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How to live your questions?

  • Can the world be remade through humility, imagination, and meaningful relations?


  • What does it mean to live a courageous life that is rich in depth and significance?


  • In what ways does realizing human potential serve as a response to human suffering?



Öregrund (Sweden) 2023: Augustijn, contemplating life


I picture myself standing atop a metaphorical peak, my fiftieth year not just a numerical milestone but a vantage point. A summit where I shed the weight of yesterday, gaze into tomorrow, and leverage the wisdom gained for a purpose larger than self.

This remaking the world unfolds through the potential of three relationships: with oneself, with others, and via imagination.


 

First-person research


·  February 2023.


In the heart of London, amidst the hustle, I share a desire for more naivety. A term often burdened with negativity, I redefine as embracing life unadorned, receptive to others without judgment. Reconnecting with natural wisdom, I surrender to intuition, integrating receptiveness, playfulness, and wonder into my daily existence. In a world tense and stern, where masks shield our true selves, I advocate for embracing uncertainties and cultivating awe.


'I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance' - Diogenes

Knowledge, power, and status dominate, maintaining false certainties that hinder the path to wonder. Diogenes' quote echoes, urging us to embrace humility and acknowledge the vastness of what we don't know. Our defense mechanisms blind us to the possibilities of being more present and conscious in an open system. In our interactions, we reveal only a fragment of our true selves. An untapped potential remains dormant, paradoxically juxtaposed with society's aspiration to think 'boxless' for the creation of innovative solutions. This half-hearted bricolage results in an uneasy and surreal splits in a world that does not really want to reveal itself. Who is actually fooling whom?


Live your questions.


Who dares to dance to the rhythm of their soul? What if we were to meet there, reconnecting with our inner child? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to entertain such thoughts?

We need more questions! Questions are more transformative than answers. A question is a powerful sequence of words and punctuation. Wonderfully pivoting in your head when it touches your soul.


Live your questions.


How can I possibly make a difference? Where do I start?


Beginning can be as simple as here and now. There's no need to complicate it further. Postponing serves little purpose. The child within us knows what it wants, untouched by external opinions. It encourages us to peer beyond limits, embrace passion, and reconnect with our inner norm.


The child within me is the most creative, explorative, and progressive part of myself. That child within is courageous, loves the outdoors, and longs for a conscious life shared with and inspired by others.



Trailmate: The concept of embarking on a shared journey, with someone clearing the path for others.


I want to be where there is water, as water is life. I want to be where the wind blows. Oh, how I love the wind. I want to be where the landscape undulates, with surprises behind every hill. I want to journey with others toward a conscious life, sharing my experiences, knowledge, and uncertainties in mutual reciprocity.


And you? What is your inner child telling you? Where would you like to be?

Live your questions.


Do I dare to pause? Do I dare to genuinely feel? Can I close doors to notice and open others? Dare I to embrace uncertainty as an opportunity? What if I permit myself to take a step back?


·  Summer 2023.


My family and I paused for 6 weeks in Sweden. Our pausing revealed layers of intensity. Not only by bonding with our 4 children present, but simultaneously, my wife and I made a circular movement outwards. Our 'Wall of BEING,' a collective mural – visiting friends also joined in -  of feelings and aspirations, became our compass. We navigate with senses, embracing uncertainties from a place of not knowing, facing life with confidence amid doubts. No master plan for life with clear directions, but a playground full of tools to guides us as we walk our path. Where to? No idea, and that doesn't bother us at all.


'What is more important, as the map continues to evolve, is to be in possession of a reliable compass. Persons of Tomorrow know their own true north.' – Dancing at the Edge – Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester

Wall of Being


Dancing with others

Our compass, and the attitude that comes with it, helps us adopt a modest stance. As a professional, the aspiration to achieve the greatest impact sounds ambitious, but my satisfaction doesn't always lie in size. Personally, I find more fulfillment in what Joanna Macy defines as 'Widening Circles of Self':


'When we identify with something larger than ourselves, whether that's our family, a circle of friends, a team, or a community, it becomes a part of who we are.' (...) When people lose their sense of belonging to larger circles, they lose not only the motivation to act for their communities and environment but also valuable sources of support and resilience. Personal well-being, community well-being, and planetary well-being are linked to the way we view ourselves.'

Imagine encountering each other in the grand ballroom of life, where we generously carve out room for one another, much like those who once did for us. Picture it: chairs cleared, space provided for a dance—be it duets, solos, group performances, or freestyle. In this ballroom, the particular style of dance becomes irrelevant; what truly matters is that people are dancing, learning from each other in the rhythmic flow of life.


"That is the way of the master: to be in the world as a learner in turn encourages and catalyses learning in others. Persons of tomorrow naturally provide space for others to grow into, rather than fill it with their own knowing. They share their problems and questions as a gateway to mutual learning, rather than their answers and successes as an invitation to praise. They have their egos under control and fill the airspace with their listening." - Dancing at the Edge - Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester

Live your questions.


In what ways can we foster an environment of openness? By anchoring ourselves in stillness? For as we shift, so does the collective movement around us. Could our tranquillity be a spontaneous reaction to the dynamic game we're all part of? Does our stillness serve as an encouraging gesture, inviting others to join the dance? Can we actively reshape norms and sculpt a new culture through scraping and bearing?


Scraping is shaving, flattening, refining, smoothing, peeling, polishing, grating, sanding, … All are small acts of refinement.


Live your questions.


Is it worth leading by example? Should we put ourselves on display? Stepping onto the stage, each showcasing their unique talents. Even if it feels uncomfortable, standing alone in the spotlight, gazing into the dark and the unknown. What perceptions and emotions does the audience hold? Taking a step forward requires courage—a genuine performance. Challenging the system demands bravery. Initiating cultural change necessitates perseverance. All achieved not in isolation but in collaboration with others.


Comfort limits possibilities


The foundation lies in trust – trust in one another, trust in the shared purpose of the group you belong to (whether it's family, team, community, ...), and trust in a broader reality of which the group is an integral component. In this ‘sphere’, individuals recognize themselves as independent sources of creativity, yet they embrace this awareness within a broader collective consciousness, which in turn is connected to larger wholes.


Live your questions.


How do you build trust? How do you gain confidence? In yourself? In the other?


Wonder and imagination


·         December 2023.


A tin airplane, flying around in our Swedish kitchen


"At the age of three, everything appears as a marvel. Curiosity knows no bounds; every detail holds equal fascination. Why is the sea blue? What causes darkness? Why is that man bald? The incessant questioning, the 'whys,' echo boundlessly. Imagination knows no restraint. With three pieces of wood, a boat materializes, ready to conquer the vast ocean. A mere hat and brush handle, and voila, Her Majesty graces the scene: 'Long live the Queen!' - An Ode to Wonder – Caroline Pauwels.

Imagination, the force of creation and inspiration, takes a backseat on the journey to adulthood. The flame of curiosity gradually dims. In the routine of daily life, there's scant room for imagination or wonder – things are just as they are, an unfortunate reality.


This is regrettable because wonder adds vibrancy to life, giving it purpose. It propels us to develop our talents, extend our boundaries, rise above ourselves, and ultimately, find joy in our pursuits. When wonder fades, a monochrome world sets in, accompanied by disappointment, resignation, and despair.


Imagination unveils the generative story. By altering our perspective, embracing a state of not knowing, we can reshape the world. Connect with the adventurer within, live the experience.

Imagination and gratitude share a profound connection. Periodically, I jot down expressions of gratitude for the mundane and trivial, realizing the enchantment found in ordinary moments.



Magma: expressions of gratitude


Live your questions.


Do you ever think in images? What emotions accompany those thoughts? Do you take moments to ponder what you observe or experience? Are your dreams grounded in reality, or do they explore endless possibilities? What groundbreaking invention would you unleash upon the world?


Many questions. 


We need more questions.


Transitioning is a profoundly human process. Conquering personal resistances becomes imperative in navigating personal transitions, and this is where systemic change commences – with personal choices and actions.


Confronting personal resistances is undeniably challenging. Dismantling entrenched assumptions and concrete worldviews proves to be a delicate task. Developing reflexive capacity demands strenuous and uncomfortable efforts. Self-questioning is perplexing! Yet, this rarity is precisely why we shy away from it. It's more appealing to seek solutions externally – with others, within the organization, or embedded in the system.

 

Soften and heal


Recently, I took a walk with Anneleen, my wife. It was a moment I yearned to freeze in time—a timeless, heart-to-heart conversation between two souls in harmony. She observed that I had grown gentler, a change that brought positive ripples to our family dynamics. No longer ensnared by maxims like "pain is just weakness leaving the body" or "dreaming is for slackers."


Gentle on the surface, resilient within.


What a remarkably enriching year!


My take aways:


  • Cultivate naivety: approach life unadorned, without the filters of societal judgments. Be unapologetically yourself. It’s a present for living a more meaningful and courageous life.

  • Live your questions: living with curiosity and continually asking meaningful questions is a transformative and enriching way to navigate life.

  • Create space for others: be open to learn from diverse experiences, share challenges and questions for mutual learning, and foster a sense of belonging within larger circles.

  • Depth Over Size: Let's redefine success, shifting the focus from grandiose impact to creating meaningful space for others and fostering depth in personal, community, and planetary well-being?

  • Relive wonderment: reconnect with your inner child. Don’t be serious all the time. Show yourself. Your whole self.


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