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writing and poetry making

HOW TO MESS AROUND

HOW TO MESS AROUND

Hands-on (often inept) fooling around with stuff has been called “tinkering.”  The top definition for the word “tinkering” in the online collaborative Urban Dictionary is this:  “to mess around with something and you don’t really have a clue what you are doing.”  (The regular dictionary definitions are pretty boring.)

It’s to honor the Urban Dictionary spirit of tinkering that Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich, the co-directors of the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio put together the book, THE ART OF TINKERING.

In the introduction to this amazing collection of wonders by 150+ Makers who combine art, science and technology to put together incredibly diverse works, Wilkinson and Petrach tell us that tinkering is “more of a perspective than a vocation…. It’s thinking with your hands and learning through doing.”

The book grew out of the work being done by a group of artists, scientists, developers, educators and facilitators who play with many different sorts of tools, materials and technologies at the museum’s “Tinkering Studio” and at the PIE Institute.

JUST MESSING AROUND

This gathering of fun-loving Makers bent on giving us all a taste of the joy of tinkering was the result of a project called the PIE (Play-Invent-Explore) Network.  This federally funded project began as a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, the Exploratorium, and several other museums,

They started by experimenting with science and art activities that developed into innovative educational activities suitable for wonderment, playfulness and learning about the world around us.

Work by the Tinkering Studio guys often become either exhibits at the museum or hands-on activities that allow museum visitors to jump in and play in the museum’s Tinkering Studio space which is open to the public.

The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium has become an inspiration for tinkerers and other wanna-be Makers since it began in 2009.

This 2012 YouTube video published by core77inc  gives a taste of what the sessions held in the Studio feels like:

TINKERING TENETS

The book has a slew of advice about how you, too, can play at tinkering.

Here are my favorites:

  • Create rather than consume.
  • Express ideas via construction. Use your hands to build the constructs living in your mind.
  • Embrace your tools. Learn how to use them the “right” way, then figure out other ways to use them that work for what you are trying to do.  It’s been said that a master knows how to misuse tools at least three different ways to get other results.
  • Prototype rapidly. When you have an idea, don’t let it just sit in your brain.  Get it out into the world as soon as possible.  Sketch a design.  Build a working model with stuff you have lying around.  Once it’s out of your head you can work out your next steps and move on to Phase 2.
  • Make it strange. Use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways.  Take a common object and put it to another new use.
  • Get stuck. It’s a good thing.  Failure tells you what you don’t know.  Frustration is for making sense of that failure in the moment.  Taking action to work through the problem and playing with it ultimately lead to new understandings.

BEST BIT

The best advice of all is this one:  You need to balance autonomy with collaboration.

Autonomy – going solo – helps you get to your own kind of mastery.  You learn how to work with tools and materials.  You develop your own skill and knowledge.  You grow your confidence.

running-a-drill
“Running a Drill” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Tinkering with other people can be a blast.  Collaboration helps you clarify your ideas for solving a problem because you have to be able to explain them to your partners in a way they can understand.   (Otherwise they won’t be able to help you get where you want to go.)

setting-up
“Setting Up” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
You and your partners will have different and various skills and ideas that can be brought to bear on the problem.  Cross-pollination is likely to occur and that could lead to other wonders.

set-to-go
“Set To Go” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Best of all, everybody can be a part of something larger than themselves, and that, as any wise guy will tell you is a very good thing.

eat-our-rust
“Eat Our Rust” by Gever (Tulley) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
All of the pictures of the hand-made sailing rail-cars project above were taken by Gever Tulley, the founder of Tinkering School, an internationally known summer program.   He also started SF Brightworks, an innovative K-12 school in San Francisco emphasizing experience-based, hands-on experiential learning.

Tulley is the also the author of the book FIFTY DANGEROUS THINGS (YOU SHOULD LET YOUR CHILDREN DO), among others.  As he has noted, “I have made it my mission to reintroduce the world to children:  the real world as revealed through unscripted, hands-on, meaningful learning experiences.”

Here’s a poem.


MAKING ROOM FOR THE CREATIVE

The Creative has no limits, it is said.

It moves along, coursing through our days

Like rivers and streams,

Tumbling over the rocky places,

Making babbling brooks and dancing rills,

Trickling through the hard

As runnels and creeks,

Diving under massed walls,

Soaking on down to run deep

And springing back up as

Freshets, sweet and clear….

Tributaries all, running through the World

On their way to the Sea of Dreams

Where all potentialities roll around playing.

 

It keeps on moving, the Creative,

Carrying away bits of our landscape

And depositing them somewhere other,

Building up and tearing down

The structure of our lives.

It’s just there, the Creative,

That essence, shiny-bright,

A beautiful, chaotic force.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Tinker Town Tuesday” by Erin via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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TRY SOMETHING ELSE

TRY SOMETHING ELSE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an inclination to try and see whether you can pull something off.  [Trying it for yourself can lead to some amazing discoveries.]

I am watching a young friend who’s stuck in a major cycle of suck.  He won’t try anything new.  I don’t understand why it’s so hard for him, but there it is.  He sits around moaning about how his life is not working, but he won’t try doing anything different.

