I have a dream that people are the solution.

I have to keep reminding myself, why am I doing this Masters?  Why am I stressing myself, expanding my brain, understanding, then not understanding, knowing and then not knowing, and then feeling overwhelmed?  Then I remember the drive that urged me to sign the application form.

I have a dream… that people are the solution.  

By create more opportunities for children to be active in the outdoors, they will then own the solution.

Because I too believe that “a child raised to believe that a mountain is the abode of a protective spirit will grow up to be a profoundly different human being than a youth raised to believe that a mountain is an inert mass of rock, ready to be mined” (Author: Wade Davis)

Yesterday I was in an interview for a new job to work with children ages 5-12. They asked me my long-term goal, and how taking this job would work toward that goal.  And after creating a one page essay explaining exactly what my thesis was, I found it very easy to tell them that long-term goal, it is my dream. Then when I heard I could take them outside, my heart sang… and I was hired!

In my current study of language and ‘structural coupling’ in the 5th week of my Systems course at Royal Roads University, in a midst the chaos of moving and re-decorating, I find myself hunched here in the poorly lit desk inspired by the words of Maturana, Capra, and Bunnell along with other educated authors.  I am impressed at how language and structural coupling is SO INCREDIBLY RELEVANT to my current life situation.

I choose to take what I am learning in this transition, and in my Masters, to reflect on how it impacts my own way of being, as well as how this experience can be somehow replicated to then reach my dream.  I just keep following the bread crumbs.  If you are intrigued by my dream, please keep reading.  It might be a bit wordy, but filled with my quirky inquiry that I hope will move you!

I woke up this morning asking myself, why am I studying language?  And what is structural coupling anyway?

If I get right down to what burns in my ‘sole,’ I believe that nature is sacred.  That human beings may be losing the awareness and connection to how magical nature is, and how important it is for us to treat it like our favorite left shoe.  Listen to this CBC Lecture to gain an even deeper understanding, that I recently gained:

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World – Part 4 Nov 4, 2009 | 1:18:09

Sacred Geography: “For several centuries the rational mind has been ascendant, even though science, its finest expression, can still in all its brilliance only answer the question how, but never come close to addressing theultimate question: why. The reduction of the world to a mechanism, with nature but an obstacle to overcome, a resource to be exploited, has in good measure determined the manner in which our cultural tradition has blindly interacted with the living planet.”

I believe that if we have an affinity for this thing we call “Nature” the way we appreciate our favorite left shoe, then we will take the time to take care of it, we won’t throw it away, we won’t step in places that could wreck it, and yet we will use our shoe as a protector of our sole to then accomplish our dreams.  Now replace shoe with “nature.”  For some reason, to some cultures, “Nature is but an obstacle to overcome, how our cultural tradition has been an interaction on the planet.”  (Davis, 2009)  I see nature as our protector for our sole adventure of life.

Hmmm I am sensing a sole analogy happening here.  I am going to walk with this… keep walking with me.

How do we get to where we want to go, other than by taking one step at a time, whether physically, mentally or emotionally?  And how do we know we aren’t going to step on something that will cut our soles, even the rustic amazon people will strap leather to their feet to travel further and faster.  How do we relate to this landscape, this place that we call home?  What are we seeking? Why are we here? What are we doing?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu

I guess it is okay not to know.  I could keep walking on this journey without being truly clear on this notion, but maybe by taking everything that comes to me as a clue, a meaning that will guide me closer to “a sense of belonging, a sense of connection” (Davis 2009).  I hope that by sharing these clues, resources and stories with you, we will both be inspired.

Maturana reminds me to “trust my own thinking” (p. 143).

