By mid-December, my attempts at soldiering on in my habitual routine finally crashed and burned, when four days of back-to-back migraine finally got me to understand (with a little coaching from Ria) that it was time for that much-needed healing. I simply could not come to rest, and come to myself, whilst still subject to the brutal demands of the 9-to-5 regime of office life. I didn’t return to work until the end of the following February.
We had a snowy winter, and I cocooned in my home in Brussels with my blankets, my knitting, my cats and my children, and with Ria’s exquisitely sensitive companionship. I journaled and I sat and pondered, and did very little else.
Every so often, I sat with Ria in a circle of two and we sensed into the unfolding vision that had been seeded out of that tarot reading in November. We sat on my oval orange couch, wrapped in blankets with a flipchart between us, with the word ‘community’ in the middle – usually with Ninja the long black cat trying to stretch out on it. Initially, we had thought we were ‘talking about’ the project, that would start when we had a place to ground it in. Until it became clear that we had already started. That we already had a place to ground it in, which was where we were. From that time on, Ria became a full member of the family and the household – not just someone staying for a time as a guest.
Right from the start, we dived into exploring our tensions around money and property. There seemed to be a huge obstacle in the fact that one of us had money while the other one didn’t. Ria brought the perspective of being faced with the prospect (not for the first time in her life) of putting in a whole lot of time, energy, work and commitment, but ending up with nothing, while I put in the capital and so ended up with everything – and all the added value of her input. We fondly called this starting point “the old paradigm”. How to overcome this seemingly insurmountable barrier between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ of the capitalist worldview? On the one hand, “I invest time and labour, and I leave with nothing”, on the other hand “I invest money and I expect to come away with more, not less”!
The shift came when we flipped our attention away from the transactional attitude of the capitalist paradigm, where we look to each other for some kind of contract, deal or fair exchange, and instead saw from the perspective of the circle. “Ask for what you need, offer what you can”. Our focus was then no longer on each other, but on the field – that which is in the middle, to which we are both committed to offering our respective gifts. For both of us, what is in the middle is community – and community has no price. It is beyond price.
Relinquishing the zero-sum game
Regardless of what is in the middle, though, the mystery comes into play when we relate to that, rather than negotiating directly with each other. All of a sudden, we are no longer seeing the ‘zero-sum’ of my loss is your gain. We are seeing the different things we have to contribute, and trusting that the field will support us and meet our needs – even if that happens in ways we don’t expect. Magic returns to life.
At the time of these conversations, the world’s leaders were gathered in Copenhagen, in a last ditch attempt to come up with a ‘climate deal’. It occurred to us then that they were making exactly this mistake – of wrangling over a bone, rather than contemplating how each can contribute to the living field which can give us what we all really want – a future in which all can thrive together.