Gotta make*

This is what creativity serves. It endeavours to bring some of our hidden life to expression in order that we might come to see who we are.**
John O’Donohue

The purposes in the human mind are like deep water, but the intelligent will draw them out.^

You are soul-full, a deep mine of wonder and possibility.

Make something, and more ideas and the urge to make something more emerge.

Keep making and you are also exploring the depths of who you are … and can be.

What’s the thing you’ve just gotta make?

*I had Singin’ in the Rain in my head when I thought of the title, seventy years old this year, Gotta Make resonated with Gene Kelly’s character singing Gotta Dance. Enjoy.
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^Proverbs 20:5.

El duende people

The craft of questions, the craft of stories, the craft of the hands – all these are the making of something, and that something is soul. Anytime we feed soul, it guarantees increase.*
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Of the any callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating. This is the dream of every heart. Yet most of us are lost or caught in forms of life that exile us from the life we dream of. Most people long to step onto the path of creative change that would awaken their lives to beauty and passion, deepens their contentment and allow their lives to make a difference.**
John O’Donohue

I can be larger than this.

I can be a full person, capable of beauty.


To bring this whole into the parts of my activity.

Those who are my examples awaken me:

Some people wake us up.^

Deep called from deep.

Maybe I can be an awakener?:

The trance-teller calls on El duende, the wind the blows soul into the faces of listeners.*

Perhaps you can, too?

*From Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^From gapingvoid’s blog: Make your impossible dream future reality.

And the beat goes on

You can alter the story you are feeding your brain.*
Martin Amor and Alex Pellew

As an adult, I’ver come to realise that life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself. Books are clay for exactly that.**
Tim Ferriss

Finding yourself is a good place to begin, though.

By the time you are an adult you’ll have made hundreds of thousands of choices that have resulted in you being you.

Resulting in talents and values and creativity.

It’s worthwhile noticing these.

Noticing the contributions of others, attending to the significant moments and expereinces.

Helpful and unhelpful, good and bad, positive and negative.

You now have so many points for growing, it’s astonishing

And there’s an added bonus:

when you begin actively and intentionally moving forward in your life, not only does your future aget better but your past does as well. Your past increasingly becomes something happening for you, not to you. … Your past evolves as you evolve.^

It’s where our life-in-all-its-fullness is to be found.

*From Martin Amor and Alex Pellew’s The Idea In You;
**Tim Ferriss, from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being;
^From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent.

Struggle and acceptance theory

People of faith and hope are often unrealistic, and the realists have little faith or hope. We shall find a way out of the present situation only if realism and faith become blended together as they were in some of the great teachers of mankind.*
Erich Fromm

Every idea and every pursuit of an idea inside us is life. … The lack of ideas is death.**
Thomas Bernhard

Don’t be too realistic, don’t be over-reasonable.

Realism need faith and faith realism.

Wallace Stevens wrote of reality needing imagination and imagination needing reality.^

John O’Donohue writes about how movement needs stillness and stillness need movement:

Stillness is the canvas against which movement can become beautiful.  We can only appreciate movement against the background of stillness.  Were everything kinetic, we would not know what movement is.  As sound is sistered to silence, movement is sistered to stillness.^^

I woke this morning to find within myself a desire to keep moving and to keep wrestling for the gift I want to bring to others.

So, I will add another tension within which a rhythm of life pulses:

Struggle is sistered to acceptance, that is to making a space for the cause of our discontent.

But our deepest pleasures as artists result not only from surmounting but from continuously engaging with the difficulties that represent our greatest ambition.*^

*From Erich Fromm’s The Revolution of Hope;
**From Thomas Bernhard’s Correction, quoted in Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze;
^See Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel;
^^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
*^From Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze.

