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Butterflies in skylights
A reflection on emergence
A first version of this piece was first published in the Medium publication, 21st Century Soul on August 30th, 2022.
These are all questions:
I am asking myself about emergence. What is already emergent? What is yet to emerge? What is already dormant? What is to be created deep in the between? And when there is trouble (which is most of the time, these days) how does this get experienced and how then does it percolate and contextualise with the ever-shifting relational flows of self and the systems we swim in?
The ‘direct corrective’ doesn’t work, but is there a transcontextual way of creating the conditions for vitality? Is it possible to go with the flow of the conscious intention while not being conscious of it — without intending?
These are all paradoxes.
The butterfly, trapped high in the skylight, sees the light and heads upwards ‘expecting’ freedom. Yet, the glass provides a more immovable barrier than the spaces and possibilities elsewhere in the building. Eventually, perhaps exhausted, it descends into the room below. Perhaps, it traps itself again in the cavity of another window, but this time I may see it, and set it free.
Outside it swirls up and out into the world.
Sometimes we sit in skylights, having headed towards the bright high places. Trapped by the light and the appearance of freedom, these insidious promises can only lead us into the most twisted of double binds:
We sit in the light, high up in our life, and there is no way through.
When we are up there in the eaves, we look out, then look down to where we might fall, yet no one can talk us down. Something could be talked through perhaps — but it wouldn’t be the thing that any of us imagined needed to be talked about. We stay up there, looking down, listening to the world, waiting for it to make meaning.
Then something in the inflection, in the cadence, in the embodied sense of our self and others in the world touches us, and this might become the tentative, conditional opening.
Is this what we are talking about? Searching for?
“What we are looking for is complete intuit. Intuition is a complex that needs to be filled up whole. Each step of understanding; each nuance that binds, each touch that lifts, every smile that gifts us humanity, is the weave of intuition completing itself.” (Mtaphysgraffiti on Twitter, 4/8/22)
There is something of a fuller picture here. In any one moment there might be a recognition of everything that is in this moment — everything that could be. Is this intution completing itself, or simply the widest available transcontextual experience? The corresponding emergence of something vital?
This might seem to be a little like presence or mindfulness, but this implies a conscious skill or a state or condition in the individual, and what we are really talking about is an ever-shifting relational experience — multisensory, transcontextual, flowing. Sometimes, somehow, there is a subsequent whole-istic experience of vitality, that is not in any way predictable, but is, in some way, a creative act:
“The poetic image is a sudden salience on the surface of the psyche”.*
In this, I am aware of language; that the language of therapy and development is inevitably that of healing and pathology and vertical direction that implies growth and transformation, but holds the insidious potential for us to be trapped in the skylights…
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