[T]hat inner voice, I have found, exists in counterpoise to the outer voice – the more we are tasked with speaking, with orienting lip and ear to the world without, the more difficult it becomes to hear the hum of the world within and feel its magmatic churns of self-knowledge.*
[T]ry to be here, which as you know is the hardest place to be. Can you be present to this little bit of now?**
In a world so full of voices, the hardest to hear can be the one within. To hear this voice we must find stillness and solitude which, if not unknown, feared or undervalued by ourselves, certainly can be in our society.
In his short but wonderful Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse writes about how life has provided us with the opportunity to play an infinite game – infinite meaning everyone is included to play for as long as possible and if either of these are threatened then we have the possibility of changing the rules.
So often, though, our lives are dominated by finite games – selected players working towards a deadline and holding that these are the only rules we can play by.
Though we know we must sometimes play a finite game – I must go to work, vote, pay when I shop for something – we do so knowing these are played within an infinite game. The quality of interaction between the infinite and the finite determines how the inner and outer voices most creatively listen to one another.
This cannot take place if we only listen to the outer voices. Carse names this interaction as touch, reminding us that:
Whoever must play cannot play.^
We do not arrive at our truest play by the sole direction of some outside source – which Carse describes as being moved – but by a conversation between inner and outer voices:
In no way is the source of genius external to itself; never is a child moved to genius. Genius arises with touch. Touch is a characteristically paradoxical phenomenon of infinite play.^
This freedom to play is where we find our “genius,” now we can be fully “here.”
This conversation between inner and outer voices is what you and I are capable of, but not in a way that leaves one of us untouched. Here is surprise for both of us.
I hear my inner voice but you hear yours, too. What we imagine is something new, not pre-determined – whether by you or me:
I am touched only if I respond from my own centre – that is, spontaneously, originally. But you do not touch me except from your own centre, out of your own genius. Touching is always reciprocal. You cannot touch me unless I touch you in response. The opposite of touching is moving. You move me by pressing me from without towards a place you have already foreseen and perhaps prepared. It is a staged action that succeeds only if in moving me you remain unmoved yourself.^
What we are seeing here is what Theory U imagines as generative dialogue, a development from dialogue in which I might tell you more about myself or you may tell me about yourself but neither of us had to do anything with what we now know. The generation of something new occurs only when we are both prepared to let go and let come.
Yesterday, I happened upon a note of four “brave moves” identified by Nipun Mehta^^ which will only come about as we are prepared to touch rather than move one another. I offer them here as something for you to play with:
Consumption to contribution
Transaction to trust
Isolation to community
Scarcity to abundance.
(*From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Kahlil Gibran on Silence, Solitude, and the Courage to Know Yourself.)
(**From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)