Presence and the Reciprocal Zone

The Reciprocal Zone of Scribing

When we scribe, on the best of days, we connect with a zone. I call it a reciprocal zone, because it’s not only about how we relate to a certain sense of flow that might come through the air, like fine magical mist to our senses, that we relate to as an individual – but it is also about a web of connection we find ourselves in, inescapably, with our minds, hearts, hands, our drawing surface, our markers, with the people behind us and around us, with the parameter of the room, with the system known to be represented by what’s inside the walls, sometimes with the system at large. All points of connection manifest into a series of positive reinforcing loops, where the insight of one touches the insight of another. While drawing, we know, we sense, this activation – on the best of days.

We are a micro-system that represents a macro-system, and the quality of being we bring to the moment when we face a blank page or wall – that quality ripples out into the mist, reinforcing the enchantment of the surround. This is not to say we are magicians that weave some sort of spell – absolutely not. We are bystanders, and then active participants, WITH the activity of the room and the system, that functions as a path for something ELSE to come into existence and light.

We are not channels or mediums. We are artists. We connect to an inner place of wonder, and thus we are open to recognizing the spirit of wonder in the world around us.

Our presence, our quality of being, allows us to show up for a group at any phase of their process, holding a space of possibility for what might emerge. Part of locating our presence has to do with suspending our thoughts and habits of judgment, letting go of the past and also of the projections of the future, so we can be completely in the moment and show up to join a group where they are and co-create.

To explore presence is to learn another language that is not literal, but IS internal and very much embodied, if initially faintly seen or heard. We might ask ourselves: What is the barrier, the frontier, between fear and fluency? How do we feel differently when we are fluent? When we are in a position to express, what language do we choose to let sing?

This piece of the practice is not about the aesthetics. This is the intangible dimension, where we are in touch with ourselves at the most true level and in a position to let that truth meet the truth in the room THROUGH what we draw.

It is an honorable and breathtaking thing to sense, the flow, the presence of many. To work in that place, to help shape it, to give form to the unexpressed – THAT is the magic. It is a magic of the reciprocal zone that our presence merely meets.


  1. Nelle says:

    I am grateful to have found your blog. I am entering this field of work and have struggled to articulate the many nuances of the craft. Thank you for sharing! This will help me refine my own thinking and messaging.

  2. Great article, although I would say aesthetics emerge “where we are in touch with ourselves at the most true level and in a position to let that truth meet the truth in the room THROUGH what we draw”

  3. Kelvy Bird says:

    Kate – thank you so very much! It means a great deal to me that this will be useful for you in your work. Best wishes for the session, however it unfolds! kb

  4. Kate says:

    I am so glad to have stumbled across your writing. I am just preparing to lead/scribe/let go of a collaborative design session in Ethiopia. You have helped me position my work in context with the group and reminded me to let come. Lovely words! Thank you for these.