REFLECTIONS FROM XAVI RAMON, participant in POWER OF PLACE 2023
“It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time. (…) Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.”
Henry David Thoreau Walden.
Memorable journeys must include some kind of self-lossless. We must get lost to find ourselves. We should let go in the uncertainty, often we do, but we are used to feeling uncomfortable without reins.
I guess my Regenerative Journey started when I was born, even before probably. But it was not until I read The Systems View of Life of Fritjof Capra that I realized how deeply we are attached to the mechanistic worldview, which is attached to control. I found myself rediscovering that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships, that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating System.
It was with a backpack full of plenty of remarkable voices such as Capra, Bill Reed, Donella Meadows, Daniel Christian Wahl, Joanna Macy and Carol Sanford among others, that I started the Power of Place Journey with Jenny Andersson. A journey in the middle of other journeys. And isn’t it that way that journeys find their meaning? Are not we always in an endless process of change?
Power of Place has been a beautiful and insightful tipping point in so many ways.
I’ve found meaning in seeing the aliveness of Places. As Gregory Bateson said “Without context, words and actions have no meaning at all”. Places can also be understood as that, as the context from which one can start looking, and unveil life. It’s now an acupuncture point in our practice of partnering projects in Green Living Projects. We’ve found the power of engaging places with the perspective of living systems. One recent feeling I could experience because of this practice is the deep sense of caring for a place I never met before, in this case it was the Tiétar valley. I’ve had the opportunity to visit and write about a project that is growing there, Vibio, in a series of three articles: the first, explores the project and it’s essence, the second dives into the living Place. The third will be published soon exploring a major system.
If you have the time and wish to read the first and the second article, I’d like to invite you to deeply engage with what has been said and propose a larger whole in which the project and the Place are nested in. You can do it here.
There are lots of systems around us and as Jenny said once, it depends on the will of the project to intentionally engage with more than one. We’d like to reveal a larger whole, a major system as an acupuncture point, in which the Place is nested that could develop a relationship of mutual reciprocity to allow Vibio, the Place and the system to evolve and generate the conditions conductive to life.
Last November, I took this picture by chance in a moment of uncertainty while I was thinking about whether or not to continue towards the Balandrau peak. It reminded me of an artichoke but its size is about 30 mm. Writing this article I’ve discovered that it’s a Sempervivum montanum, common name “siempreviva” which means always alive.
By chance again, a book called A Field Guide to Getting Lost appeared two weeks ago. It is an investigation into loss, losing and being lost. Taking in subjects as eclectic as memory and mapmaking, Hitchcock movies and Renaissance painting, Rebecca Solnit, the writer, explores the challenges of living with uncertainty.
I’m still experiencing uncertainty (and a lot of curiosity) for the deep power of the stakeholder engagement, another process, or state of being that Jenny explores in the PoP Journey. It’s wonderful and scary to feel the immense complexity of the living beings related to a place, including the self’s and the interrelations. The will to dance with that complexity can be a life guidance.
Finding emotionally, intellectually and spiritually safe spaces is key to letting uncertainty show up. I’ve found that space in the PoP Journey, thanks to Jenny and Sam, including Yanina, Steve, and Stuart among others of the cohort. I also find that space with my colleagues in Green Living Projects. And I feel grateful for that. I’ve seen how frustrating it can be for one who fights against, who don’t let go. As Meno’s paradox pointed out, how will we start searching for what we don’t know and without knowing anything about its nature? It is tempting to try to find the answer, to solve the problem, but sometimes it’s more valuable to embrace the question, as Maieutics did, to discover answers by asking questions.
There are no single, simple answers to complex questions. We often wait for someone to point out the solution so we can sweetly agree or strongly disagree. Dyad of John Bennett, Ying Yang of Taoism among others are representations of those opposing forces. Noticing the emergence of the third force, the reconciling one, the flow among parts… is always challenging, energizing and regenerative. This is just the beginning, complexity, livingness, regeneration, is endless. Maybe this is why questions are powerful, because they aren’t closed but opened for feedback and particularities.
“Understanding the question is half of the answer”
I’d like to thank Emmanuel Pauwels for planting the seed, to Annalisa for her dot joining essence, to all the unnoticed voices that show up on the way.