For everything that matters

The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the working of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning, something self-serving institutions have been very busy hiding from us.*
(Nassim Taleb)

Defining our freedom, articulating our mastery and connecting to a purpose that will likely outlive us that is more than a mental exercise will most likely involve more than a little risk.

And with risk comes the possibility of getting things wrong and messing up.

Better pack some forgiveness.

For others and for yourself.

(*From Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game.)

Where there’s a will there’s a way

The strong of sorrow may only be used extensively if one vows to play on them at some later point and in their particular key all of the joyousness that accumulates behind everything that is difficult, painful, and that we had to suffer, and without which the voices are not complete.*
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

My grandmother was fond of repeating the proverb: “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” She’d say it to encourage us to try.  I don’t think I’ve fully appreciated its power until now.**
(Bernadette Jiwa)

We’re on holiday, but some of the things we had hoped to do, we can’t because we’re not supposed to travel outside of our health board areas at the present moment. Of course, plenty of people will, which compounds our sorrows.

Rainer Maria Rilke reminds me, though, that if I want to play the sorrowful tune, I must also be prepared the joyful ones, too.

And even now, in the midst of this reality, there is imagination and the possibilities this will. Thank you to Wallace Stevens for reminding me of this, the way, if we have the will:

It is not only that the imagination adheres to reality, but also, tat reality adheres to imagination and that interdependence is essential.^

(*From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life.)
(**From Bernadette aiwa’s The Story of Telling blog: The Will and the Way.)
(^From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel.)

What am I seeing here?

The familiar, precisely because it is familiar, remains unknown.*
(Georg Hegel)

Most people don’t know how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. Adults, being preoccupied with business and worries and tormenting themselves with all kinds of petty details, gradually lost the very sight for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with all their heart.**
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

I remember telling our children when they were very young, “You look with your eyes, not with your hands.”

How wrong I was.

I am sorry.

May we look with everything we have.

(*Georg Hegel, quoted in John O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory.)
(**From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life.)

Infinity and beyond

There are at least two kinds of game. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.*
(James Carse)

The sense of wonder can also help you to recognise and appreciate the mystery of your own life.**
(John O’Donohue)

We all have a different way into the infinite game.

It is where we notice that we want to include as many people for as long as possible and will change the rules if these things are threatened.

For me, it is about helping people to discover just how amazing they are and to see more of what they can bring into being.

This is only how I enter the game; my appreciation of just how infinite the game is comes through paying attention and valuing how others play.

As yet, I can see no end to it.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

And the game goes on

reciprocity/ˌrɛsɪˈprɒsɪti/noun

  1. the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organisation to another.

I’d like to stress that reciprocity is not feedback.*
(Ursula Franklin)

There’s a difference between the kind of feedback proffered in a finite game to that provided within an infinite game.

A finite game has a specific goal, is played by a designated number of players, and follows the rules.

In this way, James Carse states, it is dramatic, that is, scripted:

Finite play is dramatic. As soon as it is concluded we are able to look backward and see how the sequence of moves, though made freely by the competitors, could have resulted only in this outcome.**

In a game of football, the outcome is always going to be a win, a loss or a draw, it isn’t going to be a herd of cows. Yet, in an infinite game, who knows? This is played with as many people as possible for as long as possible and when the rules threaten participation or continuation, they are changed.

In this game, the kind of information taking place when we mess up, get things wrong and fail is reciprocal. It flows in all directions to ensure that everyone can play for as long as possible. The openness expressed in reciprocity means growth and development is maximised for all.

Okay, we know that we have to play finite games, but, we know, ultimately, we are players in an infinite game. Yes?

The sense of wonder can also help you to recognise and appreciate the mystery of your own life.^

(*From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

The goodness ecology

We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve “the problem of evil.” yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is “the problem of good.” How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in the world?*
(Richard Rohr)

One of the greatest legacies a person can leave is a moral ecology – a system of belief and behaviour that lives on after they die.**
(David Brooks)

In the many conversations I have with people in the course of my dreamwhispering work, I encounter again and again, people who want to bring goodness into the lives of others in some way or another. It’s a wonderful thing.

As with anything that grows, we need to feed goodness, and the conversations I have show there to be so many ways. When we find ours and lean into them, we will find our imaginations stirring and doing-goodness following.

Notice the things that really energise you, find the goodness in them, make more of these times happen, grow.

(*From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.)
(**From David Brooks’ The Second Mountain.)

