I want to share a metaphor that helped me move from overwhelm to having a generative vision for the world that I wish to live in. At the bottom of this week's letter, I've included a visualization to help you experience the old-growth forest. My hope is that it supports you in moving from overwhelm to saying yes to what is yours to do.
To create something new, we need hope and a vision. While reading articles and literature written by Black American luminaries for one of my master’s courses, a theme emerged – racism is a problem for white people to solve. This came through over and over again, prompting me to consider what I might contribute to equity in the world.
It was in contemplation that I realized I did not have a vision for what an equitable, sustainable society would even look like. My life (like most everyone in western countries) is dependent on, and benefits from, the very structures that perpetuate (and thrive on) inequalities. It is what I know, what we know, on a collective level.
What we are able to envision matters, because everything that is created by humans, lives first in the imagination of bold minds. I recognize that when I despair, it is because the narratives we are offered are visions of destruction and critical analysis of what is wrong with us, with society, with the world. Add to that the pervasive cultural messaging of individualism and a typical human response is to panic and want to fix it all only to collapse under the weight of an overactive sense of personal responsibility or to numb out and distance from the pain of the world. Critical analysis and knowing what we don't want is important, but we also need hope and a vision to move forward in right action.
My undergraduate alma mater, Oregon State University, is a big forestry and ag school. There are wide sweeps of land that are managed by the University and one of these forests, in particular, has wisdom for those of us who seek a vision for creating a more equitable, sustainable world.
Replanted clear-cut forest.
At the trailhead, you enter a piece of land that was clear-cut and replanted probably 20 or 30 years ago. The forest is beautiful and well-cared for. Like most, if not all, clear-cut forests that have been replanted, it has nothing but pine trees replanted in perfect rows. So, from the trail, you look out into a sea of orderly pine trees - a healthy stand of trees to be sure, but a monoculture. This is a mature area of replanting and if you didn't cross the threshold to the next part of the forest, you likely would be completely satisfied with your time in this part of the forest.
Crossing the threshold into the old-growth forest.
However, this particular trail crosses into an untouched, pristine old-growth forest. The moment you step into the old-growth forest, everything changes. You know that in the replanted forest you were missing something that you didn't even know you were missing.
You were missing the richness of a dynamic and diverse ecosystem.
The air becomes cooler, heavier, and sweeter. The ground is spongey with layer upon layer of forest detritus that feed the soil which nourishes the trees and the non-human creatures. There is a wider variety of bird songs. All of that is breathtaking, but it's the trees that make your jaw drop and tears of joy sting the back of your eyes.
The trees. All shapes, all kinds, all sizes. There are grandmother and baby trees, nurse logs, and saplings. Trees of every possible age and every possible size. Undergrowth, thick moss, and lichen cover every square inch of ground around the trees. The old-growth forest ecosystem is alive with a richness that is unimaginable if all you know is the monoculture of a forest that has been replanted with one species.
For the most part, we are the replanted monoculture. It's perfectly satisfactory, isn't it? But what are we missing? We know in our bones that things have gone awry and we are missing something that is sacred and necessary to not only our survival but necessary to our capacity to thrive individually and collectively.
I don't know if there has ever been a moment in human history that there was equitable harmony between humans and humans and nature, but certainly not in my lifetime or in living memory. How can I, how can we, possibly hold a vision for a future of equitable thriving that leads to right action if we have no memory of such a world?
The old-growth forest might offer you hope and a vision that your voice, your gifts, your talents - the fullness of you - is needed and necessary for the health and vitality of the whole. Your authentic contribution and presence matter. Not only that, but that within a healthy ecosystem, you will be nourished, supported, and celebrated.
The old-growth forest may offer you hope and a vision for how you will bravely apply yourself to healing the collective ecosystem. For me, that has been a call to be in transformative and healing conversations with coaches, psychologists, and healers to compassionately unravel the white-dominant capitalist culture within themselves and in our professions. Other people I know are passionate about protecting and restoring pollinators, or bringing the conversation about corporate responsibility to leaders.
The old-growth forest may offer you hope and a vision for a world that is abundant, equitable, and sustainable for all humans and non-human nature alike. The old-growth forest invites you to experience the felt sense of an ecosystem that is in balance and alive. It wakes up something ancient within us that remembers - that remembering can light the path toward a new future.
So now, it's your turn. I've created a visualization for you to walk through the forest to experience hope, and a vision, for the future you wish to create.
Tell me about your experience with this visualization. What is your vision for our collective future? What is alive in your heart? Is there a way I can help you say yes to the work that is yours?
Tell me everything.
I am dedicated to supporting you as you come into right relationship with money, heal the scarcity wound, and claim peace, power, and freedom. I can't wait to see what you do, sister!
Your time is now. Let's do this.