Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let it be

Soft morning light from the bedrooom window nudged me awake this morning. I lay still, enjoying a fuzzy state between sleep and consciousness. The window framed an abstract painting, a high-contrast pastiche of thick black lines and fractal branches against a glowing gray background.


Contemplating my living painting (it rustles in the breeze), a thought from Dwight Eisenhower flowed into my head: "Farming looks mighty easy if a piece of paper is your field and your plow is a pencil."

This morning I want to wrap up a chapter on cultivating the learnscape. The chapter will be advice for composing a productive ecosystem for work and learning. A month ago, I'd have called this Design. Now I cannot.

As a verb, design means:
Learning, working, and living simply aren't designer goods. Rather, they evolve as relationships come together and break away as one chunk of reality tumbles into another. No one painted the picture I saw from my bedroom this morning. No designers had a hand in its creation.

After two cups of good, strong coffee, I find the painting morphing into the redwoods in the backyard, with a Japanese maple in the foreground, backlit by the fog over San Francisco Bay.


Perhaps I could have designed the painting, but I could no more design those redwoods than I could plow a field with a pencil.

Ever see a redwood cone? They are tiny. About the size of a marble. Each cone contains sixty to a hundred tiny seeds; 125,000 seeds weigh about a pound. Sixty years ago, one of those seeds took up residence in my back yard. Several of my trees have grown more than a hundred feet tall. They weigh more than a million pounds. How the hell did this happen? The seed contained a blueprint but the seedling's relationships with its surroundings created the tree.

New workers are seeds in the business ecosystem.

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