the house of the gods


We can blame the religion, the institution, and the system but in the end we are these things.  For good and bad, it comes down to us.  Even when what has happened is because of outside forces, we get to choose our response.  Welcome to the house of the gods.

When Hugh Macleod doodles ‘Entrepreneurship is about human potential.  Everything else is secondary,’ he’s saying that who we are and what we must do breaks out of the straitjacket we have too often believed to be there and are now expressing ourselves.*  We make the mistake that entrepreneurs are a particular kind of business person but they’re only doing what humans do when they’re at their best.  We’re still trying to figure out the kind of world necessary for this to happen in.

Everyday we get to be explorers of our potential.  Erich Fromm wrote about how, in order to get well, a patient ‘acquires or has some idea of what his life out to or could be.’**  We’re recovering towards being what we can be.

Towards this, I think it’s helpful to understand ourselves to be “a little lower than,” something or someone else – an ideal, god, muse, world, universe, dream, cause, Other – we seek to serve.  When we think we are the gods is when we get into trouble.

(*From Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void.)
(**From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Listening.)

superstars and superheroes


‘The Walk of Fame might remind you that showbiz isn’t the place for permanence, but I suspect you know that already.’*

‘A person who cannot imagine the future is a person who cannot contemplate the results of his actions.’**

Geoff Nicholson notes all the lookalikes on Hollywood Boulevard – Elvis, Marilyn, Chaplin – pretending to be someone else for the tourists’ cameras, whilst underfoot are the stars in the pavement carrying the names of celebrities I’ve never heard of: Spanky McFarland and Stanley Kramer.

Perhaps the impersonators are only doing blatantly what so many of us do surreptitiously.  Some act as others want them to be.  Others aim to be more like their heroes or their bosses,  Then others react by resisting the temptation to be someone they’re not but lose themselves in the resistance.

The best kind of superheroes or superstars are those who quietly get on with what they know they must do regardless of what other think or notice.  It’s not about being remembered; it’s about making a difference.

And imagining the future is a superpower we all have.

(*From Geoff Nicholson’s The Lost Art of Walking.)
(**From Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams.)

discipline or disciplined


One comes from inside of us, the other from outside.  One is spark and one is stodge.

Inner discipline is how we get to do amazing things: overcoming a steep challenge, with limited resources, connecting with our inner motivation or passion, and overcoming the judgement, cynicism, and fear of others.

We’ve no idea how far we can go, we only know that overcoming one thing sets us up for facing a new challenge, moving us from believing something is possible to knowing it is through doing it.  What we’re forming in the process is integrity, when who we are on the inside flows into who we are on the outside.

Then we come to realise we’re able to create the futures we most desire, and to help others to create theirs.  Sparky people know about this, how every day is an opportunity to practice their sparkiness.  Whereas, we don’t really need to practice stodginess.  It’s sparkiness that overcomes stodginess, meaning we need to focus on the things we love and are energised by rather than trying to stop being stodgy.



Synonyms for fallow: uncultivated, unploughed, untilled, unplanted, unused, undeveloped, dormant, resting, empty, bare, virgin.

When we open up the fallow ground of our lives or help others to break open theirs, we are groundbreakers.

‘Leave it all, and let your self just slip back into the rhythms of your intimate wildness.  You will be surprised at the lost terrains, wells and mountains that you will rediscover, territories which have been buried under well meaning but dead names.  To go beyond confinement is to discover yourself.’*

‘I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease … observing a spear of summer grass. […] My respiration and inspiration … the beating of my heart … the passing of blood and air through my lungs.’**

At some point in our pasts, we have left the lands we are meant to explore for our tame inside worlds.  Walt Whitman escapes the perfumed houses and rooms that can intoxicate for the odourless (fresh) atmosphere of the outdoors that is for his mouth forever.   Now he’s able to closely notice both the natural world and himself within it: ‘I celebrate myself.  And what I assume you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you.’**  This oneness of our outer and inner worlds, of me and you, Whitman invites us to experience first hand.

This first-handedness is our witness, is our groundbreaking.

‘There is a profound relationship – a love affair really – between curiosity and wholeheartedness.’^

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
(^From Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.)





Although I keenly appreciated the certainty of logic and clear definition, I also felt that the sharp edges of existence needed some rounding.  I wanted a bit of artistic ambiguity in my creations, a measured diffusion.’*

‘Thriving is where the impetus to survive meets both the craving for beauty and the need to love.’

Quantumness means life can be here and there, this and that, meaning there’s room for the misfits and all those excluded from our temples of normality.

