Before we think

[P]eople all over the globe are coming to expect emotional and intellectual comfort as though it were a right. This is precisely what you would expect a generation to believe they have aright not to be offended.*
Greg Lukianoff

All the failures that we ever experience may be attributed to excessive thinking, and in particular the negative thoughts that pop up in our mind.**
Ryunosuke Koike’s The Practice of Not Thinking

Don’t get me wrong,
I like to think – and we have the saying
think before you speak, but
I can think too quickly and
excessively when
I perhaps ought to be paying attention, noticing
It’s hard because we want to
be in control –
Out-of-control is scary,
And yet it’s where we’ll make
the really important discoveries about
each other, the world, and
Now I think that what makes you alert
is to be faced by a situation that is
beyond your control
so you have to be watching
very carefully
to see how it unfolds,
to be able to stay on top of it.
That kind of alertness is

So, please,
Speak and I will listen.

*Greg Lukianoff’s Freedom From Speech;
**Ryuanosuke Koike’s The Practice of Not Thinking;
^Tim Harford’s Messy

Be the time

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river that sweeps me along, but I am that river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.*
Jorge Luis Borges

If time were linear,
The moment would have passed,
But because time is you,
Even now you may still do that thing
you must do.

*Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks.

From comfort to the limits

When you try to focus on something you deem to be important, you’re forced to face your limits, an experience that feels especially uncomfortable precisely because the task at hand is one you value so much.*
Oliver Burkeman

The very moments that make us go “wow!” are the very same moments that can change our lives.**
Jonah Paquette

As I read these words,
I couldn’t help but bring to mind the hopes of
Joseph Campbell and Frederick Buechner
shared in yesterday’s post,
For it is never a waste of time noticing what we notice,
Especially when this changes us –
And f it changes us
it can help someone else.
But the desire to remain within our comfort zones,
And not prod and push at
our limitations, is
often a slippery path to a
smaller life.

*Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks;
**Joan Paquette’s Awestruck.

The good economy

participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world*
Joseph Campbell

Instead of calling everything a game, we should think of everything as playable: capable of being manipulated in an interesting and appealing way within the confines of its constraints.**
Ian Bogost

I often share this thought as its espoused by Frederick Buechner,
How it is that we find our purpose where
our deepest joy meets the world’s greatest need.

This suggests to me a wonderful free-market economy in which
we each identify our art or invention that will be
meet the need of another –
This is what all art strives for:
the creation of a living permanence^ –
Not for everyone, but for

*Susan Cain’s Bittersweet;
**Ian Bogost’s Play Anything;
^John O’Donohue’s Benedictus.


All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills, we need guides to show us how. Without them, our lives get made up for us by other people.*
Ursula Le Guin

Reading a myth without a transforming ritual that goes with it is as incomplete as simply reading the lyrics of an opera without the music. Unless it is encompassed as part of a process of regeneration, of death and rebirth, mythology makes no sense.**
Karen Armstrong

Mythologist Joseph Campbell^ suggests that we require two myths
by which we might live our lives:
A personal myth and
a social myth.
Frederick Buechner urges us to find our purpose where
our deepest joy meets the world greatest need.
Otto Scharmer tables two important questions for us to explore:
Who is my True Self? and
What is my Work?
And so it stacks up that the best stories are about
who we are becoming and
what we are bringing to others.
Campbell believed that the old myths no longer serve us as
we need them to, but life is so fast, so busy, we are
unable to create new myths for ourselves.
He spoke about this in 1985, before the speed of life was
supercharged by the internet, something Oliver Burkeman would uncover
more than thirty years later:
once the attention economy has rendered you
sufficiently distracted,
or annoyed,
or on edge,
it becomes easy to assume that this is
just what life inevitably feels like.*^

But there’s never been a better resourced time for us
to mindfully and compassionately reflect upon our stories,
Question who’s writing them, and
reinvent them so that they become
transformative both for ourselves and for others.

*Ursula Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter;
**Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth;
^Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth;
^^Otto Scharmer’s Theory U;
*^Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks.

And curiosity will lead us

Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability – a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own best words and questions.*
Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett’s words connect
in many directions: to
Theory U’s* movement from cynicism
to compassion; to
James Carse’s^ infinite player who
wants to be surprised: to
Erwin McManus’^^ questor’s search for honour beginning with
humility; and to
Brené Brown’s*^ embracing of vulnerability
in order to live fully.
Evidence that our curiosity and willingness to listen will
lead us into a richer world –
Good to know we can grow these.

*Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise;
**Otto Scharmer’s Theory U;
^James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games;
^^Erwin McManus’ Uprising;
*^Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly

Living a double life

You can’t just be you. You have to double yourself. You have to read books on subjects you know nothing about. You have to travel to places you never thought of travelling. You have to meet every kind of person and endlessly stretch what you know.*
Mary Wells

Attention … just is life: your experience of being alive consists of nothing more than the sum of everything to which you pay attention.**
Oliver Burkeman

Growing ourselves is most difficult and the most
important work we’ll ever do:
When we choose the work that will also stretch us to become more
rather than less.
As Clarissa Pinkola Estés helpfully contrasts:
Three things differentiate living from the soul
versus living from ego only. They are:
the ability to sense and learn new ways,
the tenacity to ride a rough road,
and the patience to learn deep love over time.^

May we avoid all imitations.

*gapingvoid’s blog: Always Open Self;
**Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks;
^Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves.


Our lives are a process of constant discovery and invention. Each os us lives a unique human life.*
Bill Sharpe

A job is made fun not by turning it into a game, but by deeply and deliberately pursuing it as a job.**
Ian Bogost

When you bring your talents, energies, and values
to play upon the work you do,
You not only get to sing your “song,”
Others also get to hear it.
This may not be where we feel yourself to be right now,
Madeleine L’Engle shares some words on writing to help
with your song, or story:
As with all my books,
Starfish was more rewritten than written,
and with each subsequent book
the need to rewrite becomes more
rather than less.^
May it become more than work,
May it be love and live to you and those you
share it with, and,
if it isn’t there yet,
Rewrite it.

*Bill Sharpe’s Three Horizons;
**Ian Bogost’s Play Anything;
^Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water.

Perfect is only where we begin

Can you have an experience you don’t experience?*
Oliver Burkeman

Perfect is overrated.
Perfect would have to know everything, and
we don’t;
Perfect would have to contain everything, and
we can’t.
I wonder whether imagining something in a perfect way
is how our brains have developed in order to get us started on stuff.
It’s unlikely we’d do anything if
we imagined something to be rubbish.
But perfect gets the blood pumping,
But then we need to know we can’t actually make that,
And who would want to?
Perfect can’t grow, develop and change into
something better, but
it can help us begin.

*Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks.