Possibility is a relationship

Always have the courage
To change, welcoming those voices
That call you beyond yourself.*

John O’Donohue

Life is a single, integrated process that generates both the living thing and its environment.**
David Rome

Here’re alternative quotes for beginning today:

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

Life is the on going process of self-making. It is that which continuously changes itself in order to continue being itself.**
David Rome

Or perhaps these:

Designing story tests the maturity and insight of the writer, his knowledge of society, nature, and the human heart. It demands both vivid imagination and powerful analytical thought. Above all, it requires a mastery of craft.^^
Robert McKee

When we invest in conversation, we get a pay-off in self-knowledge, empathy, and the experience of community.  When we move from conversation to mere connection, we get a lot of unintended consequences.
Sherry Turkle

We are capable of many possible futures. Indeed, many of these will be necessary for us to be who we are.

These possibilities will not take on shape and form without environments, and these are not pre-existing, but grow together with us.

The most important environments are those formed with others.

May you find someone today with whom you can talk up a possibility or dream.

*From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus;
**From David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer;
^From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letter on Life;
^^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: Why Writers Study;
*^From Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation.

Problems, possibilities and playfulness

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

Problems can chase us into the protection of the known and familiar.

To discover whether a problem could become a possibility greater than a fix, we may need to set out for the open ground of the unknown and unfamiliar through the playfulness of our imaginations, an adventure we are more than capable of.

*From Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious;
**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.

What lies beneath

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

You’re doing it wrong. But at least you’re doing it. Once you’re doing it, you have a chance to do it better. Waiting for perfect means not starting.**
Seth Godin

I find myself reading Neil Gaiman’s words two ways, or two ways in one.

Through my “art” to leave the world a better place.

Through my art to become a better person.

The two possibilities accompany one another.

Stop for a moment, prepare yourself with the GAP exercise, and then ask yourself the question:

What is my art?

Listen carefully for what your life speaks to you.

Not the first thoughts words or pictures that come, but what lies beneath these.

Wishes are the memories coming from our future.^

*From Neil Gaiman’s Art Matters;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: “You’re doing it wrong”;
^From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life.

Listening to the true self

Afraid of being alone, we struggle to pay attention to ourselves. And what suffers is our ability to pay attention to each other, we lose confidence in what we have to offer others.*
Sherry Turkle

Getting hit by lightning, finding the perfect job, having a djinni grant three wishes–these are all lotteries. … The problem with lottery thinking is that it takes us away from thinking about the chronic stuff instead. The pervasive, consistent challenge that will respond to committed effort.**
Seth Godin

There is more to the inside of us than we know. We’re full of all kinds of whispers: felt senses as Eugene Gendlin named them.

To be with our true self can be an uneasy, uncomfortable and unfamiliar thing, but paying attention to what lies beneath our physical and emotional feelings, and our storyline thinking leads us to both the good friend we can be for ourselves and the accentuating of what we have to bring to others.

Here’s something to narrow the gap between where we are and where we can be, and it only needs a few moments:

Sit upright and comfortably, closing eyes, with both feet on the floor and notice bring your attention to the weight of your body, most noticeable in the seat and feet. Continue to gently notice this and when you feel able to, say within, Grounded.^

Then bring your attention upwards to your hearing and allow yourself to be aware of all the sounds you are able to hear: perhaps your breathing, technology, trees in the wind, birds. Don’t try to block these out but receive each as part of a symphony of sound. Continue to gently notice and when you feel able to, say within, Aware.

Let your attention now move to the centre of your chest, place your hand over your heart and notice your the beating and your breathing:

You are simply here, alive, breathing, feeling, experiencing your basic existence. It is happening right now, at this very moment.^^

When you are able to, say within, Present.

Extend your awareness to hold the feeling of each: grounded weight, sound awareness and breathing, beating, feeling presence. When you are able to, say within Grounded Aware Present.

Then, when you are ready, open your eyes and take in your surroundings. Reflect on and note if anything has altered or changed, however small.

