Desire lines

Advice from people who have gotten lucky is a tricky thing. … Luck might not be a strategy, but setting yourself up to be lucky might be.*
(Seth Godin)

Lucky people tend to be those who get themselves out there more than those who stay at home.

We live in a universe of abundance rather than a world of scarcity.

Specifically, we all have something to give, and with seven billion people on the planet, that’s a lot of resources.

Abundance is more a way of seeing.

Desire lines are what we call those paths that cut across the grass the city planners and architects have put down.

Canny developers wait to see where people desire to walk before putting the paths in place.

As we think about it today, a desire line is a way of getting “out there” in a way that is personal to each of us.

It translates into doing the faithful things that help us turn up and be open, to be able to follow leads when they appear and to show our work.

Our best desire lines open us to our passions overcoming inertia, originality and generosity ovecomingr dogma, service and adventure overcoming ease, following convictions overcoming wilting under criticism, apologising overcoming blagging, kindness overcoming being clever at the expense of others, being a builder overcoming being a cynic.

*From Seth Godin’s blog: Luck is not a strategy.

The liberating cycle of creativity

It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future … but a key can be turned in two directions. TurN it one way and you lock resources away. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves.*
(Ken Robinson)

My hunger for freedom is my hunger for myself, for my creative initiative.**
M. C. Richards)

If you are living in your creativity – and there are as many creativities as there are people – then it is likely that someone encouraged you to go forth and explore and discover.

It’s not that some are creative and others are not, rather some are living in their creativity while others are not. (I think it may surprise us to discover who is and who isn’t.)

Ken Robinson writes very helpfully for us:

There are three related tasks in teaching for creativity: encouraging, identifying and fostering.*

Encouragement is a gift that makes it possible to enter into the adventure of discovering more about our creativity: and the more we discover the more we have to develop and grow.

Towards this adventure, I offer Erwin McManus’ encouragement:

And isn’t that the whole point of choosing to live an adventure – to keep your eyes wide open and to soak in the beauty of the life all around you.^

Everything changes from the perspective of discovery.

It was Erwin who encouraged me deeper into my own adventure. Had I not been willing to receive his gift then I am not sure I would have come to be a dreamwhisperer, or a doodler.

I leave the final words to Walt Whitman, who also encourages: encourages us to question everything i order to find our creativity:

re-examine all you’ve been told at school or church or in any book; dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines^^.

*From Sir Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds;
**From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
^From Erwin McManus’ The Barbarian Way;
^^From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

This could take the rest of the day

I think it was one of the popes who, when asked how long he prayed each day, replied, “About ten minutes, but I spend all day thinking about it”.*
(Nick Cave)

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.**

Connecting with truth and wisdom in the morning can go a long way through the day, or a week or more.

I am thinking of the possibilities for creativity that may not appear in an instant or when we want them to, but are more likely to emerge as we stay close to our values, energies, thoughts, feelings, talents:

A creative person. Initiating, enacting. Using his lifetime to find his original face, to awaken his own voice, beyond all learning, habit, thought: to tap life at its source. When the human community finally knows itself, it will discover that it lives at the centre. Men will be artists in their life and labour.^

*From Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files: Issue #140;
**Psalm 51:6;
^From M. C. Richards’ Centering.


It is the nature of the earth and of our dust to be in constant contact with the impulses of life. If we listen, we will hear the continuous tread of love moving up our limbs like sap, like an electric current, impelling us as well to stir and step put.”*
(M. C. Richards)

How much of the beauty of our own lives is about the beauty of being alive? How much of it is conscious and intentional?That is the big question.**
(Joseph Campbell)

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
**From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.

Doodling with a visual alphabet

I thought to offer a doodling idea for today

Below, you’ll find a visual alphabet – basically all the shapes you need in order to doodle.

You’ll need a piece of paper for your design and a ten centimetre square piece of paper to make a frame from.

For the frame, fold the paper in half, fold it again so that it makes a smaller square. From the corner where all the folds meet cut out a one centimetre square – this will leave you with a two centimetre square in the middle of your frame.

You’ll build up your doodle in small blocks using the frame.

I filled the one above with all the shapes from the alphabet in a different formation.

You might also try putting one shape or a few shapes in each block, changing these as you build your doodle up block by block.

If there are spaces between the blocks you can “knit” them together using different shapes from the alphabet.

Then you have something to colour – which changes everything.


