Monday, July 27, 2009

Tools for the Journey #2 - Navigation

When I was a young woman I had the amazing good fortune to spend time working along side R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (inventor, futurist and humanitarian – he is the man who coined the term, “Spaceship Earth”). During our times together Bucky gave me many “tools for the journey” which I still use today. One of the lessons I learned from him is about trim tab vs. rudder.

A trim tab is a small device on a ship’s main rudder which must be turned before it is possible to turn the larger rudder to change course. Fuller saw trim tabs as a symbol of the small but strategic acts which change the course of world events, and he devoted his life to trying to determine what a single individual like him (or us) could do to better the human condition that large organizations, governments, or private enterprises could not.

One of the things Bucky said to me when I was just 16 years old was: “If you learn well how to be a trim tab then you can grow up to be a rudder”. This message has stuck with me. It has provided perspective on countless occasions over the past 29 years since he said the words to me.

I’ve been thinking about Bucky’s lesson a lot lately in regards to my work and my life-journey. There are others who have gone ahead of me - they are the rudders – they are leading the way, cutting a path through the high seas. My job as a “trim tab” is to pay attention, stay open, and learn so I can extend a hand back to bring up another trim tab when I become a rudder. The rudder may seem to get all the glory, yet the trim tab is a vital part of the whole, the mechanism by which the rudder is able to turn, and thus chart a course to the far shore. Each plays a vital role in the process of forward motion.

In some arenas I am a trim tab, in others I am a rudder. I became a rudder by being diligent and bold even when I was terrified; by standing at the edge and staying open and receptive. In order to grow into being rudders we must be open to learning from those who have made the journey before us. Let your E-GO. (= ditch your ego), and let your Chi (energy) flow! And never forget as a “trim tab” you are a vital part of the whole. Consider where in your life you are already a rudder - be sure to acknowledge, encourage and support the the trim tabs around you. On your journey - if you are deeply committed to lifelong learning - you will alternate again and again between trim tab and rudder. Honor the circular motion. Celebrate duality. Light and dark, joy and sorrow, trim tab and rudder. It is the "death" of our trim tab self which must occur for our rudder self to be born.

Today celebrate your “trim-tabness”, and remember that one person (no matter how small) can make a difference!

Here’s to the journey!


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