I don’t know.  Maybe he took the Icarus story too much to heart.  Icarus and his dad, a mythological inventor extraordinaire named Daedulus, were incarcerated in a famously inescapable prison by some king or other.

Daedulus, it says here, invented a way for humans to fly.  (This was long before hot air balloons and heavier-than-air planes or anything.)

The inventor and his son, the story goes, strapped on wings made of wax and feathers that Daedulus designed.  The wings worked and father and son escaped the fortress strong, but Icarus got so tripped out by the experience that he flew too close to the sun.  The wax melted, the wings fell apart, and he crashed.

At this point, the Greek chorus cuts in and dolefully groans out the orthodox lesson:  “The gods get angry at those who would dare to fly.”  Uh-huh.

(It is worth noting that Daedulus also flew and he got away clean.)

icarus
“Icarus” (at the entrance of the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio) by The Mighty Tim Inconnu via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had an interesting take on the Icarus myth.  He said, “I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be as is generally accepted, ‘don’t try to fly too high,’ or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers and do a better job on the wing.'”

Kubrick is famous for directing ground-breaking, innovative films (in their time) like Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket.  He was really good at the art of trying something else.

HERD-THINK

We are, all of us, trained to fit in.  The herd is stronger if everybody is all together, doing the same things, following the tried and true is the reasoning.  Everybody agrees.

Don’t stand up.  Don’t stand out.  In Australia, they call it the “tall poppy” problem:  Stand out and you’ll be cut down.  In Japan they talk about the nail that sticks up.  (It inevitably gets pounded down.)  Sheesh!  Taking a turn off the beaten path engenders dire predictions of eminent doom.

the-tall-nail
“What’s That Saying About the Tall Nail?” by Alan Levine via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

The easiest way to “fit in,” it seems, is not to start anything, not to try anything that is not-like-the-other-guys.  It’s also a really good way to get stuck in suck…as my young friend is, unfortunately, finding out.  The problem is you can get mired in a miserable bog of your own making that is a lot like being stuck in high school forever.

fit
“Fit” by Daniel Horacio Agostini via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

SEED THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS

The antidote to all the heavy, herd-induced, foot-dragging, haul-that-barge-tote-that-bale mentality is to get into the habit of trying something else.  It doesn’t seem to matter what you try, it seems.  (Probably, though, experimentation with the latest pharmaceuticals might not be a grand idea.)

Software engineer Matt Cutts is featured in this You-Tube TEDTalk that was published in 2011.  In it he advises, “Try something new for 30 days.”

If that sounds like too big a step for you, there’s an even smaller, tiny-step method, all ready-made and on-line.

In this YouTube video by CreativeLIVE, “28 to Make: Create Something New Every Day This Month,” you can join Makers Kate Bingaman-Burt, Ryan Putnam, Erik Marinovich and Lara McCormick in their romp through a series of daily creative project ideas that show up in your mailbox when you sign up for them.  It’s a “way to get back into the habit of making cool stuff”, they say.

One of my favorite books that I dip into again and again for new things and new “heads” to try on is Mark Nepo’s THE BOOK OF AWAKENING:  Having the Life You Want By Being Present to the Life You Have.  Nepo took 14 years to write the book after coming out the other side of cancer.  They are his beautiful musings about life and loving and being heartful.

The book was published in 2000 and has since gone all over the world, being translated into 20 languages and over two dozen printings.  It is a wondrous place to put your head if you are wondering what else you could try.

Go on…give these things a shot!  Who knows what you might make?

Here’s a poem:


NOT A STORYTELLER

Blocked.

Again.

It just keeps going like that:

Erect a new idea and float it –

One more flying castle in the sky –

Then run-run-run to lasso the thing

And anchor it to the ground.

 

Work your buns off making it come real,

Then watch it crumple one more time

And dodge those stupid falling rocks

Coming down all around you.

 

The wise ones call it a treadmill, ya know.

I think I’m starting to get it.

That hamster in his cage has nothin’ on me except

The squeaky wheel’s starting to irritate the heck out of me,

And he just keeps on truckin’.

 

Okay…

Tell me again, babe:
You are doing this…WHY?

Hmmm….

Where’d I park my Millenium Falcon?

There has GOT to be a better way to do this.

 

Ya know…

I think I figured out why I don’t write novels.

I’m not a storyteller, it seems.

My timelines fall apart and nothing makes any sense.

It does not come together.

 

I guess I wasn’t born to write stories.

Nope.

I’m just doomed to live them.

(Sigh!)

by Netta Kanoho

Header Photo credit:  West Maui Mountain Sunrise by Mike via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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ASK THE STUPID QUESTION

ASK THE STUPID QUESTION

I had a friend who won my admiration because his constant go-to request was always this:  “Can I ask a stupid question?” Then he’d ask a question that was A-B-C simple about something I thought I knew.

I’d answer the question (out of my own great wisdom, of course).  It made me feel so good to be able to be…uh-hem…The Expert.

My friend Les listened carefully.  He’d think on what I said.  Then he’d ask more “stupid” questions, helping me explore where my thoughts might lead. One thought would lead to the next and then the next.  He’d interject his own insights, showing me that he was listening and appreciating what I had to say.  In the discussion that would inevitably follow, with me expounding and him asking more and more questions, a light would start to dawn.  Often, I’d reach the limits of my understanding fairly quickly, and still he had more questions.

That’s when the real fun began.  Because he brought a little-kid wonder to the exchange and he’d jump in with his own thoughts on the thing, new ideas would start popping up.  Often they were things I’d never considered.  Les would start grinning wide and bring up another question.  He’d get all sparkly and go with the flow of the conversation, interjecting “yes-and” thoughts, building on the mind-construct I would make.

Les had a lot of fun running with ideas.  (I guess nobody ever told him that ideas are like scissors and it can be dangerous to run with them.   Nobody told him that the ideas can cut you if you’re not careful.)

Our discussions got quite lively.  They really were a lot of fun. At the end of all our talk-story, we’d hug each other, hugely satisfied by our game, and go along on our merry ways.  And my take-away, always, was another way of seeing the world and more ideas for explorations and moves to try.

I don’t know what he got out of these talks we had, but it sure was a lot of fun.

A MASTER IS ALWAYS AN AMATEUR IN DISGUISE

We are always being told that being a “master” is the pinnacle of our journeys toward Achievement and $ucce$$.  It’s the end-all, be-all of the whole thing, they say.  Be a Master, Rule the World.  R-i-i-ight.

In this YouTube video, “Sarah Lewis:  Be a Deliberate Amateur,” which was published by the National Association of Independent Schools in 2015, art historian Sarah Lewis tells us that part of the process of developing Mastery is knowing how to fall back into an I-Don’t-Know state of mind and ask “stupid questions.”

Who knew?

Lewis is an Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  She is also the author of the LA Times bestseller book, THE RISE:  Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery.

Her book explores the question of how new ideas happen and is a lively and interesting read that has won widespread praise.  It mashes history, biography and psychological research together and explores the value of what the wise guys call “Beginner-Mind”.  In it, Lewis points out the value of retaining that natural sense of wonder you carried around as a child.

 BEGINNER-MIND ON THE RISE

The following YouTube video is a part of a series published by Mindfulnessgruppen, a Stockholm-based company offering courses and trainings based on mindfulness.  It features mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn exploring the benefits of Beginner Mind, one of what he calls “the nine attitudes of mindfulness.”

Kabat-Zinn’s life-work has been explorations of the mind-body connection and how mindfulness helps promote health and well-being.   He’s been credited with bringing the once-obscure concept of Mindfulness into mainstream thought, it says here.  After Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness was no longer just the province of wrinkled, half-naked, bearded old men sitting in caves all blissed-out.

The man has written numerous ground-breaking books in the field, and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.   As a result of his studies, testing and developing assorted practical applications for his discoveries, Kabat-Zinn figured out a way for people to use mindfulness to help reduce stress.  He and his crew teach other people how to do his MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction).

The whole thing is a further iteration of old wisdom that’s been made new and relevant to our own world now.

 THE WONDER OF IT ALL

In order to explore ideas to their fullest extent (or at least as far as your own mind can take them), it’s clear that you need to get back to Beginner-Mind.  That is the start of it all, it seems.

The very best thing about the Beginner-Mind mindset is the sense of wonder that is a part of our birthright as humans.  We can wonder.  We can think.  We can dream.

This extraordinarily beautiful YouTube video, The Wonder of Life, was published by RedFrost Motivation in 2015.  In it, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, some of the best of our scientific thinkers, give us things to ponder while the guys who put together the video blow up our minds big and bigger with out-of-this-world images and heart-expanding music.

My own thought on all of this is that it gets really hard to think small when you figure out that you’re made up of the same stuff as stars and rainbows and butterflies.

Here’s a poem:

 


CLARITY’S COMING

Oh…here I am again.

I LIKE this place:

Standing on the tippy top

Of a razorback ridge,

Rocking in the wind,

Waiting for…I don’t know what.

 

Clarity’s coming…

The mist is down there,

Looking like the softest bed,

And the other mountain tops

Are poking through the cloud-duvet,

The strong, silent types.

The sky’s that “come-and-fly” blue

That pierces your heart

And breaks it open.

 

Clarity’s coming,

And the world’s going to change again.

Wonder what’s going to happen next.

(It’s never what I think, you know…

The world pays no attention to

Ant pronouncements and jellyfish goals.

It just keeps on turning, the World.)

 

Clarity’s coming

And there’s something new

That’s been there all the time,

Just waiting in the wings for

Its turn to dance.

And there I will be –

The faithful audience –

My hair all messy from the head-scratching,

Another stupid grin plastered on my face.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  Wonder by technolibrary via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

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ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that basically us humans are clueless when it comes to answering the Big Questions.  [Life-Its-Own-Self is a big Mystery.  Wonder and awe are appropriate responses.]

THE QUESTION-BOX KID

I confess:  I was that Question-Box Kid who kept asking adults the stumper “why” questions all the time.  It is not a good survival trait in a culture where young ones are supposed to watch and listen and learn.

I don’t think I was built for all that big-eyed, bated-breath wonderment stuff – the one where you go, “Oh, wow, Big Person, tell me what I need to know.”

I thought the Big Guys were keeping me from figuring out the all-of-everything.  It was all a conspiracy, I figured.  I was going to hammer the Big Stuff really fast so I could just go out there and DO stuff, just like them….maybe better than them.  Ha-ha!

mario-boxes
Mario Boxes by Jodi Green via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
I was, I think, an annoying piece of work.  I survived my childhood mostly because I was surrounded by people who were too slow on their feet to catch and strangle me.

THE BIG SIX – WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, AND WHY

Later on, I finally did figure out that the WHY questions have no pat answers.  You can ask WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN and HOW questions from sunrise to sunset and get some pretty solid answers from other people.

The answers you get to those kinds of questions are productive.  You can do stuff with them and make things happen.

WHY questions, on the other hand, are always….debatable.  They lead to arguments and dissension and lots of disagreements between people.   Wars have been started over differing WHY-question answers.

the-big-question-sculpture
Big Question Mark by Benjamin Reay via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

FROM ONE TRUTH TO ANOTHER

The thing is, the answers to WHY questions are not necessarily “right” or “wrong.”  Like the answers to the other questions, the answers to WHY questions either work or they don’t work.  The problem is the answers to the WHY questions only work for some people and not for others.

The answers to the WHY questions are always one Truth or another.  But, each person sees Truth in their own way and sometimes one person’s Truth will absolutely contradict another person’s Truth.

Finding the WHY-question answers that work for you are a lot of work.  The deal is, though, those answers are the absolute bottom-rock foundation for adding meaning and mana to your life.

The wise guys say that all the answers to the WHY questions are already inside of you.  For some reason, they’re obscured by assorted issues and assumptions and other-people stuff.

It’s the price of admission for coming into this world, that.  That’s what you get for coming into the world as this helpless little being that has to depend on all these other people to keep you alive.

golden-admission-tickets
Golden Admission Tickets by City Foodsters via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
(To avoid all that, the wiser guys point out, you would have to come into the world as a fully-realized being, already self-sufficient and smart enough not to say much.  That comes with a different set of problems that might end up with you getting burned at the stake or crucified or something.  REALLY not a good thing.)

Things being the way they are, it means that you have to develop “creative discovery skills.”  Since nobody else actually knows the answers that are going to work for you, you have to go find them your own self.   It requires you to ask the right questions.

Here’s a TEDx Tokyo talk by James Curleigh about “Asking the Right Questions.”  (At the time the video was made, Curleigh was the president and CEO of Keen Footwear.  He has since become Levi’s brand president.)  It really sounds like the guy asks a lot of questions too….

CREATIVE DISCOVERY SKILLS

Creative discovery skills are actually just a matter of asking questions that look past previous assumptions.  The more forethought you put into the questions you ask, the better answers you get and the more options you uncover.

It’s kind of like turning over rocks and leaves and overturned boxes and such and finding out what’s under them, then taking all the stuff under them (plus maybe some of the stuff you overturned as well) to make a whopping cool new thing.

This is pretty much the definition for how scientists and inventors and artists and craftsmen and business innovators came up with all these fantastic new ideas and products that surround us today.

PLAYING WITH OTHERS

It’s a lot more fun when you can share these skills with other people.  To do that, you mostly have to just ask their permission to play in this new way and then invite them to join in.

When you encounter stuck-in-the-mud resistance, the best response is usually asking another question.

Keep asking questions until the other person starts thinking too…even if they’re only thinking of ways to block you.

Remember that they are doing you a favor when they try to block you.  You get to think about their objections and propositions and see whether you can find ways around them.   Their objections help you refine your own way of dancing and point out your mistakes or missteps.

Eventually, if you both stick with this way of playing, you may find some common place where you can stand together and start making something together.

There is a very useful communication skills article (as well as a very good video by Yashwant Schinde) on the Mind Tools Club website that you might want to check out.   You can click HERE to do that.

Mind Tools is an online educational/business training organization that was established in 1996.  It works with top global corporations as well as individual entrepreneurs and careerists to help them increase productivity, improve management and leadership skills and all that good stuff.

If you like what you see, you can even join the club for a not-unreasonable price. (The standard membership is $19/month after the first month for $1.)  You can also subscribe to their free newsletter.

FINAL THOUGHTS

You do have to watch out and make sure you’re not being a pest when you play this game, but sometimes even being a pest will get the other person off their duff.

If you get really good at it, their getting off their duff is not going to be because they are so mad at you they want to beat you into the dirt.  (You know you’re good when you can take off your running shoes and not bother with them any more.)

running-shoes
Running Shoes by Danielle Bardgette via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Here’s a poem:


WORLD VS REAL

In the World, where most people live

There’s Science and Security,

Answers, Deadlines and Objectivity.

There’s hustle, bustle and activity.

Things happen “because” and “so that.”

