The impossible call

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.


Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.*
(John O’Donohue)

I began this morning with the following words before me:

‘Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration – how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?’**

Some years ago, I had read an electronic copy of James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.  I have now bought a paper copy.

I’m a little surprised by how thin it is – 149 pages – something I was unaware of when reading is slowly through on my Kindle.  Again and again Carse’s thoughts had caused me to stop and think, to see from new perspectives.  As I begin to read my paper copy, he’s doing it again.  I find myself marking only the third sentence:

‘A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.’^

Rebecca Solnit is suggesting that we can only find some things about ourselves by losing ourselves – becoming purposefully lost.

Wherever we are, we can lose ourselves even when we know the place so well it’s impossible to become lost:

‘To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is presents that its surroundings fade away […] to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.’**

The person who chooses to lose themselves is the person who is “continuing the play”:

‘Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.’*

Infinite players select themselves, finite players are chosen by others.  Solnit takes a moment to share where the word “lost” comes from:

‘The word “lost” comes from the old Norse los, meaning the disbanding of an army, and this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world.  I worry now that many people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know.’**

We all participate in finite games but not everyone chooses themselves and joins in an infinite game.

We need time to lose ourselves.  We can try to find time – waiting for someone or something else to move first – or we can choose ourselves and make time:

‘Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.’*

I offer today’s doodle for colouring, a means of losing ourselves.  Enjoy.

(*From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us: For a New Beginning.)
(**From Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.)
(^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)

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