Keeping moving for dummies

Society wants us to I’ve a planned existence, following paths that have been travelled by others. Tried and true. The known, the expected, the controlled, the safe. The path of the wanderer is not this. The path of the wanderer is an experiment with the unknown. To idle. To daydream.*
(Keri Smith)

I bring the concept of Shabbat to all the artists I work with. … On this day, I instruct them, they can tend to their bodies, relationships, homes rest, leisure, and all else that becomes neglected through the week of living in late capitalism.**
(Beth Pickens)

For more than thirty years every weekend was taken up with work.

I always struggled to make up the time with family and self.

I am learning.

*From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society;
**From Beth Pickens’ Make Your Art No Matter What.

Lost in flow

When something is forgotten, the heart/mind no longer sees it. You could there translate [Dogen Zenji’s] “self-forgetting” this way: “When we study the self it disappears.”*
(Lewis Hyde)

Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisite for growth?: the openness to experience events, and the willingness to be changed by them.**
(Warren Berger)

The 13th century Zen master Dogen Zenji taught:

to study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things.*

These words caught my attention because of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s discoveries about flow, that we are the least aware of self when we are involved in something that takes us out of ourselves and into the activity:

flow – the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it … “Flow” is the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake … Flow avoids both selfishness and conformity^.

This description can cover all kinds of activities, but, for me, the highest pursuit is the understanding of our True Self and the contribution we can male that result in both flow and the experience of opening the mind, heart and will to the other, finding ourselves in wonder and possibility and creation.

Towards losing the self in the flow of your life try writing out your values. Not just as a list of words, but dig deeply into them, drawing out more and more nuance: you may wish to ask the question Why does this matter to me? five times to help with this. Also, to ask how do you want to include more people in this value.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.^^

*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
**From Warren Berger’s Glimmer;
^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow;
^^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: Matins.

Beginning to be you

Most innovative projects … tend to begin with someone venturing out into the world, looking around, and noticing a problem or need.*
(Warren Berger)

What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?**
(John O’Donohue)

The way we describe our gods may well be the way we want to be ourselves, inquisitive and flabbergasted by human potential:

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.^

How do we become more gracious, righteous, merciful, protecting, saving, bountiful?

Hannah Arendt wrote about how:

Forgiving is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly.^^

Arendt is pointing to something new that didn’t exist before, the product of a generative being: which we all are.

Those we remember and honour most are most likely to have expressed the qualities and characteristics found in the psalm. We hear and read and see their stories of goodness and are reminded that we all have the potential to be better than we are in this moment.

Warren Berger encourages us to step outside of our world and take a look around.

Our curiosity will lead us to something new that we can begin, and beginnings are the gateways to becoming, as John O’Donohue proffers:

Through the innocence of beginning we are often seduced into growth.**

May we take a look around today, notice what is emerging for us, and step into a beginning.

*From Warren Berger’s Glimmer;
**From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus;
^Psalm 116:5-7
^^Hannah Arendt, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting.

Just add time

The Greeks believed that time had secret structure There was the time of ‘epiphany’ when time suddenly opened and something was revealed in luminous clarity. There was the moment of ‘krisis’ when time got entangled and directions became confused and contradictory. There was also the moment of ‘kairos’; this was the propitious moment.*
(Lewis Hyde)

To live a conscious life, we need to constantly refine our listening.**
(John O’Donohue)

What time is it?

Not the time of day, but where you find yourself in what you must do?

There’s a time to work and a time to rest.

There’s a time to wait and be open and receive.

And there’s a time to wrestle with what’s important to you when it’s not going right.

There’s a time to continue working at something because it’s not finished.

And there’s a time to stop what you’re doing and deliver.

All of these are legitimate times and accepting this allows us to listen to the times and use them well in service to what we must do:

We must face the fact that we have a responsibility to own what’s possible. Opportunity abounds And that’s both a comforting and a scary thought.^

*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
**From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus;
^From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Story of Telling blog: The Bounds of Possibility.

In the beginning (again)

You must become a beginner.*
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

Beginning precedes us, creates us, and constantly takes us to new levels and places and people.**
(John O’Donohue)

Stale? Stuck? Failed? Bored? Arrived? Wronged? Discarded? Disregarded? Unemployed?

