Everywhere else is hiding

Rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.*
(Abraham Maslow)

I encourage those I’m working with to keep two lists as we’re journeying in conversation together.

They are about noticing energy.

One is for the most enervating experiences, the things that drain and deplete in a way that takes an unusually long time to recover from.

The other list is for those experiences that exponentially energise, so that even when huge amounts of energy are expended, the recovery is quick.

These are where we create our future self.

Between the highly-energising and the greatly de-energising there exists a lot of “noise” manufactured by our energy levels going up a little and down a little.

The noise is where we can become lost, or we can hide.

The point to noticing what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, who we’re doing it with and for, and when we’re doing it when it comes to our energising experiences is so we can make more of them happen.

These are our enriching environments and they are where we grow into the future.

When this happens, everyone benefits.

*Abraham Maslow, quoted in Benjamin Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent.

Getting forgetful

Hopefully your future self will be far wiser and have a wider range of experiences than your current self. Your future self will have greater opportunities, deeper relationships, and a better self-view. Hopefully your future self will have greater agency and choice than your current self, with more knowledge, skills and connections.*
(Ben Hardy)

It’s an attempt to open our minds to possibilities other than the ones we remember, and the ones we already know we like. Something has to be done to get us free of our memories or choices.
(John Cage)

Where B is Ben Hardy’s quote, above, and A is John Cage’s, what must you and I forget, or let go of, in order to move from A to B?

These could be all sorts of old ways of thinking, feeling and acting/enacting.

Sometimes it seems that we have to forget something in our pasts in order to begin something new from our futures.

Other times, it seems that we must begin something new from our futures to be able to forget our pasts.

*From Benjamin Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**John Cage, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting.

Resisting resistance and more

We want to start with resistances, those facts that stand in the way of the will. Resistances themselves come in two forms: found and made.*
(Richard Sennett)

The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real. When it adheres to the unreal and intensifies what is unreal, while its first effect is extraordinary, that effect is the maximum effect it will ever have.**
(Wallace Stevens)

Resistance can turn a fairy tale idea into a story idea.

My experience has been that pushing back on the resistances has brought me to life and work that is more satisfying and open than I could have imagined.

Marcus Aurelius reflected:

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

Most important things come to us as we enter the resistance.

Like the first strike of the chisel against stone, we notice the dislodging of a tiny piece of rock, more importantly we have learned to hold the chisel and hammer differently.

We adjust our hold and strike again.

That’s better.

Each time, we continue to improve our grip and strike.

Now we’re building muscle memory, we’re finding our rhythm.

The stone, resisting at first, finds that it cannot hold out any longer because of what we have learnt and developed through pushing back.

Perhaps our first thought had been to reduce the resistance to hardcore, but, as we have continued to press, the idea of a sculpture emerges, a shape hiding within the stone is noticed.

M. C. Richards is correct when she writes:

Ideas live in the world as we do. We discover certain ideas at certain times.^

The obstacle becomes the way.

*From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman;
**From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel;
^From M. C. Richards’ Centering.

Incomparable

The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.**
(Marcel Proust)

Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see – to see correctly – and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.  The sort of “seeing” I mean is an observation that utilises as many of the five senses as can reach through the eye at one time.  Although you use your eyes, you do not close up the other senses – rather, the reverse, because all the senses have a part to play in the observation you are about to make.**
(Kimon Nicolaïdes)

You may look at the very same thing or person as someone else, but you see it or them quite differently.

The other observer shrugs their shoulders and moves on, but you remain, transfixed, noticing more and more, and smaller and smaller details.

Why?

Could it be that you have committed to looking more deeply and each day are figuring out and practising these skills?


*Marcel Proust, quoted in Benjamin Hardy’s Personality isn’t Permanent;
**Kimon Nicolaïdes, quoted in Austin Kleopn’s blog: Blind contour drawings.