At the start of 2022, I committed to letting this year flow. But flow is too smooth a concept for a year of pandemic and transitions. My flow for now has become much more planned, more mechanical and laden with effort. I am now convinced it is better described as unfolding slowly.

Opening Up

Always I wanted to give and in wanting was
the poet. A man now, aging, I know the best
of love is not to bestow, but to recognize.

Hayden Carruth, Sonnet #10

My goal in embracing flow was to not feel like life was forced into boxes, against goals and through patterns. I was hoping for our ‘new freedoms’ to allow for more spontaneity and dynamic movement. I have been sorely disappointed. The year has been one already of some great outcomes but freedoms are scarce and spontaneity needs planning.

Most of all the sense of a dynamic movement has not yet returned or been created. Hiatus still holds its grip. Life refuses to flow smoothly. The constraints aren’t rapids to be navigated they are hinges and hard boundaries. I have recognised that more mechanical effort is involved. The courses into which my life will develop is shaped by the boundaries of the landscape from which it has been made up to today.

The Map and The Territory

… and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.

Jorge Luis Borges, On Exactitude in Science
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

We create mental models of our world to expedite our journey through the world, simplifying and streamlining the flow of our days. However, when these models no longer fit or worse become barriers to our progress they like the maps of Borges’ story must be abandoned to the wilderness with ‘some Pitilessness’.

Finding a new map that scales to the efforts of our new work and life and unfolding and refolding that map with care to make it a useful guide to the ever changing demands is endless work. We have to chart and amend the boundaries we need to navigate as we go in a world with so much dynamic complexity. We cannot rely on simplicity and passivity. There is no guarantee that our old 1-1 maps describe the world well enough for us to move through it with purpose. The ongoing adjustments of this global pandemic, changing work and a changing world mean that we must continuously fold and refold our maps, discard some and a times advance well beyond the beaten path mapping our own journey as we go.

Leaving, though, always a kind
of unfolding of the act of staying.

Katie Peterson, The Truth is Concrete

The Origami of Effort

Often the moment before it is finalised a piece of carefully folded origami looks like a great deal of complicated and wasted effort. That last fold or unfold enables the work to flower into its final shape. As we struggle through this time and as the journey feels mechanical and forced it is important to remember that effort leads to a goal that can be right around the next bend. I am not yet sure that the effort that has been put into 2022 has mapped a path to that final shape, too much is still up in the air, too much is changing, and there is too much still to unfold.

I had hoped that 2022 as a year of flow would enable a much greater openness, connection and exploration. Thus far in 2022 it feels like conservation of effort for the challenges ahead will demand time folded up small to rest and recover. The open and exploratory unfolding will come later when the next phase of adventure is to come.

Whatever this year brings, I am ready for the leap.

I could see what it cost her
to make that leap. What heat it takes
for the body to blossom into speech.

Dorianne Laux, The Student
Combining folding and flow

One thought on “Unfolding

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