Humble play

Only because we do not understand everything and because we cannot control the future is it possible to live and be human.*
(Iona Heath)

All types of skill teach us the same deep truth:that the ore we can immerse ourselves into the forces at place, the more freedoms we have.**
(Bill Sharpe)

Taking the lowest place can be to find freedom.

Free to admit we’re wrong.

Free to learn something new.

Free to serve.

Free to fail.

Free to try again.

Free to try harder.

Free to be moved.

Free to be fully ourselves.

Free to be present.

Free to play.

Free to live.

(*Iona Heath, quoted in Bill Sharpe’s Three Horizons.)
(**From Bill Sharpe’s Three Horizons.)

The library of requirement

Clutching a physical book, like holding someone’s hand, tenders its own special sensations.*
(Diane Ackerwood)

The very nature of the universe invites you to a journey and to discover it.**
(John O’Donohue)

I only really began reading at the age of thirty eight. Previously I’d managed to get through a few books a year but in 1998, something significant happened in my life and I knew I would have to read more to make the most of it.

In her letter to young readers, one of the many in Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s wonderful tome of text and picture, Dianne Ackerman writes of her love for books:

I love the comforting weight of a book, and the way your finger’s skim across the creamy puddles of its pages, one after another, following the darting minnows of words. You can stroll through a book’s compact, neatly bound world, hold it open in both hands, and stare thoughtfully into its face, then close it and see it whole.*

There are now many books that are sacred to me, holy scriptures that have helped and guided me to arrive in this moment, which is a moment of possibility:

This is now what matters, your readers. The moment we’re living in is what counts – how will this moment, the stories we’re living inside of, change us … forever?^

Scriptures as in writings that come to us from others.

Sacred as in setting me aside to live the life only I can live, and for you to live the life you must.

Holy in terms of the best things we can live for, such as love:

Love is the thing that pushes us to succeed. Love is a thing that we have to feel for ourselves, for our family, for our friends, for our partners. Love is what we want to come home to, but it’s also what we want to come in to in the morning. We need love everywhere. And that’s the whole point. We’re building a system with love inside.^^

Sometimes these scriptures are entire books, sometimes only an excerpt, but we know they are are holy scriptures because of what they open for us; they are our library of requirement:

No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soulmate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved on.*

These libraries are always growing, opening adjacent possibilities, constantly a garden of forking paths:

The “adjacent possible” is theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman’s wonderful term for all the myriad paths unlocked by every novel discovery, the multitude of universes hidden in something as simple as an idea.*^

Read on.

(*Diane Ackerwood’s letter to young readers, from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^Jacqueline Woodson’s letter to young readers, from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)
(^^From gapingvoid’s blog: Love is the mission.)
(*^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)

The art of noticing more

It isn’t just fear of failure that stifles creativity and innovation – it’s the pursuit of the ‘sure thing’ that closes us off to the possibilities. If we always knew exactly where we’d land we would never discover how high or how far we might have gone.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

Walking changes activity in the parts of the brain that are concerned with seeing, and it changes then in a variety of positive ways, designed to make responding to what is happening in the real world quicker and more effective.**
(Shane O’Mara.)

It may seem obvious, but when we’re stuck, we need to move.

I don’t mean find the thing we need to do. There’s nothing worse than looking at a screen, fingers hanging motionless over a keyboard, or with pen in hand staring at a notebook.

Get up, walk around.

Moving can also mean opening a book and reading a little. Better still, read some pages from a few books.

Drawing is also moving:

When I’m stuck, I find a picture to copy. […] Drawing changes the way I think and see. […] Copying lets my hand “see” new things.^

One thing for sure is that as complexity increases, so will stuck-ness and we will need to find playful ways forward:

We cannot analyse our way through this level of complexity, but we can play with it.^^

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s The story of Telling blog: The Advantage of Not Knowing For Sure.)
(**From Shane O’Mara’s In Praise of Walking.)

(^From Lynda Barry’s Making Comics.)
(^^From Graham Leicester’s Transformative Innovation.)

Where we choose to live

[A]cts of the imagination are exactly that: acts. They are neural acts with activations that can be detected.*
(Shane O’Mara)

A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. Really. You can go there. […] You can look out of another person’s eyes, think their thoughts, care about what they care about. […] Books give you worlds of infinite possibility. […] Somewhere there is a book just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting.**
(Neil Gaiman)

I sometime suggest to those I work with that they create their “dream home,” a house representing all that matters most to them.

