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Nancy Stark Smith
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Hello… What are you doing here?

Nancy Stark Smith

It’s been forty days since Nancy Stark Smith experienced what the rest of us can only imagine and speak of through metaphor. It’s been forty days since Nancy Stark Smith learned what the rest of us have been speculating about since time immemorial; or else, since there was the particular type of consciousness we, the Homo Sapiens, experience and engage in our daily lives; intellectual, emotional, spiritual, verbal and non-verbal “systems consciousness” [1]; or else, what the rest of us have been speculating about since the day we were born.

What was it like, dear Nancy, to experience the final transition, the antithesis to the shock that is the first breath, that traumatic softening into life? If only you could tell us.

The first time I saw a baby take its first breath–change colour, soften and tone and expand and start screaming–was the first time I experienced what felt like the true meaning of the phrase “there’s no turning back.” For the baby, once bloomed–it was obvious–couldn’t possibly fit back into the womb of its exhausted, but exhilarated mother. The baby, like all of us once were, was doomed to life now. And she was going to have to learn how to survive and how to live, incidentally, without any guarantee of success. 

That is the choice made for us by birth. And that is the experience we share yet none of us remember. This choice is antithetic to the one made for us by death, the experience we are all anticipating and that one no one has yet been able to report from. Both events an evidence of Earthly contradiction, humbling in their capacity to play with our breath, by taking it away or forcing it upon us.

What if Nancy Stark Smith imagined something of what it takes to live with this predicament of no choice–and subsequently, something of what it takes to transition from and into the Great Unknown–in the way she teased our attention away from direction and towards suggestion, or in the way she tickled our attention towards surprise and away from prediction? What if Nancy Stark Smith imagined something of what it takes to live with contradiction when she created a context for learning-listening and listening-learning, in which skill is in protecting and challenging of sensitivity until that sensitivity, in all its glory, is seen for what it truly is–not a weakness, but the most moving of strengths. Known now and thanks to you, not just to individuals but to a community!

It’s been more than forty years since Nancy Stark Smith not only started answering the question we all crave the answer to but since she suggested a way in which each one of us can start imagining, exploring, and experiencing the possible answers on our own–without having to do any of it alone.

 

Nancy Stark Smith.

In your gift, a responsibility, a responsible community.

Thank you. 

pavleheidler for Team IDOCDE

 

 

photo @ Ezgi Göç

[1] https://medium.com/disruptive-design/tools-for-systems-thinkers-the-6-fundamental-concepts-of-systems-thinking-379cdac3dc6a