We’re kind of stuck with the language that we have to describe what we understand is coming. For example, a colleague and I are engaging in some discussions around a project that would support non-profits in their leadership. At the moment, we are talking about exploring “business models.” It’s easy to think about that as being something very particular, but the truth is, we really don’t know what it is. What we know is that something is coming. Something is emerging for us. A way of doing things that both gives us means to support our lives and is transformative for the community. We see drips and drabs — I’d explain what we see but we’re not quite there yet — but we don’t have the new language.
Heck, we’re using old language to describe wildly new things. Think about the iPhone. Or, more generally, the smartphone. Neither of these things are really a phone, are they? They are very powerful computers with a phone app built into it. I think this signals a transition. We weren’t quite ready to let go of telephone communication, so we shifted the meaning of the thing instead. Now, when people want to take a picture, they say something like, “hold on…let me grab my phone.” It’s bananas.
This is the way, though. Things are emerging for us all the time. Often, I think, we miss them because we don’t have the language for them. Or we stop ourselves because we are afraid that we can’t quite describe it. More and more, I’m learning, we need to move ahead any way. Finding whatever way to describe the thing that we can. Eventually the language will present itself. And then we’ll make the world anew.