The decision

Human freedom is not a freedom over nature; it is a freedom to be natural, that is, to answer the spontaneity of nature with our own spontaneity.*
(James Carse)

But extraordinary contribution is rare. It’s when we surprise the system, and perhaps ourselves, by showing up with something unexpected, far beyond the common standard.**
(Seth Godin)

One of the killers of our spontaneity is indecision, trying to be two or more things.

Who are you?

What is your contribution?

Be spontaneous.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: What is extraordinary contribution worth?)

Fitting in

There’s always the other option.

To do the very valuable work of identifying your talents, your passions and your experiences.

I hadn't forgotten

Forty years ago when Christine and I were dating, Love is by Kim was the thing. We all have a Love is expression, found where we understand our deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need.

It’s worth remembering how the original stories of St Valentine are about heroic acts, bringing light into the darkness for which he gave everything.

The wonderful life of stories

The conversation had moved on to the matter of authenticity or integrity?

The former being true to who you are, the latter about connection to self, to others and to the world.

Someone contributed, we are not just one person but many people.*

I remarked, this was only a story they were telling themselves, meaning, we use stories to connect all of the complexity – the people we have been in different times, different places with different people – working in the same direction a life worth living.

(*For me, integrity is about connecting to all of these Geoffreys.)

More than pennies

I just had to smile when I originally read Annie Dillard’s telling of how as a child she would hide pennies in the cracks of the pavement.

She’d then hide and watch to see people’s faces when they spotted the coins.

I’ve just been looking for the story but can’t find it – I suspect it’s in An American Childhood.

Never mind, I know Dillard had hidden a “penny” in my mind that I cannot lose, hence the doodle.


There is a risk here of supposing that because we know our lives to have the character of a narrative, we also know what that narrative is. If I were to know the full story of my life I would then have translated it back into explanation.*
(James Carse)

we fall in love with what we already have […] we focus on what we may lose rather than what we may gain**
(Dan Ariely)

The future cannot be measured by what we already know – that would be to try and reverse time.

The future will weigh the present and the past.

We have, then, to try and be open.

Our lives are stories we tell ourselves.

They can be theatrical: scripted and “ready to shoot” – they can also be lost, so be careful.

Other stories are dramatic: unscripted and to be explored – they cannot be lost because we cannot lost what we do not yet have.

The former trap us in our ego – the false self – usually less than we can be.

The latter lead us into eco – our true Self with others and the world.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**From Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.)

Certain kinds of attention

A god can create a world only by listening.*
(James Carse)

To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention.**
(Susan Sontag)

Whilst offering examples of people with “skin in the game,” Nassim Taleb tells of an encounter with Susan Sontag in 2001, in which her initial interest in meeting someone who “studies randomness.” On finding out that Taleb was a trader Sontag then announced being “against the market system,” and turned her back on Taleb whilst he was in mid-sentence.^

It turns out we all struggle to listen to people who are not like us.

It’s hard but it’s worth it for the kind of worlds we are able to create together.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**Susan Sontag, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Existential Therapy from the Universe.)
(^Nassim Taleb hopes waiting fifteen or so years after the death of Susan Sontag before telling this story is more respectful.)