Love is …

We most often consider genius as an expression of talent, of “what you do.” We rarely think of genius as an expression of essence, or “what you are.”*
Erwin McManus

It is a criterion of love. In moments of decision, we are to try to make what seems to be the most loving, the most creative decision. We are not to play safe, to draw back out of fear. Love may well lead us into danger.**
Madeliene L’Engle

Back in 1970, Kim Grove began drawing her
Love is … characters for her soon to be husband Robert Casali.
They featured nude male and female characters depicting multitudinous expressions of Love is:
… taking on day at a time,
… a song in your heart,
… enduring,
… our story … .
I’ve shared before how many of these cards winged their way
from Scarborough to Southport, and Southport to Scarborough
back in the late 70s when Christine and I began dating.
But, beyond the schmalz, love is many things …
… giving people time,
… listening,
… not judging,
… helping,
… being compassionate,
… sharing kind words,
… gratitude,
… and, not forgetting, loving yourself …
The thrilling part is that there is a genius to love which looks
different in each of us, woven through our
talents, energies and values, making us capable of
imagining and actioning love in many ways.

*Erwin McManus’ The Genius of Jesus;
**Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water.

Made in the future

We all begin with the question “What am I, really? What is my work here?”*
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

We feel most comfortable when things are certain; but we feel most alive when they’re not.**
Tania Luna

We are not, finally, who we are today,
Any more than we were, finally, who we were
a year ago on this day.
Each day provides us with a day of becoming, both
for our inner lives of development
as well as the alchemistic ways that we connect
with our outer worlds.
We get to guide and shape this journey;
It’s quite a marvellous thing:
Each new day is a path of wonder,
a different invitation. …
Each day is the field of brightness where
the invitation of our life unfolds.^

The past is past, only the future exists,
Available in today’s present.

*Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves;
**Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments;
^John O’Donohue’s Benedictus.

What must you do?

What counts is not so much whether a person actually achieves what they set out to do; rather it matters whether efforts has been expended to reach the goal, instead of being diffused or wasted.*
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

There’s something I must do.
I may tell myself that I can’t do this, or
I don’t have a choice, and
for a little while I’ve let myself off the hook and
I feel more comfortable, but
there are some things that won’t go away, and now
here it is again.

*Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.

It’s not your father, Harry

When one is at home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance and poise. In a sense that is exactly what spirituality is: the art of homecoming.*
John O’Donohue

Living in accordance with ours values is never finished; it is a lifelong journey.**
Steven Hayes

Harry Potter knew that he could produce and maintain
a powerful Patronus charm to save himself
and his godfather Sirius Black from the dementors
because he’d already produced one.^
We may not be able to play with time
in the way Harry and Hermione Grainger were able to;
We have something better:
We can spend some time exploring our talents, energies and values –
Which are our home –
Producing a smorgasbord of experiences and expressions that
we can zoom with, which is
to produce even more of:
those who know hot to transform
a hopeless situation in to a new
flow activity that can be
controlled will be able too
enjoy themselves, and
emerge stronger from the ordeal.^

*John O”Donohue’s Benedictus;
**Steven Hayes’ A Liberated Mind (emphasis mine);
^Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban;
^^Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.

Time to tiffle

tiffle to potter aimlessly in a landscape Suffolk*
Robert Macfarlane

A life sincerely followed is always surprising and always leads you into places you did not feel you could either enter or the you could deserve. And part of the ability to hold the science as we move and as we tiptoe, or walk or take our pilgrim path from one epoch of our lives to anther is our ability to not name things too early and to allow yourself to be surprised as to where you’ve arrived.**
David Whyte

When stuck, tiffle.
Wander through a larger landscape.
A story is larger than a day-to-day-life:
A novel examines not reality but existence.
And existence is not what has occurred,
existence is the realm of human possibilities,
everything that man can become,
everything he’s capable of.^

The confinements of a day-to-day-life don’t allow time or energy for exploration.
But listen, your story is calling you.

*Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks;
**Maria Popova‘s The Marginalian: source lost;
^Milan Kundera; Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Opaque to Ourselves: Milan Kundera on Writing and the Key to Great Storytelling.

Out, not in

Creativity doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.*
Seth Godin

The Neighbour as a Stranger bears on the mundane realm of the city. Awareness of, encounters with, addressing others unlike oneself – all constitute the ethics which civilises. Indifference to strangers, because they are incomprehensibly strange, degrades the ethical character of the city.**
Richard Sennett

Our greatest achievements will be those accomplished
Indeed they may well be our
being together:
Variation is the life of prose, in length and in structure^
This is true of human life as well as our writings.
And whilst an important human trait is
our individual desire to grow and develop, yet
the truly improved self show itself in its interactions with others.^^
We have a saying:
“They are so into themself,”
But this is ego-waylaid improvement, and life-in-all-its-fullness
is discovered when
we are out of ourselves and into others.

*Seth Godin’s The Practice;
**Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
^Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing;
^^Anna Katharina Schaffner’s The Art of Self Improvement.

Best of all

Ultimately, the goal is to become the best in the world at being you. To bring useful idiosyncrasy to the people you seek to change, and to earn a reputation for what you do and how you do it. The peculiar version of you, your assertions, your art.*
Seth Godin

We tend to write about the things that matter most to us, the things we wish to learn more about. I have always wanted to improve, to understand more deeply what self-improvement entails.**
Anna Katharina Schaffner

I sometimes wish I could do what others do,
And I become disheartened, deflated,
But when I keep focusing on what I love, I realise
I’d make a rubbish someone else, and,
at the same time,
Miss out on being an ebullient me, and encourage
you to be you.

*Seth Godin’s The Practice;
**Anna Katharina’s Schaffner’s The Art of Self Improvement

Still in denial?

The challenge then is to have one superpower. All out of balance to the rest of your being. If, over time, you develop a few more, that’s fine. Begin with one.*
Seth Godin

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.**
Henry David Thoreau

The early Jesuit novitiates disappeared
for thirty days to explore the
shape of their calling,
Returning with what they believed to be
the most important thing in the world to give themselves to.
During this time, they were paying attention in order to
notice their superpower.
It may not be an intense thirty days, but
deep attention to our
abilities and energies and values
is something we all can do,
And, when we notice one and begin to use it,
There’ll be more to follow.
Or course, we may still be
in denial, claiming that
we have no superpower,
So I’ll keep turning up here, every day, to remind you that
you do and that
the world needs you.

*Seth Godin’s The Practice;
**Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.

It’s not over yet

Our negativity bias is part of why we often overlook moments of awe – our brain is so busy trying to help us survive that it overlooks potential sources of awe.*
Jonah Paquette

Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it, because the largest part of the job of the artist is to listen to the work and to go where it tell him to go.**
Madeleine L’Engle

I wonder if the driver who swerved out and
overtook me at speed on Saturday morning
in their white Range Rover Evoque
happened to notice the dawn sky, big
and painted extravagantly
in oranges and salmons and turquoises and golds and reds and lilacs and purples?
Yet, I know I can miss
what’s all around me in way of possibilities and opportunities
because I am so focused on the task in hand
or the difficulties and problems,
Like getting old and
running out of time, but,
If I lift my head up,
And the game isn’t over yet.

*Jonah Paquette’s Awestruck;
**Madeliene L’Engle’s Walking on Water.