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Creativity

What It’s Like Being A Canary

Breaking free from your cage when you’re dying to feel alive and learning to fly to craft your own nest—your newer vantage point of your world.

Illustration of Canary in the Coal Mine Idiom (State Department/Doug Thompson)

In reflecting upon my last post, I was reminded of how someone once described me as a “canary in a coal mine”. In effect, I have the ability to see social patterns (i.e. culture) that can be jeopardizing to an organization and its people in turn but are often invisible to them because they don’t have the sensitivity and awareness to see them.

Of course, they joked, the canary unfortunately “dies” in the process.

And for the most part, that was symbolically true with regards to my own life, as I often reached a point where if these negative patterns weren’t addressed by the company, I found it soul-crushingly hard to stay there and see how it was affecting people, so I often quit because I couldn’t take feeling and sensing that pain on a daily basis.

In other words, the longer I stayed there, the more I had to internally shut down and compartmentalize almost my entire self, my humanity, otherwise I’d go nuts in the process. It was like being on a raft on a river approaching a huge waterfall but the people steering the raft were “navel-gazing” to a specific point in the distance, completely unaware of what was happening right under their very noses.

For the most part, this is what the past two decades have felt like for me, not just with regards to being within organizations, but with regards to being within society as well. Reality has been changing continuously, giving us warning signals, but many of us have been stuck in our bubble of beliefs, our constructed reality, oblivious to what’s been going on under our very noses.

Nevertheless some of us have been seeing these signals for some time that a new world is emerging, and communicating with others of similar vision that we need to update our maps and social constructs (i.e. institutions) to better align with the present reality of this new world arising before us.

That’s why we all need to start breaking free from our own constructed cages now, no matter how safe they may seem to be, and start learning to independently fly into the greater wilderness of the unknown.

That’s because life is no longer scripted like a superficial TV commercial but rather is now a deep, unscripted adventure. We each need to craft our own nest now, a safe sanctuary within the wilderness which we can launch our explorations from to get a broader view of this new world’s landscape before us.

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