with gentleness and imagination

Here are two words that emerged for me as I began the day.

There’s something about gentleness and imagination that can make people nervous, even fearful, though.

I wonder whether there’s a kind of gentleness that allows us to deal well with ourselves, freeing our imaginations, and whether this, in turn, fires our gentleness with all kinds of possibility.

Flow.

Flow is a dangerous place to be because it is open-ended, taking us from ourselves to others, to other places, to other thoughts – not in order to judge but to be a gift.

In his beautiful children’s book on identity, friendship, solitariness, and death, Jacques Goldstyn’s young protagonist reflects:

‘The only problem is that when you’re different, people can laugh at you, or even worse.  Sometimes people don’t like what’s different.’*

Earlier, I had read these words from Anne Lamott on mercy, which I think explains something of why gentleness is so powerful taking on big challenges to our lives:

‘Mercy is radical kindness.  Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits.  Mercy is not deserved.

[…]

Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great mess of ourselves – our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice.’**

In the disarming way Anne Lamott opens up her life to scrutiny, she continues:

‘Kindness towards others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all.  Do you want this, or to be right?  Well, can I get back to you on that?’**

It’s a different way of living I don’t know enough about.

I’m learning to be more open to who others are and to what they think.  Perhaps this is beginning..  And I have an inkling that gentleness allows people not only to be who they but to be who they are even more beautifully, more creatively, and more generously.

Flow.

I smile at Nassim Taleb’s aphorism concerning how we think we know more than others, including what others know about themselves:

‘The problem of knowledge is that there are many more books on birds written by ornithologists than books on birds written by birds and books on ornithologists written by birds.’^

So I wonder what imaginative gentleness might look like.  Maybe it won’t answer every question or solve every problem but I get the sense that it’s a preemptive disposition for life.

(*From Jacques Goldstyn’s Bertolt.)
(**From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)

 

 

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