Looking for Doors in 2023

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“There are no perfect people. There are no perfect projects. We are not measured against perfection, only called to do what we can, to set out on an exploration to an imagined destination, an imagined good. So forget about the fear, forget about the guilt, forget about the fact that the doorway makes no promises. Just step through. Don’t miss all the fun.” –Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed

Over the last few months, I have felt a restlessness growing inside of me. Somewhere, a door is waiting to be opened. I’m not sure when to seek, when to push, and when to rest. Maybe you are feeling this as well. Nothing has really changed, yet everything appears translucent, uncertain. I am trying to trust my intuition, but I am not sure where I am going as I start this new year. All I know is that I am looking and paying attention to what is different now.

In the work for social change, so much of what I have witnessed and directly experienced have been the people who stop to notice and sense a possibility. As they do, everything seems to open up.

In 2012, I sat in a circle with community leaders in the Montes de Maria as they decided how to respond to dying avocado trees. I didn’t realize what a sacred space I was in at the time but when I look back, it is with astonishment that I was there as Jorge Montes encouraged former enemies to break bread together and plan for a shared future. They had no idea what would happen, but there they were, in each others houses, walking through doors that eventually included government buildings, jail cells (in and out), and a renewed sense of agency in the ability to create doors.

Here in Canada, the work of Love my Neighbour in response to global vaccine inequity looked different but held a similar sense of the sacred, looking back. I had no idea that some of the initial emails and zoom calls that the coordinator Sara Hildebrand wrote and facilitated would lead to an ecumenical movement, literally spanning the A to Z of faith groups in Canada (Anglicans to Zoroastrians) joining across difference to work for vaccine equity. I remember an internal conversation within my own organization wondering how to respond to vaccine injustice and not feeling equipped to do so, and then an email from Sara, forwarded on from a receptionist, making its way into my inbox at exactly the right moment. The door was there, and we saw it, and we stepped through, yet we didn’t know what would happen. Who would have imagined that months later, the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, would be expressing his support for vaccine equity and explaining to Canadians that neighbours include everyone, not only Canadians? It is only now that I am realizing what we did together.

Here is the mystery: nothing would have happened, in Colombia or in Canada, if only a couple of people or organizations saw the door. We all saw it and chose to walk through. However, it did require one or two people sensing a call, naming what we were all seeing, and starting to pull the door open for the movement to flow right on in. Without Jorge Montes or Sara Hildebrand, things would have looked different. Without the organizations, community members, faith groups and everyone else who responded, things would also have looked very different. We are all connected and intertwined in this work, both invaluable and incidental. 

I pulled a random book off the shelf at a little free library in Fanny Bay BC over Christmas break called Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed. I passed over it a couple of times. I had read too many business books over the last year and was ready for a break. Yet, somehow, my eye kept coming back. I took it home and found a brilliant look at social innovation through the simple yet complex principle of paying attention and responding to make the impossible possible. Part of that starts with a willingness to see doors and to believe that doors exist when there only seem to be walls. The next step is the boldness enough to name the door or to listen to others who may be inviting us to walk with them through a doorway. This book gave me language for what I had experienced and what I am feeling.

I don’t know what 2023 will hold. I do know, however, that as I, as we, stop for a moment to pay attention, we will notice something different. We have never been in 2023 before so everything is new. Chances are good others may also be noticing, yet it is up to us to decide to name what we are seeing and invite others to reflect with us, to move through a door with us. This is, of course, uncertain. Uncertainty is also a reminder that change is possible.

For me, I’m not sure what that is yet. I am choosing to keep looking, to keep naming, and to keep listening. After all, I pulled this book off the shelf, out of all the other books. Now I’m telling you about it.

Tell me, what are you hearing and seeing? Do you also feel restless? Can we walk forward through a doorway together?

This door literally has my name on it.

1 comments on “Looking for Doors in 2023”

  1. I really like that photo at the top, it might say a lot about you. The building has two doors, both are marked #39. One is beautifully and perfectly painted. And you chose to be photographed with the unfinished door; with the part of the building that is rough and weathered and objectively beautiful.

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