Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘wellbeing’


Is it amazing that 195 nations were able to draft an agreement for Climate Change in Paris last week?

banner_01 globe EU Africa

Euphoria, celebrations and emotional highs marked the conclusion of the gathering. COP21 had been a long time coming with holdouts, recriminations and resistances marking its predecessor gatherings and the planning for this event.

But I wonder if the agreement could have been reached in any other location or year than Paris 2015?

Paris has suffered a year of unspeakable effrontery and pain with the Charlie Hebdo and November 13 attacks. Paris could easily have receded into a cave of cowering fear and justified cancelling COP21 as too demanding and irrelevant to Paris’ security, safety and sanity.

But with counter-intuitive courage Paris stepped into the refiner’s fire and affirmed its commitments to host COP21. What’s more, the participating countries took this opportunity to fly in the face of VUCA global-sized threats and attend the conference with the highest levels of state and working delegates.

In contemplating the Charlie Hebdo and November attacks as evolutionary eruptions of the human condition, I wonder if the terrorists behind these attacks have inadvertently created a “fever crisis” of the human system that demanded/demands a global size immune response?

While the Paris terrorists thought they were attacking representations of infidel practices, perhaps they actually created the conditions for the demonstration of a global immune response?  If so, the terrorists may have perpetrated a major unintended consequence that holds the seeds of undoing for their espoused system of barbarity and the seeds of the doing/being for global wellbeing?

COP21 had the intention of gaining global agreement to hold the impact of human-created climate change below 2C. And it celebrated the achievement of agreeing to an even more rigorous goal to limit temperature rise to 1.5C.

At the core of this agreement was the recognition that each person, organization, community, city, region and nation can contribute to the outcome. Self-responsibility is required at every level of scale.

And while the critics bemoan COP21’s lack of verifiable national targets, inspection processes and mechanisms for climate equity, the key vision and intention was named and endorsed. That is a significant beginning.

In evolutionary terms, what was set was a superordinate goal – one that transcended individual national interests – along with an intention to attain it through self-organizing means.

In the face of logic, scientific evidence and rational behaviour, critics lambaste the COP21 as hypocritical and illusory. But what they don’t recognize is that the agreement defies reason because of the emotional climate created by the Paris attacks. Underlying COP21 was a global need to demonstrate solidarity around an issue that matters to everyone.

The climate of outer change that was sought at COP21 was foregrounded by need for a climate of inner change for which Paris became the focal point.

Ironically the “fever crisis” of outer climate change has been proposed to be no higher than 2C. But the climate of inner change to achieve that will demand that the world work together in a way where metrics may well be measurable in evolutionary terms of the functionality of Gaia’s Reflective Organ (humans and our Human Hives).

What has been festering and boiling over in Paris’s cultural divides is a metaphor for what afflicts the inner climate of our human being (on a global scale). And the COP21 agreement as a global agreement sets the wellbeing targets for our outer climate. Together, the responses of Paris and COP21 provide both metaphorical and metaphysical grounds for a climate of change.

Thank you Paris for reflecting Gaia’s Light and displaying the courage we will need to make these inner and outer changes our new reality. You have shown me three new ways of appreciating the Master Code through taking care of self/ others/ place/ planet.

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Paris

Je Suis COP21.

Read Full Post »


When Integral City is asked to work with cities, inevitably the invitation comes from leaders who have in mind the wellbeing of their city.

Integral City Compass

Integral City Compass

Tam Lundy’s leadership tip (offered in Integral Leadership Review – Canada Issue offered a Leadership Tip on Generative Change) explains this impulse in terms of the desire of the leaders to generate change through both integral thinking and practice.

Tam’s key pointing out instructions for generativity align well with Integral City’s 12 Intelligences.

