When power and freedom emerge
When we’re out to create a breakthrough, step outside any constraints of our circumstances, and stand for something we don’t know how to achieve, we don’t reference what we’re out to create against who we’d been or what had been done in the past, what’s predictable or expected, but rather against what’s possible. It requires leaving behind old conversations like: “circumstances are a way because…” and its corollary “I am powerless because…” When we can see stops, constraints, breakdowns as an invention, a saying, a making up, that affords us a larger opening—power and freedom have room to emerge. Having power, success, and freedom is a lot more risky than having no power. It seems as if an automatic, built-in lock on “no power” comes into play. What if things go wrong? What if they work brilliantly?
I remember reading that within a few months of Václav Havel’s ascension as president of Czechoslovakia, when the euphoria of the Velvet Revolution began to fade, Havel said that he felt “strangely paralyzed.” “At the very deepest core of this feeling there was, ultimately, a sensation of the absurd: what Sisyphus might have felt if one fine day his boulder stopped, rested on the hilltop, and failed to roll back down. It was the sensation of a Sisyphus mentally unprepared for the possibility that his efforts might in fact succeed, a Sisyphus whose life had lost its old purpose.”*
In creating possibility, we get to know what’s possible in being human.
*Adapted from David Remnick, “Exit Havel,” The New Yorker
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