Copy and repeat

Copying is how I learn, it’s a way to understand what’s really going on, and drawing is a way of slowing down long enough to really look at something.*
(Austin Kleon)

Here’s a doodling idea for the weekend: copy someone else’s work that you enjoy.

Keep copying.

You’ll not only lose yourself in the slow practice but also find the way you want to doodle.

*From Austin Kleon’s blog: Drawing to remember.

Into the whispers

From the beginning I have believed the world a amazing place, full of marvels, unheard of, not yet experienced.*
(M. C. Richards)

The capacity to be present to everything without resistance, creates possibility.**
(Ben and Roz Zander)

In all our busyness and noise, the call to us quietness comes as a gift.

The world is full of whispers, shy to our need for rush, for busyness busyness, for chatter: longing for our openness, tour playfulness, hoping for co-creation.

I need to be quieter, listen more, reduce resistance, shrink judgement, remove rush, put aside agenda.

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
**From Benjamin and Rosamund Zander’s The Art of P

Drawing it out

This depressing truth – everyone suffers – led to [George] Vaillant’s first revelation, which is that our mental health is defined by how we cope.*
(Jonah Lehrer)

The truth is pretty simple: All we do, all we ever do, is trade one set of problems for another. Problems are a feature. They’re the opportunity to see how we can productively move forward. Not to a world with no problems at all, but to a situation with different problems, ones that are worth dancing with.*
(Seth Godin)

Problems and suffering are part of life.

No one is immune, no matter how hard we try and be.

It’s how we deal with it that counts, to be able to move forward to what is meaningful and purposeful for us.

Long before George Vaillant‘s work into how people coped with their suffering, the apostle Paul wrote

we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame^.

It seems he was onto something, although we’d be careful to understand that “rejoicing” in suffering has a very specific context.

Here are a couple more thoughts I happened upon again this morning, the first from Rohit Bhargava and the second from Scott McCloud:

Curation is the ultimate method of transforming noise into meaning.^^

Cartooning isn’t just a way of drawing, it’s a way of seeing.*^

They offer two ways of coping or dealing actively rather than passively with problems and with suffering.

Curation for me is another way of creating a story, and journalling becomes a means of pulling together our story and visiting it each day through different themes – for me it includes the writings of others. Cartooning reminds me that doodling allows us to see differently, to draw something out in an alternative way.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be pushed around by problems and suffering, journaling and doodling provide us with a way of anchoring and finding a way through to our hopes and dreams that we find are still there.

Lewis Hyde adds something interesting to this practice of telling our story in words and doodles, when he notices:

Forgetting appears when the story has been so fully told as to wear itself out. Then time begins to flow again; then the future can unfold.^*

*From Jonah Lehrer’s A Book About Love;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: Progress is a trade;
^Romans 5:3-5;
^^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018;
*^From Scott McCloud Understanding Comics;
^*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting.

The sightseeing path

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.*
(Albert Szent-Györgi)

Paths run through people as surely as they run through places.**
(Robert Mcintyre)

We can doubt how much we’re capable of.

Perhaps others don’t value what we value. We don’t see a place in the market for what we bring. So we drop it and fit in.

The reality is more likely to be that if we uncover, curate and describe (that is, give shape to) what we notice, we will see even more and have even more ideas.

We have to travel the path.

We find our path to walk within us, one that provides us with a unique perspective on the world around us.

For those who do not give up, but bring their whole of life attention (talents, energies/passion, values) to bear, there is the possibility of a state of knowing and understanding they had not imagined, as Nancy Kline suggests:

Ease emerges and dips and saunters, draping itself around Attention’s focus, allowing it dimensions greater than focus alone can produce.^

From which emerge new possibilities to bring to others.

When the way is flat and dull in times of grey endurance,
May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.^^

*Albert Szent-Györgi, quoted in Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2019;
**From Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways;
^From Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think;
^^From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us: For Those Who
Hold Power.

The game of life

Some people as they grow up become less … . Other people as they grow up become more.*
(Eugene Peterson)

The birth of a person is the aim of pedagogy.**
(M. C. Richards)

Today is my 62nd birthday, so I guess I’m sensitive to anything referring to birth and to growing up.

As I read Rohit Bhargava’s non obvious trend of Overwealthy – a name he provides for those who struggle with being wealthy – I did consider juxtaposing his words with those of Eugene Peterson:

the Gläce Luxury Ice Company sells tasteless ice that had been “hand-carved” from large purified blocks … . At just over $300 for a bag of 50 ice cubes, it promises customers “minimum dilution and maximum cooling,” … .^

This felt like a variation of the folktale The Emperor’s New Clothes.

I also came upon words describing what coming alive means for the Trobriand Islanders:

the Trobriand universe is a vast disembodied space filled with both minds and energy. Cosmic minds are all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful, able to manipulate the energy of the universe toward whatever end they desire.^^

The problem is, if you can do whatever you want and you know everything there is to know, the result is cosmic boredom:

They have power to do whatever they wish, but because they have no needs, that power has no purpose, and because of that, no sense of life. So these cosmic minds have created a game for the relief of their boredom:

To play, you must be born into a human body, and to be born as such, you must forget the fullness of what you knew and work only with what can be known through the body.^^

Welcome to life!

Perhaps you are one of these cosmic minds, escaping boredom but finding purpose, the possibility of growing up to become more.

I think my greatest fear, as I continue to grow up, is not to have less but to be less.

The wanderer becomes one with himself or herself and the universe. We connect with the energy of all living things. We live according to our inner nature.*^

*From Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses;
**From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2019;
^^From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
*^From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.

The awakening

Created in beauty and secretly sustained all the while by beauty, you surrender now to ultimate awakening.*
(John O’Donohue)

Oh no!

I didn’t set the alarm on my fitbit.

I was trying to get back to sleep, lingering in bed because I thought it was five, but it had gone seven and I needed to be up at six.

When I discovered this, I was fully awake.

There’s an equivalent here with beauty.

For a start, none of know know quite what we’re capable of: unexplored continents of possibility.

We’re waiting for an alarm to go off, for something to happen that will be significant, life-transcending, and all the time we could have been up to the adventure of exploring more beauty.

The reason we’re really positioned is because we are who we are.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.

Before the sound, the silence

The pot, the poem, the lesson – the universe speaks in forms that tell us of our own.  A vast theatre whose architecture, whose movement and sound, whose episodes have us billed in cosmic roles, speaking lines we cannot memorise for we know them for the first time consciously only when we utter them, developing character and destiny amid what scenery.*
(M. C. Richards)

There is so much to be learned of Divine Beauty from the silence of God.**
(John O’Donohue)

May there be some thin silence in your day.

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.

Filling squares

I would rather wonder than know. It makes it more and more difficult to be alive on earth in these times, when your inclination is to wonder rather than to know. … I think wondering is a way of inhabiting and lingering. There seems to be more dwelling. To dwell, inhabit, and linger. I’m interested in those things. And you can do that when you don’t know. … I would rather inhabit the question, or dwell. For me, that is the place I want to live in.*
(Mary Ruefle)

Here’s something you may like to try this weekend … or do a little each day through the week.

Take an A4 sheet of plain paper and divide it into square. I’ve darkened my incomplete doodle here so you can see the pencil and how you don’t have to do this with a ruler.

The temptation is to draw a picture on a big sheet of paper and that can be intimidating. The idea here is to get abstract and work small. So take a square at a time and fill it in with abstract shapes from the visual alphabet. Jump around a little, rather than starting in the top left corner, and when sales touch “stitch” them together with some more abstract shapes.

As I mentioned, you can this is one last a week, setting it out and taking a few minutes here and there to dawdle and chill, or as it says – I like the Mary Ruefle quote a lot – dwell, inhabit, linger.

*Mary Ruefle, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: To wonder rather than know.

Wonderful you

I would rather wonder than know. It makes it more and more difficult to be alive on earth in these times, when your inclination is to wonder rather than to know. … I think wondering is a way of inhabiting and lingering. There seems to be more dwelling. To dwell, inhabit, and linger. I’m interested in those things. And you can do that when you don’t know. … I would rather inhabit the question, or dwell. For me, that is the place I want to live in.*
(Mary Ruefle)

Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!”**
(Jesus of Nazareth)

To understand or to wonder?

I choose the flexibility of wonder rather than the rigidity of understanding:

We do not need understanding, we do not want understanding, we want to love. Understanding already separates the observer from the observed. It is faintly condescending, faintly superior.^

It is not that I do not want to understand and to understand as much as possible, it is that I want my wondering always to outmeasure it.

Jesus’ words are a blessing for prosperity, for more: bless yourself by dwelling, inhabiting, lingering in wonder and then bless others through more dwelling, inhabiting and lingering.

Indeed wonder is how we dwell, inhabit and linger.

*Mary Ruefle, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: To wonder rather than know;
**Luke 10:5;
^From M. C. Richards’ Centering.

Let’s open up the borders of potential

[W]e do not win our depth and our inner form and our texture and our truth of being without the fire. Ordeal by fire. There is not substitute for transformation of the body.*
(M. C. Richards)

Read, look into other areas, use different learning mediums, ask better questions, reflect, be open to ideas, be surrounded by learners, and prioritise learning.**
(Michael Heppell)

So you’re saying that the best place to begin is by looking inside of myself, to see who I am and what I have, which is more than I know and more than enough?


But you’re also saying, I need to be open to more and more of more, learn every day, meet new people, try new things, experiment and explore and fail and try again?


Okay, just checking.

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
**From Michael Heppell’s The Edge.