“I did a little exploring with an image I love from one version of the Sotho story of Ditaolane, in which the fleeing hero turns himself to stone at the edge of a great river to escape an angry mob of people.
Reaching the edge, too, one of the people picks up a rock & chucks it across the river saying “this will be your head if I catch you!” But the joke is on them because of course the stone is Ditaolane the hero, who’s leveraged the force of his enemy to reach the other side, where he becomes human again and goes smiling on his way.
I love this image of reaching an impasse, a mountain or bank of a great river, and having this realization that one cannot go beyond it as one is.
(…) When you hit that limit—of how far you can go moving just as you’d been—what shape must you take to get further? And are you okay knowing that the anatomy of the next life may not have the mechanics to keep what you’d hoped to retain in transit?”
These words of Jessica Dore found me sitting on the floor of an apartment in Milano, right after unpacking the last bag of my recent, unexpected and unplanned trip to the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.
Too often I forget that life sometimes looks at us, as we walk on our path with all our ideas about what it’s about and where it’s headed, and suddenly – she cuts off our trajectory. OK, that was it. Now, this way.
The interception part can be gentle, or can feel more like something just ran you over.
When it comes to this trip, it was more like the latter.
Our ideas of “possible” and “impossible” are made of the sum of the stories and scenarios that we were exposed to, directly or indirectly.
Before December 30th 2021, to receive an invitation to drop everything and fly to the other side of the world to join an Indigenous Community in the the Amazon Rainforest for 10 days of practice and training was under the “nah, that’s not possible” column for me.
But 2022 wasted no time in reminding me that:
- the rules of the game have changed
- some invitations feel like an answer to a question you didn’t know you asked
- when they show up, you know that you must accept.
So 3 days later I was on a series of flights headed to the Acre region in Brazil, right by the border with Peru.
Together with other 10 people, I joined the leader and shaman Benki Piyãko and the Ashaninka indigenous tribe for an experience that changed my life and altered the fibers of how I operate, on more levels that I can currently explain.
Had I reached a limit, an impasse?
In the words of Jessica Dore – was I (unconsciously) standing on the edge of a cliff or a mountain, somehow knowing that I could not go beyond as I was? Was I secretly asking “what shape must I take to get further?”
When I ask myself about impasses, what comes up is that, for longer than I tend to admit, I’ve felt a growing discomfort looking at the trends in the impact and sustainability space.
I watched the for-impact discourse increasingly focus on the need to “fight“, “accelerate” and “fix” – echos of the very things we recognise as harmful, while leaving little to no space to deepening our understanding of the laws of nature, the holistic principles we lost sight of and, most especially, the reasons why we detached from them in the first place.
I intuitively understood that the task at hand is to re-connect with those principles and integrate them in our behaviours, organisations and economy at large – but I saw a different trajectory, and a dangerous incoherence, in the words and the efforts of most so-called leaders and change-makers.
At the same time, I wasn’t sure about what to do about it.
Most especially – my well-known tendency to find new references in books, podcasts and conversations wasn’t sticking on the wall anymore.
So no – I could not go beyond as I was.
This invitation and experience felt like a doorway or, as I like to call it – a Gate.
One that showed up to remind me about the fundamental difference between the knowing of the mind and the other way of knowing – the one that comes only (and exclusively) from living a direct experience and allowing it to transform you in whatever way it’s meant to.
Looking back, I can see now that the things I feel called to create and contribute to required me to pull the plug from my old way of operating, and dive right in: to go from the realm of concepts to the very roots of living and feeling the essence of things.
They required me to allow indigenous culture and the Way of the Forest to alter my perception forever, and feel what it really means to conceive sustainability and impact as regeneration, healing and inter-being.
“Are you okay knowing that the anatomy of the next life may not have the mechanics to keep what you’d hoped to retain in transit?”
I don’t know if I’m okay with it yet, but I will be.
My landing process is still unfolding, and I am still developing a language for what I learnt, lived and felt.
What I do know though is that with every inch of me that roots back in Europe, a new inner certainty settles in: whatever the anatomy of the next life will be – it will stand on more honest grounds than the last one.
There’s much I’d like to say about this – and I will.
As my integration process continues, over the next few weeks (months? Years?) I intend to translate the principles and wisdom I was offered – with the only goal to put them to service, and hopefully inform a different “for impact” collective way forward.
- Due to all of the above (and the altering process that is still unfolding) the structure, frequency and format of my offerings will vary. The best channels to receive these updates will remain this newsletter and my instagram
- If you want to explore and learn more about Benki Piyãko, the Ashaninka community and their work, the best place to start is the Yorenka Tasorensi website.
- If any of you feels compelled to learn more about this experience in a 1:1 conversation, or if you feel you’d like to contribute to this cause, please reach out or answer to this email. I will be further involved with this community and their work, and I’ll be happy to eventually be a bridge for you.