It is a tragic thing to lose the life’s mystery in rote habit and repetition.  Quantumness is about never arriving, never fully knowing, always being curious and inquiring, requiring, as it does that we step outside of certainty, beyond being beholden to those who are always certain.

‘Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.’^

‘To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right.’^^

When we are feeling right, comfortable in our own “peculiar” and unique skin, thinking about feeling bad as well as about feeling good doesn’t faze us because it brings it all into our “strange” and special quantum story.  This annoys the socks off those who want to say that “This is what life is” We just don’t know what life can be without your contribution and that of seven billion others.  And what about those who have gone before us and those who have yet to be born.

Here’s to all those who will follow their different curiosities – opening our understanding of what life can be.

(*From Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(**From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)
(^From Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.)

(^^From Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.)

you are so unreasonable


Truth be told, we’re all unreasonable though we are children of the Age of Reason.

‘[T]here is no special revelation anywhere, and none is needed, because the mind of man cleared of its fallibilities is sufficiently capable of the knowledge of God.  All people in the world are thus capable because all people in the world are capable of reason.’*

‘Whatever these forces are that make people do dumb things, they are powerful, they are often invisible, and they lurk even in the best of environments.’**

Reason is our myth inasmuch as it’s a creation of human beings explaining where we’ve come from and where we’re capable of going.  It’s the fallibilities we struggle to sort out, especially when they’re invisible to us.

I’m not too worried.  Some would say it’s our struggling with fallibilities that produces the most beautiful human inventions.

More than a reasoned statement, this beauty firstly feels like an effervescence, a song – more music than science.  When we listen carefully to our lives, we’ll feel it then hear it.

When we’re always busy, always with others, there’s too much noise, inseparable energy and music.  So we need to find a quiet place and time where we can feel and listen carefully to the uniqueness of our song.

‘The Void had always vibrated with the music of my thoughts, but before the existence of time the totality of sounds occurred simultaneously. … Now we could hear one note following another, cascades of sounds, arpeggios and glissades.’^

‘It’s only when we are naked that we’re able to fully take our turn and understand what it is to make something.  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing this naked, this alone, this responsibly.’^^

It’s an unreasonable thing we do.  Finding a place of quietness and solitude, listening for the song within, sow e can join it with the music of others.

(*Joseph Campbell, from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’s The Power of Myth.  Campbell is laying out the worldview of those men of Reason who constituted the United States, a nation born in this Age of Reason.)
(**From Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc..)
(^From Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s It’s Your Turn.)

the pleasant way


‘[W]e may be undone if we don’t foresee that winning is also losing.’*

‘Life was conspicuously good.  I had nothing to complain about.  And I became completely and utterly depressed.’**

A young woman wins a lottery prize of £1 million and is inundated with requests for help – then insults and hate when she doesn’t say yes.

The young man is both flattered and honoured to be offered an advancement at work and for sixteen years tries to make himself fit the work.

For another person, the promotion means adding another two hours to their daily commute and they hardly see their children.

The Peter Principle states that managers are promoted to their level of incompetence because they are interviewed in the competence context of their present role and not their future one.

I’d want to add, promotion for the wrong reasons will threaten our spark.  Beyond the stepping stone to something big, the money, or the prestige of the position, the more telling influencer for our work is the need of others and how we’ll be able to use our “genius” to meet it – the needs we notice most tell us a lot about our spark.

‘Most people are not aware of their need to conform.  They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their opinions are the same as those of the majority.’^

Erich Fromm is describing the stodgy life, the alternative many accept when they’ve lost their spark or conform to what the culture eulogises as the successful life.

Geoff Nicholson had won but also found that he’d lost.  Moving to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, finding the right place too live, purchasing a couple of cars to get around in, enjoying the sunshine, sights, and sounds of the real LaLa Land, he found that he had also lost.  Suspecting he’d moved to a place that had ‘no tradition, no history, no literature of walking,’** he realised he’d lost his walking, the pleasant scenery for his life.  He began walking again.

Brené Brown reflects on the powerful emotions we can feel but ignore when it comes to others being promoted around us or having something that we don’t have or we feel stuck and want to jump when any opportunity appears.  She’s describing the kind of things behind the bad choices that lead us from the spark to the stodge.  However, when we turn our attention to these emotions they tell us about deeper things happening in our lives, the deeper needs for -as  some suggest – freedom, mastery, and a purpose greater than ourselves – our pleasant scenery.

‘You were sent to earth to become a receiver of the unknown.’^^

(*From Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life.)
(**From Geoff Nicholson’s The Lost Art of Walking.)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

time to …


‘Because without time there could be no reactions to actions, no consequences.  Without time, decisions need not be considered for their implications and effects.  We had all been drifting in a comfortable Void without responsibilities.’*

“Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery it is.”**

Without time there can be no mystery.  Everything exists in the same moment and at the same point.  But time is quite something else, a game changer.  It introduces us to what cannot be seen or known in this moment.  It invites us to move and journey, to be open and to discover.

This is true both for what lies beyond us, whatever we count the other to be – places, ideas, people, and what lies within us – the thing that captures my attention today.

Time both invites and challenges me.  I am not only what I am in this moment.  I can be more than this.  Time provides me with freedom.  Freedom to be me and not someone else, dealing envy a serious blow.  I don’t need what someone else has.  I only need delve, dive, leap into the depths of who I was and am and can be.   And because of this, I’m able to face the whole truth about myself without being crushed because time makes it possible to change:

‘The person who fails the most, wins.’^

What if?

What if time makes it possible for you and me to endlessly explore who we can be in all the circumstances of life: work, age, illness, … ?

‘Frequently, I had no particular destination in mind but was merely following a natural curiosity to understand how the Void had been transformed by time.’*

(*From Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(**Frederick Buechner, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(^From Seth Godin’s What To Do When It’s Your Turn.)

today is the best day of all


‘When you are grown up
and have children of your own
do please remember
something very important
a stodgy parent is
no fun at all
What a child wants 

and deserves
is a parent who is


‘Some people never celebrate anything.  They have no time. … Some feel there is nothing to celebrate.  Such people are prisoners who slog away in a secure and predictable routine.’**

Life is best in complexity, not when we make it complicated.

I don’t hanker after tomorrow, or even a different today but I will look for opportunities to bring my imagination to this day because it really is the best day of all.  When I do this then the day gets sparky.  When I leave my imagination behind then the day becomes stodgy and complicated.

To discover the identity of our own imagination will require our disconnection.  I’m struck by how the early Jesuits would send their apprentices into 30 days of isolation so they would better identify the thing they must do with their lives.^

Sherry Turkle identifies the tethered world that begins for children when they are allowed a mobile phone so they can be in touch with their parents.   Not only does this tether them to their parents but also to their peers.  I wonder whether it’s possible to hear the whispers of our lives – who and what we most want to be – when we are never alone for any considerable period of time:

‘Traditional views of adolescent development take autonomy and strong personal boundaries as reliable signs of a successfully maturing self.’^^

When we notice what we already have and develop this further then we get to be sparky people.  Every day.

And then, because you must, shine.

(*From Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^See Chris Lowney’s Heroic Leadership.
(^^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)

a journey of a thousand days



The number of continual days I’ve been posting thin|silences (whispers), with a doodle.

I’d decided that from the 1st January 2014, I would try posting some of the ideas I found myself exploring through journalling every day.  Wanting this to be about more than words, I committed – thanks to the inspiration and encouragement of the awesome Hugh Macleod* – to add a doodle .  I’d never doodled in my life.

The reason for sharing these things is because, after more than three years of continual posting, I’m going to leave it for a week and explore another idea I’ve had.  I haven’t a clue what will come of this, and this is part of the adventure.

These eleven hundred and nine days have included many adventures.  They convince me of how turning up daily to do something which has piqued by curiosity and interest will change us.  As we set off, we have no idea how.  The only thing we know is we must step out into a journey, opening ourselves fully to what might happen.

Along the way, I’ve discovered the magic of words which come together in stories and ideas, forming in different patterns and phrases.  I’ve also come upon the wonder of image – how pictures are powerful helpmates to the imagination – the first form of recording or “writing” used by humans.

Thanks to Steven Covey,** I’ve carried for some years the words finding our voices so others may find theirs.  I think this experience of finding my voice has been enabled by the slow journey I’ve found myself in, and sharing whispers of possibility which I hope will make it possible for you to find and strengthen your voice.

When it comes to making the future we commit to what we do not know – this is why we find it so difficult to set out on these journeys.

Many of the ideas emerging in my early morning journaling have moved into experimentation and even full-blown practices and events.  These are the stories we’re each capable of writing with our lives.  We never find our voice alone.  Many have whispered into my life, whether I have met with them or they have written a book “to me.”

If you have begun a slow journey of discovery, I want to encourage you to keep going.  You don’t know what’s going to happen on the way but something will.

It’s all about the journey.

(*Check out Hugh Macleod’s blog and three books: Ignore Everybody, Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear, and, Evil Plans.)
(**Specifically Steven Covey’s The 8th Habit.)