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Thoughts On the Structure and Dynamics of Growth

“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.” (Rudolf Steiner)
Not all that long ago, we thought that Man was the only sentient animal that walked among the curious amalgam of creatures that share this earth. By virtue of our brain or consciousness or soul we disenfranchised all others and placed ourselves outside of the wild kingdom. Somewhere along the way that same feeling of being safely above it all left us largely isolated from the very communities that bore us out and the long fingered forces that our superstitious ancestors knew entangled our lives. What was left was little old us the superior individual without context or communion – the nutriments of growth.
This is not the simple “us and them” of bias or prejudice nor the “I and thou” of supplicant and Creator but rather our thankless exclusion from the operating system all together. The dominant logic is that we enter and leave this world alone and extends to the belief that we triumph or fail as a function of our personal will and sense of destiny. This assumes that the one has dominion and mastery over the many. But we are not born into this world from our own actions. Even in the most retched and dire of circumstances we are all made of two and carry forward the history of our line in our genes and our means. We are all raised up in a community with its idiosyncrasies and peculiar customs. We are all participants in the bounty of the harvest and the tragedy of the flood. We are made with the faces and forces of others.
While we may be existential gardeners free and responsible for our growth, we may not secede from the human field or free ourselves from the unseen wellspring. Our nature is entwined in the common dynamics and systems of creation. The depth of the dirt and the drive of the seed give a character to the vine so distinct that its terrior can be tasted in the wine. We are raised up in families which are part of communities that are subject to the laws of the landscape. Though grounded, our harvest is preceded by rejuvenating water and air and completed with restorative fire. We harness the four competing forces of growth to pull our plow forward. Season by season skill emerges and flowers. Efficiency springs from diversity and we grow what we know until we tire the land. We use the calendar to plant in season but follow the ripening rhythms to fend off foe and fill our burgeoning baskets. We bring in our bounty with labor and neighbor and sing and sup in celebration.  We all live off the land where nothing stands autonomous.
These interconnected structures and dynamics at work in the natural world provide us with the same revitalizing energies and opportunities for growth. What is essential is that we first understand our part in the greater system. We are the industrious and synchronizing hand that scatters the seed and works the land. But we are not the good earth or her lover the radiant sun. Though we may dither and dather away, nothing grows green without this sublime symbiosis. To enlist these energizing forces in our aid we must first operationalize the wholonics of our situation.
Understanding growth as an operational framework and system allows us to use these structures and dynamics in our own development. By acknowledging the activist role of our environment we may enlist it as a helpful partner. However, we may not transcend our situation all together. Like goldfish we grow in proportion to our bowl. In the next section, we will put all the pieces together to build an integrated program that incorporates the first principles and structures and dynamics of growth with the tools and techniques necessary to put them to work.
Jeff DeGraff
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