• Climbing Mt. Cynefin

    This post originally appeared on the Cognitive Edge blog on December 20, 2010.

    If you have never paid any attention to the Cognitive Edge logo, please look at the upper-left corner of this page (or the tiny favicon at the beginning of the URL address box). It is an expanding spiral of hexagons, the latter described in our terms as “hexies,” which also may appear in our classes as six-sided written notes because they can be nested together in a highly stable, interlocking pattern.

    Long before I thought about working for Cognitive Edge, however, I was awash in spirals in my daily life. Or at least aware of them and occasionally attentive to their immediate presence. During the past several years, my husband and I have purchased a number of pieces of jade — nephrite, not jadeite, for the rockhounds reading this — from Canada (‘Polar’ from British Columbia), New Zealand (pounamu of various sorts), and the U.S. (‘Midnight’ from Big Sur, California). They are mostly pendants, but also a few small decorative or sculptural pieces. Among the ones from N.Z., many have designs from the indigenous Maori culture, including the koru (fern). This spiral design is generally described with terms like “growth” or “new beginning.” It has been absorbed by the wider N.Z. culture, in both more literal and more abstracted forms — witness, respectively, the silver fern emblem of the All Blacks of the N.Z. Rubgy Union and the double-fern logo of Air New Zealand (whose airport lounges are the Koru Clubs).

    One of my favorites is a large kopae, about 85 mm across, from the Arahura River, N.Z., that has a triple-fern motif incised in the surface. We have this one sitting out in plain view, and I must pass it at least a dozen times a day. All of which may be important backdrop for the rest of this post, perhaps a subliminal story prompt, or else completely irrelevant….

    Friday morning I woke up with a clear recollection of a dream in which I was an integral part of the Cognitive Edge logo. I was literally one with it. I know it sounds out there, but that’s what happened… in my dream. By any measure, it was a “peak experience, a term used to describe certain transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness.”

    I’m not sure I’ve ever had a peak experience in my waking life, but I know one when I dream one. (My bachelor’s degree is in psychology, after all.) And I was one with that logo, which was illuminated brightly. Now I’m working on making sense of it. If only I knew what the signifiers were….

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