The Wharf Theatre on Sydney’s Hickson Road has a quote from Tom Stoppard writ large facing the audience as you exit the building via the front steps:
Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
The quote can be read as a message of optimism and hope. But it also shows the unrelenting cycle of beginnings and endings that make up our lives.
Some of these beginnings and endings are profound. Most are just ordinary. Profound or ordinary, they all matter.
I have been feeling a little overwhelmed at the task ahead of the Design Forum to follow. Not so much overwhelmed by the task, because this has been on my mind for some time now, and so I am very much looking forward to getting amongst it. So why overwhelmed?
Overwhelmed because of the impossible task that once again stands before us. Impossible because from where I am now looking into the future, the Design Forum is an impossible proposition because it requires a level of funding I don’t yet have, impossible because the scale of impact is vastly beyond my own capacity or reach, and impossible because the culmination of the series of the Design Forum will be a significantly stronger force than its humble beginnings in Osaka early in February.
Have you been there before? Asking ‘who am I really to be doing something like this?’ I am well aware of my own limitations, maybe more so after the 10 City Bridge Run where I ran a running stunt involving 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries as an epic quest to open a conversation asking “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
Let’s reframe that question: given that I have the ability to do this through having conceived the idea no matter the difficulties that will be found ahead, who am I not to embark on the next leg of the journey?
Them words is fighting words.
But neither is this quest one of the heroic leader as a lone actor, an agent for the voice of the many. This is a quest for a collective. It is the heroes journey which calls on the agency of many heroes. And it is an invitation to everyone who wants to take the next steps together with me, with us.
I served in the Australian Army for many years. One experience which remains indelibly imprinted in my mind and psyche from my service was that of deploying together, either on operations or on exercise, as a unified force. The invitation is there to you now: will you fight along side me? Not everyone involved in a combat force carries a rifle and bayonet. The force is capable, diverse, and tight-knit.
What is your part in this quest of the Design Forum? Do you have a part? Maybe you don’t. But maybe you do, and if you do will you rise to the challenge of taking part in even a small way in the series of Design Forum that follows so that together we can make an impact on child survival?
The heroes journey is not for everyone. Many will turn away and stay in the comfort of The Ordinary World. I can’t make the decision for you. I can only extend the invitation.
Ahead, is a exit from The Ordinary World. An entry somewhere else. And you are invited.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the man.