The Whole Story
Last fall I was invited to attend the New Story Summit (NSS), an international gathering held at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Nearly 350 people from around the globe attended with hundreds more individuals and groups joining online. The Summit was designed to support the emergence of a coherent new story for humanity and to produce practical, collaborative ways to live this new story forward. Recently, the NSS team asked participants for their reflections on the Summit a year later. What follows is the response that came to me when asked that question.
In thinking about my time at the ‘New Story Summit’ I was never sure that “New Story” was the right title, though I deeply appreciate the recognition that many of the stories governing our lives and our world are sorely outdated, outgrown, and out of line. I also love the critical observation that it is our stories (paradigms, worldviews…) that need to evolve and change if our behaviors are ever to follow suit. So now, after a good deal of time has passed since the Summit I find myself beginning where I ended — recognizing that even to name it is a challenge.
Like many, I find myself oriented to the “Whole Story,” of which the New Story is a part. If we are to move towards the new, it seems integral that we incorporate the story that has carried us here. The degree to which we fail in this is likely the degree to which we will repeat past mistakes and patterns. Caring for the Whole Story, in all its beauty and tragedy, brings us concretely into now. Such remembering may be among our greatest tasks if we are to see the way ahead with an un-obscured eye, for the colonized mind alone will not be successful in thinking up solutions to the devastating ripples of colonialism.
The time since has invited me to dig deeper: To map where my story intersects with the larger story of humanity, of the living earth, of our times; To discover how I carry the very patterns that I so desperately want to see changed in the world, and to let the work of changing them begin there; And also to remember that there’s a story before the story.
I reflected at times in the year following the Summit on the unexpected impulse to say “WE DON’T KNOW.” I have felt the fear of ridicule as one of the responsible parties for this radical action, as well as the strengthening truth of the statement that was spontaneously evoked. A year later I still don’t know if this action was “right” or “wrong,” but what is clear is that there is value in the willingness to follow an intuitive impulse, even a risky one.
Also clear is the reminder that nature does know. Even in its perhaps confused and overly conditioned human form, it knows. Nature is the whole story. Our task is to remember ourselves as part of it, to include ourselves – all of ourselves – in it. So if we are to look towards the new, may we remember the old as well. If we are to look towards the light, may we remember, and honor, the darkness. If we are to shift our attention, may we focus more so on the spaces between than on the things themselves. And if we are to be radical, then let us take the word literally: To return to our fundamental nature; welcoming the wholeness of ourselves, our story, our times – and from that place, begin to listen again, like a circle.
… Maybe all of this is to say, a year later, that perhaps deep down, “we do know?”
*Featured art also by Will Scott: Death Valley by memory, using natural pigments and a yucca brush.