You’re made for beginning again:

Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be opening.**

Beginning is the destination of the ever-curious, the always-exploring, the never-ending.

*Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in Tom Vanderbilt’s Beginners;
**From John O’Donohue’s Benedi

A place for silence

In their intense meditation the hidden sound of things approaching reaches them and they listen reverently while in the street outside the people hear nothing at all.*
(Nassim Taleb)

Yesterday, I was able to sit awhile in a walled garden and simply be for a while.

In such moments the things that matter most come to us: the richness and importance of all that fills our lives coming to the surface.

Yet these places of quietness are taken away from us in the modern life promising that we need never be bored or alone, seeing it as strange if we desire either.

It doesn’t have to be for long. Set a timer for 4′ 33″ and simply open your senses, beginning with listening. If you have longer then just be open to thoughts and feelings. Whether something emerges or not doesn’t matter.

may you find your
places of thin silence
to rest without distraction
to be open without rush

*From Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness.

Bless you

The gift of the world is our first blessing.*
(John O’Donohue)

The function of the artist is the mytholisation of the environment and the world.**
(Joseph Campbell)

Coming to the end of his book about love, Jonah Lehrer writes,

The world is defined by scarcity: there’s never enough of anything.^

What we forget and must remember, though, is that,

Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else.*

Abundance is discovered in connection, and this discovery leads us into our creative artfulness: we have enough time, security, talent. Indeed, these may come from something deep within us and we’re not sure how it got there:

We are all haunted by something deep inside us, and often a lot of our best work is the result of us trying to come to terms with this.^^

*From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus;
**From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth;
^From Jonah Lehrer’s A Book About Love;
^^From gapingvoid’s blog: Spiritual redemption.

Specks in time

Remembering my mortality gives me the needed motivation to make change, hold everything more lightly, and have compassion for my self and other people.*
(Beth Pickens)

Nietzsche said that a man’s worth was determined by how much truth he could tolerate. You are by no means only what you already now. You are also all that which you could know, if only you would. This you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are.**
(Jordan Peterson)

Here is meaning.

What we know becomes who we are and what we can do.

A life time doesn’t seem enough but it’s all we have:

Our life times are specks in the universe, but they are the longest and only spans of time we will ever now.*

This is a mighty advantage, as Rainer Maria Rilke contemplates:

Hier zu sein is so vies – to be here is immense.^

As specks in the universe, we will never know everything. Neither is there a list of what we must now in order to live meaningfully.

The aim to know more is what matters most of all, by which we each make a path into knowing that will unfold before us.

The truth depends on a walk around the lake.^^

*From Beth Pickens’ Make Your Art No Matter What;
**From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life;
^Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us;
^^Wallace Stevens, quoted in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways.

Artful disruption

If you’re blessed with imagination, it’s part of your job to bring better images to the world.*
(Austin Kleon)

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate and personal. An artist is someone that uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does. Art is a personal act of courage, something that one human does that creates change in another.**
(Seth Godin)

We all have imagination.

We just forget that it needs tending: select, arrange, enhance

When we remember, it can be recovered and expanded.

If we pursue this with purpose, we become artists.

Artists who know what they bring is necessary to prevent each other becoming stuck.

The status quo isn’t how things really are: it’s just what happens without imagination.

*From Austin Kleon’s How to talk to someone with a missing imagination;
**Seth Godin, quoted in Ben Hardy’s article These 20 Pictures Will Teach You More Than Reading 100 Books.

On your own

When you start working everybody is in your studio – the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas – all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.*
(John Cage)

Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy.**
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

A lot of people, ideas and failures have brought us to this place, and now that we’re here, we need to know that we are enough, that we can do this.

And if things go wrong, these can be some of greatest opportunities:

A “flamboyant” worker, exuberant and excited, is willing to risk control over his or her work: machines break down when they lose control, whereas people make discoveries, stumble on happy accidents.^

Our unique alacrity is attention that don’t necessarily know what it will discover.

You can trust you.

*John Cage, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
**From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow;
^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman