“Don’t fight forces. Use them.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“Greatness is where you least expect it.”
~ Tom Peters
When a volcano erupts, everything around it shakes with its explosive vibrations, and then the lava that pours forth over the land, rivers, and seas begins in time to harden, creating new shores and banks, and becoming home to emerging plants, insects, and animals. From the molten lava and ashes of volcanic disruption can come new life—but also a trail of death and loss.
I link the idea of eruptions to Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine’s Theory of Dissipative Structures, which explains that a system that is perturbed sufficiently will either shake up or shake out—will vibrate into extinction or vibrate into a whole new and more evolved system. Both natural phenomena offer valuable lessons for us. When structures reach the collapsing or explosive point, there are two possibilities: destruction or transformation.
This is the choice of our time.
We are moving through a momentous transition point. As people face the critical questions of life purpose and meaning, they also face the urgent and sometimes harrowing questions of sustaining our way of life on the planet. Potentially, the pursuit of greater personal meaning during times of explosive crisis will lead us to new solutions. History shows us that greatness is often born of crisis. Perhaps like the hot lava that spews from the volcano mouth and courses into the ocean, this troubling time, with all its destructive force, will lead to the forming of new flourishing formations in business, education, family, politics, science, and spirituality.
Certainly, our current institutions are failing us: the U.S. government’s failure to adequately respond at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, followed by subsequent disinformation campaigns; churches are barely recovering from the widespread revelations of sexual abuse; schools are suffering from violence and lack of resources; corporate greed and dishonesty have been exposed over and over again; our domestic divas and investment gurus are sentenced to jail time; families are breaking apart and forming new ones with all the complications and stresses that come with two working parents and stepchildren; and we all watch in horror as symbols of Western economic supremacy crumble when terrorists continue to threaten our homelands and our democracies.
The disintegration of our established institutions is not unlike the dissolution of ourselves that we may experience as we move from the familiar structures of our youth into the formless, foggy pathways that lead us into midlife and toward our elderhood. Inevitable is the collapse that signals change.
In our own lives, we experience eruptions. And we ignore them at our own peril. Most of us don’t even think about what it will cost us if we don’t put our needs and values first. Thinking we can maintain the status quo, we often ignore the subtle warning signs, setting ourselves up for one or more of the following breakdowns. The longer you resist, the more significantly you’ll be affected by these self-denial symptoms: relationship, physical, and spiritual breakdowns.
In the voices of my clients and readers, I hear the longing to live life with greater self-awareness and increased alignment with Soul. They are looking for more purpose in their lives. Traditional success and relationships are no longer enough. They now seek greater meaning, balance, and coHERency in their lives; they have climbed the ladders to success and are now looking behind them and wondering where to go next and how to heal their world. A voice of emerging leadership calls from within each of them, a voice longing to find expression that transforms the world and brings meaning. They want to create a legacy that is born of who they are, emerging from these troubled times. There is not a moment to waste: we are being called to our personal and collective evolution.
How will you respond to life’s eruptions?