A narrow path of many possibilities

While capable of incredible sophistication of thought and discovery, we still desire clear, compelling stories to make sense of the world. We still crave certainty and simplicity and shy away from complexity and ambiguity.*
(Eamonn Kelly)

The usual marathons, the popular ones, are done in a group. They have a start time. A finish line. A way to qualify. A route. A crowd. And a date announced a year in advance. Mostly, they have excitement, energy and peer pressure.

The other kind of marathon is one that anyone can run, any day of the year. Put on your sneakers, run out the door and come back 26 miles later. These are rare. It’s worth noting that much of what we do in creating a project, launching a business or developing a career is a lot closer to the second kind of marathon. No wonder it’s so difficult.
(Seth Godin)

I resonated with Seth Godin’s blog when I read it earlier because the solo marathons are the kind I used to run – usually because when others were running in the big marathons, I had to work.

The solo marathon isn’t only a metaphor for the project or career, but also the life-story with you as the main protagonist, an adventure with a developing character.

The path is narrow because it is focused and takes great effort but it is only such a path that opens many possibilities. It’s your path and you don’t even have to wait for a fork to make a choice, you can make one. (Warning: I did this once when out on a training run and ended up running 36 miles – it was wonderful, though.)

(I’m going to be taking a few days off. I’ll still be journaling and doodling each day but I won’t be posting. Thank you for sharing the journey; back soon.)

(*From Eamonn Kelly’s Powerful Times.)
(**Seth Godin’s blog: Solo marathon.)

At the heart of resistance

It is the heart that makes us human. The heart is where the beauty of the human spirit comes alive. Without the heart the human would be sinister. To be able to feel is the great gift. […] Facing possibility, the mind is in relentless thought-flow. Concealed within the dark, the heart is concerned with who we are.*
(John O’Donohue)

And the ways of “sharing” enabled by hyperlinks are now creating a new type of thinking – part human and part machine – found nowhere else on the planet or in history. The web has unleashed a new becoming.**
(Kevin Kelly)

The mind is being enhanced by technology but what of the heart? How do we grow the heart?

In some ways, technology helps us to take the path of least resistance but the heart requires we take a path of greater resistance.

We will create new myths to tell how this might be, but there are boundaries or thresholds needing to be crossed: if we are to find, we must seek; if we are outside, we must open the door to move inside (or vice versa); if we do not know, we must ask questions.

These resistances are how we become more:

We want to start with resistances, those facts that stand in the way of the will. Resistances themselves come in two sorts: found and made.^

The thing about the resistant heart is that it gives us a place we know, to push against, to begin.

(*From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.)
(**From Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable.)
(^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)

2,000 whispers

Mostly, I love anything that encourages sustainability, usefulness, beauty, compassion and the wild.*
(Sue Fan)

Successful cities are a glorious mess of old and new, of hours and shops and work place, and where the richer residents and poorer one mingle together. And it is that diverse mess that makes them safe, innovative – and, perhaps above all, resilient.**
(Tim Harford)

My goal had been to whisper every day of 2014 as long as I could add a doodle, just to see what would happen.

That should have been 365 whispers, but today I hit 2,000. Here’s number 1 from August 2013, when I must have been playing with the idea.

(Playfulness is really important as a way of overcoming the kind of judgement that would have stopped me doing anything.)

In between, I have found my love for the visual leading me into illustrating work I couldn’t have imagined five years ago: here’s my latest collaboration with Daphne Loads, newly published: Rich Pickings.

All of this is to encourage you to follow the thing you want to do. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be full-time, just see what happens when you pursue it every day.

I love Sue Fan’s words because they encourage us to create a space for our creativity that is both centred and exploring: a home that is also a studio.

And when Tim Harford describes successful and resilient cities, he could be describing a person’s life – where the old and the new mix, where there’s work and play and rest, where there the developed and undeveloped side-by-side, all dwelling in some “glorious mess” that makes it possible to be and to explore.

Who knows what will happen then.

(*Sue Fan, from from Sue Fan and Diane Ogilvy’s Do/Inhabit/.)
(**From Tim Harford’s Messy.)

Time for a little prutsen

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. […] Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.*
(Jesus of Nazerath)

Seek out people who aren’t afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes […] they are precisely the kind of people who change the world.**
(Paulo Coelho)

Prutsen is doing something of little significance that doesn’t change the world but changes ours.

The thing is, when we change our world, we end up changing the worlds of others.

When we resist changing our worlds, what we end up doing is erecting fences that keep others out and, inadvertently, keep us in.

(*Matthew 7:1-5)
(**From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)


… I am the necessary angel of earth,
Since, in my sight, you see the earth again.*
(Wallace Stevens)

It is very possible to see what has already taken place, less so what is happening around us right now because it’s still playing out, but the most difficult and the most necessary seeing is what can be and has not been imagined or tried.

Yet, we’re all capable of this seeing.

(*From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel.)

The width of seeing

Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing, and full seeing seems to take most of your life time, with a huge leap in the final years.* (Richard Rohr)

The more we look the more we see, the more we see.

It’s not only a physical thing alone but it’s not a default in life, it’s a choice, and it’s available to everyone.

Every day.

When we do, something we can only describe as magical happens over a lifetime.

(*From Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.)

Dreamlines and other paths available

The American man was captivated. ‘And can we go and look for these Dreaming-tracks? […].’

They can,’ she said. ‘You can’t.’

‘You mean they’re invisible?’

‘To you. Not to them.’

‘Then where are they?’

‘Everywhere,’ she said. ‘For all I know, there’s a Dreaming-track running right through the middle of my shop.’*

Only you can see your dreamline.

Each person must have the eyes of their heart wide open in order to see their own.

Dreamlines sound magical, but we have formed them with our values, talents, energies and experiences.

They are wild, foot-trodden ways and can be hard to follow with all the metalled and paved alternatives, but they run through every aspect and dimension of each person’s life:

A hero sets off in search of something elusive that has the power to change both their life and the world.**

(*From Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines.)
(**From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)

Time to pay attention

Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy. Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by it.*
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.**
(Mary Oliver)

What kind of “estate” do you want to leave bequeath?

We know we can’t take anything with us once we have to give back the eighty or so years of energy we’ve been given. This proverb holds that right living are the most valuable to us when troubles come our way:

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.^

What we find is that there’s never the time to do right things. We have to make time. In this way it is both disruptive to us and to others in a valuable way. So, when Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about attention being like energy we get it. Attention takes time. It’s the investment of who we are leaves behind memories, thoughts and feelings a burgeoning bank account never can.

Mary Oliver causes me to think about when we make time, when we invest energy, when we pay attention, we will be wowed, we will know ourselves to be rich, and then we must tell about it, which I take to mean, share it with others.

(*From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(**Mary Oliver, quoted in Sue Fan and Danielle Quigley’s Do/Inhabit/.)
(^Proverbs 11:4)

To bless the space between us*

Organisation is a means of getting things done. But it is also a way of living together.**
(Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester)

Everyone one the Planetary Team knows the moment. The moment when we knew our calling was to break boundaries and push humanity to the stars.^
(Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler)

You can put a group of people together and call them a team. You’ve organised them. This is organisation as form.

When a group of people find each other because of collectively recognised issue and when they begin to both commit to the task and to each other, you have what Victor Turner called communitas, a self-organising community, what I think of as a community of must.

These are the people who make change happen, the people Margaret Mead had in mind when she asserted:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.^^

Never doubt that you will find yours … or maybe begin yours.

It is what we get up to on a really good day.

(*From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.)
(**From Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester’s Dancing at the Edge.)
(^From Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler’s Bold.)
(^^Margaret Mead, quoted by Brainy Quotes.)

Divergence is only the beginning

In your search for quality, you must create far more material than you can use, then destroy it.*
(Robert McKee)

He [Danny Boyle] restored to us the people we were before we made career choices – to when we were just wondering.**
(Frank Cottrell Boyce)

When it comes to who we are and what we can do, there’s far more to the basics than we imagine.

The first part of the work I engage in with others involves divergence, being open to and noticing of the many things in their lives that can lead to adjacent possibilities: values, talents, dreams, energising and enervating environments.

Divergence has to be followed by emergence, when the possibilities are honed down through acknowledging what the heart longs for, which is the convergence:

We will always need to be humble enough to accept that our heart knows why we’re here.^

Only then can we express the fullness of our own gifts,’^^ shaping our lives into a ‘gem-quality story.’*

Maybe the career-path kicked in too quickly and the heart isn’t in it, maybe we’re still trying to figure it all out. A good place to return to is the basics and to take a deeper look.

(*From Robert McKee’s blog: Why Writers destroy Their Work.)
(**Frank Cottrell Boyce, quoted in Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester’s Dancing at the Edge.)
(^From Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.)
(^^From Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)