Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is.*
We can do everything right and still not really live. Doing everything that is required is not the end goal. To do it with flair is way more interesting. We’re going to take a look at where that flair comes from.
In their lovely children’s book Going Places about a go-cart competition, Peter and Paul Reynolds tell a tale of what can happen if we go beyond the rules.
In school, Rafael is the first to grab a go-cart kit for the “Going Places contest.” When he got home, out came the kit and the instructions.
Rafael was very pleased when his cart looked like the one in the instructions.
He then wondered how his friend and next-door neighbour Maya was getting on. She hadn’t even started, instead she was intent on sketching a bird and then watched it dreamily fly away.
John O’Donohue introduces his book To Bless the Space between Us with these words:
‘There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our mind to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility and our hearts to love life. Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.’**
Maya is gazing at the horizon of possibilities but there is something lit within her that has already been noticed in her sketching the bird. She is about to bless the space between herself and Rafael.
When Rafael told Maya that she had not made a go-cart, she replied, “Who said it HAD to be a go-cart?”
Rafael gets it: the instructions didn’t say they couldn’t team up, either: his blessing for Maya
‘Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognise and receive our very presence here as a blessing. We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us. The gift of the world is our first blessing.’**
As Maya gazes at the bird in flight, some words from Frans Johansson catch my gaze as they wing there way past me – he encourages me to “take my eye of the ball” for a while:
‘Conscientiousness is […] the type of behaviour that insures execution, but also allows us to miss great ideas, projects, improvements or connections that keep popping up around us. Unfortunately, by rigidly pouring all of our effort into one approach, we miss out on the unexpected paths to success.’^
The other children had followed the instructions for the go-cart race and so all their machines look the same.
While the others roll along the ground as fast as they can, Maya and Rafael take to the air. They win the race and come to a halt by the school lake, and on seeing a frog jumping by the edge, wonder …
O’Donohue is saying that, deep down, we each have the light that makes it possible to move beyond … and beyond again.