On prisons

A little imprisonment – if it’s of your own making – can set you free.*
(Austin Kleon)

Busy is the new stupid.**
(Warren Buffet)

The best routines are how we hold together all of our curiosity, dreaming, knowledge, passion, imagining, creating and making … every day.

And every day, we get to hone these a little more.

Obversely, the freedom we sometimes long for can become the real prison.

(*From Austin Kleon’s Keep Going.)
(**Warren Buffet, quoted in gapingvoid’s blog: The one thing you cannot afford to be stupid about.)


What is it that is eternal: the primal phenomenon, present in the here and now, of what we call revelation? It is man’s emerging from the moment of the supreme encounter, being no longer the same as he was when entering into it. The moment of encounter is not a “living experience” that stirs in the receptive soul and blissfully rounds itself out: something happens to man.*
(Martin Buber)

Once upon a time there were commodities.

Over time we saw all the different things that could be made from these commodities and we created goods. Lots of goods.

As goods became more complicated they needed to be serviced.

More time passed and we saw how these interactions with goods and services could be more enriching and we made them into experiences.

After a good experience in a moment and hour or a day, we saw how these experiences could be extended over time if they became transformative.

The encounters we have with people can make the same journey.

(*From Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)

Don’t begin with inspiration, begin with habits

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.*
(Annie Dillard)

All progress is experimental.**
(Hugh Macleod)

Our creative habits must include those that take us to our place of possibilities for making the things we want to bring into being.

If we wait for inspiration then it’s likely we’ll miss many opportunities and possibilities that make themselves available to those who turn up every day.

Make the habits enjoyable, though, and let them be unrushed: slow reading, slow writing, slow thinking, slow seeing … .

Dreams are really practical things because they mean we can turn up and do something today.

Experiment, iterate, abstract, keep moving.

(*Annie Dillard, quoted in Austin Kleon’s Keep Going.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: Are you hiring leaders?)

Paying attention

[the] will to be oneself is heroism*
(José Ortega y Gasset)

Not curating, just letting things still out and pile on one another, is in many ways an easy option; curating well is tough, patient stuff.’**
(Michael Bhaskar)

When it comes to paying attention, we all have plenty to spend, though we don’t always spend it wisely.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi helps us to see just how we can use our attention:

Attention can be invested in innumerable ways, ways that can make life either rich or miserable. […] 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 how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.^

Paying the kind of attention that Csikszentmihalyi imagines leading to a rich experience of life is like curation. It’s not about letting things happen or wanting everything, but about choosing, bringing together and shaping our lives in particular ways. This is where a myth comes in handy. Here’s an overview of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.^^

This is available to every one of us but it doesn’t come without difficulty, as Michael Bhaskar understood: curation is a more difficult option.

A personal myth or story is curation.

We all have the same amount of attention to spend; when we spend it wisely, we can come to inspiration and growth and new beginnings.

(*José Ortega y Gasset, quoted in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(**From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^^From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)

The race to average

When we are in rhythm with our own nature, things flow and balance naturally.*
(John O’Donohue)

Average is over. To be average in today’s world is to be addicted to technology, stimulants, unhealthy eating, and distraction.**
(Ben Hardy)

If John O’Donohue is right about us each having a particular flow and balance to our lives then we won’t want anything to get in the way of this. Unfortunately, as Ben Hardy highlights, there are many things that can disrupt the flow.

I’m thinking of flow as our personal creativity, where we find our art. Art not in the traditional way of thinking about it but as the thing our lives produce when our character and personality combine through curiosities, passions and talents to bring something into being. Something unlike anything else imagined or brought into being before.

I was listening to someone only yesterday describing what her talents meant for her and I couldn’t help but find myself imagining the wonderful new things these could bring into being for the betterment and service of others.

We were never meant to be average, or whatever the opposite of average is.

We are meant to discover our flow and bring it into the world.

(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Ben Hardy’s blog: 10 Ways To Make Peak-State Decisions and Invest in Yourself.)

An unfolded life

I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anymore, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.*
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

We save the world by being alive.**
(Joseph Campbell)

There are lots of things that can lead to folded lives: suffering, failure, envy, guilt, background are just some.

There has never been a better time, though, to unfold, to live a life that is high and wide and deep and long.

Unfolding is a choice or response to something, a choice we can make today and many times through today. Nothing and no one can take this away from us – something Viktor Frankl helped us to see.

(*From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(**Joseph Campbell, quoted in Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)