I gave a year's notice at my job and have just a short window of time left to finish with integrity and prepare for the launch of this business venture: Only to Grow - Coaching for Changemakers. It is a testament to the people I work with that we can navigate such a long ramp of transition, and I am grateful. What a gift to focus on every present experience with heightened awareness - to people, to the good work we’re doing, to the moment of now and the passage of time.
Even though with this blog post I'm essentially launching "my" business, it’s nothing without you, so thank you for making the time to read and participate. My goal is to serve and be in community with people who are making positive change in the world, and it’s likely that you are one of them if you’ve found yourself here.
This lofty goal doesn’t mean I am confident about how this is all going to look. I’m just taking one step at a time and figuring it out as I go, and fortunately, plenty of people have and are willing to help me navigate the path.
But sometimes I do get a bit unnerved by the vast unknown of mapless terrain; at these times I turn to a short stack of favorite texts - very much like a fine group of friends - and I engage with them, often with a question at hand. It’s kind of like having a perfect, private dinner party, especially when the texts start to talk to each other. During a recent gathering with my "wise friends," I was pondering the business name - again. I had come up with oodles, but none were quite right.
A particular line from the I Ching struck me: “Know that you do not know what to do. Act accordingly.” This was followed by an invitation to pay particular attention to the continuing development of my character. That gave me pause. At first I was offended - I don't know what I'm doing? I need to develop my character? But within a few minutes, I accepted the truth of it and decided it was perfect advice, a wonderful invitation to grow yet again....and the seed of "grow" stuck with me: staying humble, opening up, being a beginner again, not knowing.
The next text I turned to was E.E. Cummings’ Introduction to his New Poems (1938). The upshot of this gorgeous little essay is that Cummings’ answer to the core question, “What does it mean to be human?” is that to be human is to grow. Except he says it far more eloquently:
“We can never be born enough. We are human beings;for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery, the mystery of growing:the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves.”
I read to the end of the essay and saw the conclusion, previously underlined by a younger me, beaming off the page:
“...never to rest and never to have:only to grow. Always the beautiful answer who asks the more beautiful question.”
The deal was sealed when I turned to the next voice at the table: German philosopher Martin Heidegger. He makes a similar point, but in philosophical rather than poetic language:
“Daseins [Heidegger’s term for humans] unlike other entities, are capable of taking responsibility for the way they exist in the world - a way of being...we understand our being and thus are able to comport ourselves towards it….The inauthentic Dasein has not taken responsibility for itself, but lives in the way that others think it should.”
And a bit further in:
“...all understanding moves in a circle.”
All of this coalesced. And, from a place of not knowing, wonder, and a desire to take responsibility for the development of my character - to serve the greater good with you - the new adventure of Only to Grow begins with a name, like all children do. Thanks for being with me at the beginning.