We not only create stories for metaphors of life, we create them as metaphors for a meaningful life. To live meaningfully is to be at perpetual risk. […] If, should the protagonist fail, life would go back to normal, the story is not worth telling.* Robert McKee
The meaningful life may come to us in an unusual guise.
Yesterday I was pondering holy discontent. When we notice something is wrong and are compelled to do something about.
Consecration follows: giving oneself to the need or cause we have perceived.
I use this word because it suggests we understand there to be something extraordinary about what we are about to do, like the Blues Brothers on their mission for God.
On the outside it will likely look ordinary, earthly and just hard work.
On the inside it is a holy thing that will bring beauty into the world, even if that is only one person’s world.
In keeping with all things that are worthwhile, it will require risk, the leaving of the familiar and safe, misunderstood by others, being a lifelong learner.
*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: A Little Risk Goes a Long Way)
But the task of all tasks is to transform what is insignficant into greatness, what is inconspicuous into radiance; to present a speck of dust in a way that shows it to be a part of the whole so that one cannot see it without also instantly seeing all of the stars and the heavens’ deep coherence to which it ultimately belongs.* Rainer Maria Rilke
Very few people have the leverage to change the world. But all of us have the chance to change the people around us, and those actions change what gets built, funded and launched.** Seth Godin
They apologised to me for their rant.
I could only see the beauty of their concern, their desire for something better.
It felt to me like a holy discontent: something wrong we notice that defines us so that we have to do something to make it better.
We may think that finding purpose in life should a far more pleasurable experience, making us feel content, joyful, calm, inspired, rather than poked with a sharp stick.
We continue by questioning what one person can do and of course the answer is, everything:
all any man can do is to add his fragment to the whole^.
From the Latin integer, which simply means “intact.” To be in integrity is to be one thing, whole and undivided.* Martha Beck
Each of us possesses five fundamental, enthralling maps to the natural world: sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell. As we unravel the threads that bind us to nature, as denizens of data and artifice, amid crowds and clutter, we become miserly with these loyal and exquisite guides, we numb our sensory intelligence. This failure of attention will make orphans of us all.** Ellen Meloy
I am not intact without you, without the world, without my god, without me.
In this realisation I fathom integrity to be a journey, a lifetime, an endless unfolding of the possibility to connect and be more intact today than I was yesterday.
Nimbostratus are thick, grey, featureless layers of cloud that cause prolonged, continuous, often heavy, rain, snow, or ice pellets. … Nimbostratus are the deepest of all the layer clouds – sometimes extending from 2,000ft up to around 18,000ft – and generally extend over many thousands of square miles.* Gavin Pretor-Pinney
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.**
If you’re in Edinburgh today, this is likely to be the cloud you were looking up at in the morning.^ It’s an astonishing thing when you think about it: thousands of tons of water hanging in the air, falling on us in a way that will not (directly) harm us.
I always try to have a book open on the natural environment. Following reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, I’m exploring the skies.
*From Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s The Cloudspotter’s Guide; **Psalm 19:1-3; ^As I complete this for posting, it’s the afternoon and the cloud has broken up and has texture, so becoming another form of cloud, perhaps altocumulus.
Real relationships must be built and renewed through repeated cycles of rupture and repair. … We are unique. Yet we become our unique selves only in relationship with others.* David Rome
Slow relationships give deep relationships a chance; we know fast can’t do that.
And thirty years of shallow is still shallow, but to be willing to explore, going unfamiliar and stretching, and giving space to recover and reflect, leads us into worlds of human relating that we are only on the edges of.
Are situations that seem to have no satisfactory solution challenging me to grow, to change, to become more than I have been – stronger, gentler, more responsible, more loving? Are they inviting me, perhaps, to come alive in a whole new way?* David Rome
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die …** The Teacher
I thought it would last forever.
I really believed I could find a solution.
I wanted the future but I didn’t want to let go of the past.
Maybe if I try just one more time.
But I’ve invested so much.
The future is so unclear.
Quietly, gently, insistently, a beginning may be calling, a walking towards that is also a leaving.
For the listener who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.* Wallace Stevens
The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somehow in the terra incognito in between lies a life of discovery.** Rebecca Solnit
Oldness and lostness: two themes stumbled upon this morning.
As I grow older I know I am slowing down in a number of ways but I am also slowing down intentionally.
To slow down and notice more allows me to become lost in the familiar places.
The human being knows herself only insofar as she knows the world; she perceives the world only in herself and herself only in the world. Every new object clearly seen, opens up a new organ of perception.^
Do not leave it or course over it, as if it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity and strength.* Annie Dillard
Before a human being thinks of others, he must have been unapologetically himself; he must have taken the measure of his nature in order to master it and empty it for the benefit of others like himself.** Rainer Maria Rilke
Part of what it is for me to be alive is to appreciate who I am and what I have. This is what I have spent the last twenty five or more years figuring out so I might make this available to others.
This opportunity to write and doodle every day for the past eight years is an attempt to write myself to a deeper place of understanding.
It’s not about what I find on the surface of my life, but what I am happily surprised to discover deep down. This is more a comment on the lives of those I wander in work with, discoverers of the wonder of their capacity:
Focus on circumstances and you’ll be a consumer. Focus on capacity and you’ll be a creator.^