As I mentioned last week, “Black Swan” events are ones that blindside us. We can’t predict them so they are particularly disconcerting and disruptive. (Click here to review the video: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-sea-gypsies-50109115/).
Nevertheless, actuaries, and other financial gurus seek to build models that attempt to account for them. This week, I share what I see as I stand in the liminal doorway to a trans-rational approach to handling your inevitable Black Swan events in life and business.
1. The Moken live in the present.
Because they live in the “now” their response to the tsunami was to take seriously the living wisdom of Sali, an elder.
Sali went around the island, reminded “kids” of the danger of the unusual receding tide. He reminded them of the archetypal myth sung regularly at evening campfires. It told of the spirit of the sea who made a big wave because he hadn’t tasted people for a long time. Laboon, the wave that eats people, floods the earth and make it clean again. (Consider the parallels with the Biblical flood story in Genesis 5).
Laboon’s coming is preceded by a rapid and unusual outflow of the sea away from the shore. The Moken people remembered the myth, “knew” something was happening and took action–together with the tourists–to flee to highlands on the island. Not a single person perished.
Ancient myth and life today are one and the same time frame for the Moken…and it saved their lives.
2. The Moken knew how to look.
How did Moken on the ocean fare? They were on boats and knew to go into deeper waters to escape the boiling ocean of the tsunami. The Moken reported that Burmese fishermen who perished were focused on getting squid, they didn’t look and didn‘t know what to look for.
I suspect that like the modern Burmese fishermen, we often shut down “myth” and don’t know how to see the Black Swan event coming upon us. We falsely believe we can create the algorithm that will allow us to control uncertainty. What better way than to “make hay while the sun is shining” and keep harvesting squid to maximize our revenue? That algorithm did NOT serve the fishermen at all!
3. The Moken neither want nor worry.
The Moken response to the rebuilding task was equally equanimous. It was simply to rebuild their boats and lives without strain or stress. Remember that they neither “want” nor “worry” nor have a when to “worry” about! They take only what they need from the sea.
They know how to look at life. The tsunami provided them with the opportunity to strengthen their familial ties and craft new boats out of tree trunks. The wisdom of the ancestors was validated.
How is it that the Moken are so much more attuned to what’s really going on than we are?
We can certainly learn from the Moken way of life. They knew the big rocks in the jar necessary to survive. Big Rocks are those values and convictions that saved their lives. These “uncivilized” people nearly untouched by modern culture are wiser than us about what’s most important.
Like them, we can learn to take things in stride and not stress out when things don’t conform to our plans or designs.
Consider these two liminal doorways the Moken provide for us:
- How can you be more present? (I have found practices like yoga and contemplation help to become more grounded, body, mind and spirit).
- How can you “look” differently? e.g., where can you eliminate “worry” and “when” from your life? (Hint: get rid of thoughts and issues over which you have no control to ward off of worry).
- What can you do to strengthen your “familial” ties?