Upon reflecting on her experience of the New Story Summit, Lynnaea Lumbard shares her thoughts about how to find our unique role in the new story. The New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future was held at the Findhorn Foundation and Community 27 September – 3 October 2014.
Finding your role in the new story…….
This was the title of my Monday afternoon workshop during the “seeding” section of the Summit. I offered the archetypal pattern of the Oracle and the Supplicant as an image to help amplify the internal conflict between the transpersonal voice in us that holds the “vision or calling” for our life path and the “leader in the trenches” who gets bogged down in the multiple demands of family, taxes, healthcare, work, pets, logistics, small and large disasters.
Consciousness emerges out of the capacity to hold the tension between opposites.
The point wasn’t to be one or the other, as too much visionary is ungrounded and too much identification with life’s obstacles can lead to despair. The exercise was first to experience both voices fully, then to separate from them, and finally to activate the state of consciousness that can hold the tension between them until a new perspective arises or a transcendent moment occurs. This process, which comes out of Jungian thought, has been my life practice since I was first introduced to Voice Dialogue in the early 1980’s. So in the workshop, I set the stage for holding this tension for the rest of the summit, while also suggesting a number of other tensions to explore: Intention/Surrender, Power/Love, Rigorous/Spacious, Speaking Out/Listening.
As the old adage goes: “You teach what you need to learn.”
Two days later, I walked into the morning session to ‘WE DON’T KNOW’ written in sticky notes across the Open Space grid, obliterating the previous order so painstakingly created the afternoon before of where and with whom and about what we were going to choose to gather.
This moment of chaos was particularly disruptive for me for two reasons. One, I was the next person in line poised to present my offering, having gotten up early so I could set up the CC room, the AV equipment and the internet connection. When some of the dust settled and I had a 30 second window (to avoid getting stomped off the stage), I was anything but poised in speaking for the New Stories work I had come to contribute. And I didn’t even get to announce the Gaiafield meditation that I had so wanted to bring forward as a resource for the group.
Second, I had come to the Summit after six years of on-the-ground research and practice in developing New Stories, my Washington State-based non-profit, its projects, its team and its newly transformed website. Wanting to share what we’ve learned about the New Story and what’s already working, I was holding the pole of thinking we actually do know some things and that there’s a decades-long legacy of people who have been working for the creation of a New Story for humanity.
“Knowing” was not a popular meme to be representing on that morning. So I found myself having to learn new lessons from standing in the tension of the opposites. Knowing and Not Knowing. Old and New. Planned and Emergent. Container and Chaos. When does it work to burst out of the container, like a seedpod in the spring, and when does it serve to keep the cocoon closed until the butterfly finishes its transformation?
Slowly, out of holding these tensions for the past few weeks, I came to the realization that, aha, I am not a revolutionary. I once was, but at 65, I feel too old for the front lines of change. Now I have a different role to play in supporting the emergence of the New Story. My workshop title came back to me in a flash and I suddenly remembered the life-changing diagram I encountered years ago that so elegantly points out that all of our work counts and that we each have our own role in furthering the New Story. Called the two loops diagram, it comes out of research from the Berkana Institute. If you can imagine the diagram laid out in very large scale on the floor, where would you stand? Where are you working?
The first loop represents the curve of the old paradigm, its rise and fall. Most of us would probably agree that we are on the descending line of our culture and many are working here to stop or slow the destruction caused by our current systems. Some are working on the front lines of change to help wake people up, get involved, and break out of the old.
Some people place their attention on building up the new paradigm. When I was first introduced to this model, we soon realized that building the new was about building resilient communities, for it will be in community that the new changes take effect. This has been my work ever since, building the thriving communities movement by connecting its leaders to each other and creating opportunities for collaboration.
It is important to note that sometimes at the beginning, new ideas and forms come into being but don’t manifest in the larger culture initially—like electric cars in the early 1990’s. Some are working on ideas that won’t be visible or come into common acceptance for decades.
Some are the bridge builders who help people cross from one paradigm to the other. And some, like so many of the indigenous folk at the summit, are healers, offering the kinds of collective rituals that heal our individual and ancestral souls to be able to continue on with the work.
For me, the New Story is a both/and, not an either/or. Every place is valuable. We become more whole when we honor those who are working in ways different from ours. I need to honor and acknowledge revolutionaries working on the edges as much as I want to be honored for the steady connecting and building work I’ve been supporting on the ground in community initiatives.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Out of the challenges of the Summit I have come to more truly recognize and accept my role in building a New Story. I see that am more interested in building the new rather than challenging the old. That’s what drew me to the Summit, the opportunity to explore with delegates from around the world how to form a more coherent whole with what we know of the New Story. I didn’t experience the structure of the Summit as old, and needing to be burst asunder. I felt it as a safe membrane within which to work through the ins and outs of collaboration to become a larger organism.
My core New Story is essentially How Life Does It and my practice is to align with it. I follow the story-arc of the principles of cell biology where disparate particles move into greater and more integrated communities until a new membrane is formed and the pattern is repeated at a more complex level. Transcend and include. Connection, collaboration, compassion and co-creativity are my mantras.
That’s where I play. Other people play in other ranges and realms. And we are all doing our part for co-creating the New Story. May we celebrate our differences in pursuing our common cause.
Lynnaea Lumbard, Ph.D., Co-President of New Stories, is a transformational psychologist, interfaith minister, wilderness guide, community weaver, social artist and strategic philanthropist. Her current work is curating newstories.org to name, amplify and disseminate new stories and practices for a life-affirming future. When not writing or speaking, she engages with small collaborative teams to support, strengthen, and synergize the burgeoning New Story movement.