Thursday, October 13, 2005

lost and found

Though I first heard of Open Space Technology and experienced something that was called -but, in hindsight, didn't feel like- an Open Space Technology meeting in the mid-90's, I think I chose open space as a path (and practice?) maybe sometime last year or early this year.

In open space have I "found" myself? Home at last?

And one of the paradoxes I am trying to hold is that to feel more and more at home, to be more and more "found," I have to "lose" myself more and more. And that's scary. I walk into that wall all the time.

It's like the way up and out is by letting myself fall even further down the bottomless well.

I frame part of this process as becoming a man. I am not sure I am a man yet. Still a boy.

I first began thinking about this process of becoming when Open Space on Open Space 14 co-organizer and virtualist, Mikhail Pronin asked a young woman at a trainer and consultant conference when she knew she was no longer a girl and was now a woman. That question asked some three years ago over lunch stayed with me. While I know very little about virtualistics, I understand that much of it is about how we choose to become. Since then, I have thought about the different roles I play in life and wondered when I really took on those roles.

Sometime in April this year I took one small step towards becoming a man. It just happened, I just felt it. That process of transformation began sometime in February and continues.

And what I find is that an important part of becoming a man is to open wider space, both inner and outer. And part of the "how" there is to give more space to expression of the playful boy in me. Danish Spacenik, Alexander Kjerulf, wrote a little about play recently:

This article by Pat Kane on the play ethic is one of the most inspiring, electrifying and just wonderful manifestos for play, fun and happiness at work. My biggest problem in blogging it was to choose a quote from it because the whole damn thing is eminently quotable. Here's an appetizer:

Welcome to the play ethic. First of all, don't take 'play' to mean anything idle, wasteful or frivolous. The trivialisation of play was the work ethic's most lasting, and most regrettable achievement. This is 'play' as the great philosophers understood it: the experience of being an active, creative and fully autonomous person.

The play ethic is about having the confidence to be spontaneous, creative and empathetic across every area of you life - in relationships, in the community, in your cultural life, as well as paid employment. It's about placing yourself, your passions and enthusiasms at the centre of your world.
So to call yourself a 'player', rather than a 'worker', is to immediately widen your conception of who you are and what you might be capable of doing. It is to dedicate yourself to realising your full human potential; to be active, not passive.

Another part of this question is the matter of practices of open space. [Thank you, Ashley for pointing me (back) to Michael Herman's website for the resource on open space practices ].

And I struggle with my how to bring discipline and consistency in the practice of being open, in understanding what it means to be open. The little I read of Michael Herman's site led me to think that this is a very simple/complicated practice.

In the Four-fold Way Angeles Arrien cites Gabrielle Roth, author of Maps to Ecstasy. Gabrielle
teaches the five rhythms that are elemental when any human being explores dance:
1. The flowing rhythm is a teacher of fluidity and grace.
2. The rhythm of chaos is an announcement of creativity seeking a form.
3. The staccato rhythm is the teacher of definition and refinement.
4. The lyrical rhythm is the teacher of synthesis and integration.
5. The rhythm of stillness is the teacher of contentment and peace.

When we are comfortable with all five rhythms, the separation between inner and outer experience is closed. Folk wisdom from East Africa describes the essence of this unity by saying, "One leg cannot dance along" (Feldman, A World Treasury of Folk Wisdom).
I see a lot of the rhythm of chaos in me. And know that part of my work is to accept that. And to cultivate and listen to the other rhythms in me that are also seeking form.

Sometimes it just helps to stop and breathe "trust!" And I feel very blessed that Sokolniki Park is just a 5 minute walk away. A refuge of peace and healing!