"The combination of fast and slow components makes the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls small and fast by consrtraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. All durable dynamic systems have this sort of structure; it is what makes them adaptable and robust."
- Brian Eno as quoted in The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand
is something I want to understand better. It is an interesting word and weaves throughout our conversations whether they are focused on health, ecosystems, economies, communities, chemistry, engineering, businesses or design.
Last year I thought about my body's resilience while undergoing surgery and chemo therapy. Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from major shocks and in the process become stronger, more adaptable. Cancer kills and chemo therapy kills cancer. Is my body strong enough to take this double whammy? Will it bounce back stronger than before cancer? Perhaps. I can't rush it though. There is a lot of slow taking place. I have good days, good weeks, I feel solid again and then something puts the brakes on and slows me way down and says "Not so fast". My doctors and nutritionist tell me I have another six to eight months to go before my body has woven itself back together, before slow stops nagging me with sudden nerve pains, falls, headaches, and tiredness. Fast makes multiple trys over time to assert itself so that I feel I can do anything! It's interesting because the fast and slow parts of my essence don't seem to be working together. How do I come to know my body's resilience? Is it a matter of just biding time, eating right, exercising and sleeping well?
One of the things I lost last year was my vision of my future. I lost my sense of self, my hunger for life and to make a difference. It just faded away but now it is coming back. I can once more reach into the future and see myself playing a part. I am coming to knowing again and it feels good. Perhaps this is the strongest indicator of resilience.
What will it take to nudge the new paradigm into a resilient state? How will those of us wanting to help shape this new paradigm know where we are in the process? Are there clear signals? How will we measure? How do we knit fast and slow together when they seem to dislike each other so intensely? Here too, I suspect one strong indicator will be our ability to imagine, to form in our minds some real possibilities. We need to tell ourselves long-now stories ... put ourselves in the stories. Can we jump out 50, 100 years and see how our actions created healthy pathways to a world our grandchildrens are happy to have inherited? Stories create pathways. Pathways create details and more stories. They will create new intersections and turning points. How will we measure our way along the path?