#185 Exploring Complexity – Rod Griffiths

What is the opposite of complexity?

That is the starting question from which I explored complexity in this wonderful conversation with the wise owl and elder that is Rod Griffiths.

Just what is complexity? Can it be defined or is it felt?

In exploring complexity, we went through many areas in this conversation ranging from beauty in design, existentialism, aesthetics, the role of our nervous system, as well as how we actively move away from complexity and why we protect ourselves from it.

We live in a highly complex world, something COVID has painfully revealed to us.

We also talked about surrendering to complexity and just being in it, as opposed to restlessly needing to do something.

This is a fantastically gentle yet deep conversation that has so much to offer as we continue to face an uncertain, complex, ever changing and ambiguous world.

Read Full Transcript

Bryn Edwards 

What is the opposite of complexity? That is the question that I explored in this wonderful conversation with the wise owl and elder that is Rod Griffiths in exploring, what is complexity?

 

We went through many areas in this conversation, beauty and design, existentialism, aesthetics, the role of our nervous system, as well as how we actively move away from complexity, how we protect ourselves from it.

 

We live in a highly complex world. I think, if anything COVID has shown us that, which is one thing that we explore, how do we deal with it, this complexity so that we can define? Is it something that we feel?

 

We also talked about surrendering to it, and just being in it, as opposed to needing to do something, whilst in complexity.

 

This is a fantastically gentle yet deep conversation.

 

And what is the opposite of complexity? explore this conversation and you’ll find out. So enjoy. Rod.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Good morning. Rod

 

Rod Griffiths 

Good morning.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So we thought we’d get together and have a conversation and see where it goes. Yeah. And I was wondering whether we could take it into the world of complexity. We met before Christmas, and you asked me a very interesting question, which was, what is the opposite of complexity? And the most immediate response is simplicity. But that was not the answer. Was it?

Rod Griffiths 

No.

 

Bryn Edwards 

What was the answer?

 

Rod Griffiths 

reductionism. Now, where did that leave you?

 

Bryn Edwards 

For me? It was?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, we’ll say it’s about reducing things into parts into components. Yes. So we can understand each part and the way it works. And use that as a way of understanding, presumably, the complex a complex?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

But it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work? No, because you miss the essence of what the complexity is all about. Because you’ve only got bits. Yeah. And the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s that. Yeah, proposition.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I think, when you put that forward, it was Do you ever get those moments when somebody explained something, or puts words to something that you’ve been struggling and fill around the edges of, and then somebody just goes off? Because it’s this? Oh, wow. Now I have the words and the framework to actually come out of the subjective and into the objective. And now I can always take it out to me, and now I can look and play. That’s what I got when you

 

Rod Griffiths 

when you go, because I mean, I do experience that a lot. And it’s a lot of what I do as well, is people say to me, Rod, where did that come from? Because I mean, with the groups of people I work with, I often don’t say much, I also spend a lot of time listening. And then have the ability to sort of summarise where we’ve got to but at a high level which embraces the complexity of the situation. And people say to me, as I said, you know, Rod, where did that come from? It’s amazing that you can pull it all back together like that. Now, I regard that as part of a risk of having some experience but also the elder role within the group. And I’m keen on developing more the idea of being an elder. Yeah. Either consulting elder or systems elder or complexity elder or whatever you want to call it, but in all this stuff about how the world works in its most complex ways, interestingly complex,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yes, yes. So before we go into complex T, let’s explore reducing things What what what is it in our human nature that wants to reduce things? Because it seems like that’s the default, rather than wanting to stay with the complexity.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Let me just say, before we go into that, that, that question I asked you, what’s the opposite of complexity came from Nora Bateson. And she’s been working with quite a few of us here, about her father’s ideas in sort of complexity, theory, systems philosophy. And it’s been a reawakening for me, certainly about all this stuff. So I just need to set beginning that that’s where it’s coming from. Yes. And I think in answer to your question, I would say, because things holding complexity is very uncomfortable for people, because of the uncertainty is attached to it, you don’t have a fixed answer, you don’t quite know what’s going to happen, you don’t know where things are going. But if you can reduce it into bits, you can be more confident about the behaviour of the bit. Yes, and so you don’t have to live with the same level of uncertainty. And you can do things with the bits, you can jump into them and change them in a way, it’s much more difficult to change the complex. So it’s easier to live life with things in bits.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. And I think for me, so I’ve been exploring, personally, both psychologically and somatically, the role of the nervous system, and how that can almost take over the way we think and view what’s going on around us. And so with complexity and uncertainty, and that can be quite triggering to the nervous system. And then, I’ve noticed that as soon as our nervous system gets fired up, we will do everything can anything to down regulate it, or D fire it, and chunking things back down, in reducing them into small components that have a certain amount of predictability and certainty of outcome, then is a mechanism to down regulate the nervous system, and then bring us an amount of serenity back into that nervous system provides a sense of safety and comfort. The challenge there, though, is as a repeated behaviour, I can see how that cuts us off. Almost cut begins to cut cuts us off from the beauty of the rest of the world and life and nature and, and everything. And in going through that mechanism, we can begin to tell ourselves stories and narratives to make it feel or write because there’s got to be a part of us that deep down knows that we’re doing this pattern of behaviours, to give ourselves this greater sense of ease. So we’ll dress it up with some stories and narratives of how we think life slide. And there, we start to see these narratives grow about what life’s like when really, it’s moving away from the I wouldn’t say the truth of things. Does that make sense?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think what we end up with is what, again, Nora would call scripts. Yeah, it’s our stories that we repeat, and repeat and repeat because they’re safe space. And they explain things. And we all do that. Yeah. And the trick is to accept that in Well, with the bits, you can say you can do things, you can change them, you can move forward, you can take action. If you’re in complexity, it’s a question of being with it, rather than doing it or doing anything to it. Yes. So it’s the way you embrace complexity, and radiate who you are through that complexity that people will begin to understand it. So it’s not a question of triggering something. It’s a question of staying with it. Yes. And being in it. Yes. Yeah.