  • Tam taps into the Integral City Contexting Intelligences that create the conditions for wellbeing at all scales. She frames this as Salutogenesis – the wellbeing of the city that arises because it is complex, adaptive, and full of life. Contexting Intelligences encompass Ecosphere Intelligence, Emergent Intelligence and Living Intelligence along with the Integral Framework.  Salutogenesis gives cities a natural drive to survive, respond to life conditions and thrive. When leaders make the life-sourcing assumption that the city seeks a natural state of wellbeing, then important technical and adaptive solutions underpin but don’t override the wellbeing of the city.
  • Leaders who work with developmental lenses realize that in order to create conditions that support healthy development in people, communities and organizations at all stages of life, requires Strategic Intelligences that embrace Inquiry, Navigating and Meshworking Together leaders who use these three strategies impact the whole city and create solutions that can be implemented in natural steps in service to the wellbeing of all.
  • The quality that Lundy calls Dialectical seems to relate most to the Inquiry Intelligence. Leaders who undertake a dialectical inquiry have the courage to challenge the “thesis” of accepted dogma – such as, with the increase of cars, we must build more highways. Jane Jacob’s classic challenge to this assumption offered a contradictory perspective – or “antithesis” – if you build more highways you will just get more cars and it will be a never-ending dilemma. City leaders who practised Inquiry Intelligence continued with the dialectical process and emerged a “synthesis” – if you build cities for people instead of cars, then many more mobility solutions become available – such as public transportation, ski lifts and walking.
  • Leaders who use the Integral City Compass to think and act intelligently at the city scale, generate the capacity of integrating the AQAL dimensions of the city. This Integrative attitude, enables leaders to situate their thinking and actions using the five Integral City maps. As Lundy notes, this enables leaders to “connect the dots among all of the interconnected, interdynamic and irreducible factors that support thriving” in the city.
  • The last quality that Lundy points to, aligns completely with Integral City’s Evolutionary Intelligence. Leaders who recognize the city as a living, complex adaptive social system, gain strength from seeing the evolutionary impulse at the very centre of the city (and the compass they use to make decisions and design strategies for a future that is preferred), because with an evolutionary life purpose, each city has the opportunity to be in service to wellbeing of the whole world.

As Tam Lundy notes, it is the natural inclination of integrally-informed leaders, to generate change capacities. Integral City Intelligences can be learned and practiced by all city leaders increasing the chances for city thrivability.

Tam Lundy’s ideas on generative change, and their practical application, are explored more fully in her short e-book, Generative Change: A Practical Primer.

This blog is one of a series that explores the relevance and application of ideas to the Integral City, in the articles published in the Integral Leadership Review – Canada Issue, 2015, curated and Guest Edited by Marilyn Hamilton.

Read Full Post »


Out beyond the smart city, out beyond the resilient city,

Lives the Integral City.

Integral City Thinking

Integral City Thinking

Integral Leadership Review – Canada Issue offered a Leadership Tip on Generative Change, by Tam Lundy, that acted as a Guide to appreciating all the articles. Tam’s Tip gave the reader an energy boost as you passed through the Totem Entry Way to help you focus and harvest the significance of each and all the leadership contributions on offer in the issue.

Tam’s ideas on Technical, Adaptive and Generative Change offered particularly cogent recommendations for global cities – whether they be Smart, Resilient or Integral.

Smart Cities tend to use technical solutions to address first order change. As identified by Spiral Dynamics, first order change requires support for maintaining, adjusting or improving the status quo. (Think more data banks, driverless cars, faster Wi-Fi.)

Resilient Cities tend to use adaptive solutions that address mid-order change. As identified by Spiral Dynamics, such change addresses systemic adaptations, mitigations and restorations.  (Think urban food security, reduction of greenhouse gases, daylighting streams.)

Integral Cities seek to generate solutions that meet second-order change. As identified by Spiral Dynamics, these changes address a greater order of magnitude of problems than has ever been encountered before. (The military have dubbed these kinds of circumstances as VUCAvolatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). Approaches to “VUCA-stances” demand that city leaders open up new mindsets, redefine city paradigms, and emerge new potentials for living systems not yet dreamed or tried. (Think cities as Gaia’s Reflective Organs, city as human hive, Planet of Cities as collective intelligence network.)

Integral City leaders use both Smart and Resilient solutions – in their appropriate contexts. In fact Generative Change approaches enable Integral City thinking to emerge – because they include and build on both Smart and Resilient Solutions – and step into a zone where they can act effectively to align first order technical problems with Smart City solutions and mid-order adaptive problems with Resilient City Solutions.

