No matter how hard and smart we work, we can not shake the unknown. It is always with us. How we respond to the unknown, though, has an impact on how we show up in our communities. Ben Okri plays with the contrast of choices in our response: we can be calm or frantic:
Notice (y)our response to the unknownWe only know two kinds of responseTo the unknownAwe, or noise;Silence, or terror;Humility, or paralysis;Prayer, or panic;Stillness, or speech;Watchfulness, or myth-making;Seeing clearly, or inventing what we see;Standing, or felling;Reasoning, or falling apart;Courage, or cowardice.From Ben Okri’s “Mental Fight”
The choice to be calm or frantic resides within each of us individually. Our response affects others and at the same time it is always a choice that resides in me when folks are frantic around me. I always have a choice. Each of us always has a choice. And this choice quite dramatically affects how I show up in my life, my work and my community. I can cause a stir that distracts from what’s happening in the world, or I can cause calm that sees the stir for what it is: an opportunity, rather than a fight.
Noticing my, and our, response to the unknown is crucial for our uneasy journey as individuals, collectives, and as a species, in cities. When conscious of what is going on in our internal worlds, we are better able to serve ourselves, others and our cities well.
An essential practice: notice (y)our response to the unknown. My next posts will explore other critical practices that support our uneasy journey.
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This post forms part of Chapter 4 – An Uneasy Journey, of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities.
Nest City is organized into three parts, each with a collection of chapters. Click here for an overview of the three parts of Nest City. Click here for an overview of Part 2 – Organizing for Emergence, chapters 4-7.