July 10, 2007
Taking my own advice
I don't know where I am going to be living in two or three months time - a prospect that fills me with a mixture of exhilaration and gut-wrenching fear. In my manifesto, "Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along", I wrote, "The world is a place of incredible variety, rich in the potential for new experiences, a whole canvas of of the unfamiliar and unknown, filled with possibilities for change". I also hinted that many of our ways of being and thinking obscure that hope filled fact.
I don't know where I am going to be living, because we have decided to sell our house and move somewhere else. The notion being that in that way we can create a context where we have more options and more freedom of action - a step into "the unfamiliar and unknown, filled with possibilities for change".
This, I suspect, is one of the problems of living a life of purposive drift. While there is a certain excitement about leaping into the dark, there is also the fear that one might be removing the ground beneath your feet.
I am reminded of an early version of the computer game, "Prince of Persia". There comes a point in the game where there seems no way forward, every exit seems blocked. The solution to this dilemma is to take a running leap from a wide pillar, with an abyss on either side, plunging into the darkness where it is revealed that there is ledge, which if you grab on to it and haul yourself up there is an exit to the next level of the game.
Shifting context, something I advise might some times be necessary, can feel like this. Some times it is easy. When I last took a decision on this scale, my decision to leave a full-time job in education, where I had been working for some fourteen years, it was easy. Although I didn't know what I was going to do, the combination of the cushion of a modest redundancy package and the knowledge that with our new Nu-Labour styled senior management I would be unable to operate in a creative and productive way, meant that getting out seemed the only sensible option. Watching talented and creative colleagues crumbling in a culture of compliance and seeing all the positive things we had built up over the years fading away confirmed that it had been the right thing to do.
But, my sense is that more often than not a decision to shift context is more ambiguous than that. This morning as I made myself a coffee, looked out of the door leading to the garden, where there is a lilac tree, that has absorbed some of my mother's ashes, the pond where the last of her koi lives and then climbed up the stairs past my son's room, the bedroom I share with Mimi and then up some more stairs to my nicotine stained office, I could almost physically feel the network of people, things and memories that are embedded in this place and the sense of knowing where I am located in that complex web of networks.
Moving out of the web of the familiar is a disconcerting prospect, even when you know that doing so carries a promise of freedom. Which is why I have a certain sympathy for people who feel that they are stuck in a context which they feel is slowly diminishing them, but can see no way out. All that I can say to them, and myself, is that stepping out the familiar into the unfamiliar may be a less drastic step than it feels, for:
"The world is a place of incredible variety, rich in the potential for new experiences, a whole canvas of of the unfamiliar and unknown, filled with possibilities for change."Posted by richard at July 10, 2007 12:46 PM