Thursday, May 3, 2018

Embroidered cloths and dream treading.

"Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Y.B. Yeats.

It is easy to lose sight of what is capital in all of this.



Yes, I said "fellow ship."

We are in this together.

For the duration.

A clock ticks.

Embroidered cloths.

It is easy to suit and to be tied.

Who is the suit for?

Whose are those ties?

Fancy dress, dressing up ridicule, naked embarrassment.

It is easy to make anti-dress-code statements.

It is easy to make others feel ill-at-ease.

Tread softly on my dreams.

A penny drops.

Listen, be attentive to others.

Fellow ship.

I love working with Marcin, we have been working together for nigh on six years.

We were working in a class for teachers together a few months back and we were late.

I asked them not to speak but individually to write down how they felt, what they thought about our late arrival.

I then asked them to note down their first impressions of Marcin, myself and a Columbian student teacher without speaking to us or asking us any questions.

It is fascinating how much information they were able to glean from the situation, our appearance.

Marcin was dressed in a formal jacket.

I wasn't.

Marcin was considered "serious".

They didn't really say how they considered me...

Embroidered cloths.

It was a beautifully structured, carefully researched presentation.

It's cloth was woven with finely referenced citations.

It concerned and had impact.

It did what it said on the box.

One character jumped out at me.

Embroidered cloths.

"Did you see his Complexity presentation for the conference in Corsica?" 

I hear them discussing in one of the autoethnography preparation sessions.

"It had 74 slides...that was crazy!!!"

I remember my discussions with my colleagues.

"OK, I'll cut those slides, you are right it is a bit too much."

I was quite proud with having cut it down to 74 slides.

They sort of looked at each other, resigned, and sighed.

No doubt they felt fortunate that I would be on my own in this.

They trusted me enough to accept their names as authors on the first slide.

I am thankful for their trust.

Many haven't gone so far as to trust me.

I hear them discussing in one of the autoethnography preparation sessions.

No doubt they were concerned about what crazyness I would come up with for the next presentation.

I hear their laughter.

I loved their laughter.

We are in this together, with our differences, with our foibles.

What joy to feel freely accepted!

What joy not to feel straight-jacketed!

Embroidered cloths.

Marcin came up with a structure that he liked.

I was only too happy to let him take the lead in this.

He is a proper researcher.

I am...well...I am me.

I like working with constraints.

I learnt this late in life.

Constraints offer space for play.
Constraints offer space for creativity.

I was only too happy to do a proper, timed, hierarchical, scripted presentation.

I felt almost like a grown up.

Dream treading....

Well, I only suggested the working title, the idea that it might be a collaborative autoethnography, that it should bring us together, Teresa, Claude, Marcin and myself in Krakow, Christine in Clermont.


I had considerable joy submitting our working title to the research laboratory in my request for funding.

I was only slightly miffed when the title was quietly dropped somewhere along the way.

Between November and April, we worked on our individual narratives, in our individual ways.

We worked together on trying to make sense of our common and individual experiences with CLAVIER.

We grew familiar with our ways of meaning.

Little by little, prompted by an idea of Teresa which nobody really understood or could find a good reason to reject, we started working on a presentation quite unlike anything that any of us were familiar with.

What struck me was the fun, the trust, the creativity of the venture.

Depending on who was available at a given moment, the "performance" would emerge, shaped by each and all of us.

Working with just twenty minutes, I found that they only way to express complexity, emergence, nurtured networks, student led activity et al was with a video form.

As an exercise it was immensely stimulating. 3 minutes, no more than 3 minutes.

Once in Krakow, we had a padlet, slides, a script, stage directions but no real idea of how it might play out as we had never had time to rehearse.

We had never been in the same physical space together at the same time.

Marcin and I met online while I and Claude were eating and drinking in a restaurant to prepare for the presentation on "Sustainability".  There is no "sustainability" without food or drink.

We planned for a "dress rehearsal" of "Lived experience of connected practice."  the day before the "performance".

Teresa was stuck in a shower.

We were going to improvise with Lukasz taking the role of Teresa.

Then I found Teresa out of the shower.

We were saved.

We were able to rehearse "Lived experience of connected practice."

This was indeed lived experience of connected practice.

Dream treading 

The sustainability presentation had gone to plan, now we were sort of ready for the "performance".

We positioned ourselves around the room.

I felt in my element with space to roam.

I felt in my element with possibilities to improvise, to play with the situation.

Teresa moved to take control of the tech.

I remember feeling relieved that she was there.

It was scripted.

I remember feeling really relieved that she was there.

Marcin felt more at ease seated near the front.

I suggested he move towards the middle.

Marcin felt more at ease seated near the front.

Claude was comfortable somewhere near the middle.

I remember feeling in my element at the back, able to observe, to sit with the audience.

I remember Teresa putting her arms on my shoulders to quieten me to let the others speak.

I shall remember the joy of feeling part of something.

Something emerged between us.

Something is not the word.

There was a sense of energy, a space, a connection between us.

I have known this in relationships.

I have known this in churches.

I have known this in theatres.

I have known this in nature.

A sense...of being a part...together and that there is something which we have which connects us.

In aikido they talk of KI.

“While we can learn or study techniques for almost anything we might want to accomplish, real understanding is not the mere accumulation of knowledge. Understanding cannot be realized by listening or reading about the realization of others. It must be achieved firsthand via substantive, direct perception in the moment.” 
― H.E. DaveyJapanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Y.B. Yeats.


  1. Dream treading .. that's staying with me.

    They used to say
    we navigate by stars
    to know where
    we are.
    But at night,
    all I see is
    the dark.
    Close your eyes,
    you tell me,
    whispering softly,
    as if surprised,
    that standing still
    is where I am
    when treading

    -- Kevin


  2. Sounds like you walked into the space as strangers and left as a team. Some never get to experience how good this feels. I hope it's something that repeats often for you...and for myself and others.