Following the flow of life in Scotland – a conscious act of (in)dependence

Warning – this is partly a report on my holiday, partly a ‘normal’ blog – it is a bit more personal than usual – don’t read it if you don’t feel like reading such personal matters. In essence it’s a blog on how I was able to dance with systems, during my travels. 

So here I went, off by myself with my dog Driekus, to Scotland by ferry. Nothing planned. Not even the first night. No trains, no ferries. No trainings at Findhorn, no mid-week horse riding, no tickets for the Edinburgh theatre festival. Just the ferry crossing forth and back.

We did bring something. And it isn’t the least. I brought on these travels my very best Self. My curious Self. My trusting and intuitive Self, supported by my hands-on Self. And I also stacked in time. Loads of time. Almost three weeks to do whatever felt right to re-engage with Scotland and the part of my roots that I know so little about.

During the trip, I kept asking myself the same question: why did I go on this trip? Why in this way? And when the answer finally dawned on me, I realized it was the opposite of what people might think such a trip would offer: a celebration of my independence. Going at it alone and succeeding. Yoehoe. What a woman! Doing such a masculine thing. Following my own path without giving in to demands of fellow-travelers. Doing exactly as I please. Courageous. Fearless.

Courageous we were. Fearless not. And no. The above is not what we got out of this trip. It has a lot more to do with the title of the Green Bridges’ newsletter than you might think.

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The importance of dancing (with systems) on two legs

A personal confession

Shockingly but true: the last few years I’ve come to discover that most of my life I wasn’t fully able to perceive reality as it truly is and as it can be. With this handicapped way of perceiving the world, I could not see many crucial things. I never had clear inner visions of what can be. I would think of all there is to know in the world, as sheer impossible to grasp. Seeing all the different scientific disciplines, the fields of knowing, I would feel overwhelmed by their magnitude. Thinking: how can I ever know all there is to know and then proceed by doing the right thing? I mostly saw the details. I could only hope there would be some interconnectedness.

I also couldn’t see that things that annoy me in others, are actually part of me (‘I am the other’) and can be seen as a gift, to show me what’s going on inside and what’s bothering me about myself. I couldn’t look at a painting and feel the maker’s energy and the source of inspiration that he was connected with. Read more…

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Learning to dance with systems – Donella Meadows’ view

The name for Green Bridges’ newsletter ‘Dancing with the System’, was chosen quite intuitively. You might believe how surprised I was when I found out that Donella Meadows, one of the persons that influenced me most when it comes to understanding the power of systems thinking, wrote a blog called ‘dancing with systems’ a few decades ago. A blog in which she explains what the limits are of systems thinking. And how important it is that we learn to dance with systems.

Donella Meadows: “We thought that [through systems thinking] we could control systems. That we could make systems do what we wanted them to do. But we found out: we can’t control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them!

We can’t impose our will upon a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.”

With permission of the Academy for Systems Change (formerly the Donella Meadows Institute) we hereby reprint Donella’s blogpost on dancing with systems. Hope you enjoy it just as much as we do. We couldn’t have explained the importance of ‘dancing with the system (rather than trying to control it)’ any better.

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Leren lopen op twee benen

Jonge, fanatieke wereldverbeteraars, die hun ogen niet sluiten voor de staat van de wereld en die hebben besloten hun leven te wijden aan ‘het blussen van het vuur’. De aarde staat tenslotte in brand. Mensen als ikzelf, die hun taak zo serieus nemen dat ze zichzelf voorbij lijken te hollen en zich voortdurend afvragen: ‘doe ik wel genoeg’? Over die groep maakte ik me zorgen. Zoals anderen zich ook over mij weleens zorgen maakten. M’n vader zei vroeger al tegen me: ‘lach eens wat vaker! Je neemt het leven zo serieus!’ Dan nam ik me voor om meer te lachen en rende vervolgens weer door, met een glimlach. Read more…

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Leren paardrijden is leren dansen met het systeem

‘Als je nou je gewicht op links brengt, met je rechterbeen aandrijft, aanleuning zoekt met links en met je rechter teugel meer vrijheid geeft, dan krijg je wat je wil. Paard en ruiter in balans. Een perfecte impuls, maar niet een paard dat onder je vandaan loopt, oftewel, een paard dat zoveel spanning opbouwt dat je zo aan de rand van het bos bent zonder dat er nog iets te redden valt.’ Aldus mijn instructrice die zag dat ik aan het stoeien was met mezelf en mijn paard. Dit deed mij iets inzien.

Dynamisch evenwicht

Paardrijden is een evenwichtsport. In systemen is een dynamisch evenwicht de meest prettige situatie. Gek dat ik niet eerder de link legde. Want als je dat wel doet dan is de ruiter en paard metafoor ineens overal. Een paard zonder ruiter is als een kip zonder kop. Een paard en ruiter vullen elkaar aan. Een ruiter geeft de grenzen van het systeem aan en kan een paard helpen een optimale balans te vinden. Samen kunnen ze magistrale dingen als de systemen elkaar goed aanvullen. Read more…

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