What I learned

Nora Bateson
2 min readJul 5, 2020

I have been seeing one small piece of the landscape, a branch of a forest.

Believing it.

Then —

The forest revealed.

And I feel I have been so inept.

It is a reminder of the cost of thinking my knowing is anything.

I am learning that learning is the healing.

Not backtracking, not re-hashing, not splitting words and attempting to save face, not apologizing.

The only currency here is movement.

Learning is moving to a scope from which there is no return to past limited vistas.

No going back to not seeing, no hiding in old ways of non-sensing.

It is a one-way valve.

That changes everything.

It changes me.

I am learning to see the outlines of my own misplaced knowings.

I have learned to watch for signs of Cocky with the stance of clarity —

The self that thinks — I already knew —

is a version that cannot offer safety.

When that version of the self shows up, I will recognize her now.

I learned that learning is a relief. Like oxygen rushing to limbs that were in bondage.

The things I wasn’t perceiving were hurting people, life.

I am learning to question the image and the stories I was told, to smell the blood in them.

And learning to spot the frames, bars, bondage so camouflaged into the culture

I am learning to not hope to solve the past harms.

The pain that sits there just sits there.

Caught between now and 400 years of torn lives.

Nostalgia has no place here.

It is a blade through the scripts that obscured and justified.

I now know better than to think I could see this history. Any history.

I do not see. I cannot know. My effort will never be complete. It will never count. It will never be enough.

I will hold in open rigor the ongoing learning.

But I am able to sense a little bit more than before.

Learning to balance in the instability of wall-less, floor-less, world.

I have been seeing one small piece of the communication, a single word in a whole language.

Believing it.

Then —

The conversation revealed,

and it was time to be silent.

Nora Bateson January 15, 2020



Nora Bateson

Filmmaker, writer, educator, lecturer, President of the International Bateson Institute. Books: Small Arcs of Larger Circles 2016, Warm Data *upcoming 2019