By Mai Brøndsted
In the last hours on the final day all travellers have been called together in the winter garden. With the ending of the fourth seminar, In 100 Years –Starting Now, Reworking Sustainability and Growth is coming to a close. The journey has been conducted by Future Mind Tours, Büro Reisende. The travellers are seated in groups of threes in a circle at the centre of the room. Cool winter light streams in from a glass dome high in the ceiling above. On the floor in the middle is a pattern of cut out circular shapes laid out like a compass on the floor: A decorative pallet of primary and secondary colours mapping geographical positions and corresponding points of perspective printed in brief and precise words:
Freedom & creativity, Present condition & appreciation, Power & danger, Purpose & direction, Maintenance & Balance, Interrelatedness & timing, Clarity & Action, Integrity & Vitality.
A woman dressed in black stands at the head of the circle, wooden staff of wisdom in her hand. She silently waits for people to grow quiet and then begins to speak in solemn declarations: ”You are invited to participate in the Wisdom Council. To step forward as elders and step consciously into the elder, into the wisdom that lives inside you. This is a time of choice making”. Encouraging “deep listening with all the minds, all the energy and open hearts”, the woman presents the circle of elders with their task:
Contemplate and discuss the following question: “How do we choose a sustainable life?” The group is given 45 minutes at the end of which they must return to the council with an answer in the form of three recommendations. Each group must approach the task from the perspective assigned to them. Changing her tone of voice to optimistic, the woman sends the elders away on their mission with faith: ”It is a joyful thing to sink into your wisdom and speak it! Remember, you are wise. You know. You have been there before. ”.
In other words, the answer should not be produced, but rather uncovered as an already existing knowledge placed at the core within, where we are all the same. Unearthing that source they will be channelling universal truths.
A short hour later the Wisdom Council re-gathers. Starting where every new day begins, the staff of wisdom is handed to the elders of the East: Speaking from the perspective of freedom and creativity, they offer their recommendations:
“We must be free to choose a balanced life.”
“We need to create a framework to cultivate creativity.”
“We need to consciously create a space to connect to the liberating inner force that will set us free.”
The elders of the council respond with a loud “Ho!” as they nod in agreement.
The staff is passed on to South East, then to South and from South to South West and so forth until it is returned to the woman at the head of the council. From every corner of the world have sounded wise recommendations put forth like statements in a manifesto:
“Remember the power of relationships.”
“Beware the limits of consciousness.”
“Be watchful that the organism is balanced.”
“Seek to find the balancing point between autonomy and community”
“Choose love instead of fear”
“Clarity within comes before seeking action of clarity.”
“Clarity is knowing that when you are lost you can ask for guidance and find help”
The Wisdom Council is concluded with a deep sounding “Ho!” and the mood lifts together with the rising volume of talk, laughter and casual chatting. The seminar is almost over, and what then? Outside, towering a little distance away is a yellow brick and concrete building with box shaped apartments behind uniform and uninspiring windows.
Mind shift much needed! Transformation truly urgent! Where to begin?
The answer comes in the shape of three striking women that glide discretely into the room dressed in fabulous fur coats. Faces expressionless they sing in soft voices: ”Be my baby, my one and only baby. Be my baby, my one and only baby”. Repeating the phrase over and over they patiently wait for the talking to cease. One by one heads turn, sentences are cut short and people silently return to their seats in the circle. The song dies out.
Two of the women walk around with white masks that they hand out like wafers at church service whispering: “This is the mask of transformation”. Everyone is asked to put on the mask. The three women too wear them. The final closing ritual of the fourth and last seminar can begin.
Each person will give a word or a sentence as an offering to the future. This word or sentence is an oath that must be written on the inside of the mask of transformation; A symbolic gesture to remind each of us to keep our vision of the future clear at heart as we move and act in the present to make way for transformation. For the sake of ceremony the vow will be spoken out loud in this forum, but when we leave the building and stand face to face with box shaped apartments, and roaring headlines screaming “disaster!!” we must repeat to ourselves what vision we believe in and in that mantra find the power and humility to proceed the work of reshaping the world. During his lecture at the seminar Ole Fogh Kirkeby used a fitting quote by Antonio Machado: ”Traveller, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking, so walk!”
Our task is not merely to find the way. It is to make the way. And we make the way by finding the vision within and keep returning to it as we move forward.
One by one we rise, light a long match and watch it burn as we speak our visions:
Oneness! Readiness! Love of life! Seeing people for what they really are! Experience and action! Vision for a sustainable world! Conscious evolution! Love! Fire! Futures! Being and becoming! Hope, clarity, action! Fearless! Inclusion! Reverence to the creative world! Naivety, fun, innocence, desire! Freedom! Hope and express! Transition! Purpose, path and power! Wisdom! Wonder! Invincibility!
Silence. A drawn out moment for it all to slowly begin to sink in and start stirring.
Someone has put The Doors “Come on baby light my fire” on in the neighbouring room.
Someone has scribbled on a note to the oracle in the Delivery Room: “What do we need to burn to get a sustainable world?”
The fire is already lit and hot. The answer is only waiting to be found.
Contrary to some beliefs we have all that it takes.
Now Let’s Go!