I wear a suit to the office. My son wears a uniform to his soccer games. Before I swim in a public pool, I take a shower. When I go running, I listen to high-intensity music.

These are some examples of how I show up to spaces. Different spaces invite us to change.

Signatures

In herbalism, there is a concept called ‘The Doctrine of Signatures.’ Plants have different aspects such as leaf shape, color, and smell. Jacob Bohme, the 17th Century philosopher, called these signatures. Signatures identify the purpose of the plant.

In this world view, since a walnut looks like a brain, maybe the purpose of walnuts is to aid thinking.

When I think about my capacity for change, I think about my signatures. People have an infinite capacity for change. We self-author our signatures.

Signatures and Spaces

I was at a cocktail party for my son’s class, one type of container. The space organized itself into small groups of people talking together. I did not know how to join any group and felt like an outsider.

What aspect of myself, what signature, produced this situation? What signature could I use to participate in this space?

I focused on my sense of sight. My eyes saw people talking, but really I saw people’s feet. I was looking at sneakers, pumps, and boots.

A particular group of feet caught my eye, and I went over to that group and told them I liked their shoes. Now I was participating in the space.

My vision was a signature and so were the shoes.

Spaces and Containers

In pedagogical spaces, teachers and students have different signatures. A teacher has credentials and students have enrollment. There can be transformational relationships between students, but the primary pedagogical relationship is between individual students and the teacher.

When I enter a mastermind space, like a writing group, I come in relation. I speak a common language of creation and commentary. My primary relationship is between the members of the group.

When I enter a transformational space, I come as a body. Transformation happens to the way I feel and experience the space itself and the participants. My primary relationship is with myself.

Interpersonal connections are a correspondence of signatures.

The Colorworld

In my last piece, I made an analogy between a container and a Sierpinski gasket. A Sierpinski gasket is made by repetitively drawing triangles in relation to triangles previously drawn.

We can distinguish between rectangles drawn at different iterations. I can associate triangles made in the 3rd iteration with yellow, and those in the 4th iteration with orange. The colors are the signatures, and the colors can change from representation to representation.

Two containers may have the same rules, but their colorsworlds can differ. Colorworld was coined by painter and educator Hans Hoffman as language around abstract art. Hoffman said light creates color in the natural world, but on the canvas, color creates light. The talented artist can use colors to create a new world.

It is not easy to make a colorworld. In The Street Singer, Manet creates a living world of grays, yellows, and browns. When we participate in a space, though we are all alive, the space may be dead. We bring it alive by radiating a new light.

Thank you for reading. These are concepts that I am developing, and I welcome thoughts and comments.

Witnessing