It has taken me many years to understand that what I love to do and what I’m good at, is connecting dots. It’s taken me even longer to say that out loud…’Hello, my name is Tink Stephenson and I’m a dot connector’.
Why do I find it so hard to say? Because while I’m in my element connecting and instinctively feel that it is worthwhile, I’ve struggled to see, let alone articulate, the value. Largely because that value lies in the space between two or more dots. In creating something where before there was simply potential. Also, because quite frankly it’s hard to quantify in monetary terms. When the action lies in the realm of potential and connections of future value, it’s really hard to know how to put a price on that…But in the last few weeks, the foundation for valuing my dot connecting has begun to take shape and the catalyst has been the word navigator.
Two weeks ago I went to the Carter Observatory to hear Paul Curnow, a lecturer at the Adelaide Planetarium, talk about Aboriginal night sky knowledge and indigenous navigation. Then later that week, during a conversation about ‘super powers’ I described mine to a wise and smart friend Nick Potter as the the ability to gather a whole lot of ingredients, pull back in order to have a panoramic view of them all, connect the dots and then then zoom in to synthesise. Or something to that affect. Nick’s response was “Maybe you could describe that as “navigator” – super powers – an ability to see the constellations and draw connections among different points of light, create an image or story that connects them and use those images to guide the way”.
I believe you can tell when people are in their element or in touch with their own super power, because they light up, their eyes shine brightly. What gets me positively fizzing with excitement is watching other people light up and then connecting their spark to another and another and so on… Magic lies in connecting people whose spark has been lit. Create a campfire, connect people whose eyes are shining and there is potential for something alchemical.
So to last week and another talk at the Carter Observatory. This one with Dr Julie Teetsov who talked about the history of Western Navigation and her own experiences of celestial navigation as she and her husband sailed from the United States to New Zealand. Early on in her talk Julie mentioned ‘connecting the dots as a way of navigating‘ and I sat up straighter. She went on to talk about the certainty of stars and their capacity to, in some way, allow us to connect with our inner selves. How in these days of sophisticated GPS systems, we may not need the stars to get from a to b, but we still need them. My spine tingled.
In my last post, I referred to Carl Sagan’s comment ”we are all star stuff” by which he meant that nearly every atom inside our bodies was once inside a star. In previous posts, I’ve talked about this point in history as a convergence of crises and a time of massive global transition which will require us all to work together and connect to our selves, each other and nature.
Here’s the thing. You’re all stars. You truly are. Not only are you made of star stuff, but each of you has an element, something that you’re naturally good at, something you love doing and being, something that makes you radiant. And yet you shine even more brightly in relationship to other stars. When you’re connected to other dots and when you share your story. The power, the potential, so much possibility, lies not just in who we are individually but who we are collectively. The stories our constellations tell.
In learning about ancient ways of navigating, yes, I’m connecting more of my own dots and beginning to seeing its value. Which is good. But what feels great, is this dawning realisation that we really do still need stars to find our way from a to b. If we are to find our way to a brighter, collaborative, infinitely more sustainable future, now more than ever before, we need to connect dots. Your dots. And the potential in that is is making this little star shine very brightly indeed.