A long obedience

[T]he essential thing “in heaven and earth” is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.*
Frederick Nietzche

It’s the going there, not the getting there that’s most important.**
Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn

A long obedience sounds like no fun at all, but
turning up, making
the journey, practising
the practice
is about being in the right places at the right times
for the surprises when they come,
And the surprises will come.
Finding our long obedience
is a gift.

*Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction;
**Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of An Unnamed Future.


I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life … so that when it come time to die, I will not discover I have not lived. Living is so dear.*
Henry David Thoreau

Where in your life or your work are you currently pursuing comfort, when what is called for is a little discomfort? … Choose uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment whenever you can.**
Oliver Burkeman

Before doing there is
imagining, and before imagining there is
listening, and before listening there is
It is perhaps an uncomfortable thought in
our busy lives, but it is an ability we can all
Why not include one minute of stillness today?

*Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of An Unnamed Future;
**Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks

Attention and imagination

[Henry David Thoreau] reminds us that the cost of a thing “is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.*
Anna Katharina Schaffner

Rather than facing our fears, and rather than facing the truth, we avoid them.
Rather than creating the life we want, we build the life that allows our problems to exist unresolved.
Rather than becoming the person we want to be, we stay the person we are.
Rather than adapting our personality to match our goals, we adapt our goals to match our current and limited personality.**

Ben Hardy

When we pay attention,
When we notice it for what it is,
Then we get to bring our imagination to bear:
To play with what it can become
is a powerful thing.

*Anna Katharina Schaffner’s The Art of Self-Improvement;
**Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent.

A generous person

As we stand on such thresholds, life itself is commissioning us to move onto a new stage of our Becoming. Something at the core of our being is urging us forward … as surely as the onset of labour and the breaking of the waters commission the expectant mother to begin the process of birthing.*
Margaret Silf

Nothing open up the mind like the glimpse of new possibility.**
John O’Donohue

If we are to be known for something,
Why not generosity,
Not only does it benefit others with
listening and
openness and
faith and
time and
words, but
takes us deeper into life-in-all-its-fullness.
In her foreword to Jean Houston’s A Mythic Life,
Mary Catherine Bateson describes Houston as
an “omnivorous learner”^ –
Which feels like a very good place to begin.

*Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future;
**John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty
Jean Houston’s A Mythic Life.

In my life

When you get to be older, and the concerns of the day have all been attended to, and you turn to the inner life – well, if you don’t know where it is or what it is, you’ll be sorry.*
Joseph Campbell

If you’re unwilling to interact with uncertainty, then you’ve greatly limited who you are and what you’ve become. You’ve limited your ability to make choices, because all choices involve uncertainty and risk.**
Ben Hardy

When the busyness is over and there’s
time to think about where you find yourself in life,
It’s not too late find your inner life you’re unsure, to
explore what is wanting to grow there.
Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn describe the
Vision Quest of Native Americans:
a process that encourages people to pause and
create some sacred time and space
in order to reconnect to a
deeper part of themselves and help
unfurl a vision for their lives.^

This quest involves leaving the familiar, moving to
a remote place and forming
a circle of stones within which they remain for
three days, whilst invoking
the Great Spirit.
One quest expression might be to engage in
dreamwhispering in a focused and immersive way:
Three days to find your inner life
and quest.
Drop me a line to
find out more.

*Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth;
**Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
^Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of An Unnamed Future.

On being prepared

1. The Untruth of Fragility: Who doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.
3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.*

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Any human action or experience loses meaning when disconnected to future outcomes or consequences. Nothing exists in a vacuum.**
Ben Hardy

  1. The Untruth of Comfort: Allow nothing in your life that makes you uncomfortable.
  2. The Untruth of Specialness: There is a universe waiting for you to be at its centre.
  3. The Untruth of Self Care: Always look after Number One.
  4. The Untruth of Control: You can do anything you want.
  5. The Untruth of Death: Ignore your mortality and live as though you’ll never die.

You may have spotted what I’ve done.
These are the the five elemental truths I’ve referred to
for some fourteen years now, but flipped here.
If I believe these untruths then I’m going to be poorly prepared for a world in which
life is hard, I’m not as special as I think, my life is not about me, I am not in control, and
I am going to die.
Better to develop my future self sooner rather than later:
Through humility leading me to the truth of who I am that can be grown,
Through gratitude leading me to the truth that I have much to give,
Through faithfulness leading me to the truth that I can learn much from others and
invent many ways of giving expression to who I am and what I have.
As for the writer so for the future self:
Being a writer is an act of perpetual self-authorisation.
No matter who you are.
Only you can authorise yourself.
You do that by writing well, by constant discovery.^

*Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind;
**Ben Hardy’s Be Your Future Self Now;
^Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing.

Are we doing the best we can yet?

Writ large, sociality is both a modest and an honest social bond.*
Richard Sennett

Don’t fight with people, study them.**
Austin Kleon

I was asked to sit in on an important meeting as
a listener and doodler.
The room was filled with stories, both personal and group
It highlighted for me how are greatest hope is yet found in
our capability to create new stories for solving our problems:
My own sense … is that there is something
deeply built into us that needs story itself.
Story is such a source of nurture that
we cannot become really true human beings
for ourselves and
for each other without story –
and without finding ways in which
to tell it, create it, encourage younger people
to create their own story.^

*Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
**Austin Kleon’s blog: A gratitude zine;
^Vincent Harding, from Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise.

You know it

Elevate from needing to wanting to knowing.*
Ben Hardy

You may think you have to wait for someone else
to give you what you need, or
you may now believe it necessary to go out and get it yourself, but
what if it’s already in you, and
a little bit of self investment will find it?

*Ben Hardy’s Be Your Future Self Now.

Bring us fire

MERAKI adj. Pouring yourself wholeheartedly in to something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity, and love.*
Ella Frances Sanders

Whatever the pain you can’t get rid of, make it your creative thing – or find someone who makes it for you.**
Susan Cain

Perhaps there is purpose
in the pain you carry, a
burning that may become a fire:
Nothing happens until someone feels something.^

*Ella Frances Sanders’ Lost in Translation;
**Susan Cain’s Bittersweet;

^gapingvoid’s blog: The Secret Key to Greatness.