Convergence: The Role of Chunking

Socrates: Well, it has been quite a while since you wrote here. What's going on?

Mike: You are right. It has been quite a while. At every moment of our existence, we face choices. Over a lifetime, those choices come to define us and to determine what we pass on to those after us. We then must live with the consequences of those choices, and those consequences, in turn, define the impact that we have on those around us, including on those whom we love most. Choices and consequences, choices and consequences ... so much of life revolves around choices and consequences. Recently, my choices led me away from writing here, and the consequence is that you are disappointed in me. I can live with that; if you are disappointed, you at least care about whether or not I write here.

Socrates: I do care, but I also know that your choices and their consequences belong to you - just as my choices and their consequences belong to me.

Mike, you have spoken about convergence, about making sense of the complex world around us. How do you make sense of that world in its totality?

Mike: Wow! The answer to your question is the story of my life, the story of anyone's life.

Life is multivariate. Life constantly bombards us with requests and demands. That multi-dimensional input pulls us in conflicting directions and makes the choices that we face so painful. The complexity of life is often overwhelming, and finding order in the midst of that chaos requires enormous personal energy.

Our awareness, our consciousness, leads us to the experience of chaos. However, our consciousness also enables us to find or, perhaps, to construct order in the maelstrom.

One of the most important ways to experience order is to chunk information, decisions, and their consequences. We find or define concepts and categories that organize the complexity of Life into manageable pieces or chunks. This process filters the overwhelming disorder that we experience into conceptual buckets or boxes of closely related units. We can then use those filters, those chunks, to focus our attention and to simplify our choices and actions.

Socrates: So, what are those buckets, those chunks of reality?

Mike: Each of us must answer that question for ourselves, and our answers can vary over time. I can tell you my answers at this moment in my life journey, but I cannot define those answers for you.

I know that there are many ways to organize Life. I know that there are many answers to your question. At this point in my life, I find myself examining four primary areas. Those areas structure my Life Work, as I experience it at this time. Those areas are the foundations of my thought processes and my daily activities. Those categories find expression in the four sections of what I call the "Center for Education and Change."

Socrates: What are the four categories at the heart of your Center for Education and Change?

Mike: OK - My Life Work is to give expression to everything that I have learned through writing and the arts and to share everything that I have learned with the world, in the hope that I might make even a tiny difference for the better in this existence. When I breathe my last, I want to know that I gave everything that I had to give to Life.

I divide my work into four components that correspond to the parts of the Center:

  • Basic Skills: If I had to define my idealized self in one word, I would say "Teacher." Almost my entire life revolves around learning and then sharing what I learn with others. In simple terms, my Life Work is to teach. This component of my work and of the Center focuses on Basic Skills. I have seen the price that individuals and our society pay when we do not teach children the fundamentals. When we do not teach children how to read, write, do math, and use computers, we cripple them for life. Most of my work here focuses on those core curriculum areas. However, I also bring in other subjects, including art, geography, and history, always at a basic level.
  • Finding Your Life Work: I see a life-long dynamic between job, career, and Life Work. We are constantly balancing the fulfillment of our basic needs through jobs, the development of our specialized skills and abilities in our careers, and the expression of our total being through our Life Work. This component of my activities and of the Center focuses on the development of this triad throughout our lives. This component includes the job search, career decisions, and business start-up.
  • Stillpoint: When I was in the middle of my business work, I frequently found myself in management roles, including project management, curriculum management, program management, and people management. In the midst of the daily struggles, I had little time to reflect on management theory and the role of management work in my life. In the years following my "retirement" from the corporate world, I finally had the opportunity to reflect on management. In my preparation for teaching business classes at a local community college, I studied management theory and, even more importantly, pondered my actual work in management. I came to view the manager / leader in any role in life as a kind of Stillpoint, a calm center in the midst the chaos of organizational life at all levels. My studies and reflections here led to the Stillpoint component of my work and of the Center.
  • Moorings: One of the signature ideals of Victorian England was "to see life steadily and see it whole." It can be unbearably painful to look at our world. It can be ecstatically exhilarating to look at our world. Life is full of wonder and horror, celebration and terror. If we peer at life unswervingly and experience life fully, we find ourselves in a broken world and in need of anchor points, moorings, to stay afloat in the inevitable storms. Moorings: Touchpoints in a Broken World is the segment of my work and of the Center where I explore the world in its totality and search for anchor points to keep me and, perhaps, others steady in the turmoil. Moorings: Touchpoints is my answer to Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and my work here ranges from art and photography to writing and, perhaps someday, music. The questions that I confront here range from "Who am I?" to "How can I help change the world?" "How can I help save the world?" ---

Socrates: Mike, how do you know that you are right? What if you are wrong?

Mike: Oh myyyyyyy ... I know why you got in trouble in Athens. You ask the most challenging questions and the most vital questions.

The truth is that I do not know if I am right. I have searched for the true, the right, the good. I do not know if I have found them. I know that I have given everything that I have to the following the questions and to living the answers. When that little voice about which you spoke at your trial tells me that I have erred, I do all I can to change. When that little voice about which I wrote earlier tells me that I must follow a particular path, I do all I can to follow the way.

One of my heroes, Robert K. Greenleaf, the thinker behind "Servant Leadership," once addressed the question of good and evil in humanity. His responded that, ultimately, there is more good in humanity than evil and, he concluded, "I bet my life on it."

I question, I search. I choose the path that seems to be my own. I accept the consequences of my choices. And, in the end, I bet my life on the choices that I make.

[Copyright (c) 2015 by Michael J. Genevro]