“[P]erhaps, the wild ones among us are our only hope for us calling us forward to our true nature.”*
‘My idea of the modern stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, and desire into understanding.’**
Outside the National Archives building on Washington D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue stand two sagely statues with the inscriptions, “What is Past is Prologue” and “Study the Past.” As it were, it is important to study the past in order to create the future story.
Had I been walking in the opposite direction, I’d have read these inscriptions the other way around: Study the Past … What is Past is Prologue. This time, I understand while the past is valuable it is past, and there is only the future.
There’s a kind of wildness, or nonconformity, which frees us to explore what is to come. We need these dreamers to explore life beyond the practical and functional. These are often perceived as being impractical because of how imagining and dreaming are misunderstood and undervalued; really, they make the future practical to our lives by living it now.
We can avoid wildness by preferring the predictably-practical, learning somehow to cope with the fact that twenty years later we’re in the same place doing the same thing with the same regrets. Sometimes we go as far as to protect our practical lifestyles by abandoning core principles and practices to be able stay to stay where we are, trading the quality of life by securing some constant or better standard of living.
My friend Alex McManus would say, we’ve lost the art of making fire. We’ve forgotten how we can take the fuel of artefacts and the oxygen of culture and beliefs, and add a spark of creativity:^
‘You have to break away from the day-to-day, immerse yourself in a new way of thinking about yourself.’^^
Spark people send postcards from the future, sharing something transformative for the present, helping reframe what is into what might be. When we get to experiment with this, we find we’re quite good at it – we have hidden capacity, we’re regenerative beings.
‘Creativity is a skill and a habit. You need to learn the skill, which then becomes a habit.*^
(*Joel McKerrow, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer. The original has back instead of forward.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)
(^See Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire for an exploration of the the fire making analogy)
(^^Gary Wilson, quoted in Joseph Jaworski’s Source.)
(*^From Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind.)