 

And the people think

They can run from Death,

Not realizing that they are

Carrying him on their backs.

 

In the Real, where some people go,

There are questions and puzzles

And no thought and no time.

Things happen as they happen

And they are all connected

And the connections are all there is.

 

And Death is an ally

That helps you dance more deeply.

And when one day you’re done,

He’ll be the one to take you home.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  Sunrise from Mount Haleakala by Brian Snelson via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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FOOLING AROUND

FOOLING AROUND

My life-model is the Fool — the guy in the Tarot card stack who’s walking along cheerfully, heading off a cliff.  That guy is my hero.  He knows that it’s all one big iffy pile of ambiguity and he’s cheerful anyway.  I can live like that, I am thinking.

A while back, I developed a thing I call “The Fool’s Premises.”  I’ve lived my life pretty much according to these premises and, hey, it’s been a lot good.  I found that you can learn a lot from fools.

THE FOOL’S PREMISES

I am just me…and that is enough. 

It took me a long, long time to get to that one.  For years I was always beating myself up because I was measuring who I am and what I am by standards set by other people.  I never measured up to other people’s expectations and desires and wants and needs.  I barely could keep myself from drowning in them all, running madly around trying to be everything to everybody.  It didn’t work.

And then, I decided, hey, I’m pretty good just as I am.  Well…a funny thing happened.  I was able to see where my strengths were, where my failings were and I could choose to use my strengths and compensate for the things I am not so good doing.  It works okay.

I am friends with myself now.  It works better.

I play and I help other people play.  

Apparently there is some kind of conspiracy that wants to keep people from playing.  All that “this is se-e-erious, Netta!” tends to do is alert me to incoming not-fun ideas.

Hawaiians are supposedly notorious for developing the ‘alamihi-crab bucket syndrome.  See, the little black ‘alamihi crabs are really tasty eating.  To catch them, you set a bucket with an aku fish head or something in the bottom into the ground at night when they are most active.  They jump in.  The bucket keeps the crabs from getting out again because every time somebody tries to climb out (over the bodies of the other crabs), some other crab in the bucket pulls them back down.

alamihi-crab
Alamihi Crab by Blake Handley via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

This is a metaphor for a human trait that seems to be ubiquitous.  Hawaiians just got a bad rep because we made up the bucket ploy to catch the little ‘alamihi, I think.

I decided I was not happy being an ‘alamihi.  I didn’t like being in a bucket.  I didn’t like my fate as somebody else’s dinner.

I figured that the best thing I could do was stay out of the ‘alamihi bucket and help other people stay out of it too.  Mostly that’s what I try to do.

It’s a funny thing, though.  When I tell people this premise, they tend to discount anything else I might say after that.  Play has fallen into severe disrepute, it seems.  The grasshoppers are losing to the ants.

Too bad.  All that ant stuff is really boring-looking.

The only thing that abides is the way I walk. 

Everything is impermanent.  That’s a given.

So, I went looking for what actually abides — what stays when everything else goes wonky.

 The wise guys are right:  the way you walk is the only thing that stays real.  So….I walk and I keep walking one-step, one-step, one-step.

I walk through other people’s worlds and need not take what they do personally.

This one grew out of understanding that my world, what I see and what I feel, is just mine.  Everybody else has their own world they see.

Because we are all milling around in the same place, everybody else’s worlds impinges on my own.  We are all connected and the connections pull at me when you move.

Very little of what people do actually is about ME personally.  They just live their lives and our connections and ties drag me around or trip me up as I’m trying to do mine.

So…if that is a truth, then, it means that mostly I can just keep going on with what I am doing and duck when something particularly nasty comes heading my way.

Not having to spend my days always angry or hurt about other people’s actions that trip me up sure makes it a lot easier to do my own walk.

Here’s a YouTube video published by the Oprah Winfrey Network as part of the SuperSoul Sunday series.  It features Don Miguel Ruiz and speaks about this very thing:

Don Miguel Ruiz is the guy who wrote the books about Toltec wisdoms, THE FOUR AGREEMENTS.

THE BACK STORY

This thing developed as I was learning to walk without my husband Fred in my world any more.  When he died, it seems I was cut loose to go looking for a different kind of way of being that wasn’t so governed by Monkey-mind.

Fred died in 1997, after we’d been together for 27 years.  I still miss him a lot.  But, I don’t think I’d be living my life this way if he were still alive.

Here’s a poem:


FOOLIN’

F’r real, ya know:

I’m just foolin’ around.

 

See that card?  That’s the Fool…

The one with the nut with the

Silly grin all over his face?

 

His eyes look all twinkly from

The stars stuck in them.

He’s dreaming big.

He’s caught in mid-step,

One foot in the air

At the brink of some cliff.

He’s got this bindle on the stick

Held over his shoulder….

Probably lunch.

See his faithful little dog,

All sprightly-looking,

Gamboling along all over his other foot?

 

That’s me.

The sun’s shining.

The birds are chirping.

It sure looks like a messy ending’s

In the offing.

 

Awww…I know what the SMART ones say.

