Workbook for Change: Questions and Practice for Thinking Ahead

(See here and here for an explanation, below for guidelines on doing this yourselves.)

QUESTIONS AND PRACTICE FOR THINKING AHEAD

QUESTIONS:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What parts of your life does your answer include?

What parts does it leave out?

What do you see when you turn your attention to those parts?

Who taught you to see the future?

Whose stories about the future have you been listening to?

What would you hear if those stories were silent?

*

PRACTICE: Take turns choosing one element of the future you’ve imagined for yourself, and write a “budget” for it—everything that would have to come toward you in money, and also time, the effort or work of others, air and food and water, everything that you don’t control that would have to stay true or become true—and the effects that it will have on you and on the world around you. Which costs of this future will you pay? Which will be outsourced to others?

The goal of this practice is to do all of the math around your dream or vision—not just the part that touches you directly. The people whose turn it isn’t should suggest things to take into account, speaking without judgment.

GOOD TO DO

  • Choose the questions and/or practices you want to do at least a few days before getting together to do them. This means that people have time to feel their way into them and no one is surprised. The reasons for doing them—outlined above—should also be really clear before you do them.
  • If it’s a short gathering or if you have other things to work on, limit it to one question set or one practice.
  • Whatever ways you have of looking out for each other while you’re together also apply here. If you don’t have ways of doing that on purpose, developing them before you begin would be a good idea.
  • Have snacks around during the practice, and share a meal at the end. Do this even if you’re doing it remotely and can’t literally hand each other food.
  • Remind each other that it’s okay to do the questions or practices in a way that makes sense for you, which might mean changing them a little.
  • Every so often, offer or take the option to say how you’re feeling in your body, without needing to explain why.
  • Take both formal/guided breaks where you move, breathe, or otherwise remind yourselves and each other that you live in your bodies on earth, and regular breaks where people can walk around, go pee, have a cigarette, whatever.
  • Remember that people’s different histories may make these questions and practices difficult for them in different ways and amounts. Choosing a story to share, thinking in a different way, remembering and feeling can all be stressful. Be patient with yourself and others.
  • Try to keep your attention in the room you’re in and with the people you’re with. People may go “in and out” a little bit in their attention if what you’re doing is stressful for them, and that is okay.
  • Wind down at the end by asking people to say something about what they want to leave behind and something they want to carry with them, or something similar to help people return to their day or night.
IMAGE: A grapevine seen from below, with vines, leaves, sunlight coming through, and grapes just starting.

Thank you to Monster Trux for testing this exercise out and telling me how it went.

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