Friday, June 03, 2005

Ouch and The Bell of Open Space has Struck

Today was the day I had set aside the morning (rather optimistically, I see now) to do my financial statements. And not just the regular update, mind you, but the putting-it-all-in-the-fancy-new-program update. I had not realized that my psyche had double booked me by deciding that today was the day for internal psychic hemorrhaging. Now normally that isn't the kind of thing i'd share, but as the hemorrhaging was directly related to my growth in Open Space and my quest for the inner collaborator (with external colonialist/empirical culture) I feel some obligation to let you in on it.

Getting deeper into Open Space, for me, has meant opening. And not just opening to the outer world, but more essentially opening to the inner world. Today I opened a door and discovered a pit of roiling fear. (I believe in Open Space jargon, this is known as an Oh Shit! day...In which the main goal is to keep breathing. )

To keep this as short and simple as I can...I am painfully shy (I know, I know, it's hard to tell most of the hits hardest when I don't have a role) and just realized that living in open space means having real conversations with STRANGERS ALL THE TIME--and here's the good bit--and being skillful at it. I often use knowledge to offset fear so off I trotted to the bookshelf and lo and behold--help is at hand--I find Brian Stanfield's, The Art of Focused Conversation, within a metre of my desk. Hurrah! I open it up and start reading...get to the bit about what's wrong with the way most of us converse and bang! there goes another door and who's behind guessed it...the collaborator.

Here's a little sample that resounded for me:

"In his book on Aboriginal culture, Ross speaks of the huge weight that is lifted off his shoulders when he is submerged for some time in a group of Aboriginal people, knowing that he is not expected to judge everything that everybody says or does (much less declare his judgements as quickly as he can come to them). He speaks of this weight that so many English speakers carry--'the weight of this obligation to form and express opinions at all times and about almost everything'"

A vast sense of self-betrayal arose in me as well as the roiling, painful, devasting emptiness/unknowableness that precedes transformation. I quoted Sappho in my other blog recently:

If you are sqeamish,
Don't prod the beach rubble.

And how! Although I wouldn't have it any other way. Now that the main event has moved back in time a bit, I am, as always, grateful for the new sight and for the opportunity it represents. I now have the insight and opportunity to decolonize my conversation and thereby my relationships with others and with myself. Our language, and how we use it, forms a major piece of our frames. Shift the language or its use and you shift the frame.

Change of topic...
Open Space is bursting out everywhere...from this very useful article from Dave Pollard, with a handy chart on the difference between complicated and complex systems and responses--to the use of the words the Open Society to describe a vision of Canada by Stephen Downes. To paraphrase my Vipassana teacher...the bell of Open Space has struck.

Tomorrow I am attending a workshop put on by the Amazing Grace Ecological Society (AGES) to discuss the community process, mission statement and work plan for the Gabriola Commons project. I will also be meeting with the organizers beforehand to introduce the process and concept of Open Space and how it might support the work they are doing.

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