A torch in our hands
On walking around, phronesis and introducing two brand-new sections in "The Practitioner"
Before I begin, to Farsi subscribers, Next Monday 20th Feb (1st of Esfand) I will host “Introduction to sensemaking” online workshop. You can get more info and register here.
Some of you may know me personally, while others may know me through these writings. People who know me can confirm that I am always curious about change and transformation. Maybe it's because of my life experience. I have always been curious. I like to know how things are created and changed. It is for this reason that I am interested in history and philosophy, as well as wanting to learn more about the future. Maybe this is why making collages and mixing things is a kind of meditation for me.
In my professional life, it is very challenging for me to name one thing as a profession. When it comes to newsletter publishing, best practices say to pick a niche and write for a specific targeted audience. Well, if I want to be honest with myself and you, I have to say it does not make sense for me. I cannot drill down topics but I can connect different topics together. I have a metaphor to describe myself. I have a torch in my hand. Sometimes I point to something and say, "Wow, look at this or that." Does that make sense to you?
All of these curiosities are about exploring life, and making new meanings out of it. It's not about achievement. It's about an endeavor. It's been about 15 years since I started writing. Most of it is in Farsi. From time to time I receive messages from people that say I read something from you, learned from one of your contents, workshops or a question you asked. This helped me to overcome a challenge or change my direction. At such times, I tell myself yes, the torch does work. The torch is not just in my hands. I think each of us has our own torch. We see things that others may not pay attention to. We just need to share what we see.
When I started this newsletter I had a question. What does it take to align with life?
By aligning with life, I mean accepting that change and of course uncertainty is a part of life.
Yet at the same time, I think life is full of opportunities, and we can expand our horizons. Sometimes we decide to do an important thing in life, we focus, and our world expands to the dimension of that important thing. Isn't the world broader than that important thing?
The current economic structure requires us to specialize. I've written about it the “On being a practitioner” article. (I'm sorry for the poor English, it was one of my first attempts at writing in English).
Our specialties and job titles can earn us money and build our lives, but they can also make our lives as limited as our specialties. Likewise, I am also part of this economic structure and have to pay my bills at the end of the month. Trying to write, discover and reflect on life with the torch in my hand is an endeavour to remind myself that the world is always broader than what I think. I'm not saying that I'm against specialisation. We have many achievements in the world because of all the specialists who are dedicated to improving human life. What I say is an invitation to expand our sight.
To align with life, I think that we can adopt two significant qualities. First is the "knowing" that comes from wandering and theory. I call it walking around. We can gain this knowledge by studying, in classes, from conversations, or observing people to learn what is going on. Knowing is not enough to align with life. According to Aristotle:
...although the young may be experts in geometry and mathematics and similar branches of knowledge, we do not consider that a young man can have Prudence. The reason is that Prudence includes a knowledge of particular facts, and this is derived from experience, which a young man does not possess; for experience is the fruit of years.
The other quality is practicing which is linked with experimentation. Practicing in this case is understanding life through action and feedback. Embodyment is the result of practicing. This is why I chose "The Practitioner" as the name of this newsletter.
In ancient Greek philosophy this quality was called "Phronesis".
Phronesis is a type of wisdom or intelligence relevant to practical action. It implies both good judgment and excellence of character and habits. (source: Wikipedia)
When a highly skilled person exhibits phronesis, it’s not just that they possess knowledge of abstract principles and rules. Phronesis is an artful synthesis of both knowledge and experience.
If you like to learn more about phronesis, read this article.
While I was thinking about this newsletter, if you can call it a newsletter, I sensed that I was trying to set rules for the type of content and publishing discipline. I felt something wasn't quite right because the result was eliminating some of the contents I could publish. It was like machine work for me. Because of this feeling of limitation, I decided to add two brand-new sections to "The Practitioner" to give me more freedom to publish and an opportunity for subscribers to understand why they may receive different types of content.
Thanks for reading The Practitioner! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
"Walk Around" Section
Walk Around is a special edition of my observations, findings, and musings from books, articles, videos, artworks or conversations. I share what I have found interesting or I may invite you to walk with me and see and think together.
I share practices, methods, frameworks, questions and approaches for practicing generative change in this section.
In the next issues you may find an introduction to a book, a piece of art or whatever else including frameworks and methods to practice aligning with life. In addition I also added “Publications” page including my published books.
It would be wonderful if you could share what you find. Feel free to respond to every email you receive from me or post a comment to share your opinion, findings and questions. I will publish it here.
The torch is in our hands.
Sensemaking, Christian Madsbjerg, p.43