*From Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: Lottery thinking;
If you go for a walk then simply feel the weight down through your feet;
^^From David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer.

The messy middle …

And where would be the fun in making something you knew would work*
Neil Gaiman

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

… is also the magical middle.

It is also where failure, doubt, uncertainty, frustration, anxiousness, anger, despair and more are to be found.

There is excitement at the beginning and celebration at the end, but Walt Whitman understood how art and work at its best will have “bare spots and darkness:”

no artist or work of the very first class may be or can be without them^.

Yet it is here in the messy middle that something happens to us.

In its basic form, we become more skilled, but in its most extreme expression, we are transformed.

Like setting of from the certainty of one shore for what will become the surety of another, we can feel lost at sea in the equally unfamiliar and challenging middle. It will ask of us both who we are and what we have, and to trust these. It is, then, where we find flow, and as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi encourages:

Following a flow experience, the organisation of the self is more complex than it had been before.  It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. ^^

*From Neil Gaiman’s Art Matters;
**From Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways;
^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Beloved Writers on Nature as an Antidote to Depression;
^^From Mihály Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.

The expedient life and the dangers therein

Insight thinking … involves storing information that, for one reason or another, we believe could be useful; recognising relationships between that stored information and what is currently in front of us; and realising combinations of information that aren’t explicit.*
Peter Turchi

Opportunity is another word for a problem to be solved. And opportunity is often there, but it rarely knocks.**
Seth Godin

We are well capable of noticing, receiving and storing, a way to prepare for a problem that hasn’t come to us yet, but may well turn into an opportunity if we are able to bring the power of our imagination to bear.

Wallace Stevens notices how the pressure of reality can destroy, or at least, interrupt, our powers of contemplation:

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.^

Even as I have been reading and journaling, I notice how my ability to focus and reflect is being restricted by my having to watch the time, knowing that I will soon have to be out into the busyness of the day and all it seems to have been gathering through the week.

Pushed along, I find it impossible to rush contemplation.

Anthony Bourdain catches my attention momentarily, like a branch across a hurrying river rushing me along:

There is art left to be made in this world.^^

How easy to lose the beauty of our artfulness to functionality, or worse, expediency, rather than contemplate and imagine ourselves towards an elegant solution to the problem that has visited us.

*From Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: The chance you’ve been waiting for;
^From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel;
^^Anthony Bourdain, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: There is art left to be made in this world.

Listening for responsibility

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

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.**
Maria Popova

When responsibility showed up in my list of talent themes it made a great deal of sense, except in a back-to-front way. Although I could be in a group, when a question was asked or a volunteer sought, I felt as if I was being asked directly.

I now realise that taking psychological ownership for what I do is important to me, but I can also chose what that is, and it comes to me from inside: what I must do rather than what I should do.

We’re all responsible for something; part of the adventure of life is identifying just what this might be.

*Carl Rogers, quoted in David Rome’s Your Body Knows the Answer;
**From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: 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 library that chose you

It is this, I think, that draws us to books in the first place, their nearly magical power to transport us to other landscapes, other lives.*
David Ulin

There comes amount in doIng your reading where your work begins to rhyme, When you start to see the connections.**
Seth Godin

Robert Macfarlane visits Miguel and Elena Angel Blanco’s Biblioteca del Bosque (Library of the Forest) made up of “books” that are reliquaries of forest items gathered “as a pilgrim, not a conqueror.”^

Miguel instructs Macfarlane as he partakes of this beguiling library:

Choose three books from the library.  The first tells you of your past, the next shows your present and the last will see you future.^

Elena continues:

the books will choose you, not the other way round.^^

I found myself wondering about the books that have had a significantly directing influence on my life, that I felt had been written just for me.

Though I retain many books in my “library,” I know there are some that are more important to me than others: my reference library.

What’s in your reference section?

*From David Ulin’s The Lost Art of Reading;
**From Seth Godin’s blog: On doing the reading;
^Miguel Angel Blanco, quoted in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways;
^^Elena Angel Blanco, quoted in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways.