30 giftmakers

We’re discovering our natural state can be one of gift-maker, on a journey from the ego and self, to the eco and Self – from a wrong understanding of who we are now, to a greater understanding of ourselves in connectedness with others and the future.

Yesterday, I mentioned there are three things we use the name of gift for.  There is the  gift we receive; the gift which is the magic we bring to life – more than the sum total of our talents and passions and experiences; and, there’s the gift we make and give to others.

In each of these ways, we are nourished: nourished in receiving, in making, in giving – the nourishment we need to thrive and flourish

The gift will always take me into the lives of others, and their lives into mine.

‘Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.’*

(*(From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)


you must leave here

29 given up waiting

“You’re not here any more.  You’ve got to leave in order to return to the present.”*

It’s the archetypal narrative arc of a great story: the reluctant protagonist leaves “here” and will wrestle their way back to the present.

Jerome Bruner refers to there being “no internal push to growth without a corresponding external pull”.**

Otto Scharmer^ speaks of there being internal context, external context, and a third: the context of the emerging future.

I offer these to understand gift.

We use the same word to mean three things.  There’s the gift which comes to us, which we must acknowledge (gratitude) – the external.  Then there’s the gift within us (more than the sum of our talents, passions, and experiences) – the internal.  And there’s a third gift, the one we produce (the emerging future) – that which did not exist before.

The question is, will you be present to this new possibility if you remain here?

(*J, Paulo Coelho’s friend and guide, quoted in Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(**Jerome Bruner, quoted in Denis Wood’s The Power of Maps.)
(^In Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)


28 such a fast universe

What do I want?

How do I know what I want?

Apple gave a generous gift with the iPhone 6 – an entire U2 album.  The problem was this was not how the gift was received.  Many purchasers of the phone thought the gift to be an intrusion.  Apple had then to provide a way for owners of new phones to remove the album.

I’m exploring using my city library as a creative space and borrowed Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. The following extract caught my attention.  I wavered for a split second over whether to use the faintest of pencil markings as a highlight – as I do in my own books.

I didn’t, though, because this would be an intrusion for those who borrowed the book after me and who will find their own favourite places in it.  Here’s the quote, though, with Coelho speaking to his friend and guide J:

‘”I can’t evolve any further,” I say, falling, as always, into the trap of being the first to speak.  “I think I’ve reached my limit.”

“That’s funny.  I’ve been trying all my life to find out what my limits are and have never reached them yet.  But then my universe doesn’t really help, it keeps expanding and won’t allow me to know entirely,” says J provocatively.’*

What do I want?

How do I know what I want?

What if what I want is less or different to what I really want?

We’re made of the same stuff as J’s expanding universe, the same dynamics of expansion at work within us – involving us in continual exploration.

Maybe the gift I can give, which does not assume or presume, is to ask, If I could help you know what you want, would this be useful to you?

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)

schools of magic

27 wow, it's amazing

‘I began my apprenticeship in magic when I was twenty-two.  I followed various paths, walked along the very edge of the abyss for many years, slipped over and fell, gave up and started all over again.  I imagined that, by the age of fifty-nine, I would be close to paradise and the absolute peace I thought I could see in the smiles of Buddhist monks.’*

I am nearer now to where I must begin.

Magic is about seeing things differently to everyone else, and everyone’s magic is different.  I included this quote a year ago; it still excites me one year on:

‘The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what no one has yet thought about that which everybody sees.’**

I think my magic is to help you find your magic.

We have this wrong notion that most Humans are Muggles, that only a few are special and talented in magic.  The thing which stands between us and our magic is an illusion with teeth:

‘”Grown-ups have no time to dream, struggling from nine to five to support their family …, always bumping up against the thing we all know as harsh reality.’*

There are more schools of magic appearing.  No matter our age or background, there’s hope for anyone who will learn to open their minds, their hearts, and their wills.

(*From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(Albert Schopenhauer, quoted in Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler’s The Decision Book.)

everyone has magic

26 no-one is a mudblood

Everyone is capable of working magic somewhere.

