Life with limitations

To the warrior, greatness is not the product of ego but of service. If you live for yourself, you can settle for less. If you live for others, it requires all of who you are.*
(Erwin McManus)

Being of any reasonable sort appears to require limitation. Perhaps this is because Being requires Becoming, as well as mere static existence – and to become is to become something more, or at least something different.**
(Jordan Peterson)

Life comes with limitations.

I have often mentioned what I see to be the most critical of these – five elemental truths:

Life is hard
You are not as special as you think
Your life is not about you
You are not in control
You are going to die.

We can take these at face value and hunker down for a life of being who we are.

Or we can use them as they are meant to be used, limitations that help us to become who we can be.

Between our limitations and our dreams lies an adventure for every day:

It remains the dream of every life, to reach out and lift oneself up to greater heights. A life that continues to remain on the safe side of its own habits and repetitions, that never engages with the risk of its own possibility, remains an unlived life.^

(*From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.)
(**From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.)

Obligation and intention

When you live a life of obligation, it steals from you your strength. Wisdom allows you to harness your strength.*
(Erwin McManus)

One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. […] This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we compromise. We settle for something safe, rather than engaging the danger and wildness that is in our own hearts.**
(John O’Donohue)

If you have a problem or challenge or situation or opportunity, who do you want to turn up day after day until it’s sorted or met or overcome for realised?

The person who comes out of obligation or the one who turns up with intention?

(*From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.)
(**John O’Donohue, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: A Gentle Corrective.)

En route

You’ll happily take the destination but the truth is, the journey is too arduous.*
(Seth Godin)

Some of the Celtic Christian literature that emerged from these centuries took the form of immram, a word which might be translated perhaps as ‘wonder voyage,’ a sea journey to an other-world.**
(Robert Macfarlane)

Every worthwhile destination will require us to make a journey involving risks.

By worthwhile, I mean good and beautiful and true.

You may be the only person to understand why this place and why this journey.

Only you know how it sets your heart beating like wings of a great bird in flight, carrying you towards what you must do, making you who you must be.

It may take years, you may despair of never making it, but you come to understand how the journey is there to teach you, to make you, to bring you people to help, to grow in you what it is you hoped for and set out towards.

I hope for you and wish you well; you are en route.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Destinations, risks and journeys.)
(**From Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways.)

What does life expect of me?

As a charge of electricity leaps from pole to pole in a magnet, so the spark of life ignites across the gap between self and reality. With this flash of energy, we ignite the power of story.*
(Robert McKee)

As long as one attains redemption only in his self, he cannot do any good or harm to the world; he doesn’t not concern it. Only he that believes in the world achieves contact with it; and if he commits himself he also cannot remain godless.**
(Martin Buber)

I wasn’t going to begin with these quotes, but they caught my eye for what they appear to share about life-in-all-its-fullness being found between the self and the reality of the world.

Here are the quotes I was going to begin with:

The warrior never fights out of anger; they fight only out of honour. They never fight to conquer: they fight only to liberate. The warrior fights against evil so that good may prevail. Wisdom is revealed by what a person fights for. If you fight for yourself, you have given yourself too small a thing. The warrior fights against injustice, against poverty, against despair, against depression.^
(Erwin McManus)

Everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of the number of like-minded people there is, and everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.^^
(Viktor Frankl)

Evil manifests itself in many forms and places. Erwin McManus remarks on how wisdom is revealed when we fight for something: wisdom is life-in-all-its-fullness, not only what we know and what we feel, but what we do.

There will be something life is calling you to; this makes sense of what Viktor Frankl is reflecting on soon after surviving the Nazi work and death camps:

the question can no longer be What can I expect from life? but can only be What does life expect of me? What task in life is waiting for me?^^

We are noticing life’s greatest need calling to our deepest joy, the thing we have been preparing ourselves to make a difference in.

This is different for each of us, but I believe in the self-organising nature of life, that if we identify what matters most of all to us and action it, the world will change.

What’s yours, the meaningful thing that will bring you joy, that sparks into life between your imagination and reality?

For me, it is that people are far more than they know, but, too often, they believe the voices that tell them they have nothing to give, or they can only be this or that but no more.

It’s why I want to help people to explore more of who they are through my Go Live Your Strengths project; get in touch to find out more.

(*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: What is the Substance of a Story?)
(**From Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)
(^From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.)
(^^Viktor Frankl, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Yes to Life, In Spite of Everything.)

Before books, we had people

People think they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking True thinking is rare – just like true listening. Thinking is listening to yourself. It’s difficult. To think, you have to be at least two people at the same time. Then you have to let those people disagree. Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world.*
(Jordan Peterson)

Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being.**
(David Ulin)

I am listening to you
share your story,
as you hear it in a new way,
making new discoveries,
new connections,
new possibilities.

Deep listening
making it possible
for us to meet
in new ways:
meeting our self,
meeting each other.

(*From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.)
(**From David Ulin’s The Lost Art of Reading.)

Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees*

Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.**
(The Little Prince)

The quick pulse,
The long look,
The one natural law.^

(Rebecca Elson)

I look
but do not see,
I look again
and hardly see
I look once more
and am astonished at
all the heart can see.

To see
Takes such effort.

(*The title of a book by Lawrence Weschler which made me think of seeing beneath the surface and beyond the name or label of something or someone.)
**The Little Prince, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: How to draw what is invisible.)
(^From Rebecca Elson’s A Responsibility to Awe: Constellations.)

Why I believe in conversation

There’s nothing quite like a conversation in which the participants turn their listening into hearing, allowing new thoughts and ideas to be generated and new possibilities to be revealed.

I didn’t know at the beginning of this day that I would find myself in several of these.

Not bad; not bad at all.

Reflect and do or do and reflect?

The secret to diagnosing the problem with a broken scene lies in the subtext.*
(Robert McKee)

Each society and each individual usually explores only a tiny fraction of their horizon of possibility.**
(Yuval Noah Harari)

The issue may not be the problem being faced but how you are able to respond to it.

Reflect/do are not either/or but both/and. Whether you are a more reflection- or action-based person, reflection is always necessary to finding and facing the real issue and moving forward.

(*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The Secret to Fixing Broken Scenes.)
(**From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)

Grateful in red


I simply want to share my joy today.

It is forty years since Christine and I married and I am grateful.

I am grateful for our children Matthew, Charlotte and Luke.

I am grateful for the people they love: Karolina, Shayne and Aimee,

And I am grateful for our grandson Archie.

People are the bestest way to celebrate forty years.

Thank you to all of you who have added to our joy over these years; I want you to know, I am grateful for you.

(*Thank you to the Kaiser Chiefs for the text to the doodle.)

It’s small but great

It takes courage to specialise and build a small great thing.*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

You are very capable and you are free to do the thing you want to do to make a difference in the world.

It doesn’t have to be big; the only people who can judge are the people you want to serve.

I just don’t want you to give up on your hope.

(*From The Story of Telling: A Small Great Thing.)