The Thin|Silence Store

Here are some Thin|Silence designs you can purchase as a gift for others of for yourself.

CHRISTMAS CARD: My design from 2017 is still available from Methodist Publishing: £2.99 for five cards and envelopes, plus postage.

SLOW JOURNEYS IN THE SAME DIRECTION: As far as I am aware, this is the only colouring book with online content to guide you through each doodle’s texts, including things you can try out. It’s available from Methodist Publishing at £4.99 plus postage; even with the postage it’s a great price compared with other colouring books available in shops.

CHRISTMAS CARDS: May it be a Slow, Slow Christmas is a limited run of cards and I have a some left after orders; they are £1 each (including envelope) plus postage.

TEA-TOWEL DESIGN?: I thought to “test the waters” and see if there is interest in the same design as a tea-towel. It would be a limited run of 36 and the price of each would be £10 plus postage.

If you are interested in either the cards or tea-towel, email me by Monday, 25th November for the tea-towel and Monday, 2nd December for the cards, at geoffreybaines@gmail.com.

TEA-TOWEL: I have a small number of my A Special Edition tea-towels from a limited run of only 37, with a gift card in the same design. These are £10 plus any postage and packing. Get in touch with me at geoffreybaines@gmail.com.

DREAMWHISPERING: The final expression of Thin|Silence to let you know about this week is Dreamwhispering©, a ten hour journey of conversations exploring values, talents, dreams and energies, wrapped around the two critical questions: Who am I? and What is my work (contribution).

Available in person, by video call or by phone, the 2019 price is £200, and you can book this now and begin in 2020.

Go far or grow far

Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials.*
(Joseph Campbell)

[O]penness as in vulnerability […] is not a matter of exposing one’s unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one’s ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be. The infinite player does not expect only to be amused by surprise, but to be transformed by it, for surprise does not alter some abstract past, but one’s own personal past.**
(James Carse)

We’ve likely all heard it said of someone whose potential has been spotted that they’ll “go far.” I have never it said of someone the they will “grow far.”

Ben Hardy writes about the importance of knowing yourself in your context if we are to become the people we can be:

If you’re mindless, then you don’t notice nuance,^

and he will go on to make the point:

you are not the cause of your success. You are the product of your changing environment.^

How valuable, then, to see what Sy Montgomery sees:

Our world, and the worlds around it and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom – and is far more vibrant, far more holy, than we could ever imagine.^^

To grow farther, we require something to break us out of our ego-worlds – our false or lesser selves. These worlds are far more likely to be fixed without nuance – we know what we see, we know what we know, we know who we are and we know what we can do:

You are so fixated on what you see that you can’t see past it.^

Our true Self, however, is full of growing-possibility, providing us with the possibility of transcendence.

That this growing-possibility is missed by so many is captured in Richard Sennett’s closing remarks in The Craftsman:

I’ve kept for the end of this book its most controversial proposal: that nearly everyone can become a good craftsman. The proposal is controversial because modern society sorts people along a strict gradient of ability. The better you are at something, the fewer of you there are.*^

Keep growing, because you can.

(*From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Ben Hardy’s Willpower Doesn’t Work.)
(^^Sy Montgomery, quoted in Maria Popova’s Bran Pickings: How to be a Good Creature.)
(*^From Richard Sennet’s The Craftsman.)

When right got weird

The right story isn’t the point. The right change, at the right time, for the right people and the right reason is the point.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

There are products you care about beyond reason, and it’s with this lack of reason that you define yourself.**
(Hugh Macleod)

I’ve just come to the close of a dreamwhispering journey with someone who has discovered, when exploring and articulating her values, talents and most enriching environments, her right story looks weird – that is, when compared with normal.

Hugh Macleod’s opening words are linked to his favourite book We Are All Weird, from Seth Godin. Also one of my favourite reads, I pulled my copy out of my library and began looking through the words that captured my attention when I read it eight years ago. On page 12, I’d noted:

We’re not normal. We’re weird. All of us.^

It’s the truth. Yes, we like grouping people together to make modern life work the way we think it should – the great mass of normal – but reality is quite different. Spend an hour with anyone, ask them a question about what they love, then listen back and enjoy the journey into their weird.

Rory Sutherland concludes his book Alchemy with this aide-memoire:

Remember, if you never do anything different, you’ll reduce your chances of enjoying lucky accidents.^^

We need more happy accidents, more imagination, more possibilities, and they won’t come from normal, they’ll come from weird:

An abundant society can’t be created with a narrative of scarcity.*

How do we know we’ve found our right story as an individual? Those around us flourish. And our right story as a world? Everyone flourishes.

The right stories are not about us, they’re about others.

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Right Story.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: “We Are All Weird.”)
(^From Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird.)
(^^From Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy.)

Marketing compassion

The most persuasive people convince us incrementally – not trying to change us, but by reminding us who we are.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

Give people a reason and they may supply the behaviour; but give people a behaviour and they’ll have no problem supplying the reason themselves.
(Rory Sutherland)

Both of these opening statements come from marketers. Perhaps it’s because I had the privilege of attending The Compassion Salon last evening, but as I read Bernadette Jiwa’s and Rory Sutherland’s words it felt like they’re writing about compassion.

Jiwa tells the story of her Canadian baker friend Mark Dyck who was given the opportunity of advertising his business in a shiny magazine for $3,000. Knowing his business was built on relationships, he decided to use the money to engage in what felt a more appropriate form of marketing.

Dyck introduced the “true friend’s bread basket,” providing a loyal customer with a week’s supply of fresh bread. He then handed the nomination of the next recipient to that first customer, and that customer would chose the next, and so it spread.

Rory Sutherland writes about behaviours leading people to their own reasons for doing something. I think story is another word for reason, and behaviours are best communicated in stories; they help us to imagine ways to behave similarly in our own worlds with the people who inhabit these.

Another marketer, Seth Godin, writes:

We have to go where people are if we’re going to get them to somewhere better.^

Godin is identifying empathy and compassion as important but different things.

Empathy is stepping into the world of another and connecting with their story – attachment. The danger is one of becoming too attached. Ask a really empathetic person how difficult it can be to find space for themselves rather than worrying about others and you come face-to-face with this dilemma.

Compassion is actioning and involves detachment to be able to help. Rather than the soft option many believe compassion to be – those gathered in the salon were promoting compassion in the worlds of education, government and medicine – compassion brings us into the world as it is. And this includes having the opportunity to become our true and most honest Self.

I am beginning to think that compassion is perhaps our most human quality, making it possible to touch another’s life in a dynamic way when there is no direct, practical or natural reason for doing this.

My reason for using the words of three marketers is to show how compassion is alive in some unexpected places, indeed, it is to be found in each of us, even those who are most suspicious of compassion. It’s how the human world works at its best. It is who we are at our best.

(*From The Story of Telling: On Persuasion.)
(**From Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy.)
(^Seth Godin, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s The Right Story.)

Odd before it’s even

This freedom is much more valuable than we realise, because to reach intelligent answers, you often need to ask really dumb questions.*
(Rory Sutherland)

The myth of the hero told people what they had to do to unlock their own heroic potential.**
(Karen Armstrong)

Dumb can mean we bring some asymmetry into the world, looking for someone or something to match it and bring some evenness.

Maybe I’m doing something dumb, but I’ve got to keep trying.

(*From Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy.)
(**From Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)

I choose to inhabit my days*

Skin in the game keeps hubris in check.**
(Nassim Taleb)

A myth is an attempt to express some of the more elusive aspects of life that cannot easily be expressed in logical, discursive speech.^
(Karen Armstrong)

Alchemy takes place within living stories.

Let us be open to the possibilities today brings to us.

(*Dawna Markova, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer: Day 18:
I will not die an unlived life,
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise…

(**From Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game.)

(^From Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)

To write a worthy story

it is much easier to be fired for being illogical than for being unimaginative*
(Rory Sutherland)

Narratives that cause us to pay attention and also involve us emotionally are the stories that move us to action.**
(Paul Zak)

Alchemy^ is more likely to occur within a story.

It’s why the two main questions I work upon with others – Who am I? and What is my contribution? – are about creating personal stories Stories that are worthy of them.

(*From Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy.)
(Paul Zak, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s The Right Story.)

(^Not the lead into gold alchemy, but the ordinary life into a remarkable life kind.)

Aelntt

You do your best work by getting others to do theirs.*
(Hugh Macleod)

Even if someone is born with a particular talent, that talent will usually remain latent if it is not fostered, honed and exercised.**
(Yuval Noah Harari)

Whatever a person’s life contains, there will be many abilities and talents included – whether recognised or not. Just taking the time to notice these and to organise them in particular and peculiar ways will open possibilities and opportunities – like the letters in the title.

There’ll be plenty of work ahead to develop these – we won’t know how far we can take them – but this is half our fun in life.

One thing for sure, if we don’t pay them any attention, we’ll know how far we can take them.

(*From gapingvoid’s blog: The importance of mindset and the search for meaning.)
(*From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)

Just add time and effort

There’s a common meme doing the rounds – the idea that “People don’t want stuff, they want experiences.”*
(Hugh Macleod)

Pain, discomfort, shock, boredom, imposter syndrome, awkwardness, fear, being wrong, failing, ignorance, looking stupid. Your avoidance of these feelings is stopping you from a life greater than your wildest imagination.**
(Ben Hardy)

It’s become easier to buy an experience than make one. Which is to say, it easier than to become the kind of people who are able to reflect on our lives, all those experiences we’re already having, the same experiences through which we can become more healthy and fruitful (productive sounds too industrial but is a good word to use).

Blaise Pascal reflected:

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.^

Ryan Holiday quotes Pascal’s words in his book Stillness is the Key, but widens our perception of stillness so we might see where it is already present in our lives, those: moments of insight, giving our best, pride in completing something, training deliberately, watching snow fall. It’s something we all have the capacity for and can develop:

Stillness is the key to, well, just about everything. To being a better parent, a better artist, a better investor, a better athlete, a better scientist, a better human being. To unlocking all that we are capable of in life.^^

Stillness, then, is the ability to reflect upon what we are doing in life and also what is being done to us. We come to see how life is special, we may even say sacred:

By conscious self-awareness, we are connected to the mystery from which we emerge.*^

As I say, we all have stillness, reflection, awareness to some degree. Now it’s about how prepared we are to develop our stillness, noticing these moments in our lives and enlarging them. As with all things of substance and value, it takes time and effort.

And as with all the things that grow and develop us, journaling offers itself to us as a way of pondering in a more hopeful way.

(*From gapingvoid’s blog: The secret to living fully.)
(**From Ben Hardy’s Willpower Doesn’t Work.)
(^Blaise Pascal, quoted in Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)
(^^From Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)
(*^From Alex McManus’ Makers of Fire.)

Reset for a better story

Tell a story that is about the listener, not about you.*
(Seth Godin)

What if there’s a different way of seeing things and, so, understanding and, so, living our life differently as a result?

Where we are in our thinking and feeling and doing right now offers us a particular perspective, but what if we move to a different viewpoint or perspective? How will things look then?

Different, I guess.

It turns out that actor and country singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson loves William Blake, quoting the following words. I offer them here because they are about why it could be important to get a different perspective:

If he who is organised by the divine for spiritual communion, refuse and bury his talent in the earth, even though he should want natural bread, shame and confusion of face will pursue him throughout life to eternity.**

Kristofferson reflects on Blake’s words:

He’s telling you that you’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.^

Knowing what we are supposed to do is a different perspective for many people, making it possible to “reset,” to change our way of thinking, feeling and doing.

Or not, if we choose to bury it.

Knowing who we are and what we must do provides us with the best perspective of all, one that is highly adaptive, because we’re in the flow of something we know is never finished, always growing, always changing.

Michelangelo’s unfinished statues hold more beauty for me than his finished ones. Caught in a moment of time, they speak of how much can change before they are completed. Perhaps we only become the finished piece just before we die.

It’s a choice because of the law of human plasticity:

A new “Law” puts all other laws and criteria into an utterly new perspective.^^

Look around. All those people you know so little about – they know something about you that you don’t know about you: it’s a Johari thing:

When you have a growing awareness of how much you don’t know about someone else, you begin to understand how much you don’t know about yourself.*^

We often have to step into a new idea or another’s person’s perspective or a new behaviour to discover more about ourselves.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Tell a better story.)
(**William Blake, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: You’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.)
(^Kris Kristofferson, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: You’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.)
(^^From Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now.)
(*^From Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation.)