Joyful noise

“Once there was, and once there was not …” This paradoxical phrase is meant to alert the should of the listener that this story takes place in the world between worlds where nothing is as it seems.*
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

In a word: one ought to turn the most extreme possibility inside oneself into the measure for one’s life, for our life is vast and can accommodate as much future as we are able to carry.**
Rainer Maria Rilke

We’re all invited to join in,
To make our joyful noise,
To bring our song,
Our words, to
combine our voice with others
Meld our sound with sounds.

In the bringing
lies the honing
of our gift.

Always have the courage
To change, welcoming those voices
That call you beyond your self.^

*Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves;
**Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life;
^John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: At the Threshold of Manhood.

A responsibility to awe*

If there were no problems, it wouldn’t be much fun.**
Alan Lightman

It is, therefore, this fluidity that presents us with an unavoidable challenge: how to contain the serious within the truly playful; that is to keep all our finite games in infinite play.^
James Carse

Playfulness enables us to meet problems
with flexibility
rather than
“There is only one way to do this,”
Is a very serious approach;
Without distance and its accompanying perspective
We are unable to see many more ways.

A good place to begin towards playfulness is
to follow our awe:

Awe diminishes the press of self-interest and reorients the mind to interconnection and design.^^

What awes you?
When you follow it,
There will be found opportunities to play.

*From Rebecca Elson’s A Responsibility to Awe;
**Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious;
^James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games;
^^Dacher Keltner’s Born to Be Good.

Keep going, keep growing

Old men [and women] ought to be explorers.*
T. S. Eliot

Make interesting amazing, glorious mistakes. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.**
Neil Gaiman

Here are some “explorer clothes,”
Timeless classics^
as supplied by Anna Katharina Schaffner:^^
Self-knowledge for mastery and realism;
Choose your thoughts, rather than the other way around;
Let go of the False Self;
Do good and put others first;
Be humble to learn and grow;
Simplify to be able to focus on what’s important;
Free your imagination to wander freely;
Keep going;
Put yourself in other’s lives;
Always practise being present.

Plenty to keep us going.

*Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward;
**Neil Gaiman’s Art Matters;
^These practices have been utilised through hundreds, if not thousands, of years;
^^Anna Katharina Schaffner’s The Art of Self Improvement.

When passion is your compass

Grit has two components: passion and perseverance. … Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.*
Angela Duckworth

How will you go about finding that thing the nature o which is totally unknown to you.**

Angela Duckworth is helping me to see how my passion is not about
as much as it is about
Almost thirty years on from the emergence of a
niggling personal question about competency,
I am still navigating continents of possibility.
It turns out that passion is my compass.

*Angela Duckworth’s Grit.
**Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

On the line

Going through a ritual every day keeps you on the line.*
Joseph Campbell

We distract ourselves with pleasure when we can’t find a sense of meaning.**
Donald Miller

I am guessing that you don’t want to be
off the line:
Waiting, disconnected, non-contributing.

Your ritual is the thing you have devised
to keep bringing you back to what you want your life to be about,
So you don’t allow it to become stale,
You keep developing it
each day.

You know that without it,
It would be too easy to be
And life is too short to be distracted.

*Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth;
**Donald Miller’s Hero On a Mission.

On the hook

With everything perfect, … we do not ask how it came to be. … we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic*
Friedrich Nietzsche

If we overemphasise talent, we underemphasise everything else.*
Angela Duckworth

Friedrich Nietzsche and Angela Duckworth ponder
why it is that we so love the idea of natural talent,
Nietzsche suggesting:

Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius. For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking . … To call someone “divine” means: “here there is no need to compete.*

We’re off the hook, then.
But, if we understand how talent is shaped and formed,
How it’s not dropped into us before birth,
Or not,
That whilst it does have a lot to do with our accident of birth,
With ensuing opportunities,
It is also formed,
Yes, yes, yes,
With hard graft,
And then we’re not off the hook,
We’re very much on the hook of possibility.

It’s always been about putting in the effort.
In some words I read at the beginning of today,
The apostle Paul has been writing about the special abilities that he has seen
in different people, but he then goes on with some
graft-laden language –
Holy grit, even:

Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.**

*Angela Duckworth’s Grit;
**Romans 12:11-13.


Lift is created by the onwards rush of life over the curved wing of the soul.*
Robert Macfarlane

It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow.**
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

What if,
Complexity isn’t heaviness.
We follow our curiosities,
Alchemising these into interests and pursuits and processes –
The kinds that change us in the process:

We were living the process as we created it.^

What if,
Complexity is more heightened definition –
Me being more me,
You being more you.
And with it a lightness that shapes each life differently,
Forming each more purposefully,
That purpose being a graceful arc
through the bright but also the
dark days,
And sometimes it feels like

*Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways;
**Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow;
^Joseph Jaworski’s Source.

Inconvenient life

By the pressure of reality, I mean the pressure of an external event or events on the consciousness to the exclusion of any power of contemplation.*
Wallace Stevens

My sacred space became the rolling fire of the imagination. But, you know, these days, I wonder about this too. Maybe these lofty claims about the imagination are yet more artistic hubris, a further place to hide, like the office – another invented way to separate ourselves from the world. Perhaps, the sacred space is simply the world itself – a hallowed place where we all exist at this time, where we engage with life in all its many tempers, within the present moment.**
Nick Cave

Imagination needs reality,
As much as reality needs imagination.
The pressure of reality can turn predator if we fail to face it with
healthy imagination.
Clarissa Estes Pinkola’s Wild Woman comes to us
as a helpful illustration of undomesticated imagination:

Wild Woman comes diving over whatever fences, walls, or obstructions the predator has erected. … She and the predator have know each other a long, long time … . Wherever he is, she is, for she is the one who balances his predations.^

Reality saves imagination from
Being sated by Netflix,
Endlessly scrolling social,
Craving more bread and circus.

Reality reminds us that we are here
to save the world,
And may be found in that next wild thought that
comes to us.

*Wallace Stevens The Necessary Angel;
**Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files: #192;
^Clarissa Estes Pinkola’s Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Talent, grit and awe

Self-expression is a natural by-product of your work, because you are doing it. If the purpose of the project is to express yourself, there is a danger there will be no surprises.*
Corita Kent and Jan Steward

In my view, the biggest reason a preoccupation with talent can be harmful is simple: By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that these other factors – including grit – don’t matter as much as they really do.**
Angela Duckworth

Talent, grit and awe –
Each can be developed, grown.

Talent is truth,
Is how it is,
Is how I am,
Is a beginning:

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change.^

So remarked Carl Rogers,
In whose words I sense a humility,
Carefully positioning us in life
for gratitude and awe and surprise:

To listen takes time, … to learn to hear the world within and the world without, to attend to the quiet voice of life and heart alike.^^

And if we were to give expression to truth and awe
in hundreds of different ways
then we would be building grit,
Growing perseverance.

Today is simply another day for exploring
three quests,
One path.

*Corita Kent and Jan Steward’s Learning By Heart;
**Angela Duckworth’s Grit;
^David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer;
^^Maria Popova’s The Marginalian blog: An Illustrated Ode to Attentiveness and the Art of Listening as a Wellspring of Self-Understanding, Empathy for Others, and Reverence for the Loveliness of Life

The best of the many paths

For me there is only the travelling on paths that have heart, on any paths that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worth-while challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.*
Don Juan

To walk is to gather treasure.**
Miguel Angel Blanco

There’s understanding and there’s doing,
both are important but better when wrapped around
the heart.

*Carlos Castenedes’ The Teachings of Don Juan;
**Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways