Beyond the pale adventure

When man is born, the human race as well as the individual, he is thrown out of a situation which was definite, as definite as the instincts, into a situation which is indefinite, uncertain and open.*
(Erich Fromm)

We often compare ourselves to others. We don’t set out to do it, it just sneaks up on us.

Comparing jobs, holidays, homes, happiness, social media followings … .

We become distracted from what we have, the adventure to be lived, with all its challenges, betrayals, overcomings, failures, inspirations, disappointments, victories, beneficences. Of course, the distractions are in there, part of a bigger rip-roaring tale

This is what our birth throws us into.

Joseph Campbell captures all of this in the language of myth. Myths exist because we live:

The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual centre of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state: but it is always a place strangely fluid and polymorphous beginnings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delights.**

All I can say is, write out your myth in some way every day. Capture the story you are living to see what you have achieved and what yet lies before you, but don’t do this alone. Take some companions along when writing in what you’re reading or watching or listening to.

Agree with yourself how much time you will spend in this then begin. When the time is up, stop. There’s always tomorrow to continue. Leave yourself wanting more.

(*From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(**From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)

Beyond the ups and downs of life

It turns out that the typical school spends most of its time on just one of those skills (obedience through comportment and regurgitation). What would happen if we taught each skill separately?*
(Seth Godin)

Seth Godin names the following skills as important to life and, so, important to learn in our educational years:

Obedience
Management
Leadership/cooperation
Problem-solving
Mindfulness
Creativity
Analysis

Edward de Bono wrote about six thinking hats that help us live life more fully:

Neutral and objective
Emotional
Negative
Positive
Creativity and new ideas
Organisation**

Whether we identify six or seven (or fifteen) skills, we need to figure out ways of honing these every day. They are the horizontals moving through the vertical walls of subjects.

One day, they’ll also make it onto the school curriculum.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Pivoting the education matrix.)
(**From Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.)

There’s a change coming

The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.*
(William Gibson)

It’s the direction we’re moving in that matters, not the speed of our travel.**
(Harriet Lerner)

Your future is already here.

Don’t look around for it, look within.

We prefer to change the things around us before we have to change ourselves: our clothes, our job, our partner, our friends … .

But to change ourselves is to move from victim to protagonist.

Bill Moyers speaks of Ariadne’s thread given to Theseus so he could find his way out of the labyrinth:

Sometimes we look for a great power to saves us, or great ideas to save us, when all we need is that piece of string.^

Here the piece of string is the story that allows us to explore the labyrinths of our own lives and yet return to be with others. Change is coming but only if we want it. The hardest change of all is to change ourselves:

Humans are unique in their ability to willingly change. […] But only when we want to. The hard part, then, is changing it. It’s the wanting it.^^

(*William Gibson, quoted in Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable.)
(**From Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Connection.)
(^Bill Moyers from Jospeh Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s blog: People don’t change.)

Was it an ending or beginning?

The Celtic imagination always sensed that beneath time there was eternal depth. […] While something may come to an ending on the surface of time, it’s presence, meaning, and effect continue to be held and integrated into the eternal.*
(John O’Donohue)

When the way is flat and dull in times of grey endurance,
May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.**

(John O’Donohue)

Status quo is another way of saying something has got stuck when it needn’t be.

There’s nothing like our imaginations for getting unstuck, imaginations that understand time to be deep and that although this looks on the surface to be be the destination or conclusion, it isn’t by any means.

Our imaginations dwell most richly in our creativity, our art, and there’s nothing quite like our art to disrupt what has become too settled. Art is where something can begin or begin again.

Each person’s art is different and must be seen for what it is so that it may be honed into something powerful. Size has nothing to do with it, it’s goodness, though, is everything.

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.^

While I’m not thinking of art in a traditional sense, sometimes introducing some drawing or writing into our daily experience is a really useful way of disrupting where we find ourselves when are used as habits or methods or practices to bring us to our artistic expression.

(*From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us: For One Who Holds Power.)
(^From Ben Hardy’s blog: These 20 Pictures Will Teach You More Than Reading 100 Books.)

A blessing for those who are still growing up

Some people as they grow up become less […]. Other people as they grow up become more.*
(Eugene Peterson)

The wanderer becomes one with himself or herself and the universe. We connect with the energy of all living things. We live according to our inner nature.**
(Keri Smith)

Over twenty years ago, Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant stimulated a growth spurt in my life, one I have not yet found the limits to.

Integral to this is knowing everyone has a capacity to grow beyond what they know and who they are.

Today I become a sexagenarian and take to heart some words from Rohit Bhargava which I offer here as a blessing:

May you continue to know the agitation of your curiosity,
May your eyes open ever wider so you may observe more around you,
May you be playful and not fixated,
May you always be deeply thoughtful, knowing there is always more around the corner,
And may you be elegant in your life, your work and your art.^

(*From Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses.)
(**From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)
(^Heavily contrived (curated) from Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious – 2018 edition: ‘be curious, be observant, be fickle, be thoughtful, be elegant’.)

How much will that cost?

Where is your bliss station? […] You have to try to find it.*
(Joseph Campbell)

How much will it cost?

If we’re talking technology, the cost will go down over time. Kevin Kelly notes, although the price will never become zero, how:

In the goodness of time any particular technological function will act as if it were free.**

If we’re talking about your art then the cost will go up over time.

It’s why we find ourselves using words like sacrifice.

Artist and writer Austin Kleon quotes Joseph Campbell having created his own bliss station or sacred space, a place to disconnect from the outer world and all its demands and for a little while to connect to the inner world of becoming and possibilities.

Some will connect to their god, others to their muse, still others to the universe and some to all three and more.

You may think, then, that because you don’t consider yourself a writer or an artist, you don’t need to worry about a bliss station.

Joseph Campbell’s words, though, are aimed at everyone, his gift to open our eyes and hearts to the specialness of every human life and how we each have something to bring, something artistic.

The cost is more about time than money. It’s why time is the most precious thing we have.

Tomorrow I turn sixty years of age and yet I believe that with this kind of investment some of the most exciting possibilities are ahead.

(*Joseph Campbell, from Austin Kleon’s Keep Going.)
(**From Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable.)

Complete joy

Extended, the lines of relationships intersect with the eternal You. Every single You is a glimpse of that.*
(Martin Buber)

Even though there’s something that gives us great meaning and satisfaction on a personal level, it’s unlikely that it will be completely joyful without some kind of intersecting of this with the lives of others.

Towards this, in the words of John O’Donohue:

May [you] live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.**

(*From Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes; I have changed an “I” to ‘you’ to make it into a blessing for passing on.)