It is in my own thinking that I conger up words that express my perception based on my observation.  Maturana says that “anything said is said by an observer” and “all observers are part of their observation” (p. 26).  So I ponder, if an observer sees something, do they then understand that which they see based on their own background, context and perception, then “affirm or deny it’s existence, and do whatever he/she does?”  (p. 28)

With this notion, I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief, that the handful of mis-communications I experienced in the last few weeks weren’t all necessarily my fault.  Just in the past two weeks, I have felt like I have made some great mistakes in my communication with co-workers, employers, friends and families.  I have felt like I have withheld, or not provided enough information for these people to be happy, and therefore, their eyes are not shining (previous post.) I thought I had done something wrong.  I then spent 3 days dwelling on this feeling of failure in my heart that created unease for others.  Then, after reading these words, and hearing the positive feedback from loved ones, I came to realize or understand that…

“I cannot MAKE other people FEEL anything.” (author unknown)

This sigh of relief, then inspired me to dig deeper into this understanding of conversation.  Bunnell shares that to converse is to “turn together,” which is one of the simplest examples that I could find to explain “structural coupling.”  I want to understand this so that I can better understand where I could improve my actions to prevent mis-communications in the future.

Capra explains that there are two types of structural changes that occur in eco-systems.  One of these types is represented by changes of self-renewal.  “Every living organism continually renews itself, cells breaking down and building up structures.” Second, the “changes in which new structures are created – new connections in the autopoietic network” (p. 218, 219).

Pille Bunnell, my prof, states in her video that” the richness of emotional behavior influences conversations.  Neither of the people can determine how the other feels, yet either can effect the emotional vector of the conversation, because we are open to change.”  To turn together and have a conversation allows a reciprocal structural coupling, which explains why the emotional state that we are in matters to how we show up in a conversation with another. (Bunnell)

If I were to relate this to my dream, and my own “turning together” to converse with my friends, family, coworkers and supervisors, I have come to realize that I need to reflect on how I show up, and how I will show up as a researcher.  I need to consider  that when they interact with me, I need to “renew myself” in this context, and consider that I do not need to act and react the way I used to.  I need to keep an open mind, and start this conversation a new, with the highest, most positive win-win as an outcome, and not get defensive.

“I choose to understand, and then be understood.” (Author: Steven Covey)

I have decided to think before I speak, and be mindful of what I say.  Also becoming aware of these new connections, and how the new structure of communication and relation can work toward a common goal.  By focusing on this way of being, and yet not exhausting myself, I think I can relate even closer to how I might support…

middle school “indoor-oriented educators” to change their perception of higher-risk outdoor education activities as a barrier, and become champions of building bridges in the outdoor education field. (links to my proposed thesis on my blog)

In the days that I choose to be mindful of my words, and escape my thoughts and interactions with others by going for a walk in nature, I gain a new awareness and perspective, and receive lessons from nature.

Just the other day I found a raccoon that was dead, lying on it’s back, and so I decided to read from my Medicine Card book (click here to read about Raccoon).  By reflecting on how this external existence might influence my perception allowed me to have a greater understanding of how I could show up in the world.  I think there is a lot to learn from nature, much like what Wade Davis explains about how the native people believe in what nature teaches them.

“For the people of the mountains, what gives life purpose is not what is measured or seen, is what exists in the abstract dimension of meaning.  Reflections of divine creation and each informs another.  The mountains are a model of a cosmos…  The hairs on a person’s body echo the forest trees that cover the mountain flanks…  They do not speak in metaphor, they believe these statements to be true.”

I believe Nature is telling me things, and I need to try on the shoes of the Observer Owl for a while.  Spend more time listening and being aware of my surroundings, and less time spouting out ideas and dreams.  On that note, I leave you with a quote.

 (photo: …info coming soon)

“In the cosmic scheme people are vital.  People are not the problem, but the solution.” (Author: Wade Davis)


Bunnell, Pille (last edited: unknown) Emotioning and the flow of conversation. Retrieved from http://www.sympoetic.net/Conversations/emontioning.html

Capra, Fritjof (1996). The Web of Life ~ A new scientific understanding of living systems. Fritjof Capra

Davis, Wade (2009). The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World – Part 4. (taken from http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Ideas/Massey+Lectures/2000s/2009:+The+Wayfinders/ID/1474728244/)

Listen to the audio of this lecture at: CBC Ideas. (2009, November 4). The Wayfinders: why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world, part 4: Sacred geography. (Audio file runs 1:18:09 min.)

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