Jordan Peterson vividly describes how we often find ourselves in the desert as we traverse the road to better versions of ourselves. He says when we kick out the scaffolding of the things that keep us chained to a bad life–reactionary habits, unfulfilling jobs, abusive relationships, frittering away time–this doesn’t catapult us into a joyous existence. We’re likely going to end up lost in the dunes, disoriented, and doing new things badly for quite a long time. And we can feel ripped off, like it should be better than this. In the desert, we progress by hunkering down and orienting around principles and values. We pay attention to the things that interest us. And we understand we must first be the fool and blunder around making mistakes and missteps before we can attain mastery.
I am in a desert right now. I have done the work of busting down the walls that were imprisoning me. I have no job, and don’t need one. I left the chaos and emptiness of the States and entered new cultures. I invited disruption into my life. I grew. I became quieter inside. And I look around and see a desert. I’m taking stock of values, interests, and possibilities.
The integral community (whatever that is, but let’s say this website right here) is part of the same desert. I look around to see what vibrancy exists, and see nothing. It loops back to me. Am I creating something stunningly original and inspiring? What’s here, within and without, is a big heap of principles and maps and pointing out instructions. Tools of creation. Ideas. Abstractions. That’s a good start, but it ain’t no circus I’m drawn to.
What would a a better version of an Integral world be, as expressed through my own uniqueness and also through a community? What would I be saying and doing with others? What would it be like if the principles and “instructions” for an integral life no longer had to be constantly reiterated, and everybody was busy expressing the fruits of these ideas?
Much of the vibrancy and drama and excitement of life requires conflict and contrast. The pursuit of unity consciousness includes a long phase of letting go of drama and striving. Finally, there is a period of settling down. But what emerges out of this? What is truly evolutionary, not just rehashing a new and different conflict?
I don’t know what an integral community really looks like. Perhaps temporary communities that spring up once a year, like the Oregon Country Fair, are the best examples we have.
For now, sitting in the desert of “No Thing,” I appreciate the quiet, the absence of meaningless chafing, and the possibility of something emerging that is ripe and juicy and life affirming.