Commitment to Calling

This marks the beginning of my journey to capture reflections on what I’ve been naming my “self-directed masters” –  a permission space I’ve gifted myself to devote to unadulterated learning and self-actualization. Perhaps you ask: why do you need permission to learn Cheryl? 

A myriad of reasons. Because I find it so easy to prioritize and rationalize paid “work” over learning. Because I live in a culture where I have to pay for or earn the opportunity to indulge in formalized education, to follow the call of curiosity and resonance. Because permission for me is a consensual agreement I’ve made with myself: it is an actualized commitment.

As a self-professed commitment-phobe, I appreciate this conception of unconditional commitment right now: 

To be committed means we are willing to make a promise with no expectation of return; 

-- Peter Block

In this period of time, I’m saying “Cheryl, you have my full permission to explore and frolic, with no expectation of return. You don’t need to create an artistic masterpiece, a research paper, or a magnum opus. You just have to honour and follow your soul’s calling.” 

The concept of a soul’s calling is one of the beautiful jewels that emerged out of my self-directed masters. It comes from Collective Presencing by Ria Baeck, which I’ve been committed to for the last few weeks as part of an embodied book club and an on-going weekly practice: 

Nicanor Perlas has a model about leap learning, based on The Hero’s Journey of Joseph Campbell. He talks about the call, the question that moves you; your life’s question as the framework for your experiences. If you say ‘No’ to this call, something deep in your psyche dies, because there is no real separation between yourself and this deep question. Nevertheless, to be open to the call is disturbing to your identity. Building on this individual challenge, he asks us: “Are we going to accept the call, as a human species?” What is the challenge for our collective identity? Nicanor speaks of the leap, because there is a discontinuity between the known past and the future that is possible. That future can only come from the call, your soul’s calling. While this may feel pretty threatening to our day-to-day identity, many of us do feel called, hear our souls whispering and act accordingly, sometimes against all odds. A real living and active relationship with this call is a powerful entry point to a new sense of being in the world.

So what is my soul’s calling? Maybe part of it is showing up as this itch I’ve been needing to scratch for a while. This feeling that I need a container to start manifesting and synthesizing my learnings, rather than just letting them dance wildly around in my head. I’ve been sitting with this itch for the past two weeks, and it shows up before I go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning, in coffee conversations with Xavier or when I have an open afternoon and I’m not quite sure what to do with it. This itch is annoying and I’ve created this journal to scratch it. 

Creating this journal also meant that I had to overcome certain resistances, like the feeling of FOMO that I didn’t start this in September (which is technically when my self-directed masters began) so “what is even the point if I can’t catch up?” Oh, and hello fear-of-failure my old friend –  this constant nagging anxiety that enactment will finally reveal the ugly truth that I am not as smart or deep as I want to be. 

It feels good to front these fears up front, because now I’ll let myself just dive right in with my full self. My full self is a cataclysmic storm: there is so much tumult and intensity of feeling and sensory pleasure and angst, and then in the hail and gales, the blinding sun and the shadows cast, there are glimmers of truth – like the shimmering glow of the full moon peeking behind the clouds. So maybe this journal is the surface to briefly touch these glimmers, small moments to bask in the truth like a witch dancing naked, praying to and drinking in the moon into her body and soul. 

So I’ll pick up some threads with sweaty and fumbling fingers, and begin to weave them together with no conscious plan, rhyme or reason: 

  • Designing with Dragons: design in/within/for mystery 
  • Relationship between building self-sovereignty and surrendering to collective entanglement
  • The plural pantheon of selves and the question of authenticity 
  • Digging into cracks in modernity to dance with the monsters and the more-than-human 
  • Spiritual innovation and design 

The “courses” and emergent spaces of learning I’ve been attending in my self-directed Masters are listed below, and I’m sure more will appear with time.  I will be drawing from these sources in my reflections:

This section is more about attribution, and I intend on further exploring the way these various explorations weave together into new patterns with time.

In mystery,