But Integral City leaders go beyond merely aligning technical and adaptive solutions and seek to discover for their cities how to align the very source of City Wellbeing, with City Purpose, Collective Vision and Strategies for thriving.

Leaders who follow Lundy’s Generative Change Tip, venture out beyond the smart city, out beyond the resilient city, into the Integral City. They create a Field … we can meet them there.

References:

Beck, D., & Cowan, C. (1996). Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.

This blog is one of a series that explores the relevance and application of ideas to the Integral City, in the articles published in the Integral Leadership Review – Canada Issue, 2015, curated and Guest Edited by Marilyn Hamilton.

Read Full Post »


Humans and the cities we have created are permanently locked into a never-ending learning cycle, to create ever more complex adaptations to protect increasingly more complex cities.

Integral Life PlanetCity2

In the Integral City 2.0 Online Conference (2012), five critical threats to human populations in cities were identified: climate, energy, water, food and finance (Hamilton et al., 2013; Hamilton and Sanders, 2013). These threats, are deeply interconnected and must be viewed within a systemic framework that considers all five sets of intelligences in cities – Contextual, Integral (Individual/Collective), Strategic and Evolutionary.

In keeping with my contemplation of the Nattrass article “How ARE we to go on together: Our Evolutionary Crossroads” I want to consider the story we tell ourselves about climate – and how that story may be increasing the dissonance we (as a species) are experiencing as individuals, organizations, cities and the planet.

I propose that the growing magnitude of this dissonance about climate change is exactly what we need in order to make a significant leap in our collective worldviews about climate change.

The Nattrasses bring this dissonance sharply to mind as they reflect on the increasingly anxious questions that have emerged since our early doubts about human relationship to Nature (a form of Collective Intelligence). They ask (as could our mothers too).

  • Is humanity bankrupting nature?
  • Is humanity on a collision course with the natural world?
  • What is our ecological footprint?
  • What are ecosystem services and how do we calculate their value?
  • Are human activities causing climate change?
  • What are the limits to growth on this planet?
  • Is there a population bomb ticking?
  • Can we meet our needs today and leave enough for future generations to meet theirs as well?
  • What does it mean to overshoot ecological capacity?

 

However, the integral perspective on the cycle of human learning (well explored by Clare Graves) observes that why humans learn depends on precisely their encounters/relationships with dissonance. Without experiencing dissonance we essentially are not motivated to change and so we don’t change!

Many believe that the greatest dissonance the globe faces today is climate change. It is impacting all life forms, including ours. The disturbing situation is though, that we cannot definitively say what is causing climate change? But however, we define the causal equation it appears that human behavior is a contributing factor. And commensurately human intelligence is required to mitigate, adapt and if possible prevent it.

Climate is inescapably a prime element of the habitats in which we live – including and probably especially cities. As individuals we co-exist with our habitats from the smallest personal social scales (Map 2) to the largest Kosmic scales (Map 4, Map 5). Within these inner and outer spectra of human groupings (Map 2) and environmental contexts, we co-create and co-evolve with our habitats.

Earlier in this 21st century cities became the habitats of 50%+ of humanity (90% in developed world). Cities are the most complex human system yet created. As social holons they are complex adaptive systems with potential for orders of learning that magnify the intelligence of any one individual, family, group, organization, sector or neighbourhood. The Nattrasses (2015) point out:

Virtually any [person, team and] organization of any substance has its worldview, its system of intelligibility, rooted firmly in the Old Story. Each operates, and succeeds or fails, within the underlying assumptions found in the Old Story. In turn, individual organizations must still operate within a global system that is also massively embedded in the Old Story.  And in order for any organization to be an influential leader of change for sustainability, it must continue to be successful within the existing Old Story system. Public companies, for example, must continue to show growth and profits, and report them to shareholders every three months, all the while trying to revision and recreate the company and its markets from a sustainability perspective. The task we face is like nothing that has ever taken place in industrial society—it is comparable to rebuilding a jet liner while in flight 10,000 meters above ground.  How do leaders help lead this transformation from inside the very systems that need to change, while at the same time avoiding major economic or social disruptions?

Cities are containers of holons, social holons, relationships, exchanges and emergents – at every scale. As a whole I have long considered them to be a massively complex meshwork. But in practice cities are actually meshworks of meshworks. [See the full definition of meshworking intelligence here.]

The operational values of meshworks in living systems is that they enable a continuous stream of natural, living complex structures to emerge – so that the living system can make the most efficient use of energy by capturing the structures (and infrastructures) that have enabled survival and sustainability; for example this is how all the structures that enable cities to function have emerged – from family hearths, to clans, kingdoms, bureaucracies, businesses social networks, communications systems and global alliances (Map 4). At the same time effective meshworks ensure that background activity never stops self-organizing – thus enabling creative adaptation and emergence (e.g. the activities of inventors, artists, researchers, entrepreneurs, developers, etc.).

This “natural” meshworking capacity of human systems has never been successfully suppressed in the long run, by any governance system, technology or habitat – because the nature of earthly life has ensured that dissonance is always with us – challenging our hierarchies and demanding new solutions for life-threatening problems. But as the Nattrasses point out, the assumptions and worldviews in the Old Story of how cities work, have entrenched the blindness to the impact of human influence on climate change (whatever the cause) into the very organs (organizations) of the living city itself.

The bad news is that cities converge all the problems and potentials of humanity into a vortex of toxic threats. The good news is that cities converge all the problems and potentials of humanity into a spiral of dissonances that trigger the emergence of possibilities and intelligences. (In fact I have suggested that Integral Cities that are alive, resilient and optimized operate with a suite of 12 intelligences (in 5 sets).)

The dissonances caused by climate change challenge all five sets of city intelligences:  Contexting/ Integral – Individual and Collective /Strategic/ Evolutionary.

Integral City Compass

Integral City: 12  Intelligences

As we are waking up to the very real threats of climate change to our cities, our 4 city Voices act like clumsy children who are not yet effective managers of their bio/psycho/cultural/social capacities. As cities we are bumbling around – but, because we are noticing that the Old Story of the mechanical city does not answer all the questions that arise, our dissonances are thrown back in our collective face(s). In other words, our city habitats let us know in very real terms when our learning is not sufficient to the task at hand.

As Brian and Mary Nattrass point out, we have come to a place on this planet where we have never been before. As a species who has hardly reached our teenagehood, we long for parents who might give us another story to explain life.

Rio, Kyoto, Seattle, Copenhagen, Paris

But, cities as the most complex human system we have yet created are discovering that we will have to parent ourselves. One by one cities are learning the hard lessons and bit by bit, we are teaching the human systems within our cities the difficult learning lessons of climate change pioneers. By extension these cities on the early-change bandwagon are beginning to share their hard lessons with our planet of cities – as each becomes ready to learn (i.e. when the dissonance meter gets loud enough, such as happened in New Orleans and Sendai).

As the clarion call for climate change awareness has sounded now for more than a quarter century, the early storytellers of this New Story have despaired at what has seemed collective deafness. They expected nations and organizations to take the lead. But now we see that it is perhaps not surprising that cities have taken the lead, and continue to be at the forefront of storytellers of a different way.

Cities as convergences of human capacities have the most to lose by not addressing climate change. They sit at the nexus points of Earth’s greatest tectonic contractions, water flows, air sheds, food production, energy consumption and material production. And they also concentrate the greatest quantity of evolutionary intelligence to focus on the problems at hand.

Many early adopters have agonized over the apparent resistance of organizations to respond effectively (or at all) to climate change. But by definition successful organizations have not only been anchored in the Old Story – they have verified it, sustained it and perpetuated it (as the Nattrasses noted above).

But with the lenses of complexity, living systems and evolutionary wholeness, we realize that cities are a more complex order of human systems than organizations. Cities are effectively organizations of organizations. And that is why a meshwork (discussed above) is the (fractal) explanation of how they become effective at working together.

So now that our cities have woken up and see strategies for climate change, what role can cities play in changing the story of climate change? More precisely what roles can the 4 Voices of the city working together play in transitioning from the Old Story to the New Story?

Citizens can:

  1. Ask the tough questions
  2. Keep wellbeing in mind
  3. Practise the Master Code

Civic Managers can:

  1. Connect all the systems inside the city and between cities
  2. Take Governance initiatives – defy federal/national/global resistances
  3. Amplify governance initiatives (like Obama’s announcements of US/China Climate Change Agreement)
  4. Emerge the new structure(s) by prototyping and experimenting. (Like Curitiba building the city for people not cars).

Civil Society can:

  1. Convene the intelligence/story challengers/researchers for ongoing forums of discovery (Rio, Kyoto, Seattle, Copenhagen, Paris have not been in vein – each convening has moved the story forward).
  2. Create Metrics and Collect the Indicators – ISO Standard for Cities
  3. Mediate smaller the effectiveness and capacity of all scales – both those smaller than cities such as organizations and those larger scales like nations and the planet itself

Developers, Researchers and Business can:

  1. Prototype change
  2. Align organizations of organizations – learn how to meshwork with intention
  3. Keep the meshwork a living, intentional capacity building process.

A final word from Brian and Mary Nattrass:

In the thousands of years of remembered human histories, it has been expressed in many ways in many times among many peoples that we are that being who lives between Heaven and Earth—ever torn between the god-like qualities of our highest selves and the bestial qualities of our animal selves. Never in our history as a species have we been so urgently called to live and be inspired by the qualities of our better natures; and to grow beyond the tug of our weaker selves. This is a challenge for us as individuals just as much as for our organizations and our society—because ultimately, our organizations and our societies are only expressions of us. So we come now to our evolutionary challenge—the very real challenge of our time. It is the story we are still writing together. It is that socially negotiated story that will ultimately answer the question: How are we to go on together?

It is my contention that key cities are at the stage of evolution where the dissonances they are experiencing have awakened them to being proactive on their own behalf and on behalf of the planet of cities. These cities who are early adopters of the New Integral City story are creating the habitats that will enable us all to go on together.

 

References

Graves, C. (2005). The Never Ending Quest: A Treatise on an Emergent Cyclical Conception of Adult Behavioral Systems and Their Development. Santa Barbara, CA: ECLET Publishing.

Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.

Hamilton, M., & Sanders, B. (2013). Integral City 2.0 Online Conference 2012 Proceedings: A Radically Optimistic Inquiry Into Operating System 2.0 M. Hamilton (Ed.)   Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/120713339/Integral-City-2-0-Online-Conference-2012-A-Radically-Optimistic-Inquiry-into-Operating-System-2-0

Hamilton, M., & etal. (2013). Integral City 2.0 Online Conference 2012 Appendices: A Radically Optimistic Inquiry Into Operating System 2.0 – 36 Interviews M. Hamilton (Ed.)   Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/123005653/Integral-City-2-0-Online-Conference-2012-Appendices-A-Radically-Optimistic-Inquiry-into-Operating-System-2-0-36-Interviews

Nattrass, B., & Nattrass, M. (2015). How ARE We To Go On Together? Our Evolutionary Crossroads. Integral Leadership Review January-February (Canada Issue). Retrieved from http://integralleadershipreview.com/12795-215-go-together-evolutionary-crossroads/

 

This blog is one of a series that explores the relevance and application of ideas to the Integral City, in the articles published in the Integral Leadership Review – Canada Issue, 2015, curated and Guest Edited by Marilyn Hamilton.

Read Full Post »


Can you invent Tier 2 organizations without being embedded in an ecology/economy of Tier 1 organizations?

Spiral of Oranizations (Adapted from Spiral Dynamics, Beck & Cowan, 1996)

Dojos of Oranizations (Adapted from Spiral Dynamics, Beck & Cowan, 1996)

As I consider how Reinventing Organizations casts light on Reinventing the City, I am speculating that so-called Tier 2 organizations cannot exist without the competencies of the workers and capacities of the Tier 1 organizations in which they are currently and necessarily embedded.

All the organizations that Laloux explores have gained their capacities from the contributions of individuals who have learned basic skills and grown their capacities to organize, team, partner and collaborate in the Tier 1 system.

If we fail to recognize the essential “background” support of this ecological space (of the city) we will be blind to the functions offered by the city as a living system. The city is like a mega-dojo where players can learn their way through a series of organizational practices that earns them the privilege and freedom to articulate those competencies like a black-belt master (and thereby Reinvent Organizations). In most cities, a whole spectrum of Tier 1 organizations offer a series of dojos where players can learn the rudiments of reinventing themselves, their teams and organizational forms. If for no other reason than to gain the advantages of building on our skill sets we must thank the spectrum (and holarchy) of Tier 1 organizations that co-exist in our cities who accomplish these competency outcomes as a by-product of their existence.  (Thank you to families, sports teams, military and para-military organizations, professional associations, social networks, systems innovators, environmental invigorators, global connectors).

All living systems must be able to survive, connect with their environment and reproduce. (These are axiomatic to a circular economy). If we consider organizations to be living systems, then we must recognize the necessary and inextricable connections each organization has with all the other organizations and people that exist where they do business – especially because they provide the very context of (mostly) Tier 1 (and a few Tier 2) capabilities.

We cannot reinvent the city, if we do not respect the fundamentals of the circular economy and the dojos where the members of our human hive learn how to manage self, others, organizations and the city system as a whole.

 

This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

Read Full Post »


Eleven organizations contributed to the research behind the book Reinventing Organizations, by author Frederic Laloux.  If so few organizations passed the filter of Tier 2 qualifications will we have to wait centuries for enough organizations to mature to this stage before we can reinvent our cities?

Upside Down City

That is a sobering thought – and one that should motivate us to get on with the work of growing our capacities as individual leaders and redesigning our organizations so that we can expand the circles of care and thrivability from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

But the Integral City has three natural Strategic Intelligences that can accelerate the maturing processes of organizations and communities – the WE space of the city.

  1. Inquiry Intelligence opens us up to learning, discovery and innovation.
  2. Meshworking Intelligence creates the conditions where self-organizing capacities in the city combine with structuring capacities to create a scaffold that enables a hierarchy of complex organizations and individuals to co-create a resilient ecology.
  3. Navigating Intelligence gives us the systemic feedback that lets us know if we are proceeding in the right direction to achieve our Purpose (and correct our course of action in order to achieve our intended goals).

Reinvented Organizations can play special roles as actors, agents and catalysts of Strategic Intelligences within their cities of operation.

As Inquirers, they can take the lead in “calling the question” – How can we do this differently (e.g. redesign a mature neighbourhood). Who else should be here? How can we call the 4 Voices of the City into this conversation?

As Meshworkers, they can call together the 4 voices of the City (Citizens, Civic Managers, Civil Society, Business) and help other organizations, economic sectors and communities identify the Purpose that they serve in common. They can facilitate and/or call in facilitators who can help reveal the life conditions and align the values of the community for resilient outcomes.

As Navigators, they can co-create feedback loops that inform everyone of the city’s progress, through designing Vital Signs Monitors that track wellbeing and resilience for communities and the city.

If City Halls, as key organizations in the City Voices we call Civic Managers, choose to reinvent themselves, they can quicken the reinvention of the whole city. City Halls who reinvent how they conduct the business of the city, must draw on the Strategic Intelligences of an Integral City either implicitly or explicitly.  If you want to look at how one city has chosen to implement such a strategy to reinvent its mature neighbourhoods – look at how Strathcona has implemented Integral City Strategic Intelligences, engaging facilitators to engage the 4 Voices of the City to complete the groundwork that may incubate the reinvention of the city as a whole.

Pioneering projects like Strathcona Mature Neighbourhood Strategy, are necessary models, for us to learn the early stages of how applying Integral City Strategic Intelligences, in the service of reinventing organizational patterns can reinvent the city.

 

This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

Read Full Post »


Perhaps the Earth Can Teach Us?

Perhaps the Earth Can Teach Us?

“KEEPING QUIET” BY PABLO NERUDA

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: