This is what creativity serves. It endeavours to bring some of your hidden life to expression in order that we might come to see who we are.*
(John O’Donohue)

Creation is life, life is creation.

If we could not create it’s likely we’d implode.

Some do.

We cannot go back and we cannot remain still.

Tied to the universe, we can only continue our journey.

John O’Donohue writes about a concept from the classical period referred to as pleroma or “the urgent fullness of God”:

There is such a fullness brimming in the divine presence that had God not created, he would have imploded. God had to come to expression. Just as a true artist is always haunted by the desire to bring the dreams of the imagination to expression, the failure to follow one’s calling to creativity severely damages one’s spirit.*

Imagine that. Without the opportunity to create, there would be no God.

Whether we believe there’s a God or we are open to the unfolding of the universe, this creative imperative makes sense in our experience.

We are aware of a deep surging within, such energy that must be provided expression.

The vast unfolding of the of the universe is fastened within each of us in miniature.

We’re not able to separate who we are from what we do.

My true self and my contribution are one.

There’s something very practical and critical in this.

For hosts of people made unemployed in a marketplace that was changing before the pandemic arrived, discovering and developing creativity – think talents, passions and energies – will be the way some choose to free themselves for moving forward.

They will find themselves and then each other, forming new cooperatives, collectively using their social media groups to be seen.

We can begin today, without someone else’s permission, following the creative imperative.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.

You can’t drift into your dream

Of the many callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating. This is the dream of every heart. Yet most of us are lost or caught in forms of life that exile us from the life we dream of. Most people long to step onto the path of creative change that would awaken their lives to beauty and passion, deepen their contentment and allow their lives to make a difference.*
(John O’Donohue)

Originality is about thoroughness, not shortcuts. Writers need research to feed the beasts of imagination and invention.**
(Robert McKee)

Swept away by the things that fill our lives every day, carried away from our dreams.

Dreams, the big pictures of possibility, bigger than an idea, but full of ideas and, so very complex.

Beyond romance, our dreams are so much more, waiting for us to find our way back to them.

One day waking up and our dreams will be there and work to be done.

Bringing out the journal.

Three things borrowed and altered a little from Robert McKee because just as a writer cannot drift into writing a story but needs to research, we cannot drift into a dream:

Considering exactly how the dream reflects our own experiences;
Imagining living this dream: the changes to make and how to make them?:
Finding out more about the world around the dream: people, places, systems … .

Towards realising the dream, reading all we can, going to the places and gatherings where we learn more, connecting with people living a similar dream, and living the dream in some expression or other.

Being prepared for for finding a different, better dream.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Why You Never Start With “Fade in”.

Consider the pebble

We might change things in this world, yet the most minimal, seemingly insignificant object outlasts us.*
(John O’Donohue)

As an adult, I’ve come to realise that life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself. Books are clay for exactly that. Crazy adventures can be found in non-fiction, and timeless truths can be discovered in fiction. Like an artist, you blend them, and out comes a unique beauty: you.**
(Tim Ferriss)

The pebble was here long before we arrived and will be here long after we are gone.

It’s a humbling thought.

Something to keep in mind when we also have the wherewithal to create ourselves as the person we want to be and bring the gift we want to share in the world.

The two important questions I work with – Who is my True Self? and What is my contribution? – are really asking Who do I want my True Self to be? and What do I want my contribution to be?

It’s about finding our proper place in the world as the pebble has found its place.

**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**Tim Ferriss, from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.

The in-between places

People of faith and hope are often unrealistic, and the realists have little faith or hope. We shall find a way out of the present situation only if realism and faith become blended again as they were in some of the great teachers of mankind.*
(Erich Fromm)

If we could but find a rhythm of being which could balance a contemplative silence, a poetry of motion and an accompanying stillness and silence, our pilgrimage through this world would flow in beauty through the most ragged and forsaken heartlands of confusion and dishevelment.**
(John O’Donohue)

The place we seek is likely to be where reality and imagination, stillness and movement meet.

Let us not cease from our explorations.

*From Erich Fromm’s The Revolution of Hope;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.

What’s the word for that?

When passion of feeling and technical brilliance come together, the beauty can be devastating and transfiguring.*
(John O’Donohue)

What brings out the best in you? What brings out the worst? […] Can you change your posture so that situations you’re in bring out the best instead of the worst? Ideal situations are often rare – now more so than ever. But we can define “ideal situation” if we wish.**
(Seth Godin)

In her compendium of untranslatable words from around the world Ella Frances Sanders includes tsundoku, a Japanese word for:

Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.^

I found myself reading and reflecting this morning on themes of flourishing through talents and environments.

With Spring breaking out all around, Sanders’ compendium caused me to wonder what the word might be for personal verdancy, when beauty breaks through the hard shell of our personal protection or the harsh demands from the other.

How about chlorostelńo: the ability to send forth or live our inner greenness into the most exposed and challenging parts of our lives?I’d love to hear your possibilities.

In writing about the colour of beauty, John O’Donohue proffers:

Green is the colour of growth, the colour of hope.*

It may only be a green shoot of life breaking through tarmac or concrete, but this speaks to us of what can be. If we are able to notice, this determined greenness is all around us.

In his delightful book about the hidden life of trees, Peter Wohlleben reveals how the Autumn turning of leaves to red, gold and brown is the result of the tree withdrawing and storing its chlorophyll in its constituent parts, ready for Spring’s new growth.

This got me thinking about how we can be tempted, or sometimes forced, to hide away within ourselves the beauty of our particular greenness.

Rather than growth and hope, it turns into that horrible word potential.

Or worse, it is pushed down beneath the pressure of develop generally and fitting in:

We don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on our skills and talents, because we’ve been conditioned to be humble. We largely focus on our “areas for improvement” – the things we lack confidence and competency in, to the detriment of our gifts and our genius.^^

Humble is an interesting word.

In the way Bernadette Jiwa uses it here, it means having to be dishonest about ourselves.

It should really be about being accurate about who we are and what we can do, because when we are accurate and true then we know where and how we can grow.

It can also be related to the ego or False Self, or to the eco or True Self.

The ego is likely to tell us that we aren’t doing well enough, that we have to do better if we want to count, to be noticed.

The ego can be a tyrant, especially for those who had been told how clever and amazing they were in their earlier years.

The eco, though, is likely to draw us to what we are doing well, encouraging further development, showing how we have worked hard to improve and that further work will see even more growth.

Towards the kind of growth Jiwa imagines, it’s important to identify some steps; here are some that occurred to me this morning:

We need to notice the truth about ourselves in relation to our talents, values, energies – journaling out illustrations for these so you are engaging with details rather than generalities;

We need to spend time imagining how these may be re-expressed in the future: how, where, with whom;

We need to be ready to begin straight away: we don’t need anyone’s permission save our own: the right time is always now;

And we need to reflect: noticing how our talents, values and energies grow over time and just how we are changing as a result.

May the greenness of your beauty break through.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: What bring out the best in you?;
^From Ella Frances Sander’s Lost in Translation;
^^From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Story of Telling blog: On Strengths.

What do you know?

The thing you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing.
And things you know before you hear them – those are you,
Those are why you are in the world.*

(William Stafford)

Audiences and readers do not go to the storyteller to learn yet again what they already know. They go in hope of discovering a world they have never seen before.**
(Robert McKee)

We are a journeying species:

emergent beings, in the flow of life, part of evolution^.

Part of life’s evolutionary flux, the changes taking place through the human generations are too small for us to perceive.

And yet, you and I can instigate such innovations within our lives that we can feel ourselves to be completely differently people from one end of our lives to the other.

Or less, even: say five, ten, fifteen years, depending on the journey we set out on.

Try it for yourself: I recommend identifying talents, values and energies.

*William Stafford, quoted in John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Parasite;
^From Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind.

It’s a marvellous life

I always admire people who marvel at things that anyone could have noticed but didn’t.*
(Brian Eno)

If we were to describe our lives simply in terms of its factual truth, most of its interesting, complex and surprising dimensions would be left out.**
(John O’Donohue)

Life invites us to pierce the finite and look upon the infinite.

In his book on compassion Paul Gilbert lists all the things we didn’t get to choose, from being born, through where and when, to the social groups we find ourselves in with the educational possibilities that come with these:

We just find ourselves here trying to make sense of it the best that we can.^

We can stop short and only focus on these things or we can look through them to see what lies beyond, a beginning rather than a destination:

Most people don’t look …
The gaze that pierces – few have it –
What does the gaze pierce?
The question mark.^^

I love these words from Hedda Sterne, piercing the finite, the ego:

I see myself as a well-working lens, a perceiver of something that exists independently of me: don’t look at me, look at what I’ve found.*^

Her gaze isn’t interrupted by needing to see herself, or for others to see her, in a particular way:

Unless you can forget yourself when you look, there isn’t a true relationship happening between the work of art and the viewer. The same thing goes for work. The more anonymous you are and the more you lose yourself, the more you add to yourself. It sounds absurd, but that’s the way it really is.*^

She may be speaking out of her art, but her words resonate with all of us exploring our worlds.

The absurdness we come upon is exactly how the marvellous life works.

We can all learn to marvel.

And we don’t have to go far to find the marvellous. It’s within us, within others, within all that is around us:

My idea being that for the sublime and the beautiful and the interesting, you don’t have to look far away. You have to know how to see.*^

*From Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^From Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind;
^^Henri Cartier-Bresson, quoted in John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
*^Hedda Sterne quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: The work and wisdom of Hedda Sterne.


A gracious mind has compassion and sensitive understanding. It is without greed; rather than concentrating on what is absent or missing, it is able to celebrate and give thanks for what is present.*
(John O’Donohue)

To find the truth get your own heart to pound while you write.**
(Robert McKee)

Where our deepest gladness meets the world’s greatest need is a place of beauty and grace.

Whatever we do where our talents, passions and energies meet, may it set our heart pounding.

There is then a reason we notice the needs we do.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From Robert McKee’s newsletter: Why You Must Believe Your Story.

The grateful living

It’s your responsibility to set your future self up for as much opportunity, success, and joy as possible. This is how you become the person and create the life you want, rather than becoming someone with regret. Describe your future self.*
(Ben Hardy)

The soul is never at home in the social world that we inhabit. It is too large for our contained, managed lives.**
(John O’Donohue)

Seeing is everything.

When we sow gladness and gratitude we produce generosity for others to harvest.

To see our lives for what they are and to grow them as large as we can is about sowing.

That we end up with more than we need is for others.

Life is not linear. When you follow your own true north you create new opportunities, meet different people, have different experiences and create a different life.^

*From Benjamin Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^From Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds.

The song of the soul

Beauty calls us beyond ourselves and it encourages us to engage the dream that dwells in the soul.*
(John O’Donohue)

I, wherever I turned, felt the enchantment: to the window for the sweetness of the air; to the door for the passing figures; to the teapot, the typewriter, the knitting needles, the pets, the pottery, the newspapers, the telephone. Wherever I looked I could have lived.**
(M. C. Richards)

My work, as I see and understand it, is to help people uncover the dream that dwells in their soul. The dream, if given expression, means they will be at home wherever they find themselves.

More than ever, we need to uncover our dreams, but there are obstacles.

Writing over fifty years ago, Erich Fromm observed our dilemma and peril:

A spectre is stalking in our midst whom only a few see with clarity.^

Writing not long after the McCarthy witch-hunt and in the middle of a war in Vietnam, he continues:

It is a new spectre: a completely mechanised society, devoted to maximal materials output and consumption, directed by computers; and in this social process, man himself is being transformed into a part of the total machine, well fed and entertained, yet passive, unlike, and with little feeling.^

More than ever, this is where many find themselves.

Fromm delivers three necessary changes:

We must overcome the industrial plague of over-production and over-consumption towards levels that support our unfolding and growth (and the good of the planet).

We must replace systems that encourage passiveness with those encouraging activeness.

We will need to pursue being rather than having and using ‘in a new synthesis in which compassion and justice, freedom and structure, intellect and affect are blended’.^

Those who uncover their dreams know there is much to do; their dreams may well be the means.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
^From Erich Fromm’s The Revolution of Hope.