Rituals of remembering

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.*
Joseph Campbell

“Here, I made this.” … These four words carry with them generosity, intent, risk, and intimacy. The more we say them, and mean them, and deliver on them, the more art and connection we create. And we create change for a living.**
Seth Godin

We need ways of remembering every day just who we are and what we do: Joseph Campbell called it our bliss. Other words include, dream, purpose, meaning, calling, vocation, mission.

Remembering who we are and what we do may sound ridiculous, but it’s highly probable that a day will find ourselves pulled off course, feeling disconnected and going through the motions. The longer this goes on the more dangerous it becomes for us.

The solution isn’t magic but ritual, or practice or habit: unapologetically making the time to imaginatively reconnect every day heart, soul, mind and body with the you capable of endless growth and development, and then taking something of this out with you to give to someone, bringing change to them, but also to you.

Have fun.

*Joseph Campbell, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: The Bliss Station;
**From Seth Godin’s The Practice.

It isn’t perfect (and it never will be)

It turns out that acute angles, rough edges and the imperfect matches of diversity actually make things work better. Especially when we’re dealing with humans.*
Seth Godin

Against the claim of perfection we can assert our own individuality, which gives distinctive character to the work we do.**
Richard Sennett

Those who seek perfection know how difficult it is to let go of what they are working on.

The important thing is to shift attention from the outside to the inside, to pay attention to the endless possibility of improvement that is open to us as infinite persons. Getting stuck in a piece of external work can put the brakes on this: a lose-lose.

R. described how her life felt cobbled together, using the term in a negative way. I liked the phrase and suggested that she explore it in a positive way. R. noticed all there was to improve on her inside and it worked: she has been on some astonishing adventures since.

Keep going on the inside to keep going on the outside.

*From Seth Godin’s blog: Cobbled together;
**From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman
.

The travellers

Markets often persuade us that we don’t have enough. Communities remind us that we do.*
Seth Godin

The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes.**
Marcel Proust

Oftentimes, we find ourselves at odds with each other, and, in the West at least, it only looks like this societal shift will increase.

What we need are travellers:

We should not seek to overcome one another but discover through each other; Jan Steward puts what we are missing simply:

We are each other’s sources.^

James Carse outlines the quality of this travel:

Genuine travel has no destination. Travellers do no go somewhere, but constantly discover they are somewhere else … It is not distance that makes travel possible, but travel makes distance possible.^^

This aligns with the need to open our minds, open our hearts, and open our wills.

To help us on our way, I’ll leave it to Carse to bless our endeavours:

look everywhere for difference … see the earth as source … celebrate the genius in others … [be] not prepared against but for surprise^^.

*From Seth Godin’s blog: All the stuff;
Marcel Proust, quoted in James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games;
^Jan Steward, from Corita Kent and Jan Steward’s Learning by Heart;
^^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.

Bold service

Is the life I’m living the same as the life that wants to live in me?*
Parker Palmer

Our False Self is precisely our individual singularity in both its “Aren’t I wonderful!” or “Aren’t I terrible!” forms. Both are their own kind of ego trip, and both take the tiny little self far too seriously.**
Richard Rohr

The Johari window illustrates how there are things that neither we nor others know about us.

Here is our continent of discovery.

One way of moving into our exploration is through service: identifying our bespoke contribution and, through imagination, making this available to more.

Seth Godin writes about this:

But art doesn’t seek to create comfort. It creates change. And change requires tension. … The practice, then, is to not only cause temporary discomfort for those who you lead, serve, and teach, but to embrace your own discomfort as you venture into territories unknown.^

Those we seek to serve may be the first to notice what we do not know about ourselves. In the collaborative world that service opens, sharing this back to us is also service.

Let us identify our talents and imagine new ways and new places for using them. It will be uncomfortable, but it will also be soul-shaping.

*Parker Palmer, quoted in Sunil Raheja’s Dancing with Wisdom;
**From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond;
^From Seth Godin’s The Practice.

What kind of day is it going to be today?*

The True Self has knocked on both the hard bottom and high ceiling of reality and has less and less need for more verbal certitudes or answers that always fit. It has found its certainty elsewhere and now lives inside a YES that is so big that it can absorb most of the little noes.**

There is much about today that is unknown to me.

On the other hand there is much about myself and my approach that I do know.

The closer we are to our True Self, the greater the possibility of bringing the power of our imagination to bear on the pressures of reality.

It’s a daily way to bring the infinite into the finite.

*From Sunil Raheja’s Dancing with Wisdom;
**From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.

Be the kite

It seems to me the kite
Has all the fun,
The view,
The weightlessness,
The wind,
Ecstatic shudders,
Tail streaming out,
The urging higher,
The exhilarating dives,
And me down here
Left holding the string.*

Rebecca Elson

To be an artist is to be on the hook, to take your turn, to do the things that might not work, to see connection, to embrace generosity first, to change somehow, to be human.**
Seth Godin

Some thoughts emerging from putting these two pieces together:

Be the kite and the one holding the string: you are anchored and you are free.

The thing you must do is the hook which allows you to explore and soar, this to the joy of others.

