Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Rough Fractals Open Door Policy.

Recently one of the Rough Fractals team members went on what is called a medical mission in Guatemala with an organization called Women for World Health. A few months after the trip, the team members from the trip received the following e mail. Below the email is the Rough Fractals reply:

Hi Everyone! I hope this email finds you doing well. I'm working on a facebook page for Women for World Health and was just wondering if you could share any insight you gained from the trip, what it meant to be part of a team or anything else you'd like to share. Thank you so much!
All the best, S.

Dear S,

If you can bear with my round about approach to your Women For World Health questions ("insight gained from the trip, what it meant to be part of a team and anything else from the trip") I'd like to try to address them.

I took my daughter to the train station the other day for a trip she was taking to visit a friend for a few days in another state and I complimented her on her back pack which was a very interesting, large, old fashioned style that you do not see too often. She said it was her "possibility bag". Upon inquiry she explained that when she goes camping, in addition to packing what she knows she will need, she also packs for possibilities (e.g., rain, thirst, sun, hunger, darkness, getting lost, bugs) so now, whatever the environment, she tries to pack for what could possibly happen.

I replied that I try to do the exact same thing in my head - be ready for possibility - and I spend a lot of time packing my brain with the things I may need when I go out - flexibility, some humor, curiosity - all the stuff I can think of that might be needed at any given moment. Sometimes I am well provisioned, other times (too many) I totally left the bag at home.

Turning to our Guatemala trip. I think everyone brought with them their possibility bags loaded with tools - medical expertise, administrative and other skills, language skills, and clearly a strong desire to work hard. But something else also happened (and it's something pretty remarkable and in some ways what being "on the road" is all about).

Imagine what it's like to see a door in front of you that you never saw before. You have no idea what is on the other side of the door but you and a group of people you do not know are standing there and all agree "lets open it, walk through and see what happens". So you open the door. You are now all on the other side standing there together, tentative, taking small steps, exploring a new place, meeting new people who have also walked through their doors and all the time working hard and talking about it - how are we doing, how can we do this better, what does it mean?

And there you all are; exploring, and sweating, and worrying, and working and maybe even freaking out but always (above all) caring. And then it's time to go back. But amazingly the door you walked through does not close behind you when you leave. It's still open, maybe not as wide open as when you were there but still there remains this new place inside you that is also newly opened. And maybe when you first go back home it takes a few days to get used to being back on the other side of the door again. Or maybe you spend a few days wandering around, keeping the door open and running into other people on the same road and you talk to them and recognize in each other this thing that has happened: that you packed your bag of possibilities, walked through a door you knew nothing about and explored with a group of young people (everyone is young (no matter how old they are) when they go through the door).

The insight gained from the trip and what it meant to be part of a team? - That there are doors everywhere - could be across the globe, could be in your living room. Go through the door and you will always come back the better for it.

Warmly - Rough Fractals.


  1. I love the idea of a Possibility Bag. Interesting read :)

  2. Rachel, thank you for comment. Something else that each Possibility Bag contains: yesterday, today and tomorrow...



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