This is Cairine MacDonald's response to the question, What are you skating towards in 2012?
In a tribute to times past, skaters are gliding down canals on old-fashioned wooden skates. These skates are practical, efficient and allow you to go places. They don't have the sex and jazz of figure skates. They aren't the hockey skates of either professionals or children at play.
So why does this resonate? The journey, how we travel, is as important as where we are going. With these skates, we can go the distance, arrive in new places and ensure we don’t just go around in circles, whether large or small.
Gretzky transformed hockey with a new vision of the game: ”I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” While I am setting off on a journey, I am not confident of getting to a destination I have the capacity to envision. Rather, I anticipate the unexpected – the bumps in the ice, gaping holes to avoid, gale force winds… counter-balanced with a serendipitous touch of magic which will alter the colors and fill the air with music.
I am pushing off, optimistic and relaxed – mindful of the need to conserve my energy and stop periodically for hot chocolate by a stranger’s fire.
“So,” you ask again, a trifle impatiently, “WHAT are you skating towards?” Isn’t it obvious? I am skating towards the future. I am skating toward real change, not just change for the sake of change. I am skating toward uncertain outcomes, where the skills that are required are those of communication, understanding and real flexibility in terms of thinking in new ways about challenges. I am skating toward partnerships which are forged out of necessity as well as commonality – where we work toward that third option that neither of us thought was possible in advance.
On my old-fashioned, wooden skates, designed for long strides and uncertain journeys, I am bringing the best of what is human to bear on realities created by the worst of what is human. I skate with realism, optimism, hope and determination. I don’t skate alone!
Cairine MacDonald has been a Deputy Minister in BC since 2003, currently in the Ministry of Environment. As DM of Housing and Social Development, she was recognized among 2010 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the category Cisco Public Sector Leaders.
Note: I am releasing individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012? Upcoming contributions are by Marcel Lauzière, Donna Thomson and Peter Block. You can access the accumulated essays here.