Recently I found myself on a call with three great minds, with whom I’m planning an exciting talk at next years’ SXSW on the topic of Undesign. We were all talking about the frustrations around nations, organisations and individuals clinging to assert control in a world, largely fluid and ever changing. Our desire for control, predictability, reducing uncertainty is out of step with the reality around us.
In fact, the only thing which is real is what is here, now, in the moment – whereas both the past and the future are largely products of our thinking, imagination and memories. The past has already happened, the only thing we can change now is how we think about it. The future hasn’t happened yet, and much of it is out of our control. What we can influence first and foremost, is how we think about it, and depending on this – it will likely also influence how we respond to the future as it unfolds. If we see it as an opportunity or indeed a threat comes largely from whether we accept the world or try to resist it.
Moreover, we are not our thoughts, or emotions, but the awareness of these. Descartes claimed that I think, therefore I am. But since we can be aware of our thoughts, then who is it who is aware? Surely we are, before we think? And we can become aware of our thoughts, repeated patterns of responses or even recognise when we are happy or sad. But our desire for control, resisting the fluid environment that is reality, makes it so easy to completely identify with thought. Identifying so closely with our thoughts can make an exchange of opinions between two people into an argument, our identities become entangled with the need to be ‘right’ and thus being wrong is the equivalent of our ego being annihilated so the argument becomes a fight for survival, and it can stop us from truly listening what another person has to say or indeed recognising the emotions in another.
Marc puts it so well. To him “The sea is data. In motion. It’s incomprehensible. But survival, excelling depends on the understanding signals. We watch the weather, the swell, radar sweeping is perpetually scanning the horizon, and course correction.” This is about being in the now, continuously aware, accepting and adjusting to the reality as it unfolds.
Undesign is a deliberate act of stepping outside the desire for control, embracing the moment, the journey of discovery and exploration – much like the world is something to be played with and to be tried and tested in the mind of a child. Nothing is good or bad, your thinking makes it so.