The folks at the weather station predicted snow. And then it snowed. And there was snow.
Upon seeing the snow the youngest two members of the family ran to the windows. They became smiles and excitement. They lived into a future that gave them joyous being: schools would be shut, no school, stay home, play with friends in the snow!
Upon being alerted to the snow, I reluctantly put on my shoes, headed outside and drove my car off the drive and towards the top of the hill. I lived into a future of risk/struggle/fear. The risk associated with getting my car off the drive. Last time it snowed heavily and did that I couldn’t. And when I persisted the car skid into a wall and required costly repairs. Struggle because every time it snows heavily it is a struggle to get anywhere without considerable effort. Why fear? Because twice in the past my car skidded in the snow/ice, I lost control, felt helpless, felt fear, and the car hit something.
Upon being alerted to the snow, my wife said and did nothing. She just got on with what she was getting on with or needed to get on with.
The next day, we had to go out. My wife drove and I was happy for her to drive. Later we are told that the schools have closed and have to go and pick our son up. There is a lot of snow on the ground. And it is snowing hard. We are not at home. There are long queues of cars. The sat-nav does not work, I am fretting. My wife, she is calm. It takes us over an hour to do a fifteen minute journey. I am uneasy, I am cursing the snow, I am fretting about not being able to get through to my son – he is not answering his mobile phone. My wife? She is calm, she is patient, she drives, she finds her way.
We get home. The children in the street are playing in the snow. They are laughing, they are clearly making it a great time for themselves, playing in the snow. Someone is rolling in the snow. It is our daughter, the youngest member of the family. Her face is red. Her clothes are soaking wet. And she is experiencing pure joy – out rolling in the snow. I look at her in astonishment and head inside where I can be warm.
What shows up for me? I am present to several distinctions, that I first came across in Landmark Education, that are in operation in each of us:
Event/Story: The event is simply that there is some 15m of snow. And then each of us, me, wife, son, daughter, made a different story of the snow.
It is the future that you are living into that gives you your being-in-the-world right now. My children were living into a future of no school, playing with friends, snowball fights. And their being was joyous. My wife was living into a future of ‘no big deal and it snow can be pretty. So her being was undisturbed, she got on with what she needed to get on with. Me, I was living into a future of fear/risk/struggle – of losing control of the car. And so my being-in-the-present was annoyance with the snow.
What am I present to? All that happened was that it snowed. All there was was snow, ice, slush, more snow. Yet, none of us left it at that. All of us made it mean something. And our being-in-the-world was a function of the meaning that our human machinery gave to the snow.
Which means that my being-in-the-world, your being-in-the-world, is a function of the story that runs me, runs you. And our freedom lies in our ability/freedom to create better stories – stories that move-touch-inspire us. Our ability to change reality – whether it snows or not – can be limited. Our ability invent stories, invent possibilities, is unlimited. So, ultimately, our freedom lies in the domain of possibility and of story.