Reflections on Amsterdam by Nick Ross

Reflections on Amsterdam by Nick Ross

Amsterdam was really about placing myself into an environment that I did not know (a foreign town) and that I would not usually choose to spend much time in (a city). I place a lot of store in the quietness of the countryside and my intimate connection with nature and natural patterns (seasons/weather, birth and decay) etc and a  central organizing principle for my life. (This affords me space to reflect and to develop ideas but also can lead to being a bit isolated or hidden at times which is the shadow to some extent).
The city can seem overwhelming at times but to enter it by choice brought something else to light and to life; something which is also very familiar in my psyche but which I really experienced ‘in the world’ on this retreat- I’d describe it as a quality of Eros: it was a creative, free, spontaneous, vibrant and tremendously diverse experience. I loved the playfulness and colour of the Vondelpaark, the bicycles, the cafes, the wonderful coffee I took each morning, the noise and chaos of the Dam, I enjoyed beauty; people, food, smells, sights, the sun and the breeze on my skin, the canals,  walking fluidly through the city, following my breath, no distraction, following my feet, trusting. I was struck by the depth and breadth of possibility, the sound of children playing, a creative impulse I felt almost everywhere which challenged my tendency to see ‘city’ as ‘too’ anthropocentric and therefore in some way missing something essential.
In meeting city I met my own biases for the opposite-the country.  It has left me with work as I explore this tension in my life since my return to the UK. Questions provoked in me? What is ‘city’ in me, its light and shadow aspects? Where do I stimulate creative connection with ‘other’ and where is the edge beyond which connection simply becomes noise and distraction? How do I hold ‘city’ with ‘countryside’ or nature and what might the threshold that joins the two mean for me (the marginal space of solitude and connection/ meaningful introspection and creative expression?). How does this play out in my work but also in organisations?

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