 

 

Being part of it,

 

Rod Griffiths 

being part of it, and understanding that as part of it, you change it as well.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes, yeah. Because there’s a, we have a modern day culture of, you know, go out, hustle, get things done, doo doo doo. And yet to actually sit and be with complexity is almost the opposite of that. Then it ends up, you end up doing things at a much bigger bigger level. Does that make sense? But just by being

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes, that’s right. Yes. The doing is being the doing is being Yes. Yep.

 

 

Which sounds very counterintuitive.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes. And people wonder what on earth we’re talking about as well.

 

 

Yeah, exactly. Do you want to have a go to providing some example?

 

Rod Griffiths 

So I get stuck, actually. Because I don’t need examples. No. And so when people say, Give me an example, I always find it difficult because yes. I mean, the simple, simple. There’s things in the systems world that are easy to give examples of. So if we start from there, we might get into something about complexity. Yeah. But you know, there’s this emergent property of a system. So what does the system there’s a whole exhibit that’s not shown by the parts? If you take hydrogen and water at room temperature, they don’t represent the property’s liquidity. You combine them? And they do. So there’s something about the system of water that’s not in its components, which makes it liquid. Now, where does that come from? and complexity is like that, that the parts don’t have the same properties as the whole. Yes. And I mean, if you we often use the word. Oh, let’s let’s, let’s think of something that’s quite a complex. I mean, the international travel system. And what were examples were looking for, I can’t remember now.

 

 

Examples of where just being just being is the doing?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yes, that’s right. Well, I think an example would be developing an understanding of something. So you’re not surprised when it doesn’t behave in the way you expect it to. So that if you take international travel system, I mean, airlines and other forms of transport. When the virus came, people were surprised by the way it collapsed. Now, if you were in the being of that, you would be quite cool about that. Because you would know that the whole thing was very precarious anyway. Yes. And so it just needed a small thing to change. Yeah, and the whole thing will change. And will may never go back to the same thing. Yeah. It’s so in this unit that I help run the master’s programme on the unit here. People are talking about whether COVID was a black swan event. Now, Black Swan events don’t work very well in Western Australia, because black swans are normal. But that’s, again, an interesting part of the complex of it. But where the group ended up was that the pandemic itself was not a black swan event, because people have been saying a plan, a pandemic is going to come sometime anyway. We don’t know when, yes, but the implications of what happened from it of transport systems collapsing, for example, was a black swan event because nobody anticipated it. Now, if you’re seriously in complexity, I think you’ll be cool with it. Because it’s quite obvious in a way that if you embrace it, and then you realise how precarious it is, and they say, one small change the whole thing disappears.

 

 

I think,

 

Rod Griffiths 

yeah, that might not be a good example, but it’s just what happens to have come up. Yeah, I went into it from a sort of technical yes to viewpoint, but it’s much softer than the example needs to be much softer than that. Hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I think anybody I think, following on from that, anyone who is calling in and hoping to get back to normal is busy trying to do grabbing a ring, as opposed to I spent quite a bit of time from the middle of last year onwards, surrendering to the fact that we live in a highly complex, systematic world that has probably gone way past what level of simplicity that we can keep in control of it. And that it would probably let it get out of control layer upon layer upon layer upon layer.

 

Rod Griffiths 

But we probably didn’t recognise that it was uncontrollable. Yes. And it’s really interesting, ironic and how you take transported example, that that enabled COVID to spread? Yes, because people flying around the world have been spread is. And again, that’s part of the complexity of it, that it actually made it worse. Yes,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yes. And I think the other place where I’ve encountered this wrestling with complexity is, it’s very easy for those of a spiritual bent, to look at the economy and say, oh, there’s a small amount of people that completely control it.

 

Rod Griffiths 

reductionism?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes, exactly. is a small amount of people that can that control it. Whereas, again, I believe it’s probably a system that’s just become so big, there are those that become very adept at surfing the wave, very adept at surfing the wave, and probably those that have become quite adept at poking your tear and poking at their control the whole thing.

