What do we mean, anyway?

When we talk about energy and energetics, what exactly do we mean? This has been a topic of conversation recently among the Expanding Inward team – not surprisingly, given that we’ll be exploring that very topic for several days at our upcoming Spring event – and I have to say, thus far there’s no single perfect answer. In the absence of a grand unified theory, I find that I tend to think of energy in terms of behavior, because I firmly believe that while I can’t see the kind of energy that we tend to talk about, I can sense its presence, its absence, and its effects.

One simple, everyday example: I work in a large building in downtown Chicago, with a cafeteria in the lower level. Seating down there gets tough to find around noontime, and sometimes I find myself winding my way through the room, trying to figure out who I might approach to see if I can share the table. And the thing is, I can pretty much always tell, somehow, if someone is cool with me sitting with them and who is thinking, “please stay away, please stay away, please stay away.” I don’t believe that I have an intrinsic magical sense of these things, as such – what I believe, instead, is just that people’s actions say a lot. How much room are they taking up at their table? Do they “casually” happen to stretch out a foot to rest on the leg of the chair opposite them? If they look up, do they make eye contact even briefly, or do they have that 1,000 yard stare that most of us who live in a big city have perfected?

This isn’t a one-way street, of course. Energy of this sort is typically (always?) an exchange of some sort. So how do I demonstrate my intentions through my behavior when I’m in search of a place to land? Do I make eye contact? Do I speak at all, or just raise my eyebrows and motion toward the empty chair in an apologetic manner? Do I hold up the book I’m almost certainly carrying as if to say, “I assure you, I won’t engage you in conversation”? There are many variables here, and I believe we have more control over them than we may realize.

Because the energy we’re talking about is to some degree a mysterious thing, I don’t think we’re going to have an easy answer to that “What exactly do we mean?” question anytime soon. We certainly mean the energy that we can raise together in ritual. We certainly mean the energy of intimacy that comes from working together and sharing our truths with one another. We mean, too, the energy in thoughtful and careful preparation. We also mean – or I do, anyway – far more mundane, day-to-day interactions that might not be among the top 3 or top 50 things that come to mind when we think of words like “energetics.”

There’s energy in all forms of interaction, and while we likely won’t explore Jason’s Theory of Lunchtime Energetics when we gather in April, you may be surprised by just how universal that term can be.

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