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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Are you treading on thin ice?

If you feel like you're on thin ice in a situation, you may find the solution lies in nature and not through logic!

One of the Landscaping Your Life tools is to use the landscape described by our language to find a solution. That is, if we're using can't see the wood for the trees, stuck in a rut, or treading water to describe a situation, the solution to the situation you're describing may just be found in the wood, rut or water! Follow the links to the other posts written on those sayings.

Yesterday someone on a TV programme mentioned being on thin ice, and I wondered what additional insight could be obtained if we explored the situation metaphorically via the ice.

If being on thin ice is how you feel at the moment then do please put the situation you're describing as such to the back of your mind. That is, don't rush to relate the solutions in the landscape to the real life situation. The aim is to explore the landscape fully and, only once you've done that, return to the real life situation, and to notice what analogies can be drawn.

First let's consider what you would do if you really were on thin ice in nature:
  • You'd get clear about your objective - ie where you wanted to get to
  • You'd step back
  • You'd wear appropriate clothing/footwear
  • You'd assess the depth of the ice
  • You'd try to spread your weight
  • You'd try to find a safe route across, or around the ice 
  • You might tie a rope to a tree in case you fall through the ice
  • You might ensure other people are around
  • Can you prepare for the ice breaking - make it easier somehow or less risky?
There's certainly very little you can do about the ice - it's very much about how you relate to the ice and minimising the risks involved. Although on further reflection..
  • You could wait for the ice to get thicker!
Remember - at the moment we're not relating any of this to the situation you've described as being on thin ice about - we're just gathering data about being on thin ice in nature. We'll think about reality soon enough. 

If we explore the landscape and saying a little more it feels like there's a number of aspects to this saying:
  • The ice
  • Walking on the ice 
  • Risks involved 
The ice

It's presupposed that the ice is thin - but is it - how can you test the ice to see if it really is thick enough to walk on, that it will take your weight? 

Of course the thin ice may be on the your windscreen, or hanging from the roof, or in some other place than under foot - in which case is it really a problem, and if so how might it be solved using this process (ie how would you solve a roof full of icy stalactites?)  


Walking on the ice

The ice is only thin if you intend to walk on it - if you're just looking at it, or walking around it then it's thinness isn't a problem at all!

There are many types of footwear that might make walking on ice easier - spreading your weight is also a great solution.

Image result for ice grippers

Risks involved

In the programme I was watching someone was warned they were on thin ice, and the response was "isn't that what life is about?" That is they didn't see walking on the ice as risky at all. Perhaps they saw themselves more like a penguin - happy if the ice did break?


You might however want to undertake a risk assessment looking at the probability of something happening, the impact if it did, and mitigating the consequences.

As I searched for pictures for this post I realised many of them may contain insight even if there was no logical reason for me including them. So here's a few images that may, or may not, add something to this investigation for you:







You may find reading the North Pole of inaccessibility post helpful - or you might not - it very much depends on how you're envisaging the thin ice, and the landscape in which it sits.

The aim is to stick with the metaphor for as long as possible - to stay in nature and determine the best course of action in the landscape.

Is there, therefore, anything else that comes to mind as you think about thin ice in nature?

Once you've fully explored the landscape, bring to mind the original situation you were feeling on thin ice about, and notice what you notice:
  • Does it still feel like thin ice? 
  • What actions do you need to take? 
  • Does anyone else need to know about these actions, and 
  • When will you take the first step?  
I'd love to have your feedback on this process, and your own exploration of being on thin ice.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Using nature to inspire change inside and out

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