For my post today, I thought to walk through some thoughts as they developed. Here’s where I began with Jesus of Nazareth encouraging people not to get caught up in the basics of life:
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.*
We have our happy distractions: we look busy, we feel busy, we make up a lot of meaning around being busy, but it all gets in the way of the daily iterations of the big thing we want to do with our life.
As I was thinking about this, I read Austin Kleon’s blog about starting before were think we’re ready in which he quotes writer David McCullough:
There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing. When I began, I thought that the way one should work was to do all the research and then write the book. In time I began to understand that it’s when you start writing that you really find out what you don’t know and need to know.**
We need to begin the journey, the whole “we make the road by walking” thing.
Our problem can be we don’t want to fail, or to be seen to fail, and so we wait until we’re pretty sure we won’t, missing the point that some of our best work, choices and growings will emerge from mistakes, errors and failures.
Another word for this is playing. This is a word I hold dearly from reading James Carse and Johan Huizinga. Most recently, I have come upon the word being used by Friedrich Schiller more than a hundred years earlier than Carse and Huizinga. Here Schiller is referring to the two human impulses for change and immutability:
But then what is mere play, once we know that under all conditions of man it is exactly play, and only play, that makes him complete, and begins to develop his dual nature.^
Play provides us with the imaginative and creative space we need not to be doing all the time. If you like, doing nothing is very much a part of our doing, to notice, pay attention listen. I came upon these words from Holly McGee in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings:
to the sound of your feet —
the sound of all of us
and the sound of me.^^
As I read these words, I felt they connected with some written by Nan Shepherd on widening the domain of being, a capacity to deepen meaning that we each possess:
So, simply to look on anything, such as a mountain, with the love that penetrates to its essence, is to widen the domain of being in the vastness of non-being. Man has no other reason for his existence.*^
Busyness is what gets in our way of this, so I had to smile when I opened gapingvoid’s blog telling me I’m part of the busy people’s club like everyone else, busyness getting in the way of deepening:
You hate your life yet you’ve not read a book in twenty years.^*
In his delightful stories of time behaving differently, Alan Lightman pens these words about a place in which people’s lives are infinite:
The Laters sit in cafés sipping coffee and discussing the possibilities of life. The Nows note that with infinite lives, they can do all they can imagine.⁺
Begin. Don’t wait. The danger is, even with endless time, we may never begin, but when we begin, infinity opens before us.
(**David McCullough, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: Start before you think you’re ready.)
(^From Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man.)
(^^Holly McGee, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: An Illustrated Ode to Attentiveness and the Art of Listening … .)
(*^From Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain.)
(^*From gapingvoid’s blog: Are you part of the busy people’s club?)
(⁺From Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams.)