At the beginning of her new book, Bernadette Jiwa speaks poignantly about her brother Johnny; I can only imagine some tragedy behind these words:

‘He was the most magnificent person who had everything he needed, and he didn’t know it.’*

I want you to know that you are a magician and I want you to know exactly what your magic is.

I was supporting my daughter-in-law yesterday as she graduated with a Jewellery and Silversmithing degree.  Karolina produces amazingly imaginative and beautiful items – part of her magic, I am often spellbound by the designs.

The proceedings began with a moment of reflection from Honorary Chaplain Richard Frazer speaking about how there is data, then information, then knowledge, and then there is wisdom, and he concluded by urging the graduates to take their degrees of knowledge into the world and to gain wisdom.

Wisdom is real magic and it is always meaningful.

This magic takes who we are and what we have and what we know and all of our experiences and our passions and dreams and hopes, and makes something extraordinary to present to the world.

As I replayed yesterday’s stream of hundreds of students receiving their various degrees, I found myself wondering about what kind of magic they’ll bring into the world.  I also found myself thinking about all the people who’ve never been part of a degree ceremony, who nevertheless are capable of magic too – every person is qualified to bring something meaningful into the world.

Degreed or not, everyone everyone discovers there’s no straight line to making magic. We’re so used to straight lines – straight lines on this webpage, all the lists we make, the ten things we need to do to get from here to a happier future – but straight is what we impose on a curvy world.

Maybe I made some progress yesterday but tomorrow I can mess up and have to begin again.  Welcome to the curve.  I may fail a hundred times but if I understand life has no straight lines then I can grow stronger.

‘The best way to verify if you are alive is by checking you like variations.’**

This sounds curvy, and yet, this is where we can make our magic, where we can play with the random and chaotic and find our creativity.

‘The greatest gift you can give a person is to see who she is and to reflect that back to her, when we help people to be who they want to be, to take back somee of the permission they deny themselves, we are doing our best, most meaningful work.’*

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s Meaningful.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)

the magic in-between

25 we have to

Between the darkness of night and the lightness of day there’s been the most beautiful dawn: a hiatus in the universe, it’s a moment of wonder and magic, alive with possibility.

25 dawn

It’s a moment in which we can do something imaginative with what we have received.

My friend Dan said this about something we’re both involved in:

“We have to keep doing the scary stuff, else we’ll just keep doing the same stuff and not very well.”*

There’s a scene in Star Trek Generations when Jean Luc Picard is trying to enlist the help of James T Kirk, but the former captain of the USS Enterprise is content with a place in the Nexus – a Paradise ribbon moving across the galaxy.  That is, until they go for a horse-ride and a jump leaves Kirk feeling nothing – it’s not real and he knows he cannot live in the not real.

Between taking in from others and the world around us, and making our contributions, there’s generative place – and when we explore the potential of this place with others, something dynamic happens:

‘The revolutionary force in this century is the awakening of a deep generative human capacity – the I-in-Now.’**

(*Dan said this about VOXedinburgh which always feels like jumping a void.)
(**From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.)

the moment i am

24 brah

‘Natural things – living things in particular – are like language we only faintly remember.  It is as if creation has been dismembered sometime in the past and all things are limbs we have lost that will make us whole if only we can recall them.’*

We are simply more ourselves when we join with others, the universe, and with the future.  These things comes to our aid but they are not who we are.

Someone sits down with others to tell their story.  They are not their story.

This is a gift they bestow, but they are neither the gifts they receive nor the gifts they give:

‘there is a middle phase in the process of the gifted self: between sympathy and pride, between the reception and the bestowal, lies a moment in which new identity comes to life as the old identity perishes’.**

The person continues to tell their story.  I listen to what they have done and what has been done to them.  I wonder whether there is another story:

These things are not me.  I, the person I am, breathe these in and breathe them out.  I am the moment in between the breathings, the moment of magic receiving something old,which dies, and bringing something new to life.

(*From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(**Lewis Hyde in The Gift, reflecting on Walt Whitman’s breathing in and breathing out.)