51/49 or 49/51

The most basic definition of wholeness is simply 51 percent […] where you give more than you take.*
(Erwin McManus)

Beyond eating, sleeping and reproducing, Ken Robinson names three more processes in our lives:

The first is imagination: the ability to bring to mind events and ideas that are not present to our senses. The second is creativity: the process of having original ideas that have value. The third is innovation: the process of putting original ideas into practice.**

Each of these are present in every person waiting to be developed, we only need to give ourselves to experiences.

Austin Kleon confesses why he continues to blog after fifteen years: he wants to leave a trace, figure out what he has to say, and he has found that he likes it.

We can translate these into all the activities we choose to get up to.

Furthermore, they espouse the best ways to live our lives in a meaningful way, as M. C Richards intimates:

For I know of no trouble in life which does not stand as a counterpart to some positive capacity.^

Something we each find ourselves energised in doing can make a difference for the better in someone’s world.

Though, there’s always risk involved in switching 49/51 for 51/49, as Richards continues, taking us beyond the familiar or comfortable:

Life always lies at some frontier, making sorties into the unknown. Its path leads always farther into truth. We cannot call it trackless waste, because as the path appears, it seems to have lain there awaiting our steps. We walk a magic carpet which, as we move, unrolls. Thus the surprises, thus the continuity.^

Where to begin?

If Ken Robinson is right – and I believe he is – if we want to innovate, we need to be creative, and if we want to be creative, we need to be imaginative, and if we want to be imaginative, we can’t do much better than follow Richards’ counsel:

Use your senses.  Open your eyes, your ears, your smeller, your taste buds, your skin, your throat, your lungs, your heart, your blood, your interstices.  Listen.  If we listen, we will not have to ask.  If we listen, we will find ourselves at the centre of the entertainment.^

And we have all today to play with.

*From Erwin McManus’ Uprising;
**From Sir Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds;
^From M. C. Richards’ Centering.

Remembering our future

One may think of metamorphosis as the principle by which creative energy is saved from being bound in static forms*
(M. C. Richards)

The truth about who you are lies not at the root of the tree but rather at the tips of the branches, the thousand tips.**
(Lewis Hyde)

There’s never been a more important moment in recent history for us to remember or discover that we are all innovative creatures.

Whoever we are and what we are doing, this is not it.

What we need for the journey already exists within us and can grow out.

I’m borrowing Lewis Hyde’s words to make a different point to the one he makes.^

We each have thousands of growing tips so may we each set our energy free and grow and become.^^

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
**From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
^Lewis Hyde is referring to the thousands of forgotten people in a genealogical tree, rather than the remembered one at the roots
^^The image of the tree is also an important reminder that innovation is often small slow alterations and improvements.

Opening stories

Stories are what we use to understand the universe, and our place within it.*
(Hugh Macleod)

The world is alive, generous, and within patiently for us to figure it out.**
(Tom De Blasis)

How’s your story unfolding?

Richard Rohr reflects:

Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing, and full seeing seems to take most of your lifetime, with a huge leap in the final years.^

While we may think we can manipulate the universe, and to a certain extent we can, the universe opens to the one who is willing to see, who understands it is what it is whether there’s anyone around trying to capture, mine, drill, melt, or eat it.

This is a different kind of seeing, arising through humility rather than pride, openness rather than forcefulness: that is, not forcing our will upon the other, but opening our will to what is wanting to emerge between ourselves and the other.

I mention the will because more than thinking and feeling, doing is what opens us to the possibility of being changed:

once we’ve had an experience we don’t go back to the way that we were before that experience^^.

Which brings us back to our story, connecting us to today and all things and people within it.

A little journaling at the beginning of the day can be a great way to connect us with the story we want to fins ourselves within and to give expression to as it unfolds before us.

*gapingvoid: Love in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 2;
**Tom De Blasis‘ letter to young readers from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being;
^From Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward;
^^Taryn Marie, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s What Great Storytellers Know.

Give it my all, not just a part

Rather than living a long life, are you willing to live a life worth living?*
(Erwin McManus)

It’s a good question.

I don’t get to influence the length of my life too much, beyond the obvious Don’t step in front of moving vehicles or Remember you’re not good at swimming or Watch what you eat.

But I can influence the quality of my days.

And here comes another opportunity today.

*From Erwin McManus’ The Barbarian Way.

You’re obsessed

Talent is cheap – you have to be obsessed, otherwise you are going to give up.*
(John Baldessari)

May you be obsessed throughout your days by something that you cannot stop doing, something you cannot stop thinking about.

Some things are worth obsessing over: it’s how we make things better.

*John Baldessari, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: You have to be obsessed.