Same old, same old

5:59

6:00

I got you babe.  I got you babe.  Wake up campers, it’s Groundhog Day!

Look, I know it’s just a movie, but I assure you that contained within that movie are the same learning opportunities that can be acquired by reading John Shotter’s Wittgenstein in Practice and then practicing it in living, or paying 65k for the number one (average over the past 10 years) organizational development master’s program (MPOD) in the world, or cleaning up vomit from a bathroom floor, or reading (attempting at least – can somebody translate the translation please) Heidegger’s Being and Time, or walking face first into a below zero snow storm ‘coming from’ the space of love and joy, or being deployed to a combat zone, or participating in The Forum (as it used to be called), or adopting and raising somebody else’s child. 

Each of these experiences presents learning opportunities for what can be described as “transformational moments”.  I would know, because I’ve had each of these experiences, a couple of them today even.  Now, participating in all of them gives a certain kind of “multi-faceted” view or perspective that participating in only one or two of them will not provide, but this doesn’t diminish the opportunity set for the learning opportunities available in each of those experiences individually.  The above experiences are also not the exclusive set of experiences for providing the learning opportunities.  I’ve had some others and I know there are others who’ve had others.

This entry will not be a “10 lessons I learned from Groundhog Day” presentation.  You’re, as always, going to have to work a little to hear the real value of cleaning vomit off of the bathroom floor or watching Groundhog Day.  The one thing that I will point out very clearly is that each of the stated experiences provides a disruption to the conversational and temporal space in which one is experiencing life.  The taken for granted, always already ways of being in which we normally dwell.  This entry is also not intended to diminish those normally occurring day to day life events. 

Having the opportunity to live the same day in the same confined space of Punxatawney gives Phil Connors the ability to peer into the moments, in intricate detail, that make up ones day to day life.  Even still it takes him a near eternity to learn anything useful about himself at the same time he’s learning minute details about the others in the story. 

Phil realizes, shortly after he finally orchestrates the perfect day with Rita the futility of his frantic quest for the solutions or answers, the getting it right so that it will turn out.  This futility is what ultimately and finally takes him to the edge of the “self” that he knows himself to be, drives him to the depth of complete despair where he wallows for some time.  Bill Murray of course, uses the timing both comedically and dramatically to give us a look, a glimpse, at the Cartesian paradigm that Shotter references.  As a moment in time, turning to Mrs. Lancaster and answering the Jeopardy question “What is the Rhone?” is the turning point, the moment of triumph that is possible for each of us in our lives and our relationships.  This despair, no matter how thorough it is, even has its end.  Freedom to be is the natural outcome.

Phil emerges with his true being, who he’s always been, that he’s been covering up with that desire to look a certain way or do certain things to manipulate the outcomes ripped away.  There is no longer an option to pretend any more, he sees himself newly and shifts to what Shotter describes as a “relational paradigm” where “This new dialogical or relational paradigm puts the primary emphasis on our knowing of other people”.  In the Forum it was that moment when the “big it” is revealed.  In the combat zone it was that peace with knowing that one’s time will come exactly when their time comes.  And in cleaning up vomit or any of the other experiences it is that this is this.  Coming to the thus-ness of the experience…without resistance and being an opening or space for the thus-ness.

This is Truth/Love/Aletheia. Unconcealed.  Within that space there’s a freedom to play the piano, save another’s life, fall in love.  Not as a manipulation but because these are the things we do when we are freed from the constraints we showed up in.  Powerfully relating with one another. 

With Love,

Ed

I Live A Charmed Life – By Design

“… sound doctrines are all useless… you have to change your life. (Or the
direction of your life.)… wisdom is all cold… you can no more use it for
setting your life to rights than you can forge iron when it is cold… The
point is that a sound doctrine need not take hold of you; you can follow it
as you would a doctor’s prescription. – But here you need something to
move you and turn you in a new direction… Once you have
been turned around, you must stay turned around. Wisdom is passionless.
But faith is what Kierkegaard calls a passion” (Wittgenstein, L. (1980) Culture and Value, introduction by G. Von Wright, and translated by P. Winch. Oxford: Blackwell, p.53).

Yesterday was my first official day running the daddy day care, as the experience has been called. More formally I began a twelve week “family medical leave act” leave of absence from my traditional work to continue the care of my now 4 month old son.  Just to clarify, I was off throughout most of the month of December using vacation time performing the same task and assisting him in his journey from around three months to four months.  The difference now is the amount of “at cause-ness” that went into taking three months off from a day job that I’ve held for over ten years.  The difference is the value that I’m noticing in trading my not too shabby salary for an irreplaceable experience.  Isn’t this really what defines value – what you’re willing to give up for one thing in order to experience another thing?

From what I’ve been told, I am part of the 3% of American men who take the incredible oppoortunity that the FMLA provides. Would I say that I’m special for being part of such an elite number? Is that the point of this post, to indicate what a great American man I am, what a dedicated father, what a groundbreaking thinker and life live-er?  Well, I am still housing this ego so maybe partially.

Sharing this story is also partially a tribute to “my old man” (as Springsteen may have said).  It’s an acknowledgement of the context in which he, and many of us fathers, live our lives as the provider, the bread winner, income earner.  Trading these experiences of being there with our children who we love so much that we would trade the time that we would have with them to go out day after day and provide for their survival.  The money that buys the food, water, shelter that allows our species to continue on.  As a child I had a sense that was how it was for my father, sensed that he didn’t particularly care for the 6 am to 3 pm, five days per week for 35 years blue collar life.  But I was clear that he did it for his family and for that I knew I was loved even if it wasn’t verbalized.

It’s also an acknowledgement of the shifting context that enables women to work (for equal pay, maybe?), be the primary income producer in a family, and provide value and meaning into a working world equal to what it is that they’re giving up to fight that fight and endure that struggle, and equal to what they’re leaving behind.  I see my joining the 3% as the seldom noticed back of the hand of that struggle.  Yet, you can also hear the “speaking from” the current paradigm exhibited here and that’s the real point.

The intended value of this post – you trading your time to read it for what you may get out of it – is in noticing the privilege that this opportunity is for me, and then noticing that it’s part of a carefully laid out plan for producing results consistent with living a life equal to the opportunity that living life is.  A once in a lifetime shot to live fully in the one and only life that I have.  Living a life that is equal to the opportunity that living life is does not just happen.  I like to say that I live a charmed life, which I do.  It isn’t charmed in that it just “magically” happens however.  I live a charmed life because I take the stand that I live a charmed life.  I say that I live a charmed life and then I produce results consistent with living a charmed life (or I don’t).

There was a great deal of build up, tension, uncertainty and ambiguity in getting to this point, living a charmed life does not mean living an easy life by any stretch.  Which is why I write this post today, rather than a few weeks ago.  I will occasionally share the massive failures in not producing the results consistent with living a charmed life – the ratio of 3:1 – 5:1 positive to negative must be maintained in this blog as a matter of maintaining the authenticity of it.  The results have been tallied in this exercise and it looks like we’ve made it.  The build up began over a year ago while I was still in the MPOD program, in the early stages of executing the formal plan, which has all been part of the overall plan, the sound doctrine.

While one is in the midst of any major change initiative it is often difficult to measure whether any change is really happening.  Changing the course of one’s life toward a previously unimagined future is often the most challenging of all change initiatives to measure.  When it is your life that is changing you’re just too close to it to know if it is “turning out” as envisioned.  Following a path that is being created as each step is taken is like navigating a thick forest on a moonless night.  You have your compass and you use it, but until you emerge from the brush as the sun rises above the clearing you’ve “entered”, created really, you can not know if you’ve navigated rightly.  Attempting to measure in the midst of the trees and darkness is a futile endeavor, orienting your steps with presence and purpose and letting your physical intuition be your guide is useful yet mis-steps are likely to occur.  It is only in looking back at that forest in the daylight that you can fully appreciate the steps that had been taken, the risk that was navigated.

Building some competence through practical application of causing intentional change allows your muscles of intuition to strengthen, your resolve to walk your own path is refined, and your willingness to trust yourself, to have faith when the common, everybody knows the way it’s supposed to work, wisdom of the world is butting up against the stand that you are.

Look, I know that I’m just taking time off to stay home.  Millions, billions of people have done this.  For me, it’s not something that I’d ever considered, not because I didn’t consider it like I thought I couldn’t do it but because it never even showed up for me as a possible option that life could present to me.  In the spectrum of possibilities that life presents it was always there.  I didn’t see it.  I wasn’t open to looking to see what I wasn’t able to see.  It was concealed.  Then, along my path of continuing to question everything, to be a space where truth can show up, it revealed itself, unconcealed itself.  Aletheia.

My son caught a cold over the holidays.  He was a snotty, moaning, sickly mess on my first two days of daddy day care.  I’ve had sick babies in the past but I’ve never experienced them the way I did my son today.  In the past, these things were my wife’s concern, my mother-in-law’s, the baby sitter’s – I didn’t have a clue how to comfort a sick baby and I was going to be at work anyway.  That was the way it occurred within that context.  Yesterday and today, I experienced the complete privilege and satisfaction that goes along with being only of service to a sick little baby, even when all that service can be is to hold them and comfort them as they moan with that raspy sick little baby voice.  No room for my petty concerns, just room for being the space for comfort.  Charmed – by design.

From Love,

Ed