Hooked isn’t “tied down.” Tied down is how it feels if we are not prepared to launch.

*From Rebecca Elson’s A Responsibility for Awe: The Kite;
**From Seth Godin’s What to Do when it’s Your Turn.

Imposters belong here

When I’m drawing I feel a little closer to the way birds navigate when flying, or to hares finding shelter when pursued, or to fish knowing where to spawn, or trees finding a way to light, or bees constructing their cells.*
John Berger

And I feel like an imposter often. That’s because my best work involves doing things I’ve never done before.**
Seth Godin

In my university work, I meet many people who feel themselves to be imposters.

I am one of them.

Anne Lamott helpful confesses:

Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy.^

Which end of the sentence struck you most powerfully?

For me, it’s the joy end, the flip-side of imposterism.

I can focus on not being like everyone around me, or explore how the very point is not to be like everyone else, and to bring my best self into a new situation.

This is the purpose of our story:

Mythology opens the world so that it becomes transparent to something that is beyond speech, beyond words – in short, what we call transcendence.^^

One more thought: on one occasion, Jesus’ disciples asked him who was the greatest:

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.*^

At first it looked like the child was the imposter, but it turned out to be the other way around: the imposter shows the way.

What’s you’re equivalent of John Berger’s drawing experience?

Do it.

*From John Berger’s Bento’s Sketchbook;
**From Seth Godin’s The Practice;
^Anne Lamott, quoted in Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Anne Lamott on Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and the Relationship Between Brokenness and Joy;
^^From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey;
*^Matthew 18:1-5.

Partners

A beautiful life is a planted life, attached but dynamic. A good life is a symbiotic life – serving others wholeheartedly and being served wholeheartedly in return. It is daily acts of loving-kindness, gentleness in reproach, forbearance after insult.*
David Brooks.

Look around.

Not at the objects surrounding you, but the people those objects represent.

Even posting this blog depends on so many who have made their expertise available to me.

It’s a kind of partnership and a day is full of them.

Corita Kent suggests for a drawing exercise to draw the spaces around a chair rather than the hard elements of the object itself.** From these there appears a chair. So, too, for us: as we notice those who are “partnering” with us through the day, we see something of our day and its activities emerging.

More in the foreground, we notice the partnerships we seek to forge through service, through servanthood, servants of one another.

Here are three words that move us deeper into providing others with the valuable imagination and creativity we bring: service, servanthood, servants.

Life is about seeking how far we are prepared to go: offering service, seeing ourselves being involved in servanthood, being most essentially servants.

It was a human face in my oblivion
A human being and a human voice
That cried to me, Come back, come back, come back.
But I would not. I said I would not come back.

It was so sweet in my oblivion
There was a sweet mist wrapped me round about
And I trod in a sweet and milky sea, knee deep,
That was so pretty and so beautiful, growing deeper.

But still the voice cried out, Come back, come back,
Come back to me from sweet oblivion!
It was a human and related voice
That cried to me in pain. So I turned back.

I cannot help but like Oblivion better
Than being a human heart and human creature,
But I can wait for her, her gentle mist
And those sweet seas that deepen are my destiny
And must come even if not soon.^

*From David Brooks’ The Second Mountain;
**See Corita Kent and Jan Steward’s Learning by Heart;
^Stevie Smith‘s Oblivion, quoted in Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files: Issue 157.

When all else fails, play

The whole idea is that you’ve got to bring out again that which you went to recover, the unrealised, unutilised potential in yourself.*
Joseph Campbell

You have the right to remain silent. But I hope you won’t. The world conspires to hold us back, but it can’t without our permission.**
Seth Godin

Ready to play a game of “search, ask and knock”?

We take things too seriously when we play by the rules of society regarding who is beautiful, imaginative, the right age, valuable … . This game makes it possible to move beyond these and discover our uniqueness:

When we give names to things, we often assume that everything that goes by that name is alike^

Let us bring what have to bring without excuse or embarressment, because we’ll likely find that the game opens up with something to be found by those who search, with an answer for those who ask, and an opening for those who knock.

In other words, man should only play with beauty, and he should play only with beauty.^^

*From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey;
**From Seth Godin’s The Practice;
^Corita Kent, from Corita Ken and Jan Steward’s Learning by Heart;
^^From Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man.

Who cares?

Art is what we call it when we are able to create something new that changes someone.*
Seth Godin

[O]ur society does not teach us how to be an effective giver of gifts. The schools don’t emphasise it. The popular culture is confused about it.**
David Brooks

Whenever we bring our imagination to bear on reality, there’s the possibility of something creative happening for the good of another: in other words, art.

My wife and I have had two conversations with carers today: a friend who loves the work of caring for people at the beginning and end of the day, but who wouldn’t be drawn to it for the terrible pay: we ended up talking about how carers need to be valued as a third level of healthcare, with doctors and nurses.

The other remarked that she was “just a carer,” and needed to know that we believe caring to be skilled and valuable work.

Whatever we do in life, we need to bring our imagination to it.

*From Seth Godin’s The Practice;
**From David Brooks’ The Second Mountain.