Life is a Verb

By our Design Partner, Greg Hart (February 2021)

Nothing is ever done. That’s intimidating. And we do like to check things off and move them off our plates so that statement seems like a bit of an uncomfortable paradox.

If you have the good fortune to spend time with First Nations elders and dedicate yourself to really listening, my bet is that you will come away with more than a handful of fundamental insights. Consider a couple of linked examples.

The first is noticing that First Nations languages are rich in verbs - describing movement and change - whereas many Western languages are rich with nouns - describing objects that are static.

The second is the notion of reciprocity. What we owe to each other. What all things owe to each other. Their relationships and how they change one another. It applies to everything including the land.

"The relationships we have - like a lot of other nouns we name - are constantly becoming." -- Greg Hart, Design Partner

The relationships we have - like a lot of other nouns we name - are constantly becoming. They are verbs. Just like a tree or a person or the Earth or software. There are many nested, interacting, continually changing relationships hidden in these objects. The movement and the reciprocity is hidden inside the noun. This shouldn’t be misconstrued as a way of saying we shouldn’t do things or commit to action.

Of course we have to ship things. As soon as you ship something, it changes something. It’s actually kind of the point. It doesn’t end there. Reciprocity is engaged. If we see the verb inside the noun, we know that means we’re not done. We’re never done. And that’s okay. It’s actually pretty awesome.