Projection or promise

Each of us is a voyager. This is what the universe invites us to be in our lives and relationships, because the universe keeps changing, unfolding, evolving.*
Philip Newell

As a futurist I must take to heart the warning of Wendell Berry,
Not to be a project fantasies and fiction,
But to promise and therefore
take responsibility:

The projecting of ‘futurologists’ uses the future as the safest possible context for whatever is desired; it binds only to selfish interest. But making a promise binds one to someone else’s future.**

There are many ways to be foolish
but faithfulness and perseverance is the way to wisdom.

*From Philip Newell’s Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul;
**Wendell Berry, quoted in Alan Jacobs’ Breaking Bread with the Dead.

And may your peace lead you

For I know of no trouble in life which does not stand as a counterpoint to some positive capacity.*
M. C. Richards

Peace as a win:win.
Peaceful interactions within and without leading us to more and beyond,
Not so much the end state
but a place for beginning.

Humility, gratitude and faithfulness playfully lead us into our peace –
Humility to be our whole self,
Gratitude to notice all that we have,
Faithfulness to practise and explore each day –
And, when we lose our peace, will lead us there again and again.

*From M. C. Richards’ Centering.

Grow today, grow tomorrow

The truth about who you are lies not at the root of the tree but rather out at the tips of the branches, the thousand tips.*
Lewis Hyde

And it’s worth asking: what actions – what acts of generosity or care for the world, what ambitious schemes or investments in the distant future – might it be meaningful to undertake today, if you could come to terms with never seeing the results?**
Oliver Burkeman

The ash trees near my home are dying.
I do not know how long they have, but ash dieback is slowly consuming them.
There is no new growth at their tips,
They struggle each year to produce their leaves,
Yet it’s only a matter of time.

If I am open to growth today, then I hold open the possibility of growth tomorrow,
And some of the hopes of what I want to bring forth through my life
lie beyond the sum of my weeks.

I always enjoy what Robert McKee shares,
Often borrowing his words on story-writing as words for life:

Is it so fascinating, so rich in possibility, that I want to spend months, perhaps years, of my life in pursuit of its fulfilment? … No matter what you’ve heard about scripts being dashed off over a weekend, a quality story takes 6 months, a year, or more.^

Therefore, what is wanting to grow from the tips of our lives,
And for whom?

*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
**From Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks;
^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: What is Your Story Worth?

Don’t waste the difficult and hard times

Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing, and full seeing seems to take most of your lifetime, with a huge leap in your final years.*
Richard Rohr

Once we’ve had an experience we don’t go back to the way we were before that’s experience.**
Taryn Marie

It’s never too late to find the transformational in a difficult experience.
This is not to transform the experience –
It is what it is –
But to be transformed.

The more we revisit the difficult times
Finding within them thresholds of possibility,
The more able we will become to find these in our present circumstances.

If we feel the difficult moments to be wasted time
then this is what they will be.

John O’Donohue writes about thresholds,
Reminding his readers that this word relates
to threshing,
Separating the grain from the husk or straw
which are then left behind:

A threshold is not simply an accidental line that happens to separate one region from another. It is an intense frontier that divides a world of feeling from another. Often threshold only becomes visible once you have crossed it. Crossing can often mean the total loss of all you enjoyed while on the other side; it becomes a dividing line between the past and the future. More often than not, the reason you cannot return to where you were is that you have changed; your are no longer the one who crossed over.^

O’Donohue and Rohr both speak of seeing,
Marie and O’Donohue both speak of personal change.
There is always more within a difficult memory or feeling to be explored.

Towards this, we might take a simple mindful position –
An imaginative exercise
as our imaginations are one of the first casualties when we have experienced hurt

Sitting upright but relaxed with both feet on the floor.
Coming into your body,
Bringing your attention and curiosity to your breathing.
Remaining here a moment.

Then bring to mind a difficult memory,
And allow yourself to feel its intensity for a moment or two,
Again bringing your curiosity to this.

What is this memory or feeling trying to say?
It will probably be inarticulate, clumsy, even hurtful.

Notice where the memory is resting in you
and make this a place for the feeling to rest,
As something to be cared for rather than ignored or needing to be distracted from.

Invite the memory to speak again.
You are deeply listening,
And the more time you are able to provide
the clearer the memory will speak
until a threshold appears that you will be able to cross.

The memory has not changed but you have.

Do get in touch with me if you would like to be accompanied in this.

The world is alive, generous, and waiting patiently for us to figure it out.^^

*From Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward;
**From Bernadette Jiwa’s What Great Storytellers Know;
^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus.
^^Tom De Blasis, from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrock’s A Velocity of Being.

Forgive me, forgive me not

I saw the entity I had take to be “me” was really a fabrication. My true nature, I realised, was much more real, both uglier and more beautiful than I could have imagined.*
Thich Nhat Hanh

Most are inclined to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves –
Closing down the possibility of forgiveness we need more than we know
to open our futures.

Alan Jacobs aims to deepen personal density
through “breaking bread with the dead,”
A reacquainting of ourselves with those who have passed this way before us,
Those whose idealistic though imperfect – unenlightened – lives yet may break us open
to the truth about ourselves:

If we understand that this pervasive inconsistency, this inability to transcend the interests of people who look or act or believe just like us, is universal then perhaps – just perhaps – we will be less likely to believe that we are immune to it. We will believe that nothing exempts is from the same temptation and the same frailty. And perhaps knowing that, we will be more inclined to forgive such frailty in others, just as we (most of us, anyway) forgive ourselves.**

Some do not believe they need forgiveness,
For they have done nothing wrong,
But reality is different,
And I suspect it is this ugly and beautiful reality of self that will finally open us

*From Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: How the Great Zen Master and Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh Found Himself and Lost His Self in a Library Epiphany;
**From Alan Jacobs’ Breaking Bread with the Dead.

Making generative oddkin

If all matter in the universe were the Gobi desert, life would be but a single grain of sand.*
Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s dramatic and critical measurement
reminding us of our smallness,
Hidden, as we are, amongst all that is,
Also served to bring a happy memory from yesterday
when I noticed two book titles sitting side by side on my bookshelves
for no other reason than I had misplaced one of them by author –
My simple way of putting my library together.

Too Big to Know by David Weinberger
followed by
Too Small to Ignore from Wess Stafford.

The former explores the future of knowledge in a connected world,
In which “the smartest person in the room is the room,”**
Whilst the latter tells the story of the children’s charity Compassion International,
Including the words of a Haitian child that shocked Stafford:
“I have nothing you need.”

No-one knows everything, but we all know something,
And our connection is imperative.
Hence generative oddkin,
A phrase Alan Jacobs passes on from writer Donna Haraway,
A call to be open to the other
and to stay awhile.

*From Maria Popova’s The Marginalian blog: Highlights in Hindsight: Favourite Books of the Past Year;
**From the subtitle of David Weinberger’s Too Big to Know.

Persons of density

I am going to try to convince you that the deeper your understanding of the past, the greater personal density you accumulate.*
Alan Jacobs

The more we only live in the present
the lighter we are,
The more weightless we become –
If we only listen to ourselves,
Or to people who are just like us.

The past makes it possible to be what Angela Duckworth describes as becoming
people with grit:
Possessing both passion and perseverance,
More than what we are,
Also what we might become.

When we get it wrong –
And we will get it wrong –
Knowing the past also helps us to know where to go for the forgiveness we need
to start over.

*From Alan Jacobs’ Breaking Bread with the Dead.

Adding some whimsy to the flimsy

1. playfully quaint or fanciful behaviour or humour.
2. a whim.

Meeting at an international chaplains conference,
We were talking about how to help art students
step out of the pressure of producing.

I mentioned mindful doodling,
Ruth remarked on how this sounded flimsy,
Proffering go with the flimsy.

I so had to doodle that,
Adding a little whimsy along the way.
Ruth came to me the next morning with a poem.

You’ve got to love what’s possible
in the flimsy.

Go with the flimsy

Go with the flimsy

Hold it lightly

Let joy dance on your fingers

Channel the mischievous 

Go with the flimsy

The flighty

The firmly fun

Forget the final

You are more than what you produce

Enjoy the process

Of letting go

Of pen on paper

Of heart and head connection

Imperfection is freedom

(Ruth Wells)

I’ll share more tomorrow about this tomorrow.

Don’t be a stranger

And no matter how hard you look, you’re almost invisible
to yourself,
Camouflaged by familiarity.*

Verlyn Klinkenborg

When you feel the rush of fear as you put your point of view, your art, or your idea out into the world, this is not an invitation to step back into the shadows; it’s a sign that you’re at the edge, right where you should be, exploring how things might be.**
Martin Amor and Alex Pellew

It is too easy to hide.

Some hide in quietness,
Like me,
Others in noise.
Some hide in fear,
Others in a belief
they have nothing to bring.

But there is more to each of us,
More than we know ourselves,
More than a whole lifetime can uncover
in the hidden, secret, dark places of our lives.

I tell myself,
There is still time to stop hiding –
This is certainly true.
There is even more if I begin today.

*From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing;
**From Martin Amor and Alex Pellew The Idea in You.