What are we becoming? Who are you becoming? Where are we emerging?
We are currently experiencing a strange combination of uncertainty, change, and stasis. The future feels a little difficult to fathom. So I wanted to share some thoughts on these ideas because I think we all need a little bit of gentle reassurance and hope.
To ‘become’ is neither good nor bad. It just is. It’s a fact. Everything and everyone is in a constant state of becoming, whether we believe it or not. We are always becoming, and we never fully arrive.
Becoming and Coaching
Coaching fast-tracks intentional becoming. From where you are to where you’re going next. And the coaching process give the coachee autonomy over where they want to go, and ultimately, how they will choose to get there.
I have come to really love this process. Especially when I get to delve into surprising discoveries and breakthroughs with clients. When the person they thought they were becoming, and the goals they thought mattered most, turn out to be less important to them than they thought.
When this happens, the becoming is about getting unstuck, un-wedding, and releasing ourselves from the stories we thought were true. And aligning our next steps and actions with a fresh sense of what and who is next.
Becoming is about changing, transforming, evolving, growing, developing, exploring, following, leading, testing, trying, experimenting, learning, observing, noticing, reflecting, emerging, honing, whittling, crafting, deciding, culling, removing, reviewing. It can’t be rushed. The process lasts forever, and the results don’t last for long. There is no agenda or motive.
The Possibility of an Entire You
Within a single acorn is the possibility of an entire oak tree. A whole oak tree is inside that tiny little seed. That’s pretty mad when you think about it.
It’s the same with everything…Human beings. You. Me. Everyone we know.
The entire possibility of who we are was in that tiny little egg when we were conceived. The possibility of all we have become and are continuing to become. Out of that moment in space and time we have emerged and are emerging.
What if Nothing is Missing?
We often move through life with the attitude that something is missing. We search high and low. Every new idea is a chance to discover the magic secret. This leads us to believe that getting this mysterious missing part will help us to find ourselves, discover our purpose, or uncover our calling. These can be dangerous ideas. And are directly related to the image we have of the universe.
I’ve recently been listening to Out of Your Mind, a collection of seminars and talks by Alan Watts. It’s been an amazing companion to me during lockdown. The recording opens with him speaking about the power of language in framing our basic image of the world. For most of us in The West, this image (myth) is one of two main models: The Ceramic Model and/or The Fully Automatic Model.
Myths (images) of the Universe
1. The Ceramic Model of the Universe
This is based on the book of Genesis, from which Judaism, Islam, and Christianity derive their basic picture of the world.
This image sees the world as an artefact. It is made in the same way a potter takes clay and makes pots, or a carpenter takes wood and makes tables and chairs. This sees God as a technician, who has in mind a plan, and fashions the universe in accordance with that plan.
2. The Fully-Automatic Model of the Universe
The original model has everything responding to and obeying ‘the plan’. Watts suggests that Science allowed people to hold this image without needing to believe in God. Because the hypothesis of God doesn’t help us make predictions about the future (the laws of nature/science/God are all the same. Regularity and consistency allows for accurate predictions to be made.
This model sees the world as nothing but unintelligent force. It is only the result of this exuberant energy and a mix of fluke and blind luck that we have people. People with values, reason, languages, cultures, and love.
He says, with this concept we are encouraged to fight nature and impose our will upon the world. It is as if we are completely alien to it from the outside. Otherwise we will be turned back into nonsense if we’re not careful. This underpins the idea that there is a war between man and nature.
He suggests that children outside of The West (especially in certain Buddhist and Hindu cultures) might ask a parent ‘how did I grow?’ This is entirely different from Western kids, where we ask questions like, ‘how was I made?’
3. An Organic Model
Watts suggests that people are symptomatic of a universe that peoples (as a verb). An apple tree ‘apples’ (i.e. it produces apples). A world in which human beings arrive, is a world that ‘peoples’. And we are the fruit of such a universe.
Belonging and Becoming
Both the Ceramic and Fully Automatic models, encourage us to feel like we don’t belong in the world. Watts points out that we tend to say “I came into this world”, when we didn’t; we grow out of it. Rather than being something that is placed into the world, by a god or some indifferent law of nature, we might think instead that we have grown out of it.
Our Myth and Our Self-Concept
Our image of the universe is fundamental to our self-concept.
If we carry either of these images deeply within, we might run into obstacles when it comes to embracing a freedom to become what we are becoming.
On the one hand, the idea that you are ‘put here for a reason’ can feel like an overwhelming crutch. If you don’t know what that reason is you feel alienated and out of place in the world. You might then second guess every decision you make and worry that you’re not conforming to the pre-written script by the potter who made you and put you here.
Or the other idea; that we are like trams, running along tracks, conforming to the laws that have been set for us as living beings. We are predictable and governed. This might create an underlying resentment and destructive tendencies. To manufacture significance. Beat nature. Dig deeper and fly higher. And to show our dominance over nature and over one another.
In this model, becoming is about external growth and being better, hoarding more, and flying closer to the sun. This image leaves us perpetually dissatisfied, because it’s impossible. We become alienated from the world around us and from ourselves within.
You Are Enough and You Are Accepted
Healthy becoming starts with one truth…You don’t need to do anything more, be anything different, or prove yourself to anyone. You are enough.
When I asked them what they wish people knew, could see, or believe about themselves, most of those who contributed to Serenity in the Trenches, made the same point.
You are enough. Just as you are. You don’t need to do anything to be worthy of love. In the arms of existence, you are accepted and you are enough.
If we all believed this, what could happen? And more importantly, how much more free would we be to live life, detached from the implications of the idea that there is something missing.
This is easy to say, but a lot harder to truly accept. To accept your acceptance is the ultimate challenge. Full of ‘yeah but’s’ and ‘that’s all well and good, however’s’.
But if we can occupy this space of grace, we can build our becoming upon this foundation that nothing is missing. Drawing from abundance rather than scarcity. From contribution rather than extraction. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
We can just relax and enjoy the life that comes as part of having been peopled for this little season we’ve been invited to grow through. Not chasing externals or the values that we believe ‘The They’ are judging us by.
What if we were just the beautiful symptom of a universe that peoples? What if we didn’t have some grand purpose, beyond the task to keep becoming what we are becoming as the weird and uniquely wonderfully juicy fruit, bursting out of our peopling world, like a blossoming bud.
Over to You
Which of these models of the universe have you grown up with? What has been the impact of that? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. Or send me an email directly.