The pseudolife

This is why I have a sense of urgency to map the real world of technology, so that we might see how in our social imagination the near is disadvantaged over the far [… :] pseudorealities create pseudocommunities.*
(Ursula Franklin)

The most important thing happens not over there but in this present. The important thing is to feel, not to conceptualise. Concepts always indicate something over there, it’s very abstract.**
(Yasuo Kobayashi)

Technology makes it possible more than ever to live out the mundane in our own lives and the adventure through the lives of others: reality TV, tweets, instagram – we follow our heroes when we are meant to be one, as Rainer Maria Rilke’s jumped out at me when I read them today:

Why, by god, does one spend one’s life according to the conventions that constrict us like a tight costume and that prevent is from reaching the invisible soul, the dancer among the stars.^

Richard Sennett argues that the first and second industrial revolutions have taken away our hands and our minds.^^

We don’t have to throw away the machines but we do need to wake up to how we are serving machines more than machines are serving us.

Have we got time to spend some alone and connect with the star-dancer we are meant to be, or do we have to make a call, send an email, reply to an text or post on Instagram:

Some of the most crucial conversations you will ever have will be with yourself. To have them, you have to learn to listen to your own voice. A first step is to slow down sufficiently to make this possible.*^

Can you hear your adventure calling you?

(*From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.)
(Yasuo Kobayashi, quoted in Julian Baggini’s How the World Thinks.)
(^From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life.)
(^^The first industrial revolution deskilled us as machines took over the work of craftspeople, the second made most of us dependent on the computer and the internet for our thinking.)
(*^From Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation.)

In preparation

In life one cannot awaken often enough the sense of a beginning within oneself. There is so little external change needed for that since we actually transform the world from within our hearts. If the heart longs for nothing but to be new and unlimited, the world is instantly the same as on the day of its creation and infinite.*
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

Social change will not come to us like an avalanche down the mountain. Social change will come through seeds growing in well-prepared soil – and it is we, like the earthworms, who prepare the soil. We also seed thoughts and knowledge and concern.**
(Ursula Franklin)

My grandson Archie is preparing to walk. For quite a few months, he’s been perfecting crawling. And on the other side of walking he’ll be able to discover running, jumping, dancing and playing sports. If he puts in enough time and effort, he’ll be able to do all of these things to the extent of his curiosity and interest.

Everything we do is preparation for something else when we are living in the direction of our curiosity and wonder. Preparing the mind is important, but more important is preparing the heart, where everything comes together in a swirl of energy that is generative and regenerative.

And then we’re ready to move:

complete awareness is not merely intellectual but actively experiential^.

I’ve been preparing a lifetime for today, but I also set out at the beginning of the day in more moments of preparation for what I must do.

Mind, heart, do.

Keep preparing, the world needs what you bring.

(*From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life.)
(**From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.)
(^From Julian Baggini’s How the World Thinks.)

More than we bargained for

If one doesn’t watch the introduction of new technologies and particularly watch the infrastructures that emerge, promises of liberation through technology can become a ticket to enslavement.*
(Ursula Franklin)

If we accept behavior that’s unacceptable, we’re compromising on something that we thought was too important to compromise on. And that’s how we end up with the unacceptable becoming commonplace.**
(Seth Godin)

Who’s going to gain? The advertiser says you will, but that may not be the reality.

Ursula Franklin makes the sober point that the emergence of the sewing machine promised to end “ragged and unclad humanity from every class” by women being able to make clothes at home, but the sewing machine has become the standard piece of equipment in exploitative sweatshops. Franklin has previously pointed out that the industrial revolution, promising so much required the invention of the consumer, on whom its greater and cheaper production would depend:

But once a given technology is widely accepted and standardised, the relationship between the products and the users changes. Users have less scope, they matter less, and their needs are no longer the main concern of the designers.*

Franklin’s thirty-one year old words still hold true. Who amongst us hasn’t been disappointed by a power company or internet provider whose costs go up despite our loyalty, whilst their offers to attract new customers are half what we’re paying?

Earlier in the week, I was in conversation with someone who sold on behalf of a large company, but for whom it was more than selling a product, it was about a relationship, about partnering with the client as if they were on their team.

I love this story. I have often included the sense of something Frederick Buechner said about finding our purpose: it is where our deepest joy meets the world’s greatest need. The real economy of the world is not only about doing what we want to do, but meeting people’s needs by means of this.

This is the wonderful opportunity life provides us with.

(*From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Unacceptable.)