For the Future

Hear me read this post.

Today I had lunch with my friend, Karen Sela of Lumina Coaching. As we discussed the dilemmas of writing and voice and Presence, she reminded me that we can either get stuck in the present, what is happening now, and what seems to be the answer today, or we can choose to look farther out and write and teach for the future, for the evolution of consciousness and for the unknown but latent possibilities each of us holds.

What a beautiful thought, that it is the future we are giving life to through our words; it is the future we are learning to sing.

In that moment, I felt a little breath of encouragement and inspiration, and when I really allowed that thought to be taken in, an even larger breath began to come out of me, a larger breath and a song, just like the howl of a coyote.

Have you ever been lucky enough to hear, really hear that sound? Not in the movies. Not in imagination, but for real? The last time for me was in Wyoming, looking out across an empty, impossibly dark night from a perch on a high ridge, feeling the sharpening wind and behind it a silence so profound it made my ears ring and my spirit vibrate like a tattered rag. Then, suddenly, and with all-consuming magic, that music came up out of the valley, so familiar, ancient, and vital. All I could do was listen, smile and be drawn into its shadows until I, too, became that old/young canine that I must once have been, still am, and letting it all out, I howled, too.


There are millions of us now, howling in our ways, writing and speaking and teaching for the future. Can you feel that? And yes, the wind is sharpening and the night seems so impossibly dark we can trust little but our own noses to guide us forward.

But when, in truth, has it ever really been different? Hasn’t the world always favored us, its admirable tricksters, stirring up the potentials, dislocating the present?

Suppose you were trying to make a difference in a village fraught with avoidance, tension, and dishonesty? Oh yes, my friend, you’d be a coyote, too!

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  • Chris

    Thanks for this story and its suggestion of a link to Open Space that might be rooted in our bones:

    “There are natural ways to navigate within space. By honouring them, the real story emerges, and the living places reveal themselves to us.”

    Best to you…

  • Mmmmmm… thanks for this…

    Did you know that coyotes often hunt cooperatively in relays? One hunts while the other rests, switching off as needed…they’ve even been known to hunt with badgers, adapting to their environments to ensure sustenance… they go forth from their dens into the world and hunt and howl, adapting to the surroundings in which they find themselves…

    Keep howling, my Friend, singing, coaxing, caressing our future into being…of course, the future already IS, we just have to translate it into a language that we all understand… listen to the howl that transcends time and moves all who hears it…

  • You are welcome, Karen, and of course this dialogue reminds me of a poem by William Stafford:


    My left hind-
    in the track of my right
    and my hind-right
    in the track of my
    and so on, for miles ~

    Me paying no attention, while
    my nose rides along letting
    the full report, the
    whole blast of the countryside
    come along toward me
    on rollers of scent, and ~

    I come home with a chicken or
    a rabbit and sit up
    singing all night with my friends.
    It’s baroque, my life, and
    I tell it on the mountain.

    I wouldn’t trade it for yours.

  • One of my first ever posts from what eventually became my blog:

  • First, a potentially minor observation: you refer to being “stuck” in the present. I find this very provocative, as I usually think of stuckness as it relates to the past (at least that’s where I usually get stuck), and my own struggle is nearly always one of attending to the present rather than turning my attention away from the present. I also reguarly get stuck in the future, envisioning possibilities and sometimes (often?) attaching to future outcomes (this latter tendency is a habit I want to break). I view finding the right balance among acknowledging and [ideally] understanding my past, aspiring toward a more positive future, and yet living in the moment, to be one of the most important challenges I face on a daily — or moment-to-moment — basis.

    I also feel inspired to comment on your coyote references: BoingBoing just had a post this week about Urban Coyotes, and we’ve had a few coyotes in our yard … more examples of their ability to adapt to their surroundings.

    The coyote energy is one I invite on a daily basis, part of a set of practices I adopted during an inspiring workshop called Warrior Monk (one of the first blog entries that forged our initial connection). I hope you and your readers will forbear my report of this daily practice here:

    From the East, the direction of the Lover, Player, Coyote, and the element of Water: I invite the sacred energies of mature Love and Pleasure; may they flow through me this day.

    From the South, the direction of the Warrior, Protector, Provider, and the element of Fire: I invite the sacred energies of healthy Power and Control; may they flow through me this day.

    From the West, the direction of the King, Queen, Leader, and the element of Earth: I invite the sacred energies of Order and Virtue; may they flow through me this day.

    From the North, the direction of the Elder, Sage, Shaman, and the element of Air: I invite the sacred energies of Wisdom, Joy and Release; may they flow through me this day.

  • Joe

    Getting stuck in the present and getting stuck in the past can be pretty close. It’s about the status quo and allowing possibilities that go beyond the rules that define the status quo…I also like your line about getting stuck in the future. I think the point is we can all lose balance, over-emphasizing one aspect of time. If I can learn from the past, live in the present, and write for the future, that might not be a bad deal…

    And feel free to invite as much energy here at you like, Joe. The four directions you offer, like the dimensions of time, represent another way to see the balance and appreciate the interpenetration of many worlds.

  • Thanks everyone for these ideas.

    I’ve been thinking about how the present is infinite, how it could be someone elses future…. the concept of writing for the future is harder to practice…. but I’ve thought in the present as being now what I want to become in the future– that is as close to the future as I now get.

    I keep my cats inside now cause the coyotes are eating them in my neighborhood. The sound of the kill is not as pleasing this close.

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