 

Rod Griffiths 

We can all do that.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Well, we can,

 

Rod Griffiths 

yes, we’re all as good as that as the economists. Because if we change our behaviour, then the system is there, the complexity is going to change as well. I mean, if we had all said to ourselves, right, well, these viruses spread like wildfire. And the best thing to do is to just stop everything for a few weeks. And I’m going to start and tell other people do that the whole thing would have been a different outcome. But because we’re expected to be told what to do, rather than take it on board, we then fight the rules.

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And people see it as roles rather than a disease that spreading.

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

So the the worldview of what it’s about shifts again, it’s not about helping contain a virus, it’s about living with rules or circumventing rules or breaking rules.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. And reacting to the fact that rules have been ruined. Yes. Yes. Which can be deeply triggering.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes. From childhood school. Yes. Exactly. Yes. I think an interesting how Australia has gone better with rules than almost any other country.

 

Bryn Edwards 

It is. Yes. Yeah, we’re quite compliant.

 

Rod Griffiths 

But again, there’s that part of where the origins of modern Australia came from that it was about rules and compliance. If you think back is the origins of it all?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes, very strictly sighs. So without wanting to reduce,

 

Rod Griffiths 

I think it’s okay. As long as you know what you’re doing?

 

 

Yes. How would you? And this is an enormous question.

 

 

How

 

Bryn Edwards 

would one describe complexity? Or is it something that one feels?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, my answer that is something that one feels Yes. But there’s a framework that’s around which when I was first taught, was saying that things and I have to do it this way to remember it things can be complex without being complicated. So when simple, complex, complicated, chaotic, and that was a useful way as part of systems course I did years and years ago. So it is nice. 70s and since then it’s been claimed by a guy called David Snowden is a Welsh name sniffing sniffing framework CY and EF aim. And he goes, simple, complicated, complex, chaotic. So this switch loose, complicated and cutter gets which round

 

Bryn Edwards 

right now.

 

Rod Griffiths 

I believe that things that the original way round things can be complicated without being complex, sorry, complex without being complicated is the better way around because complex is easier to get hold of than something that’s really, really, really complicated.

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And interesting in that framework, there’s always a co thing. So collaborate and co designing things, and but nothing in the chaotic box. And I think that’s actually the most important one for co working because it’s co create, you know, because everything’s up in the air, and you’ve got this complete freedom to create the most amazing things. So it’s a conversation to have with him at some point. I don’t know when that’ll happen. But But I think that appreciating complexity is a feeling thing. Yeah. Because if you try to analyse it, you inevitably reduce it. And it’s the fact that it is a complex, that’s the important thing. It’s not what the bits are at all. So that’s why I say that. Handling complexity is about you and the way you handle it and the way you appreciate it the way you embrace it. And people get it from the conversations they have with you. Rather than being told well analyse it this way.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes, I’ve been given

 

Rod Griffiths 

an answer. The number of Well, there’s always a quest, if you’d like to calibrate it, put some numbers on it. He’s got, you know, this number of intersections in it or whatever. Meeting points or crossing points or something. Yes. Not what it’s about. Now.

 

 

How does the feeling arise in you just out of interest?

 

Rod Griffiths 

excitement sometimes, yeah. This is really complex, you know? Yeah. I’m tastic. You just can’t solve this?

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I think I get the same sort of buzz. Yeah. That, for me, there’s almost a switching off of one thing. And then allowing of another instead of, for me, instead of trying to grab it’s almost what I’m gonna allow certain patterns or higher order sense of it, to emerge. I think doing this podcast has been part of that. And in that, there’s been many reasons why I did it and continue to do but some of them I never could have predicted when I was at Episode One, two, and three. But now, when I got to Episode 70 8090, and then somebody in consequentially will just ask you, what have you learned? And all of a sudden, all this great stuff would come out?

 

 

Yeah. And

 

Bryn Edwards 

listening to people’s stories, which was the big focus of probably the first 120 episodes. Listening and listening, you’re listening after a while. each person’s subjective experience was their own, but there seemed to be once a predictability in it, but it just made sense listening. You can almost hear well, this and this happened earlier on in my life, and then later on this happened, that would have had to happen because of this. And then there was this emergent sense about it. Not that I would sit here and say, Prince got it. But they stopped being so surprising. I was surprised by how things came together, that that subjective experience?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, I’d say two things. One is, you’ve probably got a richer view of the world. And because of that than anybody I know, because you’ve been into so many different areas. But what you also have you built up a complex appreciation of all those ways in which people see the world.

 

 

Yes. Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

So you’ve been exposed to complexity in a way that you’d never anticipated? I think, Mm

 

 

hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Part of the part of the approach has been to allow people to tell their stories, to get into their story with them, and ask questions out of curiosity, not to sit back and go.

