You’re obsessed

(This is a temporary image)

Talent is cheap – you have to be obsessed, otherwise you are going to give up.*
(John Baldessari)

May you be obsessed throughout your days by something that you cannot stop doing, something you cannot stop thinking about.

Some things are worth obsessing over: it’s how we make things better.

*John Baldessari, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: You have to be obsessed.

Into the wilderness

And there’s a special kind of resilience that comes from the level of scrutiny that happens in the wilderness. I know those experiences left me with a truer belief in myself and a much stronger sense of when I’m not being true to what I think is right.*
(Peter Carroll)

We will always need to be humble enough to accept our heart knows why we are here.**
(Paulo Coelho)

We can hear ourselves think and breath in the wilderness, feel our feelings, notice our energies.

No distractions, no razzmatazz, no gimmicks.

Just time and listening and awareness.

Dreamwhispering is an invitation to step into the wilderness.

Nothing swish or complicated, so we can step into a person’s complexity.

*Pete Carroll, quoted in Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness;
**From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.

Into the library

TSUNDOKU n. Leaving a book unready after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.*
(Ella Frances Sanders)

The art of reading a book is the best example of distance learning ever invented.**
(Neil Gaiman)

It was the second space in our walk-through experience of Communication Through the Ages.^

The walls were covered with newsprint, words becoming lines on paper, providing clear lists or instructions; stacks of books populated the floor, and it was possible to pick up one of these and connect with someone who was in a different place or even dead, but their voices were present to us in the text.

We take books and reading for granted but when you step back and see this technology for what it is, it is quite magical, capable of igniting imaginations and changing lives.

I am speaking to myself, really, because for many years I found an excuse for not reading more than a few books a year, but then a great desire to grow and to become changed all of that, and I am grateful for all the mind-openers, companions, navigators and encouragers I have met through the words of their books.^^

I recommend Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being for all ages to read about books and reading.

*From Ella Frances Sanders’ Lost in Translation: tsundoku is Japanese;
**Neil Gaiman, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: The best distance learning is reading a book;
^The first space centred on a communal fire around which we sat and communicated our news and stories; the third space would be filled with TV screens where we silently watched and listened; the fourth with laptop computers where silence again would reign as keys were pressed to communicate with someone far away, or perhaps in the same room.
^^We can count podcasts and audio books and such as alternatives or additions.

Solitude as a rite of passage

We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness … True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation.  One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.*
(Wendell Berry)

We connect to an inner place of wonder, and thus we are open to recognising the spirit of wonder in the world around us.**
(Kelvy Bird)

A rite of passage concerns itself with life-transitions that demand both inner and external preparations.

We still have many transitions in our society and culture – in education, work and relationships, but perhaps these tend to be more about external movement, lacking equal emphasis on the internal element.

Here are two rites of passage that are very valuable: solitude and opening to the other.

Imagine someone entering a great aloneness so they might hear their true voice.

And out from this, see the possibility of the initiate exploring how to open and form a place within themselves for the other: fauna and flora, the non-physical, ideas, new persons.

Some might suggest these rites are towards the never-ending quest of becoming more human.

*Wendell Berry, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Wendell Berry on Solitude and Why Pride and Despair Are the Two Great Enemies of Creative Work;
**From Kelvy Bird’s Generative Scribing, concerning reflective journaling.

Out of my way

The urge to make something is a precious energy.*
(Alex Pellew and Martin Amor)

More often than not, I am the person in my way.

I have found myself wondering about the missed opportunities to take what I really want to do further.

Too many times and too many regrets.

But life has a way of continuing to bring opportunities our way, so much so that it looks as if life isn’t linear but helical.

This matters to me because I want to make something.

We all do.

In story terms, this is the through line:

The through line is the invisible thread that pulls the reader or listener through the story, from event to event. You can think of the through line as your story’s theme, conveying what the story is about.**

I am grateful for this idea of the through line.

It tells me I haven’t completely missed the plot, or if I get off-track, where to come back to and be ready for the next opportunity, which tends to be when things get hairy:

When you feel that rush of fear as you put your point of view, your art, or your idea out into the world, this is not an invitation to step back into the shadows; it’s a sign that you are at the edge, right where you should be, exploring how things might be.*

It’s up to me now not to get in my way.

*From Martin Amor and Alex Pellew’s The Idea in You;
**From Bernadette Jiwa’s What Great Storytellers Know.