They keep trying to convince me that

The other card’s the better one,

The Heirophant, high-priest guy,

 

That one has this guy perched on some chair

That’s probably harder than

The cheap peasant benches

‘Cause somebody piled on the velvet cushions

Before they let the guy sit down.

He’s dressed in drag.

(At least, that robe thing of his

Sure looks like a bitch to drag around.)

And they’ve jammed this big old heavy hat or something

On his poor, balding pate.

 

He’s surrounded by crowds of folks,

Looking like they’re intently listening for

Profound pronouncements and proclamations from the poor guy,

And you’ve gotta know

They’re just waiting for one wrong move

So they can grab the schmuck and dis him down into the muck

They spend the rest of their time raking up

And they drown him in some horrid pool of yuck.

 

Oh, yeah.

Right.

Some choice that one is!

Naw….

I think I’ve got it right.

 

Bet that fool’s got great balance.

Bet HE knows how to fly….

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  The Fool by Herval via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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KAHIKINUI PRAYER

KAHIKINUI PRAYER

Kahikinui is a land district that is approximately 22,860 acres between Kipahulu and Kaupo on the southeastern side of the island.  It is bound to the north by Haleakala National Park,  to the west by Ulupalakua Ranch and to the east by Haleakala Ranch.  The Pacific Ocean laps along its southern boundary.

This YouTube video, “Kahikinui,” was published by Jeremy Johnson using his drone and gives a taste of the sheer expansiveness of the place.  (The music is “E Nihi Ka Hele” by the legendary Hawaiian musician Gabby Pahinui)

THE MANY-STORIED LAND

Kahikinui can be a harsh place, a dry and rocky place full of thorns, feral goats and axis deer, and it is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful of Maui’s treasures.  The land is mostly undeveloped because of the shortage of water there.  Some see it as a good place to put up huge windmills for energy.

Kahikinui is the back of beyond…a hinterland that was inhabited since the early fifteenth century by na kua’aina, the country people.  Later planters transformed it into what was called the “greatest continuous zone of dryland planting in the Hawaiian islands.”

It sits mostly empty of people now, but at one time there was a fairly large population.  Ruins of old houses, trails, small farms, and a complex system of temples and shrines are scattered throughout the area.

kuaaina-kahikinui
KUAAINA KAHIKINUI by Patrick Vinton Kirch (via University of Hawaii Press)

Kahikinui was the subject of a 17-year-long study by anthropologist Patrick Vinton Kirch and his students.  He wrote a book about it, KUAAINA KAHIKO, Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui.  It is an amazing book.

One reviewer calls Kirch “an academic archaeologist who tried to be pono at a time when to be an archaeologist in some circles was to be a social pariah.”  Interwoven throughout the book are stories about his relationships with a dedicated group of passionate homesteaders, Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui, who were allowed by the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission to set up for a bare-bones homesteading effort.

The Hawaiian Home Lands Commission is a State agency that oversees the distribution of (usually third-rate) farming land to Native Hawaiians, as mandated by the Federal government.  That’s a whole, other, very long story fraught with controversy and politics.

The members of the Kahikinui ‘Ohana were willing to do what they had to do to bypass the long, long wait for the government resources to become available to develop the infrastructure that is officially deemed necessary for the people to move back onto the land.

pueo
Pueo by pmm3 via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

LAND CONNECTION

My husband Fred and I were interested in becoming homesteaders there.  Two years after Fred died, the land became available.  I was offered a chance to acquire a lease for land there, a posthumous award to my husband.

I had to refuse the offer.  By myself, I did not feel able to do it.  In gratitude, however, I made a prayer/poem for the homesteaders there.

When I gave it to him, this poem made Mo Moler, the charismatic leader of the group, cry.  I was very proud of that.  Mo is one tough guy, a Vietnam veteran and a wild man.  It is not often that he lets himself cry.

pueo-on-the-fence
Pueo On The Fence by Mark Kimura via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Here’s the poem:

 


PULE KAHIKINUI

 E Akua, hear me.
This is your child who calls you.
 
Our thanks to you for this land:
For the great bowl of sky and the beauty around us,
For the cool of the mountain, the abundance of sea,
Our thanks.
 
We come together now to talk about this land,
This land that needs us as we need this land,
So the land may live,
So we may live.
 
Help us guard our mouths.
Let our words bring light, not darkness.
Help us clear our na’au and hold to our purpose,
So we can resolve our problems
In peace,
With love.
 
Let us put our minds together and pool our mana’o
And see what we will make together for our keiki.
Help us hold this land as witness to the beauty that was,
To the beauty that is,
To the beauty that can be.
 
Let us make from this land more beauty,
And with that beauty we will feed our souls.
Help us remember that we are the bridge between
Those who come before us
And those who come after us.

Let us be strong and true to that memory.
Help us remember who we are,
That we are yours as you are ours
And we are all together.
 
E Akua, hear me.
This is your child who speaks.
 
To you we offer the glory of this work we do.
It is yours, all yours.
Let the work be pono.
Let the land be pono.
Let us be pono.
 
E Akua, be with us.
We who are yours,
We ask.

by Netta Kanoho

E Akua is a calling out to the Creative and to the ancestors.  Na’au  literally means “guts” – a person’s center, where all of the emotions and subconscious thoughts and feelings are held – and where Hawaiians feel the human “mind” is really situated. Mana’o is “knowledge.”  Keiki is “children.”  Pono means being balanced and being righteous.]


Picture credit:  Kahikinui by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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THE PEACE POEM

THE PEACE POEM

It’s happening again.  This is the 18th year that the annual statewide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry contest will be organized by volunteer teachers, writers and artists who call themselves “The International Peace Poem Project.”  Small donations keep them alive.

Almost every school in Hawaii is invited to participate in the contest and there is no entry fee.  Every student winner in the contest from each class gets a certificate of honor and a prize for their winning poem during spring ceremonies on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island (Hawaii) and Molokai.

Last year more than 2,000 students in Hawaii entered the contest and hundreds of them were recognized at ceremonies held in auditoriums statewide.  In past years other schools throughout the United States have taken on the Peace Poem as a class project.

PLANTING THE SEED

banyan-seeds
Banyon Seeds by yopper via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
The seed for this Maui-based Project was planted in 1996 when three friends Melinda Gohn, Frank Rich (aka Wide Garcia) and the late Lawrence Hill, who had started the Maui Live Poets Society, began compiling what they called “The Peace Poem.”

The idea was to get people from all over the world to contribute lines to the poem until it became the world’s longest poem about peace.   A six year-old girl, Libby Barker, contributed the first two lines:

“Peace means everyone loving everyone else

And we are all part of one world.”

The group has been collecting lines for the poem ever since.

The poem is hand-written by many, many hands on a scroll constructed of rag paper sheets and other papers.  (In those early years, the group considered and rejected the option of collecting the lines over the Internet.  It felt more real to have the lines laid down by all those hands.)

banyan-tree-in-lahaina
Banyan Tree in Lahaina by Bret Robertson via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
At every Live Poets gathering the people in attendance are still being asked to contribute their lines.  People who visit the islands and people who live here have been tapped to write a couple of lines.

The group has taken the poem into churches to collect lines from the congregations.  They’ve gone into prisons to get lines from the inmates in lockdown.  Contributors represent all ages, social strata and religious beliefs.

The youngest donor was a 3-year-old girl whose 7-year-old sister wrote her words, “Peace is seeing a baby’s smile.”  The oldest known contributor was a 93-year-old Maui poet.

Poetry was collected from China, Vietnam and Greece, and poetry scrolls circulated through England and Switzerland.  The poem’s mission was translated into Spanish and was sent to international Spanish-speaking organizations.  About this last, Gohn said, “There is so much unrest in South America. It’s a perfect place for the poem.”

“It’s very powerful,” Gohn says. “As soon as I bring up the Peace Poem, immediately we’re dealing on a high level. All the other stuff falls away.”

As she points out, “Everyone has a common desire for peace.”

In more recent years, the poem has gone (sort of) digital.  Anyone who wants to can contribute their two lines about peace to the poem by downloading the group’s Peace Poem Scroll Page, copying the thing onto an 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper and get friends, fans and other fellows to write their lines as well.  The sheet can then be mailed to Peace Poem, P.O. Box 102, Lahaina, HI, USA 96761.

If you’d like to do this, CLICK HERE.

GOAL ACHIEVED

By September 19, 2000, the poem had more than 15,000 lines that had been penned by people from over 120 countries.  On that day the poem was symbolically presented to the United Nations during its Millenium Peace Day celebration.  (Today, the poem has grown to over 160,000 lines.)

That was an exciting day for Melinda and Wide, who traveled to New York for the Millenium Peace Day, and made the presentation along with another member of the Project Allen Lewis.

united-nations-peace-day
United Nations Peace Day via peacepoem.org

Melinda recited poetry before a panel including the UN President Harry Holkieri and dignitaries from the UN General Assembly.   She told the assembled world leaders, “The project has been a voice for people of the world to express their hope for peace. Let us hope world leaders will listen and work toward nonviolent solutions.”

Fifteen-year-old Maeh-ki (Red-Sky) El-Issa (the tall guy sharing her microphone) read a peace poem written by Mother Teresa in honor of his late mother, Ingrid Washinawatok, who was killed on March 4, 1999, when she was on a cultural education mission to Colombia.  Allen and Wide hold up a part of the Peace Poem Scroll.

The presentation of the poem to the UN was the accomplishment of a goal set when the friends began the poem four years before.

START OF THE PROJECT

However, that event was not the end of the poem.  Instead, a new chapter in the story began when Melinda and her friends organized the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry contest and opened it to elementary school students from all over the state.  The organization even put together poetry lesson plans and suggestions for the teachers at its website, www.peacepoem.org.

Students from schools on all of the islands are invited to enter the contest.  The young poets vie for prizes and the winners are honored by island mayors or state officials at a school assembly and presented with Certificates of Honor and assorted prizes furnished by the Peace Poem organization.

Each of the student poems are a maximum of  twenty lines and “can be about any kind of peace.”  All of these poems are added to the Peace Poem scroll which continues to grow.

Lahaina Banyan Tree by Brian Ujiie via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Melinda says, “The Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest was started in 2000 as a way to share with Hawaii students an understanding of the need for peaceful reflection and active work toward peace, as exemplified by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“In honor of these peace and nonviolence principles which have played a vibrant role in Hawaiian culture—and in particular the Hawaiian Renaissance—we encourage Hawaii students to contribute their poems to the contest and the International Peace Poem. ”

Every year now  thousands of students have participated in this statewide event.  Other schools throughout the United States take on the peace poem as a class project.

Here’s a poem:


HEARTSONG MAITRI

May all of our heartsongs

Foster joy in the World.

May all of our heartsongs

Foster peace in the World.

May all of our heartsongs

Foster freedom from suffering in the World.

 

And may the heartsong of the Universe

Join all of our songs

And spread through all the realms.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Maui Banyan Tree Square by Bevis Chin [CC BY-ND 2.0]

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MAMA MINE

MAMA MINE

A few years ago, I was dragooned (tricked!) into participating in a theater production of the “Mama Monologues,” an evening of dramatic readings and performances by assorted creative folks on Maui that was put together by a friend of mine, Pat Masumoto.

Pat, who was a force of nature, strong-armed all of her friends to participate in this annual production that she organized and produced at the ‘Iao Theater in old Wailuku town.  It was actually a part of a national effort and she managed to keep pulling it off with the help of her loyal crew of fans and friends for a number of years.

The “Mama Monologues” thing was one of the ways Pat dealt with being the primary caregiver for her mom, Florence, who was another force of nature.  Florence was a feisty, sharp cookie who was pushing on 100 years old and still going strong at the time this took place.

Talk about “Living Out Loud”!  Pat was one of those who literally made productions out of all of her issues!

There was a poem I had written about my own grandmother who raised me and about our running argument that lasted until she died. (That argument still continues in my head.)

Pat liked it and she spent weeks wearing down my resistance to the whole scary concept of standing up on a stage in front of a for-real theater full of people and reading a poem to them.

We did it!  It was good.

Pat died about a year ago, a few months after her mother’s death at 104.  I still miss the ladies.

Here’s the poem:


MAMA USED TO TELL ME

Mama used to always tell me

“If you want the rainbows,

You gotta put up with the rain.”

“To get to the glory,” she said,

“You slog through the pain.”

 

Me, I’m just a silly git,

But I’m not at all sure

Mama had the right of it.

 

I’ve been thinking:

Rainbows also need the beaming sun,

And glory may be the price we pay

For this goofy race we run.

Smiles are frowns turned right-side-up…

Then, laughter bubbles over…

Foaming from a too-full soda cup.

 

It occurs to me:

In this illusory world of mists and dreams,

Nothing is really all it seems. 

So…come on now…let’s go!

We’ll dance through all the changes – ho!

 

And…

I just remembered something:

 

Mama sure did like dancing and prancing.

She knew:

The music grabs your feet and pulls you out of bed

And, always, there’s the magic

That tingles in your head.

 

Smart woman, my Mama.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  ‘Iao Theater, Wailuku by 293 xx.xxx.xx (own work) via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

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THINKING NATIVE

THINKING NATIVE

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s an artist thing to ponder frequently on the direction you want to head.   (You tend to spend a lot of time making course-corrections when you’re flying by the seat of your pants, I find.)

I have been musing on this a lot lately.  I think I am trying, in all my work – in my art, my poetry, my writing and even in my property management gig —  to incorporate the Oceanic mindsets in which I’ve been steeped.

Oceania includes Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.   Adrienne L. Kaeppler, in her book THE PACIFIC ARTS OF POLYNESIA AND MICRONESIA postulates that the goal of Oceanic art is to produce fine art that makes Pacific themes understandable in today’s worlds.  She points out that contemporary Oceanic artists don’t slavishly copy old products or art processes.  Their work is based, instead on knowledge of traditional aesthetic systems.  She goes into detail, explaining this concept of hers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR AUDIENCE (CUSTOMERS)

One very real aspect of doing work that arises out of an indigenous mindset is the awareness of the importance of the audience.  (For a business person, I suppose that would be your customers.)

I remember watching a friend (a sculptor of stones) looking at and appreciating the Light of My Life’s rock work.  He did a series of petroglyph carvings on rocks that he set in a spiral in the yard as a memorial for his dad who had died at the beginning of that year of carving.  He was also aiming at honoring the old Hawaiians who taught him so much when he first came to the island.

petroglyph-labyrinth
Petroglyph Labyrinth. Art by Mathew Westcott

Mat’s petroglyphs basically arose out of traditional Hawaiian motifs but they are definitely not exact copies of the old stuff.  Each bit is layered with a superficial theme and then deeper kaona, inner meaning, metaphor, and symbolism.

 

My friend Cecilia didn’t understand the cultural references at all and may not have even been aware of them, but she did appreciate that there were layers of meaning in there.  Just knowing that deepