Mooving, my made-up word, from moving and the first Seth Godin book I picked up back in 2006. Entitled Purple Cow, the book begins with a family holiday in Europe, being enthralled by all the black and white cows to be seen. But this soon wore off, but to see a purple cow, that would literally be remarkable. You would talk about a purple cow for quite a while.
Mooving, then, is moving in a remarkable way.
Something is more likely to happen when we are moving rather than waiting to move. James Carse puts this well in his description of the infinite traveller:
‘Travellers do not go somewhere, but constantly discover they are somewhere else.’*
Madeleine L’Engle helps us to see destinations and travelling as answers and questions, respectively:
“The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.”**
Perhaps this is why we’re not moving or mooving in the first place, we think we already have the answer.
I’ve returned to This is a Poem that Heals Fish, the story of a boy called Arthur who wants to save his fish Leon from boredom. He was told by his mother that he must hurry and give him a poem. Arthur doesn’t know what a poem is and searches cupboards, underneath his parents’ bed, and asks a series of people what a poem is: Lolo at the bike shop, Mrs. Round at the bakers, and Mahmoud who comes from the desert.
He returns to check on Leon, who ‘appears to be asleep’:
‘He is floating gently amidst the seaweed
as if thinking …
Arthur goes straight to the other end
of the house to question
his canary Aristophanes,
who is no bird brain.
Puffing himself up, Aristophanes chirps
– A poem is when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.
– Oh…? Okay.’^
Arthur continues his quest by asking his grandma what a poem is. She thinks really hard and then replies:
‘- A poem turns words around, upside down, and – suddenly! – the world is new.’^
Grandma then continues:
‘- But ask your grandpa,
he often writes poems …
instead of repairing the pipes!’^
Arthur finds his grandpa … in his shed, writing poems. (Here, I want to recommend the movie Paterson.)
‘– A poem? grandpa says,
tugging on his moustache
and looking worried,
A poem, well… it’s
what poets make.
Even if the poets do not know it themselves!’^
Arthur returns dejectedly to Leon, He tells him what he knows, but also what he does not know:
‘- I’m sorry, Leon,
I have not found a poem.
All I know is that:
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.
is words turned upside down
the world is new.’^
Something remarkable then occurs:
‘Leon opens on eye, then the other,
and for the first time in his life he speaks.
– Then I am a poet, Arthur.
– And my poem is my silence…
– I see!’^
What catches my interest is how Arthur does not include his grandpa’s definition of a poem. Arthur seems to be that definition and delivers a poem even though he doesn’t know it himself. It is the thing that allows Leon to realise that his poetry is silence.
We live in the question, not in the answer.
Joseph Pine and James Gilmore identify the commoditisation of experiences: ‘best exemplified by the increasingly voiced phrase, “Been there, done that.”‘^^
We haven’t been there yet – the destination, and so haven’t done that yet … but we have discovered many more something-elses and somewhere-elses along the way as we moove.
(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**Madeleine L’Engle, quoted in Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit.)
(^From Jean-Pierre Siméon and Olivier Tallec’s This is a Poem that Heals Fish.)
(^^From Jospeh Pine and James Gilmore’s The Experience Economy.)