what next?

There’s always what next?

It’s about being able to see it.

“If people would but do what they have to do they would always find themselves ready for what came next.”*

I’ve just ordered Dan Ariely’s Payoff after reading the following quote in Hugh Macleod’s gapingvoid blog:

“We’re motivated by meaning and connection because their effects extend beyond ourselves, beyond our social circle, and maybe even beyond our existence.  We care deeply about meaning, we care about it more as we become aware of our own mortality – and if we have to go to hell and back in search for meaning and connection, we will: and we will get satisfaction along the way.”**

Motivation opens up our “what next.”  There’s “flow” to these words, the flowing of something into us and flowing out through us – we might name this the “great flow” of life we’re all caught up in.  We participate when we make our small contribution, our “little flow” with all its messiness and mistakes and sometimes beautiful moments.

‘The Great Flow makes use of everything, absolutely everything.  Even our mistakes will be used in your favour, if you allow them to be.’^

I place these words from Richard Rohr side by side with some from Alan Lightman’s Uncle Deva character in his novel about creation Mr g.  The two are looking over the first forms of life, forms that would become intelligent and self-determining eventually:

‘Wouldn’t the beauty have more meaning with other minds to admire it?  Wouldn’t it be transformed by other minds?  I’m not talking about a passive admiration of beauty, but a participation in that beauty, in which everyone us enlarged.’^^

This is a dream about you and me though we doubt it or even refuse it.

One of the most beautifully dangerous things we can do to release our motivation, so that it reaches out across the limitlessness of space, is to write it out.  Social psychologist James Pennebaker has identified how ‘writing about emotional upheavals for just fifteen to twenty minutes on four consecutive days can decrease anxiety, rumination, and depressing symptoms and boost our immune system’.*^

It’s also one of the most powerful ways of releasing motivation and flow from its stuckness.  Writing out our hopes and disappointments, our challenges and questions, our mistakes and failures – staring all of these full on and not being overwhelmed – will lead us to our what nexts.  We connect to the great flow even as we discover the flow of our lives.

Through history literacy has threatened the “powers-that-be.”  Finding our own literacy, writing our story as unfolding drama rather than predictable script, joins us to the possibility of life growing larger.  I am not a very good writer but writing every day for the past nineteen years has constantly moved me in new directions.

The following words come from Ursula Le Guin‘s poem The Mind is Still and connect me with Michelangelo’s unfinished statues situated in Florence’s Gallery Academie.  When I first read of them,  figures wrestling themselves free from the stone which held them, epitomising my story of helping people to awaken to their dreams.  I knew I had somehow to see them and it took me more than four years to make to Florence, and while others rushed past them toward Michelangelo’s David, I gazed on them for more than an hour:

‘Words are my matter.  I have chipped one stone
for thirty years and still it is not done,
that image of the thing I cannot see.
I cannot finish it and set it free, transformed to energy.’

(*George MacDonald, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**Dan Ariely, quoted in gapingvoid‘s blog Instant motivation.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(^^From Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(*^From Brene Brown’s Rising Strong.)
(^*From Ursula Le Guin’s Words are my Matter.)

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