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“The adjacent possible is as much about limits as it is about openings. At every moment in the timeline of an expanding biosphere, there are doors that cannot be unlocked yet. In human culture, we like to think of breakthrough ideas as sudden accelerations on the timeline, where a genius jumps ahead fifty years and invents something that normal minds, trapped in the present moment, couldn’t possibly have come up with. But the truth is that technological (and scientific) advances rarely break out of the adjacent possible. The history of cultural progress is, almost without exception, a story of one door leading to another door, exploring the palace one room at a time.” Steven Johnson in Where Good Ideas Come From p. 36.
Learning to live with the tension of the unknown and making friends with it is now equal parts peaceful and catalytic.
I am on the other side of the door, in DWL (Dragon Whisperer Land). I got a little side-tracked from building the house; when I first stepped into this land, I thought the house was important (at first the house was important–I was traumatized and I needed shelter). Building a house seemed like a great place to start, but something has changed in me. It isn’t the house itself I need. It is the refuge of rest which it represents. The quiet place to consider. The wall to lean up against when the load is too big for me.
Now that I am past the trauma, I find that the physical structure is not all that is required for this intentional land; thriving here requires a quiet mind, a seeking of expansive thoughts, and surely at least a rudimentary shelter. As my constitution gets stronger and I have more faith in myself, I have less dependence on the conventions that held me hostage with handcuffs of known quantity and routine in that other place. I don’t need a monster fortress. I need ideas and time and only a modest space. And meaningful people that get this about me.
This new-found fluidity is something that has been such a part of me that I didn’t recognize it as a distinguishable quality. Like: before the awareness of distinct gases and advanced scales able to measure oxidation, the nuances of oxygen remained undiscoverable. Now that I am unencumbered by structure, debt load, daily tasklistery, and expectation, I have pieces in place that allow me to investigate further this creative fluidity that has not known how to manifest plainly. I don’t know if it can be measured, but it’s effect upon the system is suddenly able to be observed. Such exploration is a definitive piece of who the real me has always been.
I don’t know what shape this will take, this design of life of which I am architect, but I am beginning to lay the tools upon my workbench and here is what I have found. I have a high freedom need and accompanying room for the important people in my life to roam–a respect for that and an expectation that that is how we do things over here in Dragon Whisperer Land. A come-along-sidedness as technique on the climb. The ability to metacognate my way through the messy, undefined path–words to translate it. A broad array of skills in search of some expertise to wrap around. And a newer realization that this lack of expertise might just be the real gift here. I say those words like they mean something from far down the path which I am just beginning to traverse. Like some wiser part of me already knows this and is waiting for the rest of me to catch up to make sense out of it. I feel the weight of the truth behind this utterance, though I am certainly too early in this process to recognize or commit to an outcome. I am left then with a realization that I can begin to tinker.
For now that must be enough to comfort me. I have a pile of raw materials and have begun to define the tools I can use to morph them. Becoming ever more comfortable with my lessening need for the trappings might just be one of the first Dragons I am on my way to taming.