Convergence seems to be my word of the moment. Various elements, ideas, opportunities and people seem to be coming together in planned and unplanned ways. I look to the natural world to guide meaning and in biology, convergence is the tendency of unrelated animals and plants to evolve superficially similar characteristics under similar environmental conditions. It is not unlike dog owners starting to look like their dogs, or partners that have been together for ages finishing each others sentences.
At my centre I am a social worker, a community developer, someone who likes to create the conditions for change to be self-organised, transformational. It is a moment of grace and humility when I start to notice convergence in the places, spaces and people I have been around. It is the practice of call and response and the inevitable harmonies that come when we all sing together – it is not unison and that is the beauty and the blessing.
A project I have been mid-wifing, which has a longer gestation than an elephant, is coming down the birth canal and definitely converging with a number of other initiatives. A complex set of circumstances has now made this timing probably more suitable than if it had come together earlier. Another convergence is a set of ideas competing for attention, now dancing together, and in fact if they were a dance it would probably be accompanied by a bush band, and caller, asking everyone to change partners at the next rotation and all of a sudden the pattern emerges and the whole room can see what is possible. Partnership is definitely a feature of convergence. On yet another plane, a number of friends have had a very tough week and in their sorrows, disappointments, betrayals they have all found solace in the convergence around the leadership parts of themselves. As witness to this phenomena, I too am able to converge some of the free floating radicals inside of me, giving me a booster shot to protect me from some of those same forces.
The convergence of the natural and unnatural worlds – fruit of the vine and work of human hands – is how my religious tradition puts it. That line being of my favourites since I was very young, embodies the convergence and cooperation of nature and humans explicitly pointing to the moment where they come together to make something more than the sum of their parts, with qualities that give a nod to their sources. What if we didn’t talk about nature as if we were separate from it, but rather a part of it – a complete convergence?
I visited an art exhibition this weekend where one of the artists, Anastasia La Fey, used her study of the zen philosopher Dogen and applied walking practice, to see walking as a means of observational movement along a landscape rather than the directional movement across it. This too speaks to me of convergence and a coming home. It is the separation experience I believe at the root of climate inaction. Another converging moment, occured on Friday night at a local library to hear from eight scientists about their fields. We heard from a diverse group of scientists about, among other things, worms, light as a diagnostic tool, machine learning and cancer treatments, and one of the speakers, Dr Sheryn Pitman told us of the gender gap in ecological literacy. Males, middle-age groups, the most highly educated, those with science-related educational backgrounds, those working in environment-related fields, those who grew up in small town environments rather than in large towns or cities and in those who had spent more than 10 years in SA were the most ecologically literate. She hypothesised that, the now middle aged men in the study, when young lads, were more likely to go exploring through creeks and mudflats, climbing trees and dissecting creatures, while their female peers were more likely to be closer to the domesticity of the home. If that hypothesis holds true then perhaps we can expect more action on climate change as policy makers tap into the inner child of those sitting at board tables and in parliamentary chambers. Now that would be a convergence!
“The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.” – Dōgen.