Giving is the new getting

For art to be generous it must change the recipient. If it doesn’t, it’s not working (yet). But realising it’s not working is an opportunity to make it better. […] You can produce more than you know if you are intent on doing it for someone else.*
(Seth Godin)

Most of the things that divide us are about winning, getting ahead, having more, being right, superiority (gender, race, education, religion). They’re all about getting, whether consciously or unconsciously expressed.

Giving is both a test and remedy for these. It provides what we are looking for in True Self mode rather than that of the False Self: true honour and nobility rather than false.

This set me thinking about how we might begin to disarm an escalation in competition, dominance, aggression, greed and suchlike, in some generous ways to lead out the generosity in the other.

There are no guarantees of success and it may take us a lifetime to work at, but one place for us to begin may well be in identifying our talents and abilities as generously as possible, not as ways to get but to give.

A great place to begin is with the Clifton StrengthsFinder, which will provide you with your top five talents; it’s not magic but it proves again and again to be a great mirroring tool for talents.**

(*From Seth Godin’s The Practice.)
(**In my posts since the beginning of the year, I have identified three key things to do for making the most of this new year for becoming your True Self: articulate your values in detail, begin keeping a list of the most energising experiences – this is best added to fresh as you notice the things you are really alive to, and identifying your talents.)

Beauty is sweeter than sugar

The good, the united, and the true in this world will always be somehow beautiful too, and beautiful souls will recognise it immediately.*
(Richard Rohr)

Specialisation, as I will keep insisting, comes with side effects, one of which is separating labour from the fruits of labour.**
(Nassim Taleb)

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, sings Mary Poppins, but life is more than something to be got through with some sugaring up from time to time.

A world of asynchronous work – prescribed technology as Ursula Franklin names it – leaves us more loathing than loving, more disconnected and numbed.

But work should be beautiful: from urge to idea to implementing to realising. Beauty is not only to be discovered in the work we do, but also in the people we are becoming – the two are connected, indwelling our responses to the two critical questions of Who is my True Self? and What is my contribution (work)?:

Our deepest self-knowledge unfolds as we are embraced by Beauty.^

John O’Donohue, whose words these are, holds my attention further as he writes about how,

the Beautiful [presents] as a threshold which holds the real and the ideal in connection and conversation with each other^.

Which connects in my thoughts to Wallace Stevens’ thinking about the pressure of reality being met by the power of imagination to create something new, and, if so, Beauty is the child of this union.

Do not underestimate the power of your imagination, fuelled by your values, your talents and your energies. Identify these with as much detail as you are able and the Beautiful will begin to come into view.

(*From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty.)

Transform, why don’t you?

Curation is the ultimate method of transforming noise into meaning.*
(Rohit Bhargava)

What will matter more than what just happened is what we decide to do with where we are, daily, persistently, generously, for the next 3,650 days.**
(Seth Godin)

Life happens because of the magic of transformation that is to be found everywhere. For a biggy, think photosynthesis.

We are transforming species, turning this into that, yet we can miss the reality that we too can be transformed through life, instead becoming trapped within one form that may not satisfy us, sometimes for years, sometimes for tens of years, sometimes for a lifetime.

Yet, if we borrow the metaphor of a museum for our lives, we have so much more stored in our vaults and that may be brought out into the light of day to tell a different and more compelling story, arranged and enhanced – which is what curation is all about. If we do this then we’ll find that we are also able to replenish our stores with new ideas and dreams and possibilities and relationships that we come upon:

To get a different output sometimes you need a different input.*

This phenomenon of transformation is what Seth Godin is imagining over the next ten years of his life, yet it is capable of carrying us until the day we die. We are at the beginning of the first instalment of this – the next 365 days. How would you like to transform your story?

I offer dreamwhispering as a particular way for making this possible.

(*From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2019.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: 2030.)

The curators

Much of our life we are trying to connect the dots, to pierce the heart of reality to see what is good, true, and beautiful for us. We want something lasting and transcendent.*
(Richard Rohr)

It’s not that we need more if we are to pursue our dreams, it’s how we bring the most important things to us together into a story: select, arrange, enhance.

There are a lot of dots and you don’t need to connect all of them.

Let me know if I can help.

(*From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.)

The moment is now

won’t you celebrate with me
What i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
[…]
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay*
Lucille Clifton)

A moment is different to a minute – a different kind of time. Time with meaning added.

Even this moment, as you are reading these words, can begin an adventure that you can fling open across this new year.

There won’t be any magic. The world won’t shift under your feet. It’s only a first step on a new path, it’s only an opening to walk through to see what’s on the other side. And yet such beginnings can lead to magic and shift worlds on this bridge between starshine and clay.

It may simply be that you desire to use this year in a different way. Then go find a notebook or fold up some paper – or even determine to buy some, grab a pen, and write out your values – the things that matter most to you, the kind of world you dream of living, the world you want to invite others into.**

(*Lucille Clifton, quoted in Maria Popova’s Figuring.)
(**You can also determine in a moment to begin two lists, one to accommodate really energising moments you notice, the other to be filled by really de-energising moments – both will tell you a lot about yourself.)

What you will do next

The most important blog post. It is on the most important blog. Yours. Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts. And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.*
(Seth Godin)

The ego is you as you think of yourself. You in relation to all he commitments of your life, as you understand them. The self is the whole range of possibilities that you’ve never even thought of. And you’re stuck with your past when you are stuck with your ego.**
(Joseph Campbell)

Maria Mitchell received a medal from the King of Denmark for her discovery of a new comet, a moment that made her invisible pursuit visible to others. She had stepped outside the norms of her society to pursue her love of astronomy, becoming the first woman to be admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She reflected, though:

Medals are small things in the light of the stars […]. There’s only one thing in the world of any real importance, and that is goodness.^

Her particular pursuit of goodness saw Mitchell at the forefront of the campaign against slavery and the campaign for female education. Although it is unlikely she would describe it so, it was a journey from ego into the self and the opening of a better future.

This is a journey we all find ourselves upon, especially noticeable to us when we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another.

My particular pursuit is for people to discover what they have within them for making a difference, for themselves and for those around them. With this in mind, Seth Godin’s words were timely for me as today I complete my seventh year of blogging and doodling every day. I wonder about the eighth, about what will happen as I continue to aim my words and doodles at myself first of all, these pushing me to where I need to be heading, but also offering them to you, waiting to see what you will do next.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: The most important blog post.)
(**From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(^Maria Mitchell, quoted in Maria Popova’s Figuring.)

What you already have but don’t know

In that special silence, you can get a sense of something that wants to happen that you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.*
(Joseph Jaworski)

Many times in my dreamwhispering work I have been acutely aware of how what has been hidden within a person comes into view when time is taken and generous questions are asked.

Beautiful things inside everyone.


(*Joseph Jaworski, from Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Jospeh Jaworski and betty Sue Flowers’ Presence.)

This is my myth

These self-reflective brains are evolution’s latest attempt to find a way to handle and profit from information.*
(Janine Benyus)

The best discipline is to enjoy your friends, enjoy your meals. Realise what play is. Participate in the play, in the play of life.**
(Joseph Campbell)

When my friend and mentor Alex McManus asked what it means to me to be human, I had to think awhile, eventually responding: to live with creativity, generosity and enjoyment. I now understand this to be the myth I want to live.

Robert Bly even suggests that students will benefit from choosing and exploring a traditional myth to live by, enabling them to navigate to their own:

Then the student would choose the one myth that attracted him and then spend time in college seeing how far he lived it and how the myth lived him.^

Though we will each reply differently to the question, there are ways and means useful to all when it comes to giving them expression. Janine Benyus’ offers four such ways in her steps to biomimicry (echoing what we see in nature as a response to our problems): to quieten, listen, echo and steward, leading us to find and articulate our own myth:

Quieten: to come aside from the busyness of life in order to notice more;
Listen: to listen for the whispers from our lives – values, talents, energies;
Echo: to give expression to these in playful, exploratory and experimental ways;
Steward: and then we’ll be able to live these in both a preserved and developing way.

Some want to be rewarded for what they do in life but life is the reward, being journey rather than destination. From my experience of working with people around discovering and developing their story or myth, I see how it’s figuring out what we have and how to use it and to enjoy this that shapes our myth.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell calls this our bliss:

Life is an expression of bliss.**

I like to think of it as our zing – because it’s loaded with more energy than we can handle and remain immobile – we have to do something with it. And the best way I have found is to give it away:

Generous means choosing to focus on the change we seek to make.^^

(*From Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry.)
(**From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(^Robert Bly, quoted in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s The Practice.)