A sensual life

That which we call imagination is from the first an attribute of the senses themselves; imagination is not a separate mental faculty (as we so often assume) but is rather the way the senses themselves have of throwing themselves beyond what is immediately given, in order to make tentative contact with the other sides of things that we do not sense directly, with the hidden or invisible aspects of the sensible.*
David Abram

The imagination keeps the heart young. When the imagination is alive, the life remains youthful.**
John O’Donohue

A sensual world
invites us to smell, touch, hear, fast, see
our imaginations into life-in-all-its-fullness.

To be open and not closed
to the more that will surround us today,
In the natural world – of which we are a part –
And the worlds of our makings.

May we imagine more today than yesterday,
And more tomorrow than today:

The first great wonder at the world is big in me.^

*Quoted in Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Ecologist and Philosopher David Abram on the Language of Nature and the Secret Wisdom of the More-Than-Human World;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^Margaret Wise Brown, quoted in Bruce Handy’s Wild Things.

If I would be granted one wish

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.*
Eleanor Roosevelt

Start by learning to recognise what interests you.
Most people have been taught that what they notice doesn’t matter,
So they never learn how to notice,
Not even what interests them.**

Verlyn Klinkenborg

It often feels that I am only beginning to get the hang of living
inside this life.

What if I could begin again?
Knowing what I know now,
What would I leave out and avoid?
What would I leave in and why?

If it were somehow possible to make this wish,
Would I take it from the genie?

Probably not.

Somehow this mix of good, bad and ugly
has brought me here,
And if I were to tinker with any of that,
I suspect I may not be here today –
Doing what I love to do –
But somewhere else entirely.

Walking on earth is a miracle! We do not have to walk in space or on water to experience a miracle. The real miracle is to be awake in the present moment. Walking on the tree earth, we can realise the wonder of being alive.^

*Quoted in Ben Hardy’s Personality isn’t Permanent;
**From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing;
^Thich Naht Hahn, quoted in Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future.

The thing

But if you want to go your individual way, it is the way you make for yourself, which is never prescribed, which you do not know in advance, and which simply comes into being of itself when you put one foot in front of the other … along the path prescribed by your unconscious … the next and most necessary thing.*
Carl Jung

the essential thing “in heaven and earth” is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living**
Frederick Nietzche

Why do you think this is the end,
That there is no new possibility?

Railing against the stories prescribed for us
is, in the end, acquiescing.

“I am not this!”
is a waste of energy when we could be exploring
and being our truest self,
doing the next thing whispered from within.

A changing of both the future and the past:

Although an initial reaction may be highly negative or debilitating, all painful experiences can be reframed, reinterpreted, and ultimately used as growing experiences.^

Then this is not the end,
It is more likely a beginning,
And you have grit as well as talent,
Enlarged through small steps:

In the long run … grit may matter more than talent.^^

Apart from the stories others provide for us,
When we faithfully do the things we must do –
Including faithfulness to ourselves –
We will find that we have travelled a great and meaningful distance:

And so the best we can do is walk step by next intuitively right step until one day, pausing to catch our breath, we turn around and gasp at a path. If we have been lucky enough, if we have been willing enough to face the uncertainty, it is our own singular path, unplotted by our anxious younger selves, untrodden by anyone else.*^

*Quoted in Maria Popova’s The Maginalian: Carl Jung on How to Live and the Origin of “Do the Next Right Thing”;
**Quoted in Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction;
^From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
^^From Angela Duckworth’s Grit;
*^From Maria Popova’s The Maginalian: Carl Jung on How to Live and the Origin of “Do the Next Right Thing”

To the woods

I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life … so that when it comes time to die, I will not discover I have not lived. Living is so dear.*
Henry David Thoreau

The imagination is not what you play with, the imagination plays with you. It has the power both to create and destroy, in form and deform.**
Mary Ruefle

If you have found your “woods,”
And you dwell there more than not,
You are blessed.

It is a demanding place,
Where curiosity and imagination are honed,
Activeness too,
Forcing growth:

I profoundly believe that we don’t grow into creativity; we grow out of it.^

If there is no growth then we may still need to find our “woods.”
Comfortable can become deleterious,
Even toxic:

Where in your life or your work are you currently pursuing comfort, when what is called for is a little discomfort? … Choose uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment whenever you can.^^

Exploring the “woods” of others can be a place to begin,
Or to begin again.

*Henry David Thoreau, quoted in Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future;
**From Mary Ruefle’s On Imagination;
^From Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds;
^^From Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks.

Imagine that

A child lives in a world of stories and metaphors long before he or she learns literality. So the language of our heart and the language of our soul is metaphorical not literal.*
Robert Dilts

Rather than facing our fears, and rather than facing the truth, we avoid them.
Rather than creating the life we want, we build the life that allows our problems to exist unresolved.
Rather than becoming the person we want to become, we stay the person we are.
Rather than adapting our personality to match our goals, we adapt our goals to match our current and limited personality.**

Ben Hardy

We misunderstand imagination if we believe it helps us turn from reality.
Reality is only waiting for imagination to come and play
some new reality into being.

*From Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts’ The Hero’s Journey;
**From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent
.

Wildly does it

What we call the personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all but the loss of it.*
Gabor Mati

In what condition is my relationship to the instinctual Self? When was the last time I ran free? How do I make life come alive again?**
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

You and I
are more than we appear to be.

You and I
are covered over,
Layers of rush and busy,
Of outwith and objet.

You and I
are being called to the wild places
of solitude and curiosity,
Of within and gift.

*Gabor Mati, from Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves.

I’ll notice that if you don’t want to

Take an ordinary thing and elevate it.*

If you’re unwilling to interact with uncertainty, then you’ve greatly limited who you are and what you’ve become. You’ve limited your ability to make choices, because all choices involve uncertainty and risk.**
Ben Hardy

There’ll come a time when it’s necessary to move on,
When the risk of remaining within your familiar
is greater than that of moving into the unknown.

I am speaking to myself first of all.

*From gapingvoid’s blog: How to be extraordinary;
**From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent.

The good story

“Good story” means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task.*
Robert McKee

Do we also recognise that we already have within us everything we need for our own becoming?**

The unique life does not come to us
whether we are rich or poor.
Each must explore towards its discovery:

writers of unique characters underpin their creativity with research^.

Journeying both outwards and inwards,
Paying attention, asking questions,
Gathering riches, trading wonders,
imagining, curating,
Offering a gift to someone, somewhere.

Our deep joy meeting someone’s great need.

*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Why a Love of Good Stories Is Not Enough;
**From Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future;
^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The Secret of One of a Kind Characters.

What’s in and what’s out?

Strategic ignorance is not being close-minded. … Selective ignorance is not avoidance of learning. … It’s knowing what to avoid.*
Ben Hardy

Generally my feeling is towards less: less shopping, less eating, less drinking, less wasting, less playing by the rules and recipes. All of that I want in favour of more thinking on the feet, more improvising, more surprises, more laughs.**
Brian Eno

Choose your way well,
Be unmovable,
Pulled neither to the left or to the right.

There will be many things that are less
but are dressed as more,
Promising but disappointing.

Being a writer is a act of self-authorisation.
No matter who you are.
Only you can authorise yourself.
You do that by writing well, by constant discovery.^

More vitally,
This is true for being human.
We choose our way
And we live well:
Imaginatively, creatively.

Sometimes we lose our way
And we live badly.
Then it is time to be kind and to forgive.
To begin again,
Even to be born again,
And, having discovered more,
Carry kindness and forgiveness with us.

*From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices;
^From Verlyn Klinkeborg’s Several short sentences about writing.