Leaning Towards Intention

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What You Can Do 2009

My last few posts have been part of my process of deciding what I’m going to do next, as I prepare to move, to retire, and to become more active in living the ways I have been writing about for six years, my “trying on” different models of the me that I’m becoming.

My post on What You Can Do (graphic above) is my attempt at a roadmap of possibilities. My post yesterday (graphic below) drills down Step 7 of this roadmap (the step I’m most unfamiliar and anxious about) in greater detail.

keith farnish making the change

And my personal “scorecard” on the 9 steps was in my post at the end of last week:

dave's journey

I gave myself a “some progress but a way to go” (yellow) score for Step 5 (Know Yourself and Discover the Courage to Act). I was listening yesterday to a talk (recommended by Chris Corrigan) by Gil Fronsdal on Intentions. In it, Gil makes the point that, before acting, we should know what our intention is for what’s left of our life, and then also for today. The word “intention” comes from the Latin meaning “stretch toward”. An intention is not a hope, dream, plan or aspiration. It is something we are actively working towards, now. So by thinking about our true intention for what’s left of our lives (which may be 37 days, or 37 years), and then about our true intention for today, and aligning those intentions, we can begin to actively “stretch toward” realizing both intentions.

My life has been through so many remarkable changes in the past five years I keep having to cycle back with what I’ve just learned about myself, and about the world, and revisiting these intentions. Looking at the 9 steps in the What You Can Do chart, and my progress in each of them, I have to acknowledge some continuing unease and trepidation. Is this really what I want to do with what’s left of my life? Is this really what I’m meant to do? Like my friend Pete McGregor, I keep doubting myself as soon as I think I’ve decided anything.

So I thought I’d go back to my Step 5 standby, my “what you’re meant to do” three-circle chart from my book Finding the Sweet Spot:

ftss circles

My latest effort at “filling in” the three circles looks like this:

ftss circles

My Passions are the things I love doing, copied from my personal scorecard, with the ones that I also do well (I think) shown in the overlap with my Gifts (area 2). I tried to think if I have other Gifts, things I’m uniquely good at, and decided that I’m actually pretty good at “playing” (although non-human creatures seem to appreciate this more than humans), so I moved it to area 2 as well. The three things I put in my Purpose circle (what’s needed that I care about) are the things described in Steps 6-8 of the What You Can Do chart.

So then I asked myself: Do any of the things in any of these circle areas (1, 2 and 6) actually belong in area 4, 5 or (ideally) 3?

I think there are a few, but not many:

  • My Gifts/Passions for imagining possibilities and writing could be applied to dismantling civilization (specifically the undermining and innovating activities), if I would apply them collaboratively instead of individually
  • These same Gifts/Passions might be applied to writing fiction about what might be (utopian depictions), something to inspire and guide the creation of natural working models, but does the world really need more idealistic utopian fiction (I’m not sure — if it’s needed I don’t know that it’s recognized as a need)?
  • If I could increase my competency at conversing and showing (and move them from area 1 to area 2), then they could probably be applied to dismantling civilization (undermining, innovating, influencing and educating activities), but am I too old to finally become highly competent at these things — I’ve been working on them for years?
  • Just about any if the Passions in area 1 could arguably be applied to any of the needs in area 6. But if I’m not highly competent at them, they’re still not in my sweet spot (area 3), only in area 4 — the area of disapppointment and self-disappointment. And that’s the last thing I need.
  • Besides, I don’t really want to build the working models (transition communities, permaculture gardens, natural enterprises, unschooling environments) — I’m more interested in (collaboratively thinking and writing about) the ideas than the actual implementation, which to me is messy, risky, political and fraught with difficulty.
  • Likewise, it’s the ideation involved in the innovating component of dismantling civilization that I’m most competent at and interested in, not the dangerous activities of physical obstruction and sabotage (as much as I admire those who do this, as long as no one gets physically hurt), nor the exhausting political aspects of activism (demonstration, debate, organizing and persuading). I try to psych myself up into wanting to do these other things, but so far at least, I honestly can’t.

So here I am, still perched on the edge, still not entirely sure what I want to do, what I’m meant to do. But I’m getting close, I think. A little more thought on the intention part, on envisioning what I want to “stretch toward”, what I want to give, and I’ll be there.

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3 Responses to Leaning Towards Intention

  1. Janene says:

    Hey Dave –You are so methodical about these things, it just floors me, sometimes. Meanwhile, my approach has been becoming more and more intuitive and organic… all I can say is I hope that as you progress you find just what you are looking for :-)Janene

  2. What experiment could you conduct to disconfirm your worst fears about your life change?

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Hey Evelyn: You ask, as you always do, a brilliant question. I guess my problem is not so much fears as it is doubts and, as I wrote about yesterday, split intentions. At its heart, my sense is that what is most urgently needed in the world is high risk-taking activism and patient, persistent, hard work. And I have no passion for either. I feel that I should, but I know myself. I also know I am no Hanged Man, that self-sacrifice is not who I am.I think my role, and my current life-change, is about helping the people who are willing to take risks, and the people who are willing to work hard, to imagine what is possible. The first group I can help to find better, more innovative ways to dismantle (or at least disrupt) civilization than petitions and chaining themselves to bulldozers. The second group I can help to see where they are going and how valuable their hard work is, and give them tools to help them articulate why they’re doing what they’re doing, to others. I need to work collaboratively in tandem with both groups, but I will never really be part of either.I keep asking myself, and others, the question What’s Holding You Back? The only real fear I have, the only thing that is holding me back now, is the perpetual fear of disappointing myself — that I will plunge into my new Help Them Imagine What’s Possible work with energy and enthusiasm, only to discover that’s not what I’m meant to do either. And I suspect the only way I can disconfirm that fear is to actually do it.

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