Unplanned and Unexpected – A Vision of the Future

Life’s journey has no beginning or end yet events, like seasons and birthdays, mark its progress. So, in anticipation of astraea turning 20, and to say “thank you” to all the people who had helped us along the way, we thought about having an exposition of our work and a party.

Many people around the world have helped and supported us, so, while we would gather here at Ballin Temple, we wanted to share with everyone who couldn’t come. We planned to broadcast the event on the web.

We planned to share a broad, experiential perspective on our adventure over the past two decades. We’d give a walk around the vegetable plots, tool shed and so on offering little demos such as digging, harvesting, chainsawing, splitting logs and so on. Then we’d have a chat in The Tent on big picture perspectives like holonics, metaphysical dynamics, money, nature, consciousness and more. Followed by “tea” and chat (to include drinks, snacks and music).

Invitations were sent to everyone. It was posted on social media and soon people heard about it before we told them.

As the day drew closer preparations were made, including setting up a whole new capability: mobile live-stream and global webinar. And then there was the set-up for the garden tour, the presentation and the party …

Signs that the universe had a different agenda in mind started to occur the day before when an expected piece of hardware failed to arrive. On the day, the weather started to turn bad, but that hadn’t stopped us before. Then at 14.55 when we established the mobile broadband connection, … it failed.

It failed again. A different device? Fail. Another device? Fail. A different carrier? Fail. I could not hold a signal. After half an hour of frustrated attempts, I gave up and just used the normal broadband.

That was fine. And frankly the weather was atrocious. The universe had just been trying to tell me to skip the walkabout and have the chat with my friends, who are wonderful.

Ursula had driven from Cork the day before with Fiacra (Saxman) and Albi. They’d been helping set up all day. Pam, suffering from an unfamiliar onset of vertigo the day before, had been sweeping and preparing refreshments. Jaspar had got logs in for the stove and was ready to shoot the live-stream. He’d built an innovative shelf to carry the laptop, which would be doing all the processing and connecting between camera, mic and mobile broadband. And he’d been helping to resolve the failing connection – cool, calm and collected.

While we’d been wrestling with the failing broadband, Jerry had arrived, despite the sleeting rain and chilly breeze. What a dude! Jerry’s engineering shop had helped most people around here facing some agricultural machinery ailment. And Katherine arrived bearing gifts and apologising because Joe couldn’t make it – he’d had to go to manage an emergency at work!

Richard arrived with Michael all the way from Clonmel. That’s nearly a two hour drive. Richard was a pioneer of organic agriculture in Ireland starting nearly 40 years ago. He’d been one of the few people I had enlightened conversations with when we started our adventure. His friend Michael turned out to have fascinating perspectives brought from his time living in aboriginal communities of Alice Springs, Australia.

So, with friends and family chatting around the stove and getting tea, I finally listened to the message from the universe:

“Relax! Have a chat.”

Sitting down in front of the laptop, we joined the amazing Hazel Henderson, Oonagh Harpur and Ivan Konig, who had been chatting patiently on-line in America and UK while I sorted the IT in Ireland.

Hazel has been a pioneer of ethical investing and appropriate technology for decades. She’s advised Presidents since the 1960s. She has inspired thousands of change makers. She offered enthusiasm and encouragement for our work back in 2003 when everyone else was chasing a Celtic Tiger or Dot Com Boom. Ivan reached out when he heard about Common Sense and ordered copies to share with friends and colleagues. He’s been a great friend to bounce around ideas with, encouraging us for years. Oonagh has pioneered innovations in board rooms to improve ethics. We were phenomenally lucky to have them join us.

Thank you Hazel, Oonagh and Ivan for your friendship and help. Without your encouragement we would have given up long ago.

Our conversation touched on faith, money, technology, energy, consciousness and more. You can view it on-line here:

Once the webinar/live-stream had finished, I turned to join friends. We spent awhile in The Tent “chattin’ and sippin’”, and gradually our visitors left for the evening.

Richard and Michael remained. We all went in to the house to sit around the stove and continue.

The conversation got a bit darker as we explored the likely scenarios when the pressures of economic insolvency, natural resource scarcity (fossil fuels and rare earths) and political distrust become unbearable in a couple of decades … That realisation has been commonplace among many in the “ethical/green/eco/sustainability” space. The numbers tell the story.

number of humans x consumption per human per year
the annual production of nature available

We are literally consuming nature. And in recent years predictions of environmental, social and economic disintegration have been borne out.

Even hedonist billionaires know it. They have built luxurious bunkers with huge food, water and air supplies. Their challenge is how to control their servants, who will want to steal it all, until the robots are available to serve*. Wow! Would that existence be living any way? Or more like prison?

Around the stove, we didn’t dwell on the coming breakdown, but considered what adaptation would help preserve the fabric of society, the technology and understanding of existence and a natural environment gentle enough to support mammals.

We snacked on party nibbles: bread, cheese and veggie sausages (which Richard, a beef farmer, complimented). After a while Richard and Michael set off for their long drive back to Clonmel.

I was exhausted and sat in a quiet corner contemplating the event, the day, the preparation, our journey so far …

Had I done the right thing? Had I made mistakes? (YES!) What had actually happened? What had I learned? (Lots, including how to run a webinar!) What had the universe told me?

I knew that I couldn’t really think straight and needed to rest. I felt that I’d let people down because we hadn’t delivered what we’d said we would. But I also knew that what came out, however rough, was real and offered valuable insights in to the likely future we face.

The day we planned wouldn’t have worked in the weather that hit us that afternoon,among other things. In the discombobulated event that resulted I was privileged to spend an hour chatting with Hazel Henderson, Oonagh Harpur and Ivan Konig about serious issues which have occupied my life for many years. And that was with no planning, arranged the day before because the opportunity arose. And we ended the day exploring new perspectives, that are real scenarios, with people who care. Big picture perspectives. Wow!

My reflections …

Sometimes, if you listen to the universe, it tells you where you want to go. Surf the cosmic rhythm. Do the right thing the right way. That’s living.

And the future is going to be unexpected. It’s difficult to plan for the unexpected, so it won’t be planned. But you can be prepared. And the most valuable resource, especially in difficult times, is friendship. Emotional relationships last while transactional ones wither fast. So nurture relationships with trust and love to prepare for an unexpected and unplanned future.


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