Let me share with you three connections I think are invaluable as we look ahead to what is next for our profession. They all relate to insights from my recent solo backpacking trip in the Sierras in California.
1. I was guided by the same topographic map we had used before. However, I soon discovered that many of the trails it depicted were no longer there and others I needed were not on the map. As a result, the hike became much more technical and difficult than I had anticipated in several places. I adopted the simple principle "ease and safety" to stay focused in each moment. The power of zero as an emptying of all that is a distraction. What old maps are you still using to guide your life or practice?
2. My original destination was an alpine lake I had loved as a young person. However, I discovered when I got there that it had largely disappeared. It was now just a small river running through the valley, the victim of a drought that had eroded the glaciers that once fed it. It was an 'empty place' that invited me to seek a new destination and purpose for my trip. And so, the reflective retreat became a powerful vision quest. The power of zero as a pivot between negative and positive, as with numbers. Where do you need to make a pivot in your life or practice?
3. On the last day, I saw this piece of wood. Somehow it reminded me of the cross in the Christian tradition. I was reminded of the great line, "Get off the cross, we need the wood." What I saw in this artifact was a person shedding the burdens they had carried, often on behalf of others. What was being revealed in the process was the deeper core and essence of their unique humanity. The power of zero as freedom to more fully express ourselves. What can you put down so as to travel more lightly?
I returned home a different person than the one who left, largely because I shifted the narrative frame for why I was there. It reminded me yet again about why narrative coaching focuses on what we can subtract from our practice rather than add. Where could you use the zero?
And with Zero, this series comes to an end and creates the space until we start the next one. Enjoy....
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.