Marc's Reflection on Aikido & True Play

We are all Drunks under Nested Lamp Posts–Meadows recast

June 10th, 2012 · No Comments

Remember the old story of the drunk searching under a lamp post on his hands and knees? Being ask what he is doing, he replies that he is looking for the keys he dropped. He acknowledges that he dropped the keys in the dark but chooses to search where the light is better.

We are all in a similar situation. We try to solve problems, tinkering mechanically, in ways that we are comfortable (in the light), never venturing into the next level of darkness–the well explored world of unintended consequences, huge effects form small actions, and small or counter-intuitive effects from huge efforts–nonlinear system dynamics.

And yet there is a next deeper level darkness (ignorance or apathy) beyond the pale light of dynamics. This is the dimmer light that reveals  who does or does not have a voice and why the game is even being played.

There is yet a deeper darkness (lack of curiosity) than the conversations of participation and purpose. This dimmest of light  hides (or reveals)  beliefs as choices and culture. This final or original darkness challenges the very concept of our own identity. It completely unhinges hope for unchanging certainty.

Miraculously, beyond this is dimmest of light exists a strange light indeed, where there are no comforting facts and no certainty. In this strange space there is a different light, one of intuition, where new worlds open up, dimly, where new possibilities emerge gently, where  there exists the mere possibility of dissolving intractable problems. Beyond the deepest darkness or dimmest light exists a state of possibility, of deep curiosity, openness, sensitivity, awareness, and creation. Without this identity-less way of being and knowing, nothing else offers real hope for a better world. Outside this way of knowing we are in a trap of conviction, isolation, simplistic thinking, and ultimately ineffectual tinkering.


MechanicsTinkering (the smallest radius,  brightest lamp light)

But if you don’t have the dynamics right, the mechanics won’t matter much.

DynamicsSystem Dynamics Thinking (the next larger radius, less bright lamp light)

But if you don’t have the right people in the right conversations, the dynamics won’t matter much.

ConversationsConversing, Social Complexity, Politics, Innovation (the next etc.)

But if you don’t have the right paradigm (cosmology, ontology, and epistemology) the conversations won’t matter much.

ParadigmBelieving, Knowing, Way of Being (the largest radius, dimmest lamp light)

But if you are not deeply awake to  your always  inadequate paradigm, it will inevitably determine or limit  everything else.

Deeply Awake to the Universe, to Self and to Possibility (a universal light of an often imperceptible wavelength)

Acceptance, solidarity, mystery, emergence, joy…

BEING before and over Knowing, Having, Consuming or Controlling.


NESTING (from bigger to smaller domains): Consciousness/Paradigms/Conversations/Dynamics/Mechanics. However, be aware that the smaller nested domains each have the potential of limiting the breadth of the next bigger domain whenever convenience trumps coherence.



Meadows, Ostrum, and Rippel.

Refelections on Meadows Leverage Points