What’s For Dinner?

by Simon Goland, November 18, 2014

dinnerWe have known each other for quite a few years. First, both D and J were students of mine, then they became clients, and eventually our relationship has transitioned to a beautiful and lasting friendship. It usually takes the form of a dinner out, somewhere locally, and given that I am the picky one as far as my eating habits (vegan), the responsibility of suggesting a restaurant falls in my lap. In a fairly random manner, one of us will initiate a connection by sending an email with a few available dates, and I will realize that a few months have gone by since we connected last. We then coordinate our pesky schedules and meet for a dinner and a conversation, catching up on what has been happening in our lives. And even though this tradition of ours has been happening for years now, these evenings are always fun, beautiful, and disappear in a blink of an eye.

A few nights ago, they both came over for a dinner at my new home. Since they have not seen it yet, it was an opportunity for us to catch up yet again, share food and stories, only this time at home and not a restaurant. Because I just came back from India (spending a bit of time in the Himalayas with an amazing spiritual teacher, and then teaching at the School of Inspired Leadership), the fridge was fairly empty, and I had my grocery delivery with SPUD scheduled to arrive that very day with all that I needed for a nicely home-cooked dinner. I had a plan for a menu.

Well, the evening arrived, and with it, D and J too. We were touring the house and sharing stories of renovations. Except that the food delivery truck was nowhere to be seen, which was very atypical, because in all my years with them, they would always arrive in the late afternoon hours. Except for today.

“Every plan is a basis for a change.” – an Israeli military saying

Life oftentimes is like that, toying with our plans and goals, on both small and large scales. There is an increasing talk and focus in the arena of organizational learning, development, and training, about the world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). How more and more life is becoming unpredictable, and the pace of change escalates, and ways organizations can survive in this 21st century of ours, when the future is not what it used to be. How creativity and innovation are becoming key leadership competencies, and if we – individuals and organizations – are to remain here, and thrive, we better learn to fall in love with complexity, learn to go with the flow, and unleash our creativity which we all innately have and have been born with.

“We are told by those who have studied the processes of nature that creativity happens at the border between chaos and order. Chaos is a prelude to creativity.” – Matthew Fox

Well, it is all true. Though, perhaps, not as easy as writing about it. How do we prepare ourselves for a future we know very little about, whether the challenges we will be facing, or the discoveries we – or someone else – will make that might be of use? How can we even think clearly about unexpected events that are lurking out there that don’t fit any of our existing models? Ironically, this is also not necessarily an area to look for definite and concrete answers. These might provide a temporary security and safety of knowing, yet the moment we will try to hold on to them too tight, the pace of change will escalate again and the future will play yet another trick.

It is a paradox, of a deeply evoking and juicy kind. Certainty and flow. Safety and growth. Freedom and responsibility. Question and answer. Many teachings, whether the ancient wisdom traditions or the modern ones (such as, for instance, transpersonal psychology) trust that if we don’t simply ask a question and hope for The Right Answer, but live the question, the universe in its abundance may give us clues to inquire into in unexpected events and synchronicity or in words and images that arise in dreams and meditations. Looking into, and thinking about the future begins with listening.

“Life wants to happen. Life is unstoppable. Anytime we try and contain life, or interfere with its fundamental need for expression, we get into trouble. … Partnering with life, working with its cohering motions, requires that we take life’s direction seriously. Life moves toward wholeness. This direction cannot be ignored or taken lightly. People do not respond for long to small and self-centered purposes or to self-aggrandizing work. Too many organizations ask us to engage in hollow work, to be enthusiastic about small-minded visions, to commit ourselves to selfish purposes, to engage our energy in competitive drives. … When we respond with disgust, when we withdraw our energy from such endeavors, it is a sign of our commitment to life and to each other.” – Margaret Wheatley

We ended up having a lovely evening, with deep and meaningful conversations and sharing. With food. Yet, perhaps time among friends is about more than just food. Though food can be a nourishing catalyst.