Transforming the way you live and work in the world
Home / GISC Blog / Individuals, Leaders, Practitioners / What’s mud got to do with it? /



December 2018

September 2018

March 2018


What’s mud got to do with it?

By Gwynne Guzzeau, Executive Director

It’s overcast today.  The snow and ice from multiple storms has finally melted leaving the ground exposed once again.  Mary, our office manager, prefers the ice on her driveway this time of year, “It looks nicer than the wet dirt and gravel.”  If I wasn’t so worried about slipping on the ice, I’d agree with Mary, but I’ll take the mud for now along with the inconvenience it brings, sticking to my shoes and tracking after me whether wet or dry.

It wasn’t always this way.  When I was seven, mud was a projectile.  Easily shaped into balls that fit my small hands and launched over the six-foot stockade fence into the neighbors yard where kids we weren’t allowed to play with lived and launched their counterattack.

When I was twenty-seven, mud was a serious matter.  I was working on a 25,000-acre cattle ranch on the Crow Indian reservation in southeast Montana.  Dryhead was a fitting name for the ranch, except after heavy rains when the dirt turned a slick rusty brown at least three inches deep.  My job as a ranch hand included vacuuming the carpeted dining area in the cookhouse before and after each meal and cleaning the bathrooms where the linoleum floors invited a mud slide, even with paper laid down to absorb the wet dirt.

Now, I live on the marsh where the mud is black and you can sink to your knees if you stand in the wrong spot.  Mostly, it’s my dog who gets covered in the thick smelly stuff of the marsh.

But what’s mud got to do with it anyway?  As a leader in transition, as a coach and as a human being, there’s so much that I can’t see.  So I lean into the unknown, the uncertainty, and much like stepping on the soft wet earth — boundaries become blurred when my feet merge with the mud.

Mud demands that I pay attention to the ground, not just the figure I’ve decided to move towards.  In this way, the ground acts on me and my experience literally, not “only” in a Gestalt sense of the word “ground.”  

Last week, I asked a CCTP colleague in the UK what I should be reading in light of my new position, she responded:  “Poetry.  The answers to your leadership challenges won’t be found in a book.”

I know she’s right because I already have a poem posted on my office wall that captured my attention in the first few weeks on the job.  It’s called “Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron” by William Stafford and the last line reads “…feet that go down in the mud where the truth is.”

Luckily though, for all you can’t see, mud is really good at leaving tracks.  And if it’s Meetinghouse mud that means that you’re lucky enough to be at GISC and you’ll probably be tracking it in with the rest of us….



Tags: , , , ,

One Response to “What’s mud got to do with it?”

  1. Janet Gillease says:


    Mud is Beauty in the making,
    Mud is melody awaking;
    Laughter, leafy whisperings,
    Butterflies with rainbow wings;
    Baby babble, lover’s sighs,
    Bobolink in lucent skies;
    Ardours of heroic blood
    All stem back to Matrix Mud.

    Mud is mankind in the moulding,
    Heaven’s mystery unfolding;
    Miracles of mighty men,
    Raphael’s brush and Shakespear’s pen;
    Sculpture, music, all we owe
    Mozart, Michael Angelo;
    Wonder, worship, dreaming spire,
    Issue out of primal mire.

    In the raw, red womb of Time
    Man evolved from cosmic slime;
    And our thaumaturgic day
    Had its source in ooze and clay . . .
    But I have not power to see
    Such stupendous alchemy:
    And in star-bright lily bud
    Lo! I worship Mother Mud.

    Robert William Service

Gestalt International Study Center
P.O. Box 515, South Wellfleet, MA 02663
Phone: +1 555 123 4567