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What Will You Be Shedding?

Naturalists tell us that during the mating season bucks relied on their antlers to show dominance over other bucks and as weapons in their struggles with their foes; but in January other hormones kick in and antlers are shed. What an example for all of us as we begin a new year - shedding what no longer serves our cause.

If words were antlers, this year I would shed the word urgency. Many days my emails contain messages such as, Urgent! We need your help to fight the climate crisis! After reading so many of these, I find myself on the verge of overwhelm, and I delete them without responding to the urgent cause even though I agree that our situation is urgent to the hilt.

In her book Perseverance Margaret Wheatley offer an insightful reflection on this word. She writes, Urgency is the unavoidable companion of crisis. She continues by describing its ramifications, …we work very hard, push our agenda, get aggressive. And we get angry. Anyone who doesn’t respond immediately becomes our enemy. This touched me because she is describing not only those sending urgent emails my way, but also myself.

Frequently I am perplexed by those who don’t share my sense of urgency around the climate and biodiversity crises. And yes, like the bucks using their antlers as weapons, I strike out at them even if it is only in my mind. It sets me up for the dualistic stance of “me vs. them”.

Wheatley concludes, … we fail to notice it’s our own behaviors that are intensifying the opposition. Stop. Urgency leads nowhere except into the wilderness of aggression and failure. It doesn’t serve our cause. It doesn’t serve anything.

I am going to place the shed pictured here near my desk for the duration of 2023 as a reminder that there are alternatives to urgency, ones that make friends, not enemies, ones that are sustainable and dialogic, that promote interconnectedness and interdependence. These alternatives invite me to change my behaviors so that I become more patient, allowing gradual change as nature models so beautifully.

December, 2022


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