Possibility | The Quintessential Regenerative Quality

‘Regenerated pasture’ on Southampton Homestead.

Photo by Bernard Callus, Southampton, WA.

When we consider the state of our world, it is easy to be seduced by stories of doom and gloom and outright resignation. There are countless newsfeeds in the traditional media or on social media platforms that scream about climate change, declining national health, the downfall of our financial markets, China or Japan’s collapse, or the disintegration of our agricultural systems. The doomsday list is very long. As someone who more often than not sees the glass as half-empty, interestingly, I find this ‘end of the world’ talk extremely irritating. Surprisingly, I find myself quite optimistic in the face of our existential crises. Why? Because many of the solutions are already available and all that is needed is a collective mindset shift to implement. Perhaps I am delusional, however, I believe in my lifetime we will turn this ship around, solve our environmental, social and economic problems and regenerate our world.

Where does my optimism to reverse our world’s fate come from? The simplest answer is hope. Hope, the quintessential quality needed for change. As Captain Cassian Andor in Star Wars: Rogue One shares “Rebellions are built on hope.” We don’t need a rebellion, but we certainly need an evolution in the way we think and live. A regenerative evolution that incorporates circular economies, regenerative-agriculture, -food, -health and of course, -leadership. Personally, I left my scientific research career because I want to contribute to this growing evolution.

Hope is another word for possibility

But what is hope? To me, hope is another word for possibility. Possibility is the notion that by taking different actions we can produce different outcomes. Without possibility all we are left with is an almost certain future. If we don’t believe change is possible, it won’t be. In contrast, any outcome is achievable when it lives inside a world of possibility.

My wife and co-lead educator, Barb Howard, and I have completed a lot of training and development together over the past decade. A huge amount of content and emphasis in the courses and programs we participated in revolved around possibility. In particular, quickly rediscovering possibility when we become resigned. Being in possibility is a significant connection Barb and I share; we met during a 10-week seminar program about possibility. No doubt our training about being in possibility and the subsequent commitment to it is a significant reason we are together. Because of my Maltese ancestry Barb saw the possibility of us getting married in Malta, and 2 years later we were married on the island of Gozo, Malta. Without this development our relationship may not have survived let alone flourished. Now, together we are united in our possibility of growing healthy food around our home and on our future property in south-west WA, and empowering others to do likewise.

‘Regenerative farmers gathering’ on Galloway Springs.

Photo by Bernard Callus, Bridgetown, WA.

The second half of life

In his book Falling Upward, Richard Rohr writes on the ‘spiritual’ second half of life and describes a path to finding our true place in the world where our unique contribution will manifest. Many years earlier, Homer described the same Hero’s Journey in his epic, Odyssey, and a modern account of this tale is found in the documentary, Finding Joe.

Barb and I are clear we are in our spiritual second half of our lives and our unique contribution to the world lies in regenerative agriculture and growing healthy food to restore the health of soil, people and planet. When I think about the magnitude of what this entails it occurs to me that the quintessential ingredient needed is possibility. We need to believe that it is possible to transform our agricultural practices; to transition from growth to circular economies; to transform our way of life from consumption to one of restoration.

The Art of Possibility

I started reading The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone-Zander and Benjamin Zander over a year ago and had to stop because their ideas didn’t resonate with me. I was resigned, struggling to grasp my own second half of life journey. Being resigned is one clear sign of being out of possibility. Today, I am clear about my life’s purpose and a few weeks back I started to read the book again. This time the book deeply resonated with me. I love this book. Not only was I in possibility this time around, I could see all the possibility the authors were describing and I found it incredibly uplifting. On reflection there was very little on the topic of possibility in the book that Barb or I had not heard before, however, it was wonderful to hear it all again expressed succinctly and brought to life with wonderful examples from the authors’ lives.

Resignation can’t live with possibility.

Collectively, if we are to turn the situation around and regenerate our world, we need many more people to give up their resignation and step from their world of survival into a universe of possibility and join us in the evolution. To support your transition, I highly recommending reading The Art of Possibility. Here I’ve summarised my top takeaways from the book to give you an access into a world of possibility.

1. Giving an A

The labels and measures we use in life are all human inventions, it’s all a game. The Number 68 is invented, and the ‘A’ is invented, so we might as well invent something that brightens us and the people around us. This practice requires giving an ‘A’ to ourselves or others to create our future not as an expectation to live up to but as a possibility to live into. It transforms our relationships into a universe of possibility and empowers us to see all of who we are and be all of who we are, free from the world of measurements.

2. Being a contribution

Unlike success or failure, contribution has no other side. The practice is asking yourself “how will I be a contribution today?” Inventing oneself as a contribution and others as well is remarkably transforming. Start by: 1) Declaring yourself to be a contribution and 2) Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not know how or why. This produces a shift away from self-concern and has us engage in relationships that makes a difference to others leaving us with deep and enduring fulfillment.

3. Rule Number 6

Rule Number 6 is this, “don’t take yourself so seriously.” What, you may wonder, are the other rules? Well, there aren’t any. Remembering Rule Number 6 helps us distinguish (and hold at some distance) the part of ourselves that developed in the competitive environment of the ‘measurement world,’ our calculating self. One of its main characteristics is that it lobbies to be taken very seriously. When we practice Rule Number 6, we coax our calculating self to lighten up, and by doing so we break its hold on us and frees us from the ‘world of measurement.’

4. The way things are

This practice is about being present without resistance to the way things are, including how we feel about what is happening. When we are present without resistance to the way things are, rather than fight the situation and be dominated with thoughts that “it shouldn’t be this way,” we relax, creating space for new possibilities to emerge. We can leave the struggle behind to come to terms with what’s in front of us, and move on. The calculating self is threatened by this practice yet the central self expands with each new experience: “What is here now?” it asks and then, “What else is here now?”

5. Lighting a spark

Enrollment is the art and practice of lighting a spark of possibility for others to share. We have at our fingertips an infinite capacity to light a spark of possibility in others. Passion, rather than fear, is the igniting force. The more passionate we are in sharing our possibility or vision to others the more enrolling we become. The practice is to give ourselves as a possibility to others and being ready, in turn, to catch their spark: 1) Imagine that people are an invitation for enrolment, 2) Stand ready to participate, willing to be moved and inspired, 3) Offer that which lights you up and 4) Have no doubt that others are eager to catch the spark too.

6. Being the board

In this practice, rather than see ourselves as a player in a game, like a pawn in chess, we re-frame ourselves as the board on which the entire game is played, like the chessboard. In this new context, rather than apportion blame to others, I am “the framework for everything that happens in my life” and take full responsibility for my life. If I feel wronged, or a loser or victim, I will remind myself that some assumption I made is the source of my difficulty. Put another way, when unwanted circumstances arise, the practice of being the board helps me to see the decisions or assumptions I made that led to these circumstances. Being the board opens the possibility of a graceful journey, one that quickly reinstates us on a path we are free to choose.

To conclude I leave you with this inspiring passage from Marianne Williamson that embodies the spirit of possibility and which Nelson Mandela reportedly addressed to the world at large.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous –
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
Won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some of us: it is in everyone,
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
Give other people permission to do the same.