 

 

Stupid. Yeah,

 

Bryn Edwards 

why don’t you do this? Oh, yeah. I don’t ever tell that myself. Yeah. So and then allowing part of them to just drop in and drift into me as well. That sort of deeper levels of listening.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah, it’s huge, I think. And probably quite unanticipated where you’ve got to. And it’s interesting, I find we’re having this conversation at this stage of at all as well, because, in a way, it’s you appreciating what you’ve got to with it. Yes. Quite. Seriously.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. It can be overwhelming. Some Yes. No, seriously, can be overwhelming some days because you start to see and feel things. I spent quite a bit of time last year being curious about what people were surprised about, particularly when it came to the difference between the narrative of human nature, and what was really showing up and what people were experiencing. Yes. And what people were experiencing. The whole the whole business with Donald Trump and carried out yeah, it’s just, it was not a surprise to me. Yeah. But what was more interesting was watching people’s response to it. Yeah.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And then things like, mentioned it before on the podcast. In Victoria earlier in the year when they were locking people up in a hotel, and then all of a sudden, we found out that they’ve all been shocking one another. And it’s like, well, I was

 

 

surprised.

 

Bryn Edwards 

People have a very good concentration span. Yes. And once they get bored with their phone, yes. eyespot. Yes. What’s the next thing they’ll do play with themselves? And when they’re bored of that, they want somebody else to do it.

 

Rod Griffiths 

So now, it’s a time when the hospitals afford more babies expected because of people.

 

 

But, but again, that’s just being in it.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I had someone a couple of days ago, I see darling back a little bit to being in it versus wanting to do something. And that that urge to grab two days ago in Australia Day, then for swim at polar bears, standing having a cup of tea and a piece of toast in the sunshine. And someone said, What are you going to do today? My response was, I’m doing it. I’m doing it right now. What I want to do today, what I’m going to do,

 

Rod Griffiths 

yes, doing? Yes. Now, yes,

 

Bryn Edwards 

I’m sitting with a cup of tea and a piece of toast with my friends. I’m doing it. And they can be this heist, which seems quite benign on the surface. But then when faced with complexity, and then faced with events like COVID, all of a sudden, the lack of capacity within the people we share our community with, then gets where it gets exposed. But then the deficit then plays out and impact how we may go forward. Does that make sense?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, again, put it in terms of with inadvertently pieced together and it has been from bits and pieces, a very fragile and complex system, the way we live the way The way we travel the way we are the way we eat. No it it’s all highly interdependent and you change one bit, the whole thing changes. Yeah. And we’re seeing that all the time. So maybe COVID has been a real life live experience of being and living in complexity. But no one’s I mean, it’s an opportunity to learn from it in that way. If we could put it out that way. Yeah. You’re right. I mean, the there’s no way we go back to normal. The idea of normal isn’t the idea anymore. Because what we thought was normal was actually abnormal.

 

 

More, we’ve just expanded.

 

Rod Griffiths 

not sustainable. Yeah, not stable.

 

 

But that rises. That brings about questions of Is there such a thing as typing? Or is that another narrative that we tell ourselves to feel?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, or is it stickability is in the unstability? In that sense, because we know that things will keep on shifting and changing and will rebalance themselves every recognise the new balance. But no, because there’s a natural, naturally, things balanced themselves. So when somebody says seems to go wrong, it’s just rebalancing. I need another example.

 

 

If you want to put one up,

 

Rod Griffiths 

well, I guess I’ll get challenged on examples. Yeah. You’ll have to help.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. I think we could give examples at this point, or

 

Rod Griffiths 

I lived my I live in a world of concepts and ideas. Yes. And I’m constantly re figuring those and re re calibrating them. And for me, I don’t need examples. No, because I’m quite happy dealing with the concepts. Now, having said that, most are very practical. I build things design thing, right things. Yes. So it’s an interesting combination, there’s a bit missing in the middle.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. I think, you know, recognising that we are wearing microphones, and there’s a camera that anybody’s listening to this, they’re honest with themselves, they’ll be able to recognise that there was a period in life where everything felt really good and stable, and they were on it. And then at some period, afterwards, something shifted. And again, it would probably be one small thing to start with, whether everything was fine, and your job and your work, etc, etc. And then one person decided to go and leave the team.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Because they’re having a vacation of some sort.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Or, or there would have been a period of time when we friends were very good, and etc, etc. And then all of a sudden that one couple fell out with another couple and or there was a falling out within a couple of years. And that disrupted the dynamics of things.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Or we see I’d still say there’s stability in that unstability. Yes. Because it’s things are constantly shifting, changing, repositioning, and rebalancing. And they may do that a bit quicker from time to time, but it’s the same process that’s happening. Yeah, it’s just uncomfortable, because so much is happening at once. Yes, to some people.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. And I would say that this happens probably internally in our structures, internal structures, how we make sense of the world, our moral compass that would need to update itself, as it were, to meet the increasing complexity of the outside world. Or either the increasing complexity of the outside world or as our capacity to be aware of more stuff grows as we grow, then that will, we will start to see the complexity of the outside world. Does that make sense? The outside world may shift. because of things like COVID, or internally, you’re, you’ll become more aware of things as we become older in misselling I’ve been toying with recently.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Have you had an experience where things changed around you? Because you’re in it, you haven’t realised that I changed the boiling frog? Yeah. Because I mean, that’s the same thing from a different perspective, you can be Yeah, inside something. And when you come out, you’re looking at it. And that’s completely different from what I thought, because it’s shifted. In the meantime,

 

Bryn Edwards 

my most notable examples of recent in the last 30 to 45 years, interestingly, have been where I have almost been in the middle of something. And then the bigger parts of me have been gently moving along. And then all of a sudden, I realise, or I’m at, I’m actually behind where I am. If that makes sense. Yeah. There’s been a number of things where I’ve been

 

Rod Griffiths 

so caught, it got bigger than me, in a way it goes over the my thinking didn’t keep up with the reality of what was happening,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yes. And my own growth as a human.

 

 

Mm hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And it’s, that’s something that when I said earlier on, about, it can become quite daunting. What I’ve learned from doing the podcast, one of the things that weighs heavily on me at the moment, is the idea that we don’t stop developing just because we leave school or university that our growth, and we don’t stop developing just because we level off at six foot one. And that’s not we continue to grow and evolve. And if we don’t wreck it, if we don’t recognise that a number of things start to happen. And now we’re into complexity of the human journey. And if we don’t recognise that that happens, then if we’re viewing all our, everybody is on the same level. Then all of a sudden, we can’t make sense of why everyone can’t get on. Because we all think we’re on the same level. bs, I can’t understand why you don’t see the world like I do, or that person or this person. And so we can have a lot of speak people speaking French to German people for want of a better Yes, for Yes. Yeah. And because there’s a more grown up language that different people will have. And I think, I think we’ve seen a lot of that flattening of, I don’t want to listen to my parents and then carrying on into life and Don’t tell me what to do. And we’ve seen a lot of smashing of, or outrage in response to power hierarchies, but in that growth hierarchies have been binned as well. I think the other challenge I see by not recognising that we grow is that the growth continues anyway, and then it can become really untidy and painful and uncomfortable. Tonight, I’m going to go and talk about psychological spiritual awakenings. Part of my sense around those is where we have stayed in one place. But the growth pressure has become so big. All of a sudden, they fuck you over here now. And then, one of the things I found in that was people were having very deep and intense, unprepared journeys into their subjective into their inner world. Yeah. And being stuck there. Yeah, almost as if I clicked my fingers. And then you were transported in everything that you’re wearing and everything you are straight to Antarctica. How did I get here? straight in. And so and they’re just two examples. But by not fully beginning to appreciate and being in the complexity of what it means to be a human on a human journey from the age of.to, the age of whenever 70 8090 letter from the queen, yeah. That we cause ourselves unnecessary damage. And we just make life unnecessarily hard work. And we flourish lies.

 

Rod Griffiths 

I often think that many people live in what I call ot land, or you ght it ought to be like this. And because you’re not like that, yeah, they get very frustrated and edgy. Whereas if you’re appreciating the complexity of the situation that you’re in, there is no such thing as ot. No, because it just is, it just is. And that

 

Bryn Edwards 

interesting comes back to was talking about earlier on with the role, the role of the nervous system. Yeah. And then that been one of the drivers for creating narratives. Yeah.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. The nervous system being a complex system in itself. And which raised the question, do we have the right to understand it? Yes. Because if you take the spiritual route, and say some things are best, in the unknown. Yeah. When I went to talk about the Masters course, I was telling you about this one, it applies to chaos and creativity. The guy went to see wasn’t there. I mean, the chaotic experience got muddled up. And but the payoff was, and he said to me, Rod, that’s the known. This is the unknown. Now, where do you want to play? Because there’s more going on in the unknown? Of course, yes. And so that appreciation of the unknown the uncertain, the complex, that you can’t fully understand I really serving anybody by trying to understand it completely. or living with it. in it and being as magnificent if you like, because we can be within it.

 

 

Yes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Without having to untangle it to take apart advise it to do it to death, which is probably ruined it anyway.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Because you destroy

 

Rod Griffiths 

the essence because you destroy the essence of it.

 

 

I love the word essence. Yeah.

 

 

What does it mean

 

Rod Griffiths 

to that might be the connection with this conversation and your talk this evening?

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

I at school rotor were asked to write an essay in religious studies about why believe in God. And my response was all about well, he’s custodian custodian of the unknown and we ought to respect him for that because he’s got it when we should have the right to that this is going to be a terrible Mohawk. We got a very high mark.

 

 

Right? That’s good. We should respect that.

 

Rod Griffiths 

There’s something to be said the prof was playing into my or I was playing into his hands when he was talking about his diagram. Yes. And let’s see it spotted something already. Huh.

 

Bryn Edwards 

There’s something to be said that actually for the more we spend time to unravel and, and reduce and map and quantify and measure. The more we’re not spending time just being in and you can kind of see why one would send you slightly neurotic and one would bring a deeper sense of meaning and tone and still and calmness

 

Rod Griffiths 

So what something’s happened? Where’s it got you to? Maybe it’s not words yet. It’s all about that I’m saying don’t feel obliged to answer because it may undermine or destroy what’s happening, what’s coming.

