The gatherers

Could the psychological state of mastery – the opposite of helplessness – somehow reach inside and strengthen the body?*
(Martin Seligman)

We must be gatherers if we are going to be givers.

It is the daily work and wisdom of noticing what we are noticing.

What we’re gathering is energy; we need to notice what fuels us.

Yesterday, on what I am trying to make a daily walk, I came across a beautiful patch of reeds and bulrushes and regretted coming out without a camera on me, so I returned today.

I had to wait …

for the sun to appear, because this happens:

The leaves lit up as if they were thousands upon thousands of green lights; it’s a picture of noticing what we notice.

We all notice different things. The BFG notices and catches dreams:

‘Here is the dream-catcher,’ he said, grasping the pole in one hand. ‘Every morning I is going out an snitching new dreams to put in my bottles.’**

When we notice what we notice, we’re gathering the energy we need to be creative – not just to be thinking human beings, not even thinking and feeling human beings, but thinking and feeling and creating human beings:

To be a thinking, feeling, creative individual in a mass society too often unthinking and unfeeling in its conformity is to find oneself again and again at odds with the system yet impelled to make out of those odds alternative ends – to envision other landscapes of possibility, other answers, other questions yet unasked. ^

Here is the mastery Martin Seligman is pondering, the opposite of which he says is helplessness. Again, here is the opening of mind, heart and will I mention so often.

Malaka Gharib writes about her practice of drawing,*^ but she could be describing what happens for us when we notice what we notice and move into our creativity:

when I create, I feel like it clears my head. It helps me make sense of my emotions. And, somehow, it makes me feel calmer and more relaxed.^^

Mastery, creativity – it’s all about energy. When we gather the things that we notice it’s difficult to hoard – something Annie Dillard felt about her gathering for writing:

Spend it all, play it, lose it, all right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good … for another book … . The impulse to save something for a better place later is the signal to spend it now.^*

There’s an itchy “I must do something with this” feeling that comes with gathering what we’re noticing. I call it zing.

(*From Martin Seligman’s Flourish.)
(**From Roald Dahl’s The BFG.)
(^Maria Popova from her Brain Pickings: W. E. Auden on the Political Power of Art.)
(^^From Malaka Gharib’s article: Feeling Artsy.)
(*^Girija Kaimal’s research has shown that art helps us imagine a more hopeful future, activates the brain’s reward centre, lowers stress, and allows us to focus deeply – quoted in Malaka Gharib’s article: Feeling Artsy. What’s not to like?)
(^*Annie Dillard, quoted in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.)


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