In the light of

I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again; a writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing.  Just as I believe that a painter cannot sit down to his morning coffee without noticing what colour it is, so a writer cannot see an odd little gesture without putting a verbal description to it, and ought never to let a moment go by undescribed.*
Shirley Jackson

those who produced and traded in colours were known as colourmen, and procured rare pigments from across the globe**
Kassia St Clair

On reading Kassia St Clair’s words a year ago
I journaled,
I think I would like to be a colourman
bringing out the colours in people’s lives.
It’s not only writers and painters
who are
“always on,”
Their particular “light” highlighting everything they encounter
in their essential way,
Take a closer look at yourself –
Inside as well as outside^ –
And you will most likely
spot your dominant light.
There I go again,
The colourman,
Wanting to help you notice your

*Austin Kleon’s blog: Homework every night for the rest of your life;
**Kassia St Clair’s The Secret Lives of Colour;
^The colour of an object is the colour from the light spectrum it will not absorb and so is the colour it is not.

The final frontier*

We call this, “landing the idea.”  Once your idea is out of your head and onto a piece of paper (we prefer paper to pixels on a screen), you can have a proper look at it and get to work on it.
Martin Amor and Alex Pellew

An idea is a form of presence –
Something that could happen with
commitment and investment. 
For this,
Ideas need space –
To be able to move from the mind
to the heart
and onwards into action.
I know this full well because,
This morning,
I was seduced by emails and
setting up meetings,
Bread and circus being replaced by
dopamine and serotonin these days.
As Hugh Macleod has noticed,

Good ideas have lonely childhoods.^

And Captains Kirk, Picard and Archer may well be right,
Though with a little twist from Baines:
Space to explore in,
Rather than exploring space,
Could well be a redefining frontier for us.

*The Star Trek introduction;
**Martin Amor and Alex Pellew’s The Idea In You;
^gapingvoid’s blog: Good ideas have lonely childhoods 2017.

In the can?

you open an old can of pork and beans and found a genie inside who said – Boy, it is great to be out of that can!! Thank you! In return I would like to release you from your can.*
Lynda Barry

A new colour on a box doesn’t revolutionise anything, and it won’t last. But it’s easy, and it might marginally improve outcomes right now.**
Dorie Clark

I’ve heard the phrase “half a decade” used several times
over the last couple of days,
identifying a significant period of time.
After all,
It’s 50% of a decade,
And ten years does gets to have its own special name!
A decade is also identified as being
Equivalent to 10,000 hours of
deliberate practice,
If my maths are right,
There could be 5,000 hours of deliberate practice wrapped up in five years.
That makes for a lot of change,
Though change is never easy,
And tends to be time-consuming,
So adding a different colour
to the can or to the box we find ourselves in
is way more easy,
Even attractive,
Until we realise that it leaves us
right where we are.
Seth Godin writes,

The same life story can be told i many ways, and the way we tell it changes who we are and who we become.^

Inside each of your lives
there are many adjacent possibilities
to explore.

Following our curiosity
into interest
and then into passion,
And pursuing this for the next five years –
Because life is a long game –
Is not guaranteed to lead to fame or fortune,
Or even a living,
But may well leave us feeling utterly alive.

*Lynda Barry’s What It Is;
**Dorie Clark’s The Long Game;
^Seth Godin’s blog: Your autobiography.


the very traits that steer us toward certain life situations are the very same traits that those situations encourage, reinforce, and amplify*
Angela Duckworth

God … will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.**
The Apostle Peter

Although Angela Duckworth doesn’t use the term,
She is describing what I refer to as an enriching environment.
My enriching environments will be different to yours
and yours to mine,
But we will know them because of how they
encourage, reinforce and amplify
the best in us,
Whilst also making it possible to
encourage, reinforce and amplify the environments,
Especially for the sake of others:

Don’t chase success. Instead, chase new and interesting ways of solving other people’s problems.^

Duckworth’s insight is anticipated in the words of the apostle Peter,
Which I came across this morning.
You don’t have to believe in a god to see
the value of having places in which you can be
restored and supported and strengthened,
Leading to the kind of establishment that is not about
But is about health and growth.

*Angela Duckworth’s Grit;
**1 Peter 5:10-11;
^gapingvoid’s blog: Take something ordinary and elevate it.

Respect yourself*

“I’m not that smart.” Someone said that to me the other day and it was heartbreaking.**
Seth Godin

While finite games are externally defined, infinite games are internally defined.^
James Carse

Please respect others,
Deeply respect the world,
But don’t forget to respect yourself.

Here’s why a lack of self-respect is heartbreaking for Seth Godin:

The correct thing to say is, “I don’t care that much.” I don’t care enough to do the reading, to fail along the way, to show up, to make a promise, to learn as I go, to confront failure, to get better at the work. All of that might be true. But you’re almost certainly smart enough.*

Self-respect doesn’t mean easy;
It does mean putting ourselves on the hook.

*Soundtrack: Staple SIngers’ Respect Yourself;
**Seth Godin’t Blog: “I’m not that smart”;
**James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.

A good choice

We not only create stories for metaphors for life, we create then as metaphors for a meaningful life. To live meaningfully is to be at perpetual risk. … If, should the protagonist fail, life would go back to normal, the story isn’t worth telling.*
Robert McKee

And how will we choose to walk through the world and what will we leave behind …
Seth Godin

Goods and information have become
abundant and
Not so
a good choice towards a
meaningful life.

*Robert McKee‘s newsletter: A Little Risk Goes a Long Way;
**Seth Godin’s blog: We forgot to choose.


all man can do is add his fragment to the whole*
Robert Henri

But the task of all tasks is to transform what is insignificant into greatness, what is inconspicuous into radiance; to present a speck of dust in a way that shows it to be a part of the whole so that one cannot see it without also instantly seeing all of the stars and the heavens deep coherence to which it ultimately belongs.**
Rainer Maria Rilke

My contribution and yours
may only be small,
But the picture of life will be the smaller without them.
It will take some gritty spirit,
That’s for sure,
And it will take challenging and encouraging community,
But these are all part of what makes
a speck transcendent.
We have a choice:
Speckulate or not,
But, I for one
look forward to what you will bring.

Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow. … In other words, deliberate practice is for preparation, and flow is for performance.^

*Maria Popova’s The Marginalian blog: Drawing on Walls: An Illustrated Homage to Keith Haring, His Irrepressible Art of Hope, and His Beautiful Bond with Children;
**Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letter on Life;
^Angela Duckworth’s Grit.

Lost and found, found and lost

Life is the story you tell yourself. … I was lost. That’s when I began to realise: While storytelling has drawn significant academic and popular interest in recent years, there’s an aspect of personal storytelling that hasn’t gotten enough attention. What happens when we misplace the plot of our lives?*
Bruce Feiler

the true advances of my life could not be brought about by force, but occurs silently, and that I prepare for them while working quietly and with concentration on the things that on a deep level I recognise to be my tasks**
Rainer Maria Rilke

Nurturing internality provides us with a compass,
Though in truth, we’d prefer
a map.
Life is so big, though,
And we reach the edges of our charts so quickly,
So we must either stop and turn around,
Or trust the whispers of our
thin silence –
Those talents, energies and values
that make us strong, keep us focused, provide dexterity and
create purpose.

To be able to stand not knowing long enough to let something alive take shape.^

It’s possible to be found on the outside but lost on the inside,
It is also possible to be found on the inside
whether we are lost or found on the outside.

*Bruce Feiler’s Life is in the Transitions;
**Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life;
^Lynda Barry’s What It Is.


When I am experiencing meaning, it feels as though my life is a story that is interesting to myself and also good for the world.*
Donald Miller

People get so caught up in the fact that they have limits that they rarely exert the effort required to get close to them.**
James Clear

Salt isn’t just salt.
It comes in so many colours and flavours and forms.
Our neighbours brought us a gift of whisky-infused, smoked salt …
and it’s wonderful.
I sometimes add a pinch or less^ to a recipe,
But whilst I can still make out the peppers or squash or beans,
The salt has gone,
In one sense
added to all the other ingredients.

I can get caught up wanting to make a difference that leaves some kind of
object behind,
But I’m becoming more comfortable with the thought that
my true legacy
may be more like the influence of salt,
Which perhaps will mean someone will keep going,
Or pick up a book that somewhere down the road
leads to a change of direction,
Or perhaps simply leaves another

What interests us is our

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.^^

*Donald Miller’s Hero On a Mission;
**James Clear’s Atomic Habits:
^A smidgen
^^From Maya Angelou’s A Brave and Startling Truth; Seth Godin’s The Carbon Almanac.

Made to grow

True character can only be expressed through choice in dilemma. … A character is the choices they make over the course of their lifetime.*
Robert McKee

Remember that interests must be triggered again and again and again. … throughout adulthood, we maintain the ability to grow myelin … .**
Angela Duckworth

Aided by Angela Duckworth,
I’ve been reflecting both on the link between a growth mindset
and optimism,
And a fixed mindset
and pessimism.
I suggested some ways to move from being fixed
to growth.
Duckworth suggests a few more things to add:
Remember that we are able to produce myelin
throughout adulthood –
The wonderful insulator we lay down around
neurons and synaptic connections when we repeat
ways of thinking and acting,
Our abilities being faster electrical signals;
Do positive self-talk,
Which I would translate as: we need to create our own story
and explore it in some way or other
every day –
Using journaling wherever possible; and,
Find the kind of people that will
help us keep going,
Who will not allow us to give in.
It all means that we have a lot more choices
through which to express our lives.

Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Who Is Your Character, Really?;
**Angela Duckworth’s Grit.