Building a Pattern Language of My Own

I have more questions than answers.  For me, that makes life interesting.

In my first blog, I linked to the site of my favorite book, “A Pattern Language“, by Christopher Alexander et al.  Since then, like any language which can flounder from lack of use, my vocabulary has started to weaken over time.  So I recently reopened the book, looking for some ideas about creating towns and cities that are alive.  As I read through the various sections, pulling out the names of interesting patterns, a new question elbowed its way into the conversation.

What is my pattern language?  Is there a set of principles and practices that I follow as I pursue my vibrant life?

I started a list… a free write of the things I do each day… and then I assessed them for their energy giving or taking.  Just curious.  Then I left my list making and wandered into other activities.  There was work to be done and fun to be had and, from experience, I know that sometimes the best way to answer questions is to walk away from them.

Sure enough, two days later I remembered the tattered index card that lives in my writing folder.  On the back of the card is a diagram naming my inner characters as identified over twenty years ago.  That was interesting to see again!  But even more interesting was the illustration on the front… a pie shape with twelve wedges.  Each wedge is an activity that supports the four areas of my life: Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Mental.

This card, embellished and altered over the years represented my first attempts to name my own patterns.  It was a work in progress that I had almost forgotten.

As I reread the wedges, the work of Ira Progroff and his Intensive Journal Process came to mind.  I met Ira in 1989 and participated in annual retreats of his process for the next seven years.  Ira’s concept of Dialogues was profound for me… allowed me to enter into the griefwork that transformed my relationship to my self.

So how can I take these powerful tools, patterns for the built environment and dialogues with the inner environment, and weave them into a language in which I can become proficient?

Here is the original idea as I drew it.  The arrows are meant to convey limitless possibilities and the equal wedges are meant to convey balance.  Some of the titles could use updating and clarifying, but this is the basic foundation.

I am excited to see what gifts and challenges arrive as I build this language.  Even though it is my language, I would like it to have certain elements of universality in order to communicate with and about this language.  My focus will be on the attribute of building vitality because in my mind, this is the goal of simple living.

Do you have a personal language that builds vitality in your life?  I invite you to share it by commenting…

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