DEVELOP THIS “SUSTAIN-ABILITY” OR… “On Prediction, Volatility, and Love”

In the Tarot, there is the “Tower,” and in the green wisdom Sustain Yourself Cards, there is the “Weather.” Towers mostly stand, but sometimes fall. Like towers, weather happens! Sometimes peaceful, sometimes wild, sometimes yucky, sometimes spectacular, and not always predictable and convenient. But we, humans, like predictability and comfort. We don’t like volatility. Maybe this is so because our brain is a linear-like network of channels laid out like the streets and avenues of Manhattan, says Ray Kurzwell, noted futurist and neuroscientist. With this brain’s pattern- recognition gift (like we know that 42nd street will cross 5th avenue) we generally have a pretty good idea of where most ordinary events in our life will lead, so it’s annoying when things aren’t as they “should” be. We try to control things so we can count on their regularity and our ease. To do that, we are prediction machines, always seeking to foresee and expect where from moment to moment things will go – from knowing that there will be coffee and newspaper in the lobby of my building when I wake up until knowing that when I put my head on the pillow I expect to fall asleep soon. With our controlling nature, we’ve even taken to doing lots of seeding of clouds to predict and produce rain. (So much for the delicious vagaries of weather, as we seek its domination).

But there’s another truth. The “Black Swan phenomenon” shows us that there are always unforeseen surprises that upset our assumptions. What you see is NOT all there is. Life today, particularly technology, seems to move in non-linear, mysterious ways. What’s the next great thing, another Google? Who knows? Does this mean that our brain will never be able to fully comprehend everything in advance? Yes, and I hope so. I say this because it’s through the natural alchemy of diverse elements mixing, matching, competing and conflicting that creates. Indeed, creativity is more of an art than a science. We should love volatility for it is creation in action. Great evolutionary advances happen when things break apart so that things can come together at a higher level of resolution – dissolution into solution and no creation without destruction. As in greek mythology, before there were any gods or goddesses, there was chaos. Relish the wild, not tame it. Every crack in the lava fields of Hawaii always produce openings for new plants, new life.

From a sustainability perspective, though, unpredictable, crazy events seem hazardous to us because we are not prepared psychologically and practically for such upsets. Since it’s ultimately a futile endeavor to be in complete control and expect such, seize turbulence and fluctuation, whether it’s the weather or the economy. Sustainers see volatility as opportunity. Energy is energy and those people, companies, and countries that tap into this wellspring of new possibility are best positioned to prevail.

The next time things get crazy, ride the wave, the ups and downs, and get propelled into a new and different future. Why resist? You can’t, so don’t. Embrace the uncertain, kiss the mystery, love the ride in our bumpy universe. Get your surfboard. Kowabunga, surf’s up, are you?

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