The labyrinth of change

No two human beings ever experience two sensations, experiences, feelings, or thoughts identically. Everything changes. Everything is always different*
Keith Haring

If your music comes from your heart and soul, and if you feel it inside yourself, it will affect others in the same way.**
Robert Schumann

Difference and sameness.

These contrary words from Keith Haring and Robert Schumann set me on a journey of thinking about the general and the specific this morning, taking me back to the beginning of this journey I have find myself on. Knowing the general thing I needed to be about in my work, but not the specific, the thing needing to be discovered within it.

Richard Sennett writes about two people whose lives were generally connected by their valuing of walking, but specifically were quite different:

[Jean-Jacques Rousseau] portrays walking as a spur to contemplation; just for this reason Rousseau liked walking in the country, without the distractions of the city. A contrary kind of walker appeared in the person of Rétif de la Bretonne, Rousseau’s contemporary, who walked the city like a miner prospecting for gold, hoping to enrich his self through immersing himself i unfamiliar scenes.^

The general is important as a place to begin, but the specific is more important as a way to continue.

I have often described my specific path as a journey in the same direction, and, coming upon some words again from Lauren Elkin this morning, have been helped to see how a path can have many turns and directions and yet lead in the same direction, which is towards the centre:

But a labyrinth is actually an arrangement of paths that lead you to their centre. You can’t get lost in them; they are comprised of only one winding corridor. It slows you down. That’s all.^^

The slowness is very important, enabling us to notice more, towards becoming more specific, otherwise we’d keep hurrying generally along.

In a labyrinth, it is possible to feel ourselves very close to the centre but as we continue along its path, we are flung out towards the edges, only later to find ourselves moving towards the centre again. It can feel like many paths for this reason, but we come to understand it to be only one, and it is here that the deepest of changes, the most wonderful of beginnings, can take place.

You will know when it is time to bring to birth
the new creation. The signs will be all around you,
urging, insisting: Now is the time.
You have to know just when to bear down
And concentrate on one thing onl.
It takes labour, hard, hard labour
to bring to birth something new.*^

*From Keith Haring’s Keith Haring Journals;
**From Steve Isserlis’ Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians;
^From Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
^^From Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse;
*^Miriam Therese Winter, quoted in Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future.

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