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 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.
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.