Spooky behaviour over long distances*

As a species, we have proved to be good historians but poor futurologists.**
(Robert Macfarlane)

There’s a word in Spanish. … Instead of saying ‘to wake up,’ you say recordarse, that is, to record yourself, to remember yourself. … Every morning I get that feeling because I am more or less nonexistent. Then when I wake up, I always feel I’m being let down. Because, well, here I am. Here’s the same old stupid game going on. I have to be somebody. I have to be exactly that somebody.^
(Jorge Luis Borges)

Is our daily path from the past or from the future?

Imagination allows us to look towards the misty cerulean horizon of the future, with its possibility and promise of meaning.

No matter how well we progress, the experience must always be one of being close but not arriving. We only know where we have arrived by turning around and looking at the past:

We are in effect, always, close; always close to the ultimate secret: that we are more real in our simple wish to find a way than any destination we could reach: the step between not understanding that and understanding that, is as close as we get to happiness.^^

This pregnant distance invites us to approach with imagination, to be open to surprise along the way, to deeper understanding and appreciation not because we know but because we don’t know:

The imagination is more like the moon than the sun because it is dependent on another thing and exists in no pure state by itself. … It needs an openness to whatever is there at the moment and to not reject whatever is there because of any formulaic concept from the past. … The imagination allows me to give a credence and an integrity to any existence outside of myself.*

And it is openness to the other that enables us to be a different somebody today, what Michael Burkard articulates as spooky behaviour over long distances.

*Michael Burkard, quoted in Mary Ruefle’s On Imagination;
**From Robert Macfarlane’s Underland;
^Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
^^David Whyte, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees.

Goodness gracious me*

[Good’s] existence is the unmistakable sign that we are spirit creatures, attracted by excellence for the good.**
(Iris Murdoch)

So long as the gift is not withheld, the creative spirit remains a stranger to the economics of scarcity.^
(Lewis Hyde)

Goodness may be the most amazing human innovation of all.

it is believed that way back in our hominid past we became domesticated, making us able to live and work together:

It looks like we too are a domesticated species, selected by a buch of Dr Belyaevs – each other- to be less reactively aggressive to strangers, the better to survive in the urban, agricultural or dense hunter-gatherer settlements. At some point in human prehistory we must have weeded to people who had fast-migrating neural crest cells and hair-trigger reactions.^^

In Bible-ese, goodness is holiness and righteousness, a harvest of what it can mean to be human, the gift being one of the most telling expressions of goodness, whilst its absence is telling:

When all property is privatised, faith is privatised, and all men feel fear at the boundary of self.^

Our innovated tools don’t end with axes and spears, wheels and ploughs, printing presses and telescopes, steam engines and corrugated steel, computers and rockets, they also include neighbours and friends, religion and philosophy, music and art, novels and poetry, psychology and therapy, personality-tests and accompanists.

Meaning that today is another opportunity to innovate goodness a little more.

How we do this will depend on each person’s talents, energies and values.

*The title comes from this song: it’s the only thing taken from the song, but enjoy;
**From Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good;
^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift;
^^From Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works.

Update available

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, joy, trust, intimacy, courage – everything that brings meaning to our life.
(Brené Brown)

Persons of tomorrow, though fully as individuals, are also at home in their relationships. Capacities such as loyalty, partnership, friendship, altruism, empathy, solidarity, support, nurturance and followership, are necessary ingredients for thriving in the 21st century.**
(Graham Leicester and Maureen O’Hara)

So far I’ve spent 22,237 on Earth: a lot of opportunities to try things differently, to stretch and grow and innovate, to become.

Every day can be an improvement day, As Agnes Varda made me smile:

There’s only one age: alive.^

I’m really writing this to myself because I waste far more of these opportunities than I ought.

*From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness;
**From Graham Leicester and Maureen O’Hara’s Dancing at the Edge;
^Agnes Varda, quoted in Austn Kleon’s blog: A quote a day.

You can do magic*

Once you decide you can’t you’ve pretty much guaranteed you won’t.*
(Kelvy Bird)

No vulnerability. No courage. We have to show up and put ourselves out there.**
(Brené Brown)

Do you believe in magic?

The kind that happens when you turn up, stay longer, fail, learn, try again, keep going, until … .

*A soundtrack for the blog from Limme & Family Cookin’;
**From Kelvy Bird’s Generative Scribing;
^From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.

The story is the way

There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have.*
(Howard Thurman)

The art of curation isn’t about the individual pieces of content, but about how these pieces fit together, what story they tell by being placed next to each other, and what statement the context they create makes about culture and the world at large.
(Maria Popova)

You wonder which way to go, which path to take.

So you discover and identify the most significant contents of our life.

You listen for the story wanting to appear.

So your path reveals itself.

Howard Thurman, quoted in Brian McLaren’s God Unbound;
Maria Popova, quoted in Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.