“Uncivilising ourselves from our destructive civilisation and building something new is the great, undefined, creative challenge we face in coming decades — which is a challenge both of opposition and renewal.”
Samuel Alexander in his book Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits, published May 2015.
With this blog, I reflect on my experience of the colourful tapestry of people’s contributions throughout the two weeks I was living in la Casita de Colores.
It’s that time spent after a meal, chatting, digesting and enjoying each other’s company. Sobremesa allows for flow, for new things to be brought to the table, and all of the sudden fruitful and honest sharings arise that don’t go under for any other scheduled session. These non-facilitated conversations or creative jams ~ they feel to me different, there’s a different quality of experience. I can contribute whenever and whatever I feel called to. Feeling the freedom to leave at any point to follow my inspiration, it relaxes me into interacting, to follow my fascination, and also to turn tenor. I can show my spontaneous self.
To sobremesa, outcome is not intentional. It is an outcome in itself; a natural happening emerging from the dynamics between the people and the moment. But what now if these emergences don’t seem to go into the direction of my expectations of the project? If things don’t go the way as envisioned, it is tempting to resort to rules and management. Eroles Project has no code of conduct, no constitution, no committees. Trust at the basis, there is no structure created so that people would act reasonable to each other. Any existing structure is the expression of the individuals’ backgrounds, needs, and interests. So it is changing all the time. Expectations are challenged all the time.
Daily check-ins allow for bringing to light changes in people’s living inquiries and emotional state. In addition to everybody’s evolving moods, participant arrivals and farewells lead to quite sudden changes in dynamics. This sometimes means that agreements made earlier need revision. It also means that we cannot always arrive to a consentient group agreement other than that we allow space for everyone to be able to take responsibility for his or her own wellbeing. As a group, we cannot make sure (nor desire) that no one will feel disappointment, confusion or dissatisfaction. What we can do is to do our best to be open for diversity in people’s daily experience, and to work with that diversity without the urge to change it in a certain direction. Openness and response-ability to current circumstance, is what we wish for our politicians to embody. It doesn’t prove to be easy to practise it ourselves!
Throughout the week, we learn about fluxus artist Joseph Beuys’ warmth work ~ about organic matter melting and consolidating. Warmth melts solidification into a fluid state again. Concretion turns into chaos. What if things are suddenly not so crystal clear anymore? What I seem to have experienced over the past two weeks, is that by being in a warm and gentle space, personal beliefs and customs are allowed to melt into a fluid state. To be reconsidered and tested and reshaped. And part on this processing – of bringing fluidity to hardened forms – a feeling of being out of control, possibly causing personal tension and discomfort, is part of the motion.
Fourteen bodies in one household; living together forms the foundation for working together. Friction brings energy. And the closeness brings the warmth to let go of rigidity. Seemingly clashing worldviews in discussion, seemingly dissolve whilst cooking dinner, on a mountain walk, or even sharing a room. There is a willingness to understand each other. A sense that difference of opinion is not decisive in daily interaction.
Melting into the chaos of life’s dynamics, with new realizations about the complexity of the world – what can be my practice as an activist? From others in the group this week, I’m learning that a desire to change a situation creates a distance between that what is being experienced and the person that is experiencing. Thinking in betterment is taking away an experience of abundance and relationship right this moment. Changing the world does not need to be my goal; it is an effect. My day-to-day behaviour, I feed into the complexity of an ever-changing world. An effect on which I have less control than my logic mind assumes.
Eroles project takes shape by our actions in the context of participation. We are not changing the project by acting upon it. Our acting within it gives shape. The value of embodiment becomes very apparent. Our bodies are the conversation. And our body is a honeycomb. Collaboration and re-imagining activism could have been the topic of the project. It has become the focus by our way of relating. And in practising collaboration and living diversity, we continue the learning around doing so. I experienced my time at Eroles Project as one laced living work of activism. A social sculpture. Thank you for the learning, thank you for the art.