Oh, where to start?
I’ve had an insane few weeks.
I’ll start with the news that I’ve been coaxed away from my current writer / editor position with an online adult personals site to one with a far more ambitious dream. Starting next week, I’ll be owning the role of Synchronicity Coordinator at Zaadz. I’m embarrassingly enthusiastic about the new gig; I’ll be working “in the area of partnership development, community building, media relations, and corporate communications,” and I’ve already had the opportunity to try my hand at an ENN interview and a few tantalizing writing assignments. It’s such a treat to get to interact regularly with people who share my own values, and I’m still a little stunned that I’m getting paid to do such things as ramble on at length about self-empowerment, personal responsibility, the inseparability of people and planet and product, the growing demographic of individuals for whom non-eco businesses are no longer an option, and additionally, get to grow partnerships with others who believe the same.
And I get to work from home. Crazy.
The transition from my job at Various to the new one at Zaadz was interrupted by a workshop I’d signed up for months ago. I just got back from spending a week at a Community Building Facilitation training. It was, perhaps, one of the most emotionally intense experiences of my life.
Imagine waking up in a world of sixteen strangers, with no other instructions than these guidelines. It’s a bizarre and more-than-surreal experience, and the best crash-course in interpersonal psychology, family dynamics, and the workings of systemic oppression I can imagine. (I’ve had experience doing community building before, but it never ceases to amaze me how these experiments become such microcosms of not just family systems, but cultural and global systems as well. It’s one thing to understand how this “works” academically, and quite another to get it from within.) I wish I could describe in the abstract what the week was like, but this would be like attempting to impart the taste of a loaf of warm bread by giving the ingredients. And I wish I could write about the week from the inside, but I’m bound by confidentiality.
I’ll say only that the net result of putting people in a room and instructing them to reach community turns the group into a miniature model of the global community; it becomes a pressure cooker for conflict and the way in which conflicts get resolved without leaving the closed system. (No one can leave the retreat, or at least not without violating their commitment to the group, just as no one can leave the human family on our planet.) Again, though, I was most stunned by the way in which the larger patterns of oppression and patriarchy manifested themselves in this collection of people, all the more so because everyone there was highly self-aware and able to talk beautifully about issues of sexism and ageism and racism and culture. It was humbling, to say the least.
There were other aspects that contributed to the profound intensity of the week; sometime around the second day I – or we – had the collective experience of a strange transcendence of time. I’m familiar with the experience of flow, of losing myself in a project or activity and losing all sense of self and time as a result. This, though, was something different. It was after a particularly combative encounter, and the emptying that followed it, and it was as though all time fell away and everything in the world had already happened and was always in the process of happening and what was going on was so ancient and so eternal and so always. It was as though the circle we were in was the same circle we’d always been in, and no different from the larger circles of the whole world. And it’s another one of those things that I can’t speak of, but can only – barely – remember from the inside.
In any case, I’m still struggling to integrate the week, whilst trying at the same time to gracefully exit my job (a dear friend will be taking my current position and I want to make the transition smooth) and start the next.
I’m very, very glad I have a few weeks before classes start.