Reflections from the 2021 Solstice Gathering

Natalie MuyresUpdates

On December 21st we had a strong turnout of HV community members to our online solstice gathering. It was a pleasure to see and hear from some folks for the first time in a long while! We took some time for people to share their personal reflections, Ken joined us to share his thoughts on the significance of the Solstice, and Nick Kalogirou then led an interactive activity that included him performing a beautiful piece on keyboard. 

You can watch videos of the event (password: Solstice2021):

Part 1 – Message from Elizabeth and community member reflections

Part 2 – Ken’s reflections

Part 3 – Nick’s performance

Elizabeth Dozois prepared and shared some thoughts which are included below.

“Solstice is about coming out of darkness into every expanding light, and Lord knows that’s something to celebrate. But my comments tonight are going to focus more on darkness than light – because I think there’s an important relationship between the two for those of us who are on a Human Venture path. 

“A couple of months ago, I created a post on the portal asking for Human Venture progress indicators (“Curating Progress”). I was driven to do that by a couple of things. First, I felt that my steady diet of news reporting (Guardian, G&M, NYT, etc.) was skewing my perspective. Driven by the need to generate profits, newsroom priorities don’t always align with Human Venture principles for understanding reality. But I was also at a low point and was looking for something to make me feel better about the world. 

“Barry Pauw – who some of you may know from Leadership Edmonton – responded via email to my post with some really helpful insights (which he has given me permission to share). Barry was concerned about me staking my existential wellbeing on the presence of progress indicators – and his words reminded me of something that Ken once said about not needing hope to be able to keep going. Ken had cultivated the capacity to keep moving even in the absence of hope. 

“I want to share a paragraph from Barry’s email. He writes, “We cannot modify reality from being what it is. But we can choose how we lean into our relational process with reality. My belief is that this equation should be flipped onto its head. That, rather than looking to the world to provide us with hope, we should take on the terribly difficult responsibility of bringing hope to the world.”

“To be on a Human Venture path means, in part, to cultivate the capacity to peer into the darkness and use that as a source of motivation rather than despair or defeat. This is important because it’s difficult to travel on a Human Venture path unless:

  1. There is an adaptive correspondence between Thoughtscape and Actionscape (i.e., an accurate and comprehensive match between reality and our perceptions of reality) – which doesn’t happen if we refuse to look at anything that hurts or disturbs us, and
  2.  We are highly motivated. And it’s hard to be highly motivated/committed when we are soothing, numbing or distracting ourselves so that we don’t have to face the suffering and injustice that abounds. It’s too easy to get lost in Netflix, or our family or social life, or the things we feel we can control.

“So how do we develop the capacity to ‘face the brutal realities’ (to draw on the Stockdale paradox phrasing), how do we develop the capacity to keep pushing forward, even when the darkness overwhelms the light? I don’t know – that’s something I’m still learning. But what I do know is that this is one of the capacities I need to develop – as part of my oversight function, I need to develop the capacity to engage with the world in a way that doesn’t require me to avoid or minimize the ‘brutal realities’ in order to manage my psychological well-being. I think this may be part of what it means to develop your own peace treaty with the universe.

“So this Solstice season, I encourage you to think about the relationship between darkness and light – to consider what it takes to bring light into the world, to reflect on the cost that entails, the commitment it requires, and the capacities we need to be able to face the darkness and engage in ‘the terribly difficult responsibility of bringing hope to the world.”

-Elizabeth Dozois

2 In retrospect, ‘committed’ would have been the better word – and I think in the talk I actually spoke about how treacherous motivation can be (much like hope). We need to develop the capacity to keep going regardless of motivation – but a commitment to Human Venture pathfinding is based on Creative Realization (Map 19.2), and to really keep that commitment strong, we need to lean into experiences of suffering and injustice. Otherwise, it’s too easy to stay in our Level 1-3 comfort bubbles and routines.