Think Even Bigger

Some weeks ago, I was asked to run a workshop for Islington youth workers on our reflective methodologies – ways of working which support the growth of a different perspective, a bigger perspective, writes Jane Riddiford.

Maria, one of our Generators who is part of the Global Generation Big Bang Ambassador group, volunteered to run the workshop with me. It was the end of a long day and at first my mind was blank; what were we going to offer? How would it land?

However, as we sat in the Skip Garden portable cabin, the sparks grew between us. I asked Maria what she thought we should include – what is it about Global Generation that she appreciates? What did she think we could offer to the youth workers? She responded with a quiet confidence and enthusiasm. “I think it would be good to start with ‘sitting still’ and then a thread conversation and some free-fall writing. We should tell them the big story – the universe story.”

I asked Maria what is the effect on her of seeing her life inside a big story. Her response set the scene for how we ended up framing our workshop – “it makes my problems seem small. It brings a kind of unity.”

The workshop we were running was part of an afternoon session with the overall theme of mental wellbeing in teenagers. I was impressed with the speakers who shared their experience with us – creative and caring ways of addressing mental health, an issue which seems to be on the rise in every sector of our community.

As I listened to the presentations, it became clearer to me that what Global Generation is offering is a way to (at least temporarily) step beyond the problems into a sense of appreciation and curiosity about the life process that we are all a part of. It is the creation of a third space - not a this or a that - but a larger perspective from which to see our lives, a perspective in which we are all connected.

It also struck me how much we have lost the ability to think big, to connect our own lives to everything around us to everything that has been. This is an ability that is implicit in the identity of ancient peoples, whose stories connected them to the stars in the sky, which science has now revealed are our ancestors.

Framing the workshop differently as a way of seeing who we are and what we are a part of landed with the group who willingly jumped in to the space between us. Encouraged by Maria’s description of why she likes our practice of siting still, the group entered into the spirit of letting everything go… we sat still and silently for several minutes, and I sensed the mysterious quality of focusing on nothing come to the fore. We watched Melody Sheep’s video, Evolution in a Minute...

...and then wrote in a free-fall way, starting with the phrase “I think the universe is amazing because…”

Here is a sample of what the youth workers had to say:

it is so immense, it never stops ...I feel as though my life is not important and all my worries or problems are insignificant.
the sea, the wind, the earth, the people and their relationships.
the experiences of culture, feelings, emotions, confusion, learning.
growth, biology, mental development, physical development, challenges and achievements.
you never know what’s coming next. What’s possible, who you might meet, what might be overcome, what you might discover, learn, experience, achieve.
it has mountains so clear and quiet and terrifying, peaceful and exhilarating.
all the ideas and faiths and ways of being... so many things to explore and experience.
how humanity has evolved.
how big it seems.

Join us on a Journey of the Universe

As part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, Global Generation is running two events with Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-author and co-producer of the film ‘Journey of the Universe’ on Thursday 19 June at the Guardian and Saturday 21 June in the Skip Garden – download the poster for more information.