And the best is and is to come

many people believe a curving our indirect path best describes the stories of our lives*
Peter Turchi

There is a strange attitude and feeling that one is not yet in real life. For the time being one is doing this or that, by whether it is [relationship with] a woman or a job, it is not yet what is really wanted, and there is always the fantasy that sometime in the future the real thing will come about … .**
Marie-Louise von Franz

What would it be like if our sense of an ongoing journey and having all that we require are one and the same thing?

On the one hand, we are making our way through a story handed to us that we forget to question:

The industry of distraction
Makes us forget
That we live in a universe
And we become converts
To the religion of stress
And adore its deity of progress,
… .^

On the other, there is a greater story waiting to be discovered within:

The source of all art is the human psyche’s primal need for the resolution of stress and discord through beauty and harmony. … Life on its own, without art to shape it, leaves you in confusion and chaos, but well-told stories have the power to harmonise what you know with what you feel.^^

Our “art” materialises when we bring our passions and competencies together:

When passion of feeling and technical brilliance come together, the beauty can be devastating and transfiguring.*^

A simple guide might be:

Low passion, love competence: leave it to someone else;
Low passion, high competence: teach others;
High passion, low competence: learn more;
High passion, high competence: do more and more.

Gapingvoid suggests:

doing what you love is the new wealth^*.

*From Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze;
**Marie-Louise von Franz, from Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks;
^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: For Citizenship;
^^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: What Makes a Story a Work of Art?;
*^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^*From gapingvoid’s clog: The Great Reassessment.

A day trip from civilisation

A tree is a light-catcher that grows life from air.*
Maria Popova

Keeping it simple in the twenty-first century involves another set of important tasks. These include decluttering our minds by switching off our devices and disconnecting from digital distractions.**
Anna Katharina Schaffner

There is much I love about civilisation in its many forms, measuring, as it does, the journeys of the Human over many thousands of years:

we are emergent beings, in the flow of life, part of evolution^.

Yet sometimes it can feel suffocating with its endless multiplicity of layers: making and thinking and achieving, laying down ground cover and emitting noise and light pollution.

There remains in each of us a primal, wildness needing to be nourished. I do not mean a lawless primality, but one that is in awe of nature and our place within it:

however much we might uncover, nature will never cease to be filled with surprise ripe for the reaping*.

We all have a season ticket.

The things you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing.
And things you know before you hear them – those are you,
Those are why you are in the world.^^

*From Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Every Loss Reveals What We Are Made of: Blue Bananas, Why Leaves Change Color, and the Ongoing Mystery of Chlorophyll;
**From Anna Katharina Schaffner’s The Art of Self Development;
^From Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind;
^^William Stafford, from John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.


human scale is established not simply by moving, but by moving in a way which is puzzling, as in a maze; which encounters obstacles, as in moving slowly in a crowd; which has to deal with a heavy sensory load, as in lateral vision*
Richard Sennett

Garden paths, for instance, are often intentionally narrow, to encourage the visitor to slow down; they curve and meander, ideally with part of the path hidden from sight, to create a sense of mystery and discovery.**
Peter Turchi

You’re here, but that only the beginning.

Whilst you may not have chosen to be here or where to be born:

If we were to describe our lives simply in terms of its factual truth, most of its interesting, complex and surprising dimensions would be left out.^

The interesting, complex and surprising are for you to discover and to add: the how of being here.

There are many paths across the landscape of life, and whilst you may start out on one someone else has cut, there are many places where you will have the encouragement to begin cutting your own.

The best paths slow us down, they cause us to notice what others do not see:

I always admire people who marvel at things that anyone could have notice but didn’t.^^

What wonderful things you will find and bring back to others:

I discovered things and wanted to share them … don’t look at me, look at what I’ve found. … The more anonymous you are and the more you lose yourself, the more you add to yourself. It sounds absurd, but that’s the way it really is. … My idea being that for the sublime and the beautiful and the interesting, you don’t have to look far away. You have to know how to see.*^

*From Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
**From Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze;
^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^^From Brian Eno’s Brian Eno’s Diary;
*^Hedda Sterne, from Austin Kleon’s blog: The work and wisdom of Hedda Sterne.

I’m coming and going, I’m here and there

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore.*

A thing without oppositions ipso facto does not exist … existence lies in opposition.**
C. S. Peirce

It’s not only about being here, where I am competent, but also about going there, into the unknown and my necessary incompetency.

I thought these words from Flannery O’Connor stretched nicely to help us reflect on our lives:

So many people can now write competent stories that the short story as a medium is in danger of dying of competence. We want competence, but competence by itself is deadly. What is needed is the vision to go with it.^

Again, the universe is both here and expanding there, and we are made of the same stuff:

At some level every atom in the cosmos longs to remain in relationship with over other atom. Otherwise the whole thing would swin off its unrelatedness. This law of attraction is at work within us, both physically and spiritually. We can awaken to it within ourselves and honour it in relationship of our lives and world.^^

*Psalm 121:8
**C. S. Peirce, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: Iain Gilchrist on the coincidence of opposites:
^Flannery O’Connor, quoted in Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze;
^^From Philip Newell’s Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul.

Come the harvest

That it is important to the future existence of the human race that we understand the importance of the individual and the reality that we are all different, all individuals all changing and all contributing to the “whole” as individuals, not as groups or products of “mass identity,” “anti-individual,” “stereotyped groups of human with the same goals, ideas and needs.”*
Keith Haring

Being a midwife is a cooperative enterprise. When some of us are tempted to call the journey off, others are there to remind them that we are al in the process of giving birth and that birth is hard, focused work.**
Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn

In the 1970s, when Keith Haring was making his journal entry, individualism for the masses was in its infancy. I’m sure his heart would have gladdened at seeing the breakthroughs in self-determination and diversity – for race, gender and women – I wonder if he’d lament the present endangerment of the “whole.”

The individual and the “whole” need to hold each other in creative tension in the face of the twin dangers of hyper-individualism and hyper-collectivism.

The latter may be just what John O’Donohue was imagining when he wrote:

The soul is never at home in the social world that we inhabit. It is too large for our contained, managed lives.^

There is something wonderful in all of us wanting to be born, but often subsumed to the normal and expected.

Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn, write not only for women but for all of us who would be midwives to one another of what is wanting to be born.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell spoke of our need two myths or stories for our lives: a personal myth and a social myth, or, as I hold these in two questions, Who is my True Self? and What is my Contribution?

*From Keith Haring’s Keith Haring Journals;
**From Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future;
^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.

The illusion and the journey

The self is always under construction. The multiplicity of selves is what allows change.*
Peter Turchi

Find your own unique voice by studying the voices of the past (both distant and recent), and then moving beyond that into your own world. It will take time – there’s no way of forcing it; but I’m convinced it is the only road to greatness.**
Steven Isserlis

The illusion makes it possible for me to appear as somebody I am not, or for something to appear to be there that is not:

Whatever the details, that character is every magician’s first illusion.*

It promises to be the shortcut of shortcuts, except there is no way of speeding things up being me and what I hope to offer.

The journey, on the other hand, by its very nature takes longer. A unique voice requires us to look within and it needs its own language, but a language cannot develop overnight:

Beauty calls us beyond ourselves and it encourages us to engage the dream that dwells in the soul.^

This journey into our soul is the longest one of all.

Writing about a growing self-awareness movement, my friend Sam wonders whether we’re ready for it being the painful and difficult thing it is:

I’m not convinced there’s an awful lot of actual self-awareness taking place! True self-awareness cannot be captured in an Instagram quote. It’s not an opportunity to convey strength and growth via phoney vulnerability. … But how many of us are committed to that lifelong expedition of true self-discovery about ourselves.^^

So I will continue on my slow journey in the same direction so that in the slowness new things will come, a language will develop, and a voice will be found.

*From Peter Turchi’s A Muse and A Maze;
**From Steven Isserlis’ Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians;
^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^^From Sam Bradford’s blog: The superficial self-awareness movement.