What do we do when the future disappears?*

Such playing contains at the outset all the elements proper to play: order, tension, movements, change, solemnity, rhythm, rapture.


If […] we accept the essential and original identity of play and ritual we simply recognise the hallowed spot as a playground, and the misleading question of the “why and the wherefore” does not arise at all.**
(Johan Huizinga)

Bob Stilger writes post-Fukushima, having helped Japanese people to find their future when more than 20,000 lost their lives and 500,000 lost their homes and livelihoods.  Working as a conversation facilitator, he refers to these conversations as “sacred spaces” and further catches my attention when he writes:

‘Thinking and reasoning and analysing are important but they rarely provide direction.  In fact, they need direction.  And direction has to come from our senses.  When everything falls apart, we must invite our hands and our heart and our spirit to come out and play, and ask your analytical minds to wait.  Where is forward?  How do we proceed?’*

This opening up of play with the sacred and sacredness with play can bring into view the adjacent possible, otherwise it can remain invisible:

‘The “adjacent possible” is theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman’s wonderful term for all the myriad paths unlocked by every novel discovery, the multitude of universes hidden inside something as simple as an idea.’^

For me adjacent possibilities exist within the life of each person.  If they want to choose a different path, their talents, passions and experiences can show them where within the sacredness and playfulness of a human life.

For the future, we need to look within.

(*Bob Stilger from Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.)
(**From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)
(^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)

When words are filled with silence

The basic words are not single words but word pairs.*
(Martin Buber)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.**

It feels as though social media deskills us when it comes to using words.  There can be a separating of who we are becoming – the source of our words – from the words we use.

Once upon a time, unless you were part of the world’s elite, the only way to communicate was if the other was right in front of you.   This will always be the most significant visual or illustrating of our words.

There’s a silence before words, but I’ve found myself wondering about the silence beyond words.  How there comes a time when people have shared time together, have conjoined their vocabularies, before remain.ng in each other’s company silent, full of the presence of the other.

(*From Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)
(**Proverbs 15:1; Today’s New International Version.)


The good news and the bad news

The good news is, you already have what you need to begin something significant and remarkable.

The bad news is, it takes energy and focus and trial and failure and reflecting and … .

The good news is, you already have what you need to begin something significant and remarkable.

My MISSION at thin|silence

… is to help you to find it

Find out more by dropping me a line a geoffrey@thinsilence.org

Time and tide wait for no one

You can’t save up time.  You can’t refuse to spend it.  You can’t set it aside.*
(Seth Godin)

The more you can manage yourself, the less other people need to manage you, the more intrinsically valuable you are to them.**
(Hugh Macleod)

We may talk about setting time aside and saving time but it won’t be there when we go back to it.  It’ll be gone forever.

We now know that not all time is the same, though, relatively speaking.  This is certainly true when we bring time and discipline together.

Those with imaginative and supportive habits and rituals, and who spend time reflecting through these, seem to be able to expand time and therefore the possibilities what can happen within it.

Everyone will come up with different habits and ways of reflection.  It doesn’t so much matter how but that we will.

Go make some time.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: The difference between time and money.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: Eight behaviours for self management.)

Curativity and the art of generous obliqueness

There are many laws at work in the universe.  Beyond gravity and thermodynamics and relativity, one we’re discovering more about is the law of generosity.  When we understand and live within generosity, both how it flows to us and from us, more things happen.

First of all, generosity requires we are generous to ourselves:

‘I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.’*

This place of worthiness is where we discover we have more than enough – so not a selfish kind of generosity but one releasing us to give.  It’s as we notice the unnoticed in ourselves that we find there’s more to offer to others.  These words from mythologist Joseph Campbell contain the sense of this; we are able to move into the unfamiliar without:

“Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence – for he has the perfected eye to see.”**

Steve Jobs claimed of creativity:

“Creativity is just connecting things.”^

This helps us to understand and see ways of being creative with what we have – why knowing what we have is so important.  Michael Bhaskar, who is quoting Steve Jobs, above, continues:

‘creativity always contained elements of what we now call curation’.^^

A more apt way of talking about what we do when bring different things we see together is curativity.

All the time generosity is flowing around us, if not toward us.  I am not only thinking about people but the generosity of others is definitely the kind of generosity we can capture and curate.  Richard Rohr is writing about love but could have been writing about this oblique generosity when he wrote:

‘if it’s not flowing out of you, it’s probably because you’re not allowing it to flow toward you […] And love can flow toward you in: through the image of a flower, in a grain of sand, in a wisp of cloud, in a person you allow to delight you’.*^

(*From Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.)
(**Joseph Campbell, quoted in Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)
(^Steve Jobs, quote in Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(^^From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(*^From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)





The hero with a thousand choices

Mythologist Joseph Campbell writes about the hero with a thousand faces, identifying the hero figure within the stories that cultures have told throughout the millennia.  These stories are explorations of what it means to be human, maximising our capacity to think, feel and do.

The hero with a thousand choices is an attempt to point out that within each of us there are so many ways we can choose to live, though some will be more important to us than others.

Here’s the first of a number of Campbell quotes to help us explore this concept – bliss is his word for the discovered and lived purpose for our lives:

‘if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one that you are living  When you see that you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss and they open the doors to you’.*

This notion that the life we ought to be living is the one we are living is right where I find myself working with others, in what I am increasing seeing as hero’s journeys or adventures.  Not some “Look at me, I’m special” kind of hero.  Such a way of thinking just shows how far we have wandered from the stories of heroes.

Hugh Macleod writes about bringing an idea to life, how we can be misunderstood by those around us when the possibility we imagine is very young; it’s just that:

‘win or lose, you really don’t have a better reason for being alive’.**

Macleod is one of those I have “met” in my own field of bliss.  He has opened doors to me:

‘Furthermore, we have not event to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us.  The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to have found an abomination, we shall find a god.  And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.  Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the centre of our own existence.  And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.’*

These have misunderstood the need for adventure.  It is not to conquer the world (of money, of business, of sport, of social media, of ….) but to conquer ourselves, not to gain but to give:

‘A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.’*

Those we meet who’re struggling in their everyday existences – with busyness, with boredom, with people issues and all the other things we think we can do nothing about, Campbell has this to say:

‘The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels something is lacking in the normal experiences available or permitted to the members of his society.  This person takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir.  It’s usually a cycle, a going and a returning.’*

This hero’s journey or adventure is intended for everyone in the everyday, and it is so close to us; we mistakenly think it can only take place in some far off place when it’s within the life we are living.  I read these words from Keri Smith as a metaphor for this when I read them alongside Campbell:

‘It’s up to the wanderers to remake the city into something that ignites the imagination.’^

This adventure includes challenge; transformation comes through trials and revelations.  Perhaps aware of these and those who are met in Campbell’s field of bliss, Alex McManus writes of change:

‘Whatever the reasons change comes, there seems to be three Events that instigate change: Contact with outsiders, Significant events, and Epiphanies.’^^

We prefer the attempt to change the things around us before we attempt to change the things within.  It’s why life slows down and eventually stagnates.  We can obtain many bigger and better things, from jobs to houses, from clothing to electronic devices, but only adventure can stir up the life within:

‘If you want to put it in terms of intentions, the trials are designed to see to it that the intending hero should be really a hero.  Is he really a match for his task?  Can he overcome the dangers?  Does he have the courage, the knowledge, the capacity, to enable him to serve?’*

(*Joseph Campbell, from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: Great ideas have lonely childhood.)
(^From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)
(^^From Alex McManus’ Makers of Fire.)

Rank and file

The biggest problem with a forced ranking is that it’s forced.*
(Seth Godin)

All rankings are forced.  But at least we can be top of the rankings for what it is we love to do most of all – at least, this is where we ought to be.

Joseph Campbell points to three stages in his concept of bliss, or finding our joyful purpose.  These three words from Sanskrit, point us in the direction of knowing our ranking and being at the top of it:

‘The word “Sat” means being.  “Chit” means consciousness.  “Ananda” means bliss or rapture.’**

Which I take to mean, identify who you are, lean into this which is your energy, and then create create create.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: The problem with forced rankings.)
(**Joseph Campbell from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)

Beyond opprobrium

I had to look the word up but opprobrium means harsh criticism or censure.*

The future invites us to move beyond opprobrium – both when it comes to us from, and when we are tempted to use it against, others.

‘I was at once impressed by the phrase “make place for the other.”‘**

Theodore Roosevelt declared in his arena speech:

“There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder.”^

Quelling the storms and riding the thunder begins as a desire and becomes an art.  The kind of art that may save the world.

(*Maria Popova uses the word in her Brain Pickings: Theodore Roosevelt on the Cowardice of Cynicism.)
(**From Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)
(^Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Theodore Roosevelt on the Cowardice of Cynicism.)