The game of found

So then the journey for peace begins within our hearts. This is why we must face our fears, stand-in in our pain, and walk courageously into the uncertainty and mystery of a better future.*
(Erwin McManus)

Some who think they are lost are really hiding. Others who tell themselves they are hiding are really lost.

We can all be found, though.

Good news.

(*From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.)

Information is faster than inspiration

When you don’t know what should be done, or how something is supposed to work, it’s a brief pocket of possibility. You’re free to speculate on something, unencumbered by the conventional structures.*
(Brian Mau)

be curious, be observant, be fickle [not fixated], be thoughtful, be elegant**
(Rohit Bhargava)

Inspiration requires space and time; information is certainly way faster and easier.

That can be our problem.

Perhaps inspiration will come up with a better solution.

Trust yourself: give yourself some time and space.

Go with the flow rather than the know.

(*Brian Mau, quoted in Warren Berger’s Glimmer.)
(**From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018.)

The summary and the full story

It is very difficult to practice what we agree in theory. And it is very difficult to be modest in our scorn of the gap between what we dream and what we do, and to persevere patiently in our efforts to bridge it. This battle is daily and specific and basic.*
(M. C. Richards)

Often it’s the growth we can’t see that is the making of us.**
(Bernadette Jiwa)

The summary is often neater and more impressive than the full story which contains a lot of messiness and failure and fragility. Both are important if we use them in the right way.

A summary allows us to appreciate what has been achieved, how far we have come, but the big problems, including problems of personal development, cannot be solved summarily. The important turns and moves, the difficulty and the mess of closing the gap between dream and reality has need of the full account, to which we bring our strongest ways of reflection.

Erwin McManus, exploring the way of the warrior as a means of finding peace within and peace without our lives, understands the value of being someone prepared to tell the whole story:

The warrior […] understands that wisdom is not gained in a moment but in an endless number of moments in which choices must be made.^

(*From M. C. Richards’ Centering.)
(**From The Story of Telling: Imperceptible Growth.)

(^From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.)

Designers

If something is beautiful, it may be easier to use. […] Designers […] build “forgiveness” (a wonderful name for a design principle) to help us avoid mistakes and recover easily from them.*
(Warren Berger)

We can grasp the fact that at any moment what seems most certain to us is an illusion. It is an illusion in that it precedes a further revelation of ourselves.**
(M. C. Richards)

Given that

research suggests that we simply respond better, on a gut level, to smooth, curved, and symmetrical designs as opposed to rough, angular jagged, or uneven shapes*

here are some more features we can build into our operating stories to make life smoother for others and for ourselves:

compassion
kindness
humility
meekness
patience
forbearance
love
harmony.

We are all designers.

(*From Warren Berger’s Glimmer.)
(**From M. C. Richards’ Centering.)

The interruption

All that time saved. Now that you’ve got the time back, you get to choose what’s truly important to you. How will you spend it?*
(Seth Godin)

The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual centre of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. The fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state: but it’s always a place of strangely fluid polymorphous being, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delights.**
(Joseph Campbell)

Add Covid-19 lockdown to the list.

Joseph Campbell’s call to adventure may suggest some Tolkienesque landscape and grand-drama but the key phrase in his description is ‘a zone unknown,’ when the unknown overcomes or interrupts the routine.

Our temptation can be to try and maintain the normal. I’ve certainly found myself trying to do what I’ve always done, but the interruption can often be more, it is a call requiring we let go in order that we can take hold of something new.

We find that we are more than capable and the adventure makes it possible to discover just how; Keri Smith, uses mythological language in her call to simply walk the earth differently:

Let us allow our wild spirits to roam unfettered and unbound. Let us roar and howl and voce our deepest yearnings without caring what others will think about us.^

Interruptions have a way of turning up and spilling us out of the normal, into the discovery that there is far more to our universe and world, the flora and fauna filling these, and, yes, ourselves, too.

If we think we’ve missed our opportunity, it probably means we haven’t, that we’ve only woken up.

Adventure is another word for today.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: What will you do with the time you save?)
(**From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(^From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)

Open openness

From the beginning I have believed the world an amazing place, full of marvels, unheard of, not yet experienced.*
(M. C. Richards)

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way. As a man is, so he sees.**
(William Blake)

We’ll probably have to go into training to be as open as this wonderful planet requires if we are to see all that it has to offer.

Presence is pure unadulterated openness, necessary for healthy co-creativity, whether with others, the planet and even the hiddenness of ourselves:

The capacity to be present to everything that is happening, without resistance, creates possibility.^

Where there is no openness … same old same old.

There’s the philosophical and anthropocentric teaser: If a tree falls in a forest and there isn’t anyone there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Dur! Yes! If I’m not present then I miss something. We also now know that, in a way, the trees surrounding it “hear” it.

(*From M. C. Richards’ Centering.)
(**William Blake, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Cosmic Miracle of Trees.)

(^From Benjamin and Rosalind Zander’s The Art of Possibility.)

Our lives as cartoons

Drawing is so much more THAN GOOD OR BAD. IT IS A language FROM another part of you.*
(Lynda Barry)

When we abstract an image through cartooning we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning” an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t. […] Cartooning isn’t just a way of drawing, it’s a way of seeing.**
(Scott McCloud)

Cartooning our lives is a way of being able to see beyond the noise of the less important to what is most essential to us, and often missed.

Whilst cartooning is a more illustrated way, it shares much with curation, here defined by Rohit Bhargava:

Curation is the ultimate method of transforming noise into meaning.^

Bhargava continues, curation isn’t about everything, it’s about particular things:

Museum curators organise collections into themes that tell stories […] the goal of curation is always to take individual items and examples and weave them together into a narrative. Curators add meaning to isolated beautiful things.^

Cartooning allows us to identify and weave on a storyboard the things that matter most of all to us, seeing past the less important things and see what our contribution can be. Another way we can understand this is subtext, so critical to creating a memorable and engaging story; Robert McKee underlines the importance of subtext here:

This principle calls for the writer’s constant awareness, their recognition that everything exists at two levels. In story, the writer must create both text and subtext. […] If a scene contains no subtext, it will seem forced or worse, fall flat entirely. As the old Hollywood expression goes: “If the scene is about what the scene is about, you’re in deep sh*t.” ^^

What we’re looking for is a way of seeing our lives as being more than the sum of its text. When we connect with its subtext something magical happens between ourselves and the world:

When the innerness of man is energised by the innerness of all the outer worlds, we grow strong in the contact.*^

After reading these words from M. C. Richards, I then came upon these from Scott McCloud about cartooning:

All the things we experience in life can be separated into two realms, the realm of the concept – and the realm of the senses. Our identities belong permanently to the conceptual world. They can’t be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted. They’re merely ideas. And everything else – at the start – belongs to the sensual world, the world outside of us.**

His argument is that we see ourselves in cartoon form where cartoon means focusing on the essentials. When we are talking with someone, we see their completeness but we are only aware of a few things about ourselves, perhaps our eyes and mouths, like the most basic cartoon. (Try and notice yourself the next time you’re zooming or have that wonderful luxury of meeting someone in person.)

The things that excite me most about all of this is how, in my work with people, we’re aiming to take away the noise and see the most important things – values, talents, environments that are most enriching and enervating.

Our talents are our particular ways for bringing things from the sensual world into our conceptual world. We then work our magic and reach out from our conceptual world with some idea or action and make something real happen in the sensual world, something that will hopefully make a difference.

Say I’m a writer, walking though the countryside, and I come upon a large, beautiful feather. I can bring this into my conceptual world and the feather becomes a quill, a pen, if I add a few cuts to it. I return this into the sensual world as an instrument to write with. It’s magical when you think about it.

How about pulling out a sketchbook and pen and begin to capture the things that are more important to you than anything else, representing these as images: places, people, ideas … . Then begin to put those images together in a storyboard, creating your subtext to your text.

These can be mixed up and re-presented in all kinds of ways. Have fun.

(*From Lynda Barry’s Making Comics.)
(**From Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics.)
(^From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018.)
(^^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The Story Within Your Story.)
(*^From M. C. Richards’ Centering.)

Yield!

When the way is flat and dull in times of grey endurance,
May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.*

(John O’Donohue)

Sometimes we yield to others, giving up our needs or point of view for the sake of another.

Each of us must yield the produce or our lives, each fruitful in a different way.

These two meanings for yield are often connected, in that we have to give up our resistance to something before we can bring forth our best work.

What do you need to stop saying no to and what do you need to begin saying yes to?

(*From John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us: For One Who Holds Power.)

The unlikely places

Some people as they grow up becomes less […]. Other people as they grow up become more.*
(Eugene Peterson)

The wanderer becomes one with himself or herself and the universe. We connect with the energy of all living things. We live according to our inner nature.**
(Keri Smith)

What if, instead of thinking you’re in a hopeless place where nothing will happen, you knew something important is coming to you?

How would you prepare?

Perhaps you’d get yourself into a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual place of wellbeing: exercising, eating and sleeping well; taking more care of your emotions, turning your attention towards them, owning them; sharpening your thinking, reading, journaling; and, connecting with your values, imagining the possibilities.

Then you’d be ready.

It’s always more about who you are than where you are.

(*From Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses.)
(**From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)

Beyond-ing

Beyond-ing is about another way of seeing, feeling and doing to our normal.

Similar but beyond.

Beyond what lies upon the surface of our lives.

Beyond the status quo we can feel ourselves held within.

It is a capacity each of us have.

One way for discovering our beyond-ing is to notice the words that are important to us, words for evoking more and take us on a journey.

Each is like a zip file of possibilities.

I am keeping a list of mine as they present themselves and I pay attention to them.

In fact, Attention is one for my list of words beginning with A, taking me to the writings of people like Iris Murdoch, reminding me there is an art to noticing which I need to keep on developing the skills for.

Yours will be different. Have fun capturing your words as you notice them.