 

Bryn Edwards 

It’s arriving at something that have been failing for a while, from a new place. of have this the first week in January, I always find hugely depressing. Because everybody’s had the fortnight off. And then we’ve all enjoyed life over Christmas. Not because the presence because we’ve just had time off to just be. And then it’s almost as if the first week of January rolls by. And then everybody plays the game again, and yes, puts the so tell us go back to. And growing up in a in a boys boarding school for 11 years. Everything was extraordinarily regimented. And I, I used to love disrupted days, snow days. And that’s possibly why I thought COVID was so much fun. Because it was like one enormous snow day. But it meant that from, from a child hood, I had this sense of everybody doing the thing, going along,

 

Rod Griffiths  

doing the right thing, doing the right thing go along, in order to land

 

Bryn Edwards 

in or land. And I felt it so very, very deeply. And without wanting to deconstruct it, I’ve asked myself, why. Because I would love to disrupt it. We’d love to disrupt it. And forever, everyone.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And you are.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And you know, I recognised that, to reduce things down to well, if we all just this one thing, and everything would be different is its folly. But what are some of the things you could play with and then see what might happen. And there’s something there for me around the sitting in unknown, but not just the unknown, recognising that things are complex. And going beyond the hubris of man, which is

 

 

I’ve created all these amazing things in the universe that my willen back in.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Quantum Physics has a lot to answer for that. It’s created this incredible wave of New Age spirituality that now sees the whole universe, nature in everything, everyone’s beck and call because

 

 

the electrons just fall into order as soon as I look at them, and it’s rocky listen to yourself.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And the bits I go along with is the uncertainty principle. You can’t know where something is and how fast it’s going at the same time. And so and for me, we can’t know about the whole of the universe in that way. Yeah, we’re trying to. And so Heisenberg, yeah, yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And so, we’re all caught up in this. Doing, wanting to know, nervous system has a lot of descriptors in a way of being. That leads me to some of the conclusions that things like increasing rates of mental health issues. Arise are an indicator that not that there’s something wrong with us, which is the way we do life and the systems that we put in place a hugely traumatic and chaotic and not necessarily serving. And so maybe earlier on item reticent

 

Rod Griffiths 

about no more extremes. This end, the more extremes, they’re going to be at that end. Correct. So Surprise, surprise, the US has got more more billionaires, but more and more and more poverty.

 

Bryn Edwards 

There we go. And earlier on when I talked about systems moving past the place that we can control them, I didn’t feel I didn’t feel I didn’t sit right using the word control. Maybe it’s the systems have evolved past the place that they no longer really service and that we’re serving the systems. And I know that sounds like a slave to the man type thing. But it is. Yeah. Yeah. So that was what was going on. Yeah, I’ve felt this for a while. But now just the complexity lens. Other than new dimension,

 

Rod Griffiths 

I’m just wondering whether complex is the wrong sort of word because it sounds quite sort of defined and scientific. And it ain’t like that. It’s all soft and fuzzy. And yes, indescribable. And wolf. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Right. It’s quite complex. Yes. It’s complex. Yes. Okay. So know what it means. Yeah.

 

 

Well, like we sort of discussed before, yes. Just by calling and complex. Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

That’s right. Exactly. Yes. With language, and its very nature. But I’m saying that the particular word is a bad reducer anyway. Because it’s got it conveys the wrong message about it. I’m not because they’re either not helpful message, it doesn’t actually get you into it. Keeps you out.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I guess, the other thing that’s coming up from

 

Rod Griffiths 

me, I’m in the unknown, everything’s changing around me. And I’m not quite can’t quite get hold of what this isn’t what that is. Isn’t it wonderful? Mm hmm. Rather than I don’t understand this, I’m going to examine that bit and examine this bit, and take it apart until I understand each bit in the way it works. Yeah, I’m pretty bad together again. I’ll just say like, that’s what I did in my first cars given last in seven babysitting in the UK before I could have a licence and I took it apart, completely rebuilt it. Now that wasn’t rebuilding a car. It was learning to drive because I knew how to drive it through having taken it apart and put it back together again. Yeah, so it’s learning to drive system, not a mechanical car system. Right.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

I didn’t realise that till now.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Do you still do that? Yeah.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah. That’s not saying and I get very annoyed by throwaway society stuff as well. You know, when you can see how easy it is to fix something. Yes. You can’t just get the park there and sell the pie ring up and say this is a way you know, personal way machine. There’s a part needed. And they say, No, no, we don’t do pasture straightaway get another one. Well, there’s a whole beautiful living engineered machine there. Yes. We’ve little circuits in and very intricate bearings and weighing things. Throw it away. It’s unbelievable, you know, the human creativity that’s gone into it. Yeah. I just bought an awful little vibrating pad.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And by just throwing it away, we reduce it and off we go to another thing.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. And we’ve created waste in the planetary system that can’t be processed. With disorganised mineral resources. The change has been made through building a weighing machine it goes way beyond the weighing machine. Now because it’s in all the sourcing and all the bits and pieces in the design work and the manufacturer of different things, I mean, some of it metals, some of it plastic, some of it glass, some of it rubber has all got to be come together. Look at the cost you pay for, you know, 40 bucks now, possibly 40 bucks value the work that’s gone into that. The beauty of it? Well, I mean some some things, I mean everyday things, you can get a feel that this is a beautiful piece of work and design. And that’s that’s a wonderful feeling to have. Because there’s a sense of communicating with the designer and builder. It’s not just a thing. It’s a message that’s come with it.

 

 

Now we’re into a static software. Yes. Which

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah, beauty is the unknown.

 

 

Beauty is the unknown.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Try and define it.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. And just as it just is. It’s a Oh.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And people different people have different experiences, if that is.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Do you find beauty and complexity?

 

Rod Griffiths 

I think they often go together actually. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, that’s wonderfully complex. Yeah.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, I won’t even bother to try and take it apart. Because I, I want to appreciate the wonderment in it.

 

 

Yes. Yeah. And I wonder how often whereas even do that with, let’s say, an iPhone?

 

Bryn Edwards 

beautifully turned out piece of kit, glass on the front and a couple of buttons. And yes, it does all these amazing, wonderful,

 

Rod Griffiths 

they work that goes into it and the beauty unit. In this video today, there’s more transistors in an iPhone than there are leaves in the universe.

 

 

Wow.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And it’s such a huge number, you can’t even think of it. Wow, uni, I did a bit of computer science. And we had to build a testing device for what was the magnetic cost? Or at the time, this was how storage was the ferrite coil. And our cost or was one byte eight bits. So it’s a little thyroid rings. And you had to read duplicate a pattern in it of zeros and ones. And he had to check that it’s got the right zeros and ones. Now that thing eight bits was about couple of centimetres square. eight bytes bits, eight bits.

 

 

Yeah. Wow.

 

Rod Griffiths 

The world’s changed. The world has changed. Yes. And in all sorts of mysterious ways. And mysteries that are the mysteries and mysteries that’s changed him miss lots of mysterious ways. Yes. And the mysteries are mysteries to keep his mysteries. So I think what we’ve got to is saying that, yes, you can break down complexity into its parts. But you won’t get an understanding of the whole if you do that. Yes. And trying to understand the whole is more of feeling it and being in it and appreciating your place in it than doing something to it. Yes. And if we tried to really get into describing and understanding and portraying and measuring that complexity, with record anyway. So we’re better to inspect it for what it is by looking at that. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, we’d probably record quantum physics is telling Yeah, yes. Yeah.

 

 

Do you think

 

 

Because we’re just talking about mysteries that

 

 

you think that

 

Bryn Edwards 

mysteries and certain levels of understanding of complexity. I almost want to use the word is, is almost time locked, as in this mystery will remain a mystery until such time, all of a sudden she’ll just go.

 

Rod Griffiths 

But the mystery will reveal itself. Yes. It’s not that we’re trying to get into it. Exactly. Yeah. The mystery will feel the time has come and reveal itself.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Which can probably give you a great sense of. Yep. Aha, aha. Probably a bit of synchronicity as well.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Because more often than not a mystery reveals itself at a similar time that other pennies may have dropped. Something

 

Rod Griffiths 

else happens over here.

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

So can you set out to create those aha moments?

 

 

Now you’re back into grabbing?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Exactly. I think you’ve just answered.

 

 

Yes.

 

Bryn Edwards 

That sort of force versus power?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And trying to force something. Yeah. As opposed to the power of just yeah, allowing it to happen. Yeah. Loneliness can be existentially challenging.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes. I think that’s the territory that it’s in, in a way. Yes. Yeah. I describe it more as a philosophy. I don’t think it’s more than that. Right.

 

Bryn Edwards 

There it Yeah. I have this psychology bent that I look at things through because of study at university. But more and more now. It includes sort of philosophy as well. But I’ve always been particularly interested in sort of existential level.

 

Rod Griffiths 

You’re just describing a whole series of reductionist thinking. Yeah.

 

 

Big area. Fame. Yeah.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Because the subjects are reductionist in their own right. Well, yeah. And you try and I mean, you think at the medical world is a great example. Because you end up going to see a doctor and then a consultant, and then a specialist. And there is something missing and you go back and change the naturopath. Yes, and try and sort it all out. They each of them have got a particular window into the problem you’ve got, but no one’s got hold to the whole thing.

 

 

Exactly.

 

Rod Griffiths 

In the medical world is one of the worst probably like that.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Well, yeah, that and science, science.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

But going back to the extra central part, is that the more the more I wrestle with this, the more I see the part of me or the part of my identity, which is probably our refer to as scaffolding. That’s scaffolding that’s anchored to external things. And, and that’s fine until some of those external anchors, he’ll get terminated and then the scaffolding of the identity of Bryn shakes and it can be quite traumatic. Yeah. Yet behind the scaffolding is something that is emerging yet is a part of me. And it’s a feeling it just is. And so as I come to embrace complexity, or ambiguity or uncertainty, more without Wanting to grab? There is something there that still holds me.

 

Rod Griffiths 

And that’s okay.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And that’s okay.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Is it okay? Or is it something else?

 

 

Just is it gives it it gives a different sense of comfort. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I wouldn’t say safety, comfort reassurance, that when I begin to embrace complexity and uncertainty. And truly acknowledge or drop into acknowledgment of this is all we don’t know. And this is what we know. Far out, and that that’s okay. And, and as I move further into that, I can have these existential challenges and feel like you drop into the abyss and things can become quite. I mean, I’m describing now some of the things I’ve talked about this evening. But those episodes occur more frequently now, but less time in duration. Because it just allowed them to be, because I’ll know I’ll come back the same but different. And so you can always feel like you drop into this abyss. And there aren’t many. There aren’t many great words to describe that. So in the middle of it, you might say, I feel a bit depressed.

 

 

But then not actually, the words are not actually what’s going on.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And at times, things can be quite dreamy. I’d say edgy, edgy, dreamy. Sometimes it can feel like as somebody slips for breakfast, like I’m fit for the rest of the day where I haven’t quite got a grasp on everything. And that’s okay. I can still function. But then that will cease and then something will come. And the more I become Okay, with that happening for me, the more it’s been okay to progress further into complexity and uncertainty. Which then probably comes back to that whole, just being and that’s okay, that’s the doing.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah, I mean, I think that I’ve got into this more recently, and because of being at a more reflective time of life, you know, my work type doing isn’t around. It’s more about being

 

 

Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

In the role I have within the groups I help support. And that’s that’s fine. Yeah, good.

 

 

Because you’ve taken a lot of the doing out

 

Rod Griffiths 

now Yeah, yeah. Yeah, but I don’t want to be caught up in the doing in the same way as I used to be. So it’s come at a good time for me, huh? This these realisations?

 

 

can make you realise what a bunch busy idiot?

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Got to got to. Yeah, Portland, Portland.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. Should shouldn’t all over us. Yes. Yeah. It’s funny that parts of this are almost what you’re hearing if you went to a mindfulness course or Yeah, or Yeah, no.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yes. Exactly. Yes. But the problem is, it’s been called this course.

 

 

Well, yes. And now it’s this has boundaries. Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

This is what you do to be mindful.

 

 

Yes. This, and then yes. And then this and that. And then enlightenment will be. Yeah, we’ll send you a ship. Yes.

 

Rod Griffiths 

So that mode of being has got made into a doing.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. Yeah. I’m with something. My, we work on the assumption that my experience of mindfulness is probably going to be different to yours. And my path is going to be subjective and different to yours. Which is that example in and of itself. It’s kind of something where I find this in attention as part of me that wants to do something. In that starting to recognise gaps in human capability for realising what, what is emerging for someone in any given field, and being okay. And owning that journey. Does that make sense? Sure, if we’re talking about an external thing, like, I cut my arm and it’s a big gash, then you’re gonna see the doctor stick up and put the things in, and that’s fine. Then when it comes to my, in our experience, and journey and the things I need to do,

 

Rod Griffiths 

have that cut, maybe have that cut? Yes. There’s layers of the cut, because normally your experience of it, and what you’re learning from it, as well as fixing the cut. Yes. and all sorts of other things as well. Your feelings around it?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yes. And then what my friends might say about Yes. And how Yeah, how is the system’s around?

 

Rod Griffiths 

That’s right.

 

Bryn Edwards 

And so having this more integrative understanding of just one event. And yeah, possibly taking that a little bit more seriously, but that’s not quite the word.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah, it’s never the word justice. important because it’s there’s never adjust is always an end.

 

Bryn Edwards 

They used to be when I worked for a company called a consultancy called Turner and Townsend back in England, we used to have a director who was Scottish and I used to dread his phone calls, because it reduces the bay open. He’s gonna work on a job. It’s only four weeks, and you’re just gonna have to all you have to enter just to read it. Because the sane is somebody just says, Oh, it’s just gonna be this is gonna be a lot, you know, you know, it’s gonna be far from that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s never Yep. My father has this funny nickname, which is called from a mob. And if he’s listening to this, he’s gonna kill me now. And from his, he’s called, things like, four jobs. Raj

 

 

will do one job, it will create three. But the trouble is, is that’s what life’s like. Yes.

 

 

Yeah, three jobs might not be the ones that you want. Yes, you spell that. And that means that it’s cleaning. And then you realise that you don’t have cleaning solutions that

 

 

you have to go to the

 

Bryn Edwards 

bathroom one thing, but it’s never one job. Then it’s nice to pop boundaries around things. So you get a sense of achievement.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. Yeah. So I do my hands on stuff. Yes, it’s a project but you’re right. The projects always get bigger.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, they do. You do have to take some boundaries.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Yeah. And you wonder whether or should I be doing this afterward. Maybe it’s got so much to it, they would have done it professionally, much quicker and it would have been

 

 

tickety. Boo,

 

Rod Griffiths 

but I wouldn’t have the same feeling about it because somebody else did it. Yeah. Now, tell me where I’m living with at the moment. Sorry. That’s the dilemma. I’m living with a moment. Too many projects. Yes. Yeah.

 

 

I’m not enough to

 

Rod Griffiths 

even now. Yes, yeah. I have more time. Well, maybe I don’t actually maybe I just not send the invoices.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Here we go to wherever we got to now.

 

Rod Griffiths 

Well, we’ve got to, as you say, more of an existential discussion and philosophical about people’s By the way, people embrace or not complexity and uncertainty. Uncertainty into it.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. And I guess, laughs little penny dropped for me is that obviously, now talking about subject like complexity was always going to go across many different rounds because it’s not one it’s never going to be reduced to just

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