What Field Do You Live In?

September 2011

The title of this article may seem strange since most of us in the West are not accustomed to living in fields. The picture that comes to mind is a field of crops or a sports field of play but not a place where people might live.
I’m addressing a different kind of field, more like a magnetic field where there’s an invisible energy system lending itself to various predispositions. Like the magnet that attracts and repels metal filings of different polarities, these fields hold unseen power of persuasion over what lies within them, making some things more possible than other things.

The mystic Persian poet Rumi wrote about this in a short but memorable poem in the 13th century, “I’ll Meet You there.” It goes:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
In my forthcoming book – The Great Growing Up – I address two of the most popular ways we humans avoid growing up and continue indulging our adolescent selves. One is our tendency to think fundamentally, not only in religious matters, but in politics, business, healthcare and virtually any endeavor – a way of avoiding the rigor of exploration and reducing complex matters to a simple dogma. The second widespread human indulgence I address in the book is addiction, seeking relief or distraction from anything we’d rather avoid or not confront. At least this is how most addictions begin.
When we are retreating from some aspect of life we start relying upon the distraction, the substance or activity that keeps us from engaging that thing, that feeling, we want to avoid. We “check out” as a means of escapism to where, eventually, this becomes a habit we find terribly difficult to break. It becomes an automatic impulse that we find tempting each time those unwelcome emotions or thoughts start to rise within us. Resorting to this impulse creates an illusion of comfort – or the avoidance of discomfort to be more accurate.
Rumi’s field is other-worldly, where judgment is suspended and any idea of our being separate – “even the phrase each other” – makes no sense. Rumi’s field is the field of oneness, not separateness.
So here comes the question in the title of this short piece: Which field do you live in? Do you live in the field of possibility, the space of oneness where anything is possible? Or do you live in the field of separateness and impossibility? Or do you live in the field of implausibility, that zone between possibility and impossibility, where reason visits and rationality often convinces you that things are impossible?
In many ways these fields can be compared to the biblical domains of heaven, hell and purgatory, usually associated with the afterlife. But what about “heaven on earth” and living in the field of possibility, the field where our souls lie down in the grass and there’s no such thing as “each other.” In this field there’s only “we” as a oneness with possibility and all that is.
This is the field I prefer to live in. How about you?

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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