you want to choose a niche an inch wide and a mile deep*
Somewhere along the way, you were given some terrible advice: you have to choose a niche.**
“Hitchedness” allows me to make sense of both these statements from two people whose insights I value when it comes to my love and work of helping people to explore their futures:
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.^
John Muir’s insight that everything in the universe is attached to everything else leads us into the richness of life that is abundant and beautiful and, if we conceive of peace as prosperity for the heart, soul, mind and body, peaceful too:
One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature – inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.^
Life becomes a lesson – or experiment or adventure – in noticing. We cannot really notice in some hurried or forced way, and it is more than focusing hard. It is, as Nancy Kline allows, about paying attention with ease:
To be its best, Attention, from inside itself it seems, summons Ease. Ease emerges and sweeps and dips and saunters, draping itself around Attention’s focus allowing it dimension greater than focus alone can produce.^^
I can imagine Kline smiling with joy after forming these sentences because they have both truth and beauty.
It appears to be our bent to pay attention, to deeply notice what other species do not, though its ease, as with any art, will only appear though effort. Otherwise we can become distracted by lesser things that lead us into smaller lives, wasting our planet, hoarding, achievement, whilst all the time, waiting for us on the far side of this complexity, lies a wonder that will cause us to gasp and be silent and smile with joy. This joy becoming for us the most precious thing we shall ever possess.
On a personal note, I see how children and grandchild and wonderful ideas and amazing encounters with others and making beautiful things and the glory of the natural world and working with nibbed pens and reading books and playfulness and so, so many more things are all joined together and bring me joy, including these words from Erich Fromm which somehow are dearly comforting:
the highest step to which thought can lead us is to know that we do not know*^.
And all that I know and brings me joy is hitched to all you know and brings you joy, and all everyone has known and felt joy in and knows and feels joy in and will ever know and feel joy in is all tiny part of what Muir described when he saw:
the whole universe as an infinite storm of beauty.^
(*From Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation.)
(**From Chris Guillebeau’s Born For This.)
(^John Muir, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Universe as an Infinite Storm of Beauty.)
^^From Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think.)
(*^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)