The investigator of truth

At bottom, what the investigator of such truths is seeking is only the metamorphosis of the world into man. […] His method is to treat man as the measure of all things, but in doing so he again proceeds from the error of believing that he has these things [which he intends to measure] immediately before him as mere objects.  He forgets that the original perceptual metaphors are metaphors and takes them to be the things themselves.*
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

human understanding at best can understand itself, but nothing outside itself**
(Ursula Le Guin)

No-one is purporting we know all there is to  know, that we have discovered everything there is to discover.  New scientists continue to emerge and are likely to for a long time yet.

We have to accept limitations, though.  We cannot become a bird or a squid or a millipede.  All of which discover and explore and know this world in different ways to us.  We may imagine what their experience is but its human imagining.

This is our weakness and when we accept it, then we shall be stronger.

(*Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphors.)
(**From Ursula Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter.)


If you must

For a long time, people would confirm that they’d rather watch a flawed character, but deep down, they’d like to be Superman.  Because his humility, kindness and resilient mental health are a perfect match for his unlimited powers.  Unfortunately, as we’ve turned our lives into a reality show, more people seem happier emphasising their mess.*
(Seth Godin)

Many can be the challenges within, even more than those without.  The good news is:

‘Everyone has some Superman in them.  But it takes emotional labour and hard work to reclaim it.’*

Our superpowers, though, are unlikely to stop buildings collapsing with our bare hands and make it possible to fly.  There are, however, amazing powers to be found that, largely, go unnoticed, like patience.  Who’d have thought patience might be a superpower:

“And patience has a positive tonic effect on others; because of the presence of the patient person, they revive and go on, as if he were the gyroscope of the ship providing a stable ground.”**

At any, we are both who we are and what we do – we are an incomplete truth.  Without these, our different looks like everyone else and being different takes us nowhere that really matters.  Youngme Moon describes an assignment from her high school days, ‘to go for twenty-four hours trying to be nonconformist … a chance to reveal a more authentic version of ourselves to each other’.^  Her repost to this challenge was to wear pyjamas and sweatshirt – pretty much the same as the rest of her year.  Except for one quiet person, J, who began standing up to answer questions, respectfully as if they mattered to him:

‘What I learned from this assignment was that there are two kinds of difference.  There is a kind of difference that says nothing, and there is a kind of difference that speaks volumes. … I chose a kind of difference that said nothing.  Not that I was alone in this respect; most of us chose to say nothing that day.’^

True nonconformists ‘change the paradigm of what people believe possible’^^ and we all have different ways of displaying this:

‘But each of is is temperamentally sensitive to a certain range of information that we learn to value more than most other people do, and it is likely that we will consider feedback involving that information to be more relevant than others might.’*^

Another way of seeing this, through the lens of character and personality, is to notice what matters to you and why it matters.

Your MUST is what your life is saying you have to do in response to something that matters in the world.

In the journeys I take with people, I ask them to keep two lists over several weeks: a “loved it” list and a “loathed it” list.  These are about noticing energy: the loved it for noticing when we are really energised by something, the loathed it for when we feel energy seeping out of us in a dangerous way.  In-between there’s a lot of “white noise.”

What we discover is that we can find our must in the things that comprise our loved it list and sometimes in the contents of our loathed it list – where we identify something we want to change.  Sometimes both.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: A slow motion train wreck.)
(**Paul Goodman, quoted in Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.)
(^From Youngme Moon’s Different.)
(^^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(*^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)


My Journey Into the Heart of Terror by Jurgen Todenhöfer
Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor by Maria Popova
One for the haters by gaping void
Create Dangerously by Albert Camus
Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

The Mindful Doodling Workshop

Explore some slowness through mindful doodling, learning about the different ways visual practice can help us to see more, feel more and do more.

The workshop can either be a 6-8 hour experience exploring the difference dawdling can make to our lives.  Get in touch to find out more.



When doing what you must do helps me to do what I must do

Why should you compare? said Uncle.  Each thing possesses its own special essence which has nothing to do with anything else.  Understand the essence of a thing said Uncle, and you know everything you need to know.*
(Alan Lightman)

All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them.  We need too be taught these skills, we need guides to show us how.  Without them, our lives get made up for us by other people.**
(Ursula Le Guin)

Don’t get equal, get different.

Your different helps me be different.  That’s how we pass different on.

(*From Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(**Ursula Le Guin, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings.)

A different kind of playfulness

In play we may move below the level of the serious, as the child does; but we can also move above it – in the realm of the beautiful and sacred.’*
(Johan Huizinga)

Each day your soul weaves your life together.  It weaves the opaque and ancient depth of you with the actual freshness of your present experience.**
(John O’Donohue)

Are you ready to play?  To play more?

Or is play something you’ve left behind as you “grew up”?

If we feel playfulness is beneath us, that we want to be known as a serious person, then we’re really worried about what others may think of us.

Playfulness requires our humility to enter; it is a child-size doorway.  But whilst playfulness can be lighthearted, it can be the highest form of seriousness.  Here we find a playfulness that lies on the far side of seriousness.

(*From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

Other blue reading:
Create Dangerously by Albert Camus.
Powerful metrics with hidden variables (blog) by Seth Godin.
Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King
Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.
The Craftsman 
by Richard Sennett.
The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.
Words Are My Matter by Ursula Le Guin.
The Flat White Economy by Douglas McWilliams.
Different by Youngme Moon
Talking about a revolution (blog) by gapingvoid.

No one is better at being you than you

Impersonators are always playing catch-up.

Every day, though, we have the opportunity to develop and contribute who we are and what we do.

This is how we are able to find and live in meaning.

It isn’t this way for everyone yet, by any means.

What better thing then can we live for but to spread the word, encouraging and enabling as many as possible to bring more to the party than others expect?


The hostile life

they graffitied on the walls of the city, sometimes the very ones  on which was already printed Défense d’afficher (‘It is forbidden to post’).  Défense de ne pas afficher (‘It is forbidden not to post’), someone wrote on the wall at Sciences-Po in 1968*
(Lauren Elkin)

The greatest gift you can give to a person is to see who she is and to reflect back to her, when we help people to be who they want to be, to take back permission they deny themselves, we are doing our best, most meaningful work.**
(Bernadette Jiwa)

There’s such a thing a hostile brand.  Youngme Moon describes how,

‘Instead of laying down the welcome mat, they lay down the gauntlet.’^

The hostile life is not easy to find, it’s almost as though it doesn’t want to be found.  When we cross its threshold, though, we realise that it has been our own reluctance to something more difficult, more challenging, more demanding that has made it appear as it has.  In the movie Avatar Jake Sully will know which flying banshee he must bond to because it will be the one that will try to kill him – a picture for the way before us being the one that will demand much of us:

There are many easy ways, this is not one of them.

(*From Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse.)
(**From Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)
(^From Youngme Moon’s Different.)

Other blue reading:
Create Dangerously by Albert Camus.
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb.
How to give a five-minute presentation (blog) by Seth Godin.
Nietzsche on Truth, Lies, the Power and Peril of Metaphor (blog) by Brain Pickings.
Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King.
Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.
by Yuval Noah Harari.

Now let that be a lesson

The night is large and full of wonders.*
(Lord Dunsany)

Choosing to develop character is difficult, because it requires avoiding the shorter, more direct path. It can be slow, expensive and difficult work.  […]


Every time we avoid the easy in favour of what’s right, we create ripples.**
(Seth Godin)

Some see facing our failure as being nothing more than accepting our punishment.

It isn’t easy, but those who are prepared to face their failure, to be open to it as something transformative then they find growth for who they are and what they can do.

(*Lord Dunsany, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Character matters (if you let it).)

Other blue reading:
Different by Youngme Moon
My Journey into the Heart of Terror by Jürgen Todenhöfer.
Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin
Words Are My Matter by Ursula Le Guin.