11 Nov 2005
Co-Creating Positive Possibilities.
You know how it sometimes when you read something and it sums up so neatly something that you have been thinking for ages but not quite been able to articulate? Well, on the train on my way home tonight I read something like that, and it was very powerful. I first read articles by Tom Atlee in Permaculture Activist magazine a couple of years ago, and found them very useful. Tom runs the Co-Intelligence Institute, and does wonderful work looking at the ‘heart’ side of social change work. On his website you will find a treasure trove of articles and insights into his work. This article is a letter he wrote to a friend, and is titled “Crisis Fatigue and the Co-Creation of Positive Possibilities”. You can read the full article here. Here is a section from it that I found particularly relevant to Energy Descent Planning work.
“And so I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between optimism and pessimism. “Things are going to work out well.” Or: “There’s going to be real disaster!” It’s been really exhausting.
But lately something’s changing about all this. I’ve begun to notice how the whole optimism/pessimism dichotomy is a death trap for my aliveness and attention. I watch myself acting as if my sense of what might happen is a description of reality. And what I notice is this: whether I expect the best or the worst, my expectations interfere with my will to act.
That’s so important I’m going to repeat it. **Whether I expect the best or the worst, my expectations interfere with my will to act**.
I’ve started viewing both optimism and pessimism as spectator sports, as forms of disengagement masquerading as involvement. Both optimism and pessimism trick me into judging life and betting on the odds, rather than diving into life with my whole self, with my full co-creative energy. I think the emerging crises call us to transcend such false end-games like optimism and pessimism. I think they call us to act like a spiritually healthy person who has just learned they have heart disease: We can use each dire prognosis as a stimulant for reaching more deeply into life and co-creating positive change.
And so I’ve come to conclude that all the predictions — both good and bad — tell us absolutely nothing about what is possible. Trends and events only relate to what is probable. Probabilities are abstractions. Possibilities are the stuff of life, visions to act upon, doors to walk through. Pessimism and optimism as both distractions from living life fully.
More and more, I’m seeing myself as an ally or midwife of positive possibilities. Those possibilities need me to help them move towards becoming real. True, we often need miracles, but miracles can only go so far. Miracles need us to meet them halfway. I’m trying to move as far towards the miracles as I can, and draw them out.
I’ll probably never know if I’ve moved far enough, if we have moved far enough. But the movement, itself, is so alive I can hardly stand it. And I keep meeting incredible companions like you (whose value to me evoked this response), and doing unbelievable things together. The world could not be more filled with possibilities than it is now. On the wind I smell good food cooking out there somewhere. My appetite for what could be lifts me to the road again, over and over, where I get covered with dust, tired, sore and discouraged. And then I smell it again, and the sun rises”.