Having just returned from one journey into the unknown (visiting Sweden for the first time), I am preparing to enter the unknown once again as I pack for a residential Tavistock working conference that starts today. Having been through this experience before, I am torn between excitement about what I will learn, and a profound sense of “why have I done this to myself … AGAIN??”.
For those who don’t know, a Tavistock Working Conference is a fully experiential and emergent journey into ambiguity and uncertainty … a profound and often frustrating experience where you delve into the unconscious dimensions of organisational life and how you take up your role(s) in it. It is a process where one can feel profoundly lost, so when I came across this wonderful interview with my favorite poet, David Whyte this morning, it was a profoundly serendipitous moment.
In it he talks about poets who have “left footprints in the snow” for us to follow when entering uncertainty and recites David Wagoner’s ‘Lost’ which is about an elder speaking a child’s question: ‘What do I do when I am lost?’
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
— David Wagoner
So this week I will endeavour to be fully present in the lostness; to examine all I’ve left behind in order to feel safe; be mindful of undiscovered gifts; and to find new ways to befriend uncertainty and hopefully discover new and yet undiscovered paths for the journey ahead. Hopefully I will find time to post updates, otherwise I will write a reflection afterwards to continue my “learning out loud” journey.