we are explorers of today

21 today is

“all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace”*

‘This is what Proust knew: our memories remain wonderfully volatile,  In their mercurial mirror, we see ourselves.’**

We are strange creatures.  We do not remember well, we struggle to notice the present, and we do not have time to think about the future.  Yet we live in an incredible and colourful playground which everyday invites us to learn how to see more:

‘full spectrum light, clear water, deep sky, red squirrel, blue whale, grey parrot, green lizard, golden aspen, orange mango, yellow warbler, laughing child, rolling river, serene forest, churning storm, spinning planet’.^

We have a lifetime pass to this astonishing playground in which we are not only discovering “out there” but also “in here,” coming to terms with being creatures who dwell not only in the present, but also in the past through our dynamic memories, and the future through our imaginations.

Reality really is more fantastical than Disney’s Magical Kingdom.^^

Even lifetime passes expire eventually, mind, but we can become explorers of today through opening our minds, opening our hearts, and opening our wills.

(*Frederick Buechner, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.)
(^From Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking.)
(^^Other magical experiences are available.)

if you must

20 the best things

We cannot be given must, we can only uncover it.

The most helpful people we’ll come across are those who enable us to go deeper, they are not those who come to us with the answer – their answer, or the one they know we want to hear, otherwise:

‘The client not only abdicates responsibility for making the diagnosis … But assumes, in addition, that an outsider can come into the situation, identify problems, and remedy them.’*

This underlines how, in order to help you, I need to know what you really need, and you need to have reasonable expectations of what I can do.

Otherwise this can translate into a quick-fix answer being expected, and quick-fix answers rarely help.  Instead we need to slow things down, develop trust, and be willing to collaborate – I’ve been identifying recently how, through my dreamwhispering how I’ve often found myself exploring a new path with others.  It’s not the one they’ve been walking, nor is it the one I want them to walk, but it’s a new path discovered together, which they take the lead on.^

Values are a great place to begin when it comes to identifying our mustness.  Finding someone you can trust and collaborate with towards identifying and articulating your values is to find a great helper and to identify the path you must use.

When we connect what we must do to our highest values – all found within you – then something powerful and lasting begins:

‘I want you to live these values, I want you to feel these values every day.’**

(*From Edgar Schein’s Helping.)
(**From Michael Heppell’s How to be Brilliant.)
(^Check out this great little blog from Hugh Macleod on how results come from trust and collaboration.)

others and me

19 others and me

‘People creating together work in different ways. … They learn how to let go of having to have everything worked out in advance and to step forward with boldness into immense uncertainty.  And they learn that tapping these capacities cannot be achieved without people being who they truly are and learning how to integrate their own lives.’*

The question, What do you need? perhaps is really asking, Who do you need?

We need others if we are to become who we can be; that’s certainly been my experience. It’s been about finding the people who know how to get to what our lives are ultimately capable of.

When we begin with what we have, bringing our art into the world, we find others to connect with.  These, in turn, help us become more who we are.

This is the dynamic relationship between others and me.

(*From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.) 

find your legend

18 i choose to

“I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me … .’*

‘Or to put it another way: Everyone dies but not everyone truly lives.’**

Chris Guillebeau lists fifty people and their quests: Name, Description, Category, Status.

I find myself imagining what mine my read like.

As I did I realised I have more than one.  There’s at least an everyday quest supporting a lifetime one (which is unfolding).

It feels like the first is more internal, an “elegant and simple interface” as Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler might describe it,^ helping me connect with the external one in which I want to serve others, not as an expert or professional, but recognising that every encounter with someone changes both of us in some small way, so we need to be processors, enabling need and help to flow back and forth.^^

Many want to begin a quest but don’t know how

Quests beget quests.

What are yours?


Of such things legends are born.

(*Dawna Markova, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(^^See Edgar Schein’s Helping and Humble Inquiry.  In Helping, Schein refers to experts, doctors, and process consultants.)

finishing touches

17 adventure

‘Unhappiness can lead to new beginnings. … Discontent can be a source of growth and inspiration.’*

‘As our ancestors deepened their understanding, their stories changed … .’**

What do you notice that no one else notices?

What you notice yourself noticing could be your adventure.

For adventure, please don’t think Hollywood-esque, action-packed, and CGI’d.  It’s simply your story noticed, imagined, and delivered with a finishing touch for another, every day.

(*From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(**From Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking.)

the best years of our lives

16 hey listen to the

‘Why pursue a quest?  Because each of us in our lives writing our own story, and we only have one chance of getting it right.’

Chris Guillebeau reminds me why I’m making this move out of my work of 36 years and into dreamwhispering and doodling: we have one life to do the thing we must do.

I came upon these words this morning, following another anxious moment in the darkness of the night;  I’d woken up wondering what was going through my head to act on such an idea.

Guillebeau tells the story of Phoebe Snetsinger – birdwatcher extraordinaire – who died in an accident on one of her expeditions.  Phoebe had written of her twenty years birdwatching quest:

“It has become even more clear to me that if I had spent my life avoiding any and all potential risks, I would have missed doing most of the things that have comprised the best years of my life.”**

When I look back on the last ten years of experimenting and exploring that have led me to this moment, I realise, these have been the best years, and, because endings are only beginnings, the promise is that the best years of all are still to come, every day providing the possibility of becoming a better me and making a greater contribution.

Today’s has been a more personal post, but only because what has been true for Phoebe Snetsinger and for me is true for all of us, only your quest will be different.

(*From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(**Phoebe Snetsinger, quoted in Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)


forget the former things, behold the new thing

15 i am not human, we

“It’s always important to know when something has reached its end.  Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”*

[E]very time we remember anything, the neuronal structure of the memory is delicately transformed, a process called reconsolidating. … The memory is altered in the absence of the original stimulus, becoming less about what you remember and more about you.’**

I’ve recently been sharing how I’m moving into a new quest in life.^

It means moving into unfamiliar territory.  And reality is sharpening with only a couple of weeks to go – last evening my colleagues kindly hosted a meal for myself and another colleague who’s retiring, and there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t return within the first year of leaving.

The door on my past is closing.

There are loads of memories that force their way to the surface at such times, but Jonah Lehrer points out how inaccurate these memories are.  Every time I remember something I’m altering it, and it appears that this has to happen if I’m to remember something:

‘[T]he margins of those memories are being modified to fit what we know now.  Synapses are crossed out, dendrites are tweaked, and the memorised moment that feels so honest is thoroughly revised. … [E]very memory is inseparable from the moment of its recollection. … If your prevent the memory from changing, it ceases to exist. … we have to misremember something in order to remember it.’*

Such remembering is always, nostalgic, then.  No wonder I’m becoming more and more concerned and cautious over those who want us to regain the past, whether that be religious, political, nationalistic … or work, because it never existed as they remember it.

Does this mean nostalgia detracts from the present and the future?

If we’re always trying to get back to something it must be hard to hear what the future is saying to us – about who we are, who we are together, and what it means to be connected to and part of the future of the whole earth.

Who, then, will behold the new thing?

(*Paulo Coelho, quoted in Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(**From Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.)
(^I am moving out of a role I’ve known for some thirty six years, into futuring, mentoring, blogging, and doodling.  Specifically, I want to contribute to those who feel their lives are unconsidered and overlooked, but who have amazing things to contribute.)

empty spaces

14 exploring empty spaces

“Suppose all your objects in life were realised, that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?”*

‘What Joseph Conrad said about maps is also true of the brain: the most interesting places are the empty spaces for they are what will change.’**

When we move into empty spaces on the various maps of life, things are happening in the empty spaces of our brains.  Our journeys alter us.

What is more, and as a result, a great quest is one that changes and grows – if we are alive to it.  We come to appreciate we can never realise our objectives, because more and more proffer themselves.  When one quest finishes, another may already have begun – another empty space on the maps we’re scrutinising.

I arrived in Edinburgh in 2006 with a quest, but I had no idea back then that I would find myself moving into what I’m about to do.  These ten years have changed me and I do not see fewer but more empty spaces.

I  don’t think there’s anything unusual about this; I think it is simply what we call life.

(*John Stuart Mill, quoted in Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.  Mill’s own answer to this was a gloomy “No”. – what else would there be to live for?)
(**From Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.)

journey people

13 your choice

‘[T]he most important telltale factor is the development of a simple and elegant user interface – a gateway of effortless interaction.’*

Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler are introducing the Gartner Hype Cycle, which is used to identify the delusion of hope surrounding a technology, followed by disillusionment, and finally the maturing of a technology towards its significant adoption.

13 gartner hype cycle

What they are offering here could well describe someone’s journey of development.

And, at the end of all our journeying, we return to the beginning and know that place for the first time – this is not the same as happy ever after … .  Have you noticed how difficult it is to finish a movie?  So many endings feel a let-down following the journey the movie has taken us on.

Is this all there is?
No, there is another beginning.

Perhaps we are hoping for happy endings when we need to be noticing the new beginnings?

“Many more adventures awaited Jason.  While some of those adventures were heroic, others were tragic.  But the future was the future.”**

An idea or desire is triggered within us and we set out on a journey with great expectations, but as reality sets in, and we realise it’s going to be harder than we thought, our memories begin to play tricks with us.  We forget the reason we set out on the journey was because we were discontented or were in an impossible place or were bored stiff – or something like that and we become disillusioned.   If we can overcome this and keep moving, then we’ll arrive at a place that provides a new beginning.

What we need to keep journeying every day is a simple and elegant user interface – a way of telling, reconnecting every day to our story, so that we keep moving.   After all is said and done, we are journey people.

‘[S]tories work because we’re not sure. We’re half there, half not.  This might work.  This might not work.  The tension of maybe.’^

(*From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(**The tale of Jason and the Argonauts, told by Josepha Sherman, quoted in Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(^From Seth Godin’s blog for today.)

i and thou

12 learning journeys

When we meet with another, we potentially come to a place in which together we can create something new.  It may be an idea, or a friendship or collaboration, or to begin something.

In their most vibrant form, these spaces are learning conversations in which each adds to the other; one is not seeking to bring the other to where they are, but together they are seeking to reach somewhere new.

We know we grow the most when we move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

Sherry Turkle has reminded me of Martin Buber’s concept of “I and thou,” the ‘profound meeting of human minds and hearts.’*

First we learn to open our minds, then open our hearts and finally our wills, I and thou conversations make new realities possible.

(*From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)