL Choose.

This week a team of three of us had approved our application to facilitate a workshop on accomplishment at the 2018 Global Transformations Conference in Monterey, California. The full title of our topic is “Living the Dream: A Life of Accomplishment”. During the process of putting together the application, we (the team) have had weekly conversations about what accomplishment means and where it all came from. Looking at a thread of accomplishment that I am calling ‘creativity’, and how I might address it from my view of my own biography, I can hear any number of people who might present alternate viewpoints of what accomplishment is and how it ‘should’ work. In pondering those potential ‘alternatives’, ideas I have already heard from various sources, I began to realise that we are all just be standing in the path of our own choices. For all of us, there is only that, given whatever we think we know and much we don’t, we will choose as we will choose.

A couple of years ago, The Poetry Foundation post a commentary by David Orr, that we often fail to fully read this famous poem by Robert Frost. When we just read the beginning and the end we come away with the common interpretation that Frost is encouraging us to take the more arduous looking path. However in the middle two verses he regales that neither path is really any different to the outward glance but that only one of them can be taken. In this case, when we read the last verse we can see he is being ironical about how we will dress up the story of our life, in the future, as one that was the more adventurous.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

David Orr tells that Frost actually wrote the poem as a tease while in England and going for regular walks in the countryside with another poet, Edward Thomas. Frost told that, after the walk, Thomas would often complain that he should have chosen different pathways because of what they missed out seeing. So, Frost wrote the poem just to say, a choice is made, and that is that. Everything else afterwards, is just a following along that path, as it has to be.

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Holding the Tension

If we can say that we are the fruits of the universe, the we could say that we were born out of tension. Not any degree of tension but a very particular degree of tension. For tension can be described as a continuum of oppositional forces. At one end of the continuum, gravitational, crushing forces are so dominant that there is no expansion of material at all, just a singularity of no dimensions, no substance at all, perhaps not even any forces. At the other end of the continuum, expansive forces are so dominant that the substances of the universe rush away until the universe appears dark and cold and void.

Yet, somehow, a universe has expanded from that singular nothingness with just the right proportions of a pressurised rushing away that the atomic building blocks of the suns, planets and life-forms, were formed. Every distinct phase of the development of the universe organised itself on new nodes of tension formed by the culmination of the previous phase of development. The new substances forming in the incredible expansive forces, provide deeper gravity wells, stronger binding and crushing forces, while the expansive forces stretch out the very matrix of the time-space into which the gravity wells are formed. As accretion rolls into the gravity wells, spin occurs. Or was spin part of the very nature of the earliest expansion? Spin could explain both the rushing away, a centripetal fling of time and space as well as the rushing inwards and down in the gravity well.

Life seems to have fostered as the development of massive forms of the universe, galaxies and solar systems, cooling and resting in massive gravity wells, slowed down the very expansion of time and space. Here in the cool, slowing universe, spinning slowed and accretions became even more complex.

Eventually, under certain very exacting conditions, a world transformed into an enterprise of life. And that life  continued to break out and build up until a conscious intelligence came about. This intelligence is named for its ability for seeing how it is designed to work. No longer were the physical and chemical spin and tensions responsible for the transformative moments of the universe. Now there was a world of orchestrated slow spinning complexities, of loops and feedback, that created a review of the past and the future.

Here, on the planet we Reviewers came to call the Earth, we recognised that we were both spinning in and of, a web of tensions. As our substances quickened by rapid feedback, time appeared as slowly. In slow time, we grasp tendrils of tensions with our hands and in our mind and wondered about our choices in interfering with those tensions while, in an act of tension itself, playing enthusiastically with whatever responses we could elicit.

We have played particularly in the tension between expansions of tribes across the world and the building of empires, and the accretions of communities in ties of cultural identity. At the nodes of tension lie the tensions between war and peace, empathy and otherness, amity and hatred, generosity and hoarding, and hospitality and isolation. The responses we have elicited have been building great empires, buildings, technologies and democracies; and reeked great destruction on each other. The loops of feedback on tensions, spin through our own minds, our cultural enterprises, the planet, and resonate with the Galaxy.

As we reach for some mastery over our tensions, we see that holding the tensions rather than energising one over the other, especially around those vital nodes, allows a guided transformation in new expansions and accretions. We feel for it within our minds and bodies. We watch for it through our conversations in the politic. We hold the tension, just enough. We breath. We move towards a possibility. We feel for maintaining some tension as a new form. It seems slow. Rather it is a delicate adjustment in which successful transformations amass quickly and even more quickly.