Mine includes a library-lounge – walls of books are magical to me, a co-creating kitchen – in which we could cook up things together, a city-square-cafe front-yard – in which I can sit and read and watch the world and have conversations, and an into-the-woods-and-hills back garden – to escape and be in nature.

There’ll never be such a physical place for me but this is my home. As I reflected on these things some more, I realised how they express my values.

Learning new things, conversations with amazing people, cooking things up together and wandering through nature are the things I value most of all.

These values are my home and I need to come home to them each day.

You may like to imagine your dream home.

Imagining can employ both our visual and motor areas of the brain, the same areas we would be using if we actually doing the things imagined. This is interesting. I can remember reading how practising certain movements in our minds has some benefit and I wonder whether myelin is being wrapped around the synaptic connections in our brains. Perhaps someone reading this has some more information. Imagination is something and something important.

Steven Covey‘s thinking is that to imagine something is the first creation. We then move to the second creation and live out values every day.

“I think everyone is just trying to get home,” said the mole.^

(*From Shane O’Mara’s In Praise of Walking.)
(**Neil Gaiman’s letter to young readers in Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.
)
(^From Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.)

The ring of fellowship?

Structure without life is dead. But life without structure is un-seen. Pure life expresses itself within and through structure. Each moment is absolute, alive and significant.*
(John Cage)

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.**
(African proverb)

Trust isn’t what it used to be. Seth Godin’s observation of our internet age is true both in statistics and personal stories:

The result is a moment in time when more people are connected and fewer are trusted.^

Friends aren’t what they used to be and now we need to identify meaningful friendships by inserting the word vital.

Fellowships are now more likely to be institutions providing awards of one kind or another, when they used to be how people came together to make some important happen:

To be part of an organised fellowship is a responsibility and also the chance to leap forward. Join the others, people like you, eager to see and to be seen, and most of all, to be of service. (Worth noting that ‘fellow’ it is not gender-specific and in fact is used in the Old Testament in reference to women).^^

The thing about fellowships of this traditional kind is that we don’t have to wait for them to come along, we get to start them ourselves with others.

So special are the dynamics of these groups that anthropologist Victor Turner came up with the term communitas to set them apart from our normal understanding of community: a group of people bound together by a common purpose.

(*John Cage, quoted in Bill Sharpe’s Three Horizons.)
(**African proverb, quoted in Shane O’Mara’s In Praise of Walking.)
(^From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s blog: What is a fellowship?)

I can’t see it

When you liberate yourself from the pressure of having to win, you’re free to try things that haven’t been done before. You can permit yourself to develop your unique perspective – share and alternative worldview. Walk an untrodden path.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

This may seem an obvious point, but when we’re walking our brains are in motion too. In fact, as we shall see, we evolved as a mobile species: we walk about, we move, we seek new sources of information from the world.**
(Shane O’Mara)

Sometimes we can’t see it because we don’t want to.

To see something new or to see something more clearly is not always to our advantage, as we perceive it.

To change our mind or our worldview can mean losing much.

But, in a universe in which we collectively know less than 5% of all that is, is that really an option?

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Story of Telling blog: The Advantage of Not Knowing For Sure.)
(**From Shane O’Mara’s In Praise of Walking.)

This is marketing

What your customers want from you is for you to care enough to change them.*
(Seth Godin)

Story is a powerful way of making wholes from disparate parts, weaving elements together to provide an instinctively satisfying sense of coherence.**
(Graham Leicester)

Every idea has to be communicated at some point in time.

The first to hear an idea is the person who came up with it.

This is marketing and it begins with the story I’m telling myself:

It is the marketing we do for ourselves, to ourselves, by ourselves, the story we tell ourselves, that can change everything. It’s what’s going to enable you to create value, to be missed if you’re gone.*

Every one of us has great ideas, ideas to make things better, to change someone’s world for the better.

And what ideas need are great stories to be wrapped in.

In my work with people, there are at least nineteen great ideas identified. The twentieth is the story they become.

I’d love to hear yours.

(*From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(**From Graham Leicester’s Transformative Innovation.)