Why we never give up on each other

He told her about a spring within her, a well that wouldn’t run dry, a holy breath that connected her to the whole, to the illimitable, to love.*
(Anne Lamott)

The type of inquiry I am talking about derives from an attitude of interest and curiosity. It implies a desire to build a relationship that will lead to more open communication.**
(Ed Schein)

Anne Lamott is reflecting on an encounter Jesus of Nazerath had with a Samaritan woman outside the town of Sychar.^

She was something of an outcast in her own community, used and rejected many times. The reflection comes with hindsight but it must have felt different the other way around, when a life was closed to its own wonder and some way of opening up possibility was necessary.

This is what Edgar Schein offers. When it’s hard to not make up one’s mind about someone and to stay open to the wonder that exists in everyone, we need to develop our interest and curiosity.

The other then becomes more important than ourselves:

‘when you wonder, you are drawn out of yourself’.^^

When we wonder it is as if we are touching what it is we are here for:

“when the universe makes me wonder, all is as it should be”.*^

(*From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(**From Edgar Schein’s Humble Inquiry.)
(^See John 4: 1-26)
(^^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(*^From Cirque de Soleil’s Varekai, quoted in Alex McManus’ Makers of Fire.)


The pollen path

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.*
(Tom Merton)

Oh, beauty before me, beauty behind me,
beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me,
beauty above me, beauty below me,
I’m on the pollen path.**
(Navaho saying)

We must find our pollen path:

‘Pollen is the life source. The pollen path is the path to the centre.’^

Joseph Campbell’s closing words in The Power of Myth assert:

‘Eden is.’^

What is this pollen path that connects our small stories to the greater story – given to us by those who have gone before, left by us to those who will follow?

A not so eloquent way of putting this is, we want to live in the zone. We know what this means, this being fully engaged. And the wonder is, it means something different to every one of us.

It’s wonderful.

It’s also hard work to get here, every day, which is why the pollen path though beautiful is difficult to find each day. Difficult, but not impossible. The apostle Paul looked back on his life then wrote about having fought the fight, finished the race, kept the faith. That’s how it feels, whether we’re religious or not: a battle, a race, our faith.

Keep coming to your pollen path: Eden is.

(*Thomas Merton, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**Navaho saying, quoted in Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(^Joseph Campbell, from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)

Still walking after all these years

Walking came from Africa, from evolution and from necessity, and it went everywhere, usually looking for something.*
(Rebecca Solnit)

[W]hen we go, we find we’re not just entering new territory. We are becoming new people.**
(John Ortberg)

I need to keep journeying from somewhere to somewhere, to experience the journey in-between. We can end up thinking that life is about the destinations and the journeys are simply how we get there.

We can be inspired by what someone has done with their lives, but in the end, it is their honesty about the journey – those struggles, failures, inspirations, encounters, growing, becomings – that will help us most of all.

(*From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)
(**From John Ortberg’s All the Places to Go.)

Capturing and provoking

Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves.*
(Peter Senge)

You cannot look to the future by naive projection of the past.**
(Nassim Taleb)

Our limitations and constraints are a good place to begin because they are a capturing of past learnings, failures and achievements, but they are there to push out from and to provoke the new.

We are more plastic than we know; our environments, too.

Game on.

(*From Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)

I don’t think I’m alone

The second [route] is to fall in step with a teacher, briefly or forever, a real teacher who makes it clear that even as he or she points to the moon, we have to stop staring at the person’s fingers. […] Every one of us sometimes needs a tour guide to remind us how big and deep life is meant to be.*
(Anne Lamott)

I listen to many people talking about the things that matter to them and how they want to make a difference.

I am both wowed by the things they share and wonder whether they will make it. Specifically, will they find the ways and means, and the people they need to realise their hopes.

Seth Godin remarks on doing work that matters:

‘It might be a more difficult route, but it’s worth it.’**

He goes on to share the importance of finding others towards doing the work that matters to us:

‘And it involves surrounding yourself with people in a similar journey.’**

Some will journey with us throughout our lives, others we’ll meet and walk with for a time. Some, we’ll connect with face-to-face, others via technology, including the old technology of books.

That I need others to help me towards my meaningful work, I do not doubt. I’m going to be connecting with a couple of my guides today; we may be in Sacramento, Detroit and Edinburgh but we’re going to make it happen. I’ll be sitting with them, via technology, with a notebook open and a pencil in my hand.

(*From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(**Grom Seth Godin’s blog: Where are you headed?)

An interpretation of time

But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it? My answer is, “Follow your bliss.” There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the centre, that know when you’re on beam or off the beam.’*
(Joseph Campbell)

Some people see to have more time than others.

I suspect it is because they are playing with kairos time, the power of moments, rather than being fixated on chronos time, which always plays out linearly.

Their lives are increasingly becoming a unique interpretation of time.

(*Joseph Campbell, from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)