An obscure thought

Enjoy your obscurity while it lasts.*
Austin Kleon

It’s a strange thing,
When our existence is one of obscurity we want to be
But when we are noticed to the extent that
our day is dictated to us by others and their
machine then
we desire obscurity:

There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it. When you’re unknown, there’s nothing to distract you from getting better. No public image to manage. No huge paycheque on the line. No stockholders. No e-mails from your agent. No hangers-on.*

These words from Austin Kleon translate into
an everyday
for all of us.
And once we’re known in our workplace or field
it’s difficult to find our creative spaces,
Though, thankfully, not impossible to
introduce things that are fun to us,
To “waste time” experimenting and exploring,
Creating our own development plan,
Playing within it every day.
A good place to begin writing down the things that get your
blood pumping:

I’ve come to believe in the power of writing down your vision. I don’t believe writing down a vision for your life creates any sort of magic in the universe, but I do believe it sets a general compass for your subconscious.**

Rainer Maria Rilke writes about creating our own obscurity:

What is needed is only this: solitude, great inner solitude.  Going within and meeting no one else for hours – that is what one must learn to attain.^

As my friend Sam Radford points out,
When we waste hours like this
we avoid wasting years:

We waste years because we don’t have the opportunity to waste hours.^^

*Austin Kleon’s blog: A message for graduates;
**Donald Miller’s Hero On a Mission;
^Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Rilke On the Relationship Between Solitude, Love, Sex, and Creativity;
^^Sam Radford’s blog: Wasting years by not wasting hours.

Just a doodle 54

To listen to the voice of the world, the self must be silenced.  And the flâneur is the incarnation of this ideal: dazzled by beauty, he decides to relinquish the self in order to consecrate his life to contemplation.*
Federico Castigliano

*Federico Castigliano’s Flâneur; also,, the female flâneuse.

Are we wise yet?

The final movement of a ballet, the coda of a symphony, the couplet of a sonnet, the last act and its story climax – these culminating moments must be the most gratifying, meaningful experiences of all.*
Robert McKee

I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, ad forty-five, and … and … and … If we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.**
Madeleine L’Engle

Are we there yet?
Hopefully not,
For as long as we are travelling we can be
And as long as we are curious we create
And tension open up a place within
for something to happen,
The possibility of growth,
The possibility of creativity.
Wisdom is not what we know,
Though we can never know too much;
Wisdom is a beautiful expression of all that we are and
all that we know,
And awaiting lies another

Old men should be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity.^

*Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Why You Must Save the Best For Last;
**Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water;
^T. S. Eliot, quoted in Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze.


I am learning to see.  I don’t know why it is, but everything penetrates more deeply into me and does not stop at the place where until now it always used to finish.  I have an inner self of which I was ignorant.  Everything goes thither now.  What happens there I do not know.*
Rainer Maria Rilke

in indigenous ways of knowing, we understand a thing only when we understand it with four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit**
Robin Wall Kimerer

I am happy to get out of the way;
To be unnoticed but noticing,
Unobserved but observing,
Is to be free,
Is to be open to awe –
Found in others
and all of the world:

This sort of mind-bending awe … requires us to open up to the wonders of the world in a different way, and to harness the power of our imaginations to evoke moments of awe within us.^

And then,
If I may,
I will bring to you what I find.

*David Brooks’ The Second Mountain;
**Robin Wall Kimerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass;
^Jonah Paquette’s The Muse Brain Bulletin: Mind Bending Awe.

And it was good, possibly very good

The attentive consciousness can be regarded as the very space of our personalities.*
José Ortega y Gasset

creativity starts with engaging with the world on our own terms, noticing what others miss, and attending to what matters most to you**
Rob Walker

Bernadette Jiwa poses the question,
What would you do if you could not fail?,^
Then replaces it with a better one:
What would you do even though you might fail?^
It is far more likely that the second question will help us
identify what it is we most want to do
with our lives.
gapingvoid adds further nuance by suggesting
this will be something that is marked by goodness, that:

doing good was our greatest source of happiness^^.

When it comes to the thing that we’re noticing most of all in life,
You may want to spend a little more time with it
and see how you can bring it alive for someone else.

*Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Whom We Love and Who We Are: José Ortega y Gasset on Love, Attention, and the Invisible Architecture of Our Being;
**Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing: Useless, and valuable;
^The Story of Telling: On Doing the Work That Is Calling To Us;
^^ The Quest for our higher self.

What I read, and what I read for

It is … a way of exposing one’s ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be. The infinite player does not expect only to be amused by surprise, but to be transformed by it, for surprise does not alter some abstract past, but one’s own personal past.*
James Carse

Once inside the imagination all manner of inexplicable things occur. Time gets loopy, the past presses itself against the present, and the future pours out its secrets.**
Nick Cave

It certainly isn’t always so,
But sometimes,
When I am reading,
I slip out of chronos time
with all of its linearity,
Into kairos time
with its significant, transformative
In these times,
What the author wrote and
what I read
generates something new
in me
that I must share.

If a reader cannot create a nook along with the writer, the book will never come to life.^

*James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games;
**Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files: #156;
^Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water.

Some of my favourite reads from this year:

Awestruck (Jonah Paquette)
Benedictus (John O’Donohue)
Building and Dwelling (Richard Sennett)
Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul (Philip Newell)
Almost Everything (Anne Lamott)
Four Thousand Weeks (Oliver Burkeman)
The Art of Self Improvement (Anna Katharina Schaffner)
Several short sentences on writing (Verlyn Klinkenborg)
Figuring (Maria Popova)
The Hero’s Journey (Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts)
From Strength to Strength (Arthur Brooks)
Hero On a Mission (Donald Miller)
Atomic Habits (James Clear)
Grit (Angela Duckworth)
Life Is In the Transitions (Bruce Feiler)

Outside in and inside out

I have no idea how to get my students to build a self or become a soul … and in the hundreds of faculty appointments I have participated in, we’ve never evaluated a candidate on how well he or she could accomplish it.*
Steven Pinker

The flâneur move through the city with neither a map nor a plan. He has to feel himself free and alone, ready for the imponderable.**
Federico Castigliano

We must take what is out side of us
And then take what we find forming inside of us
Not forgetting that a soul take a
lifetime to grow.

*David Brooks’ The Second Mountain;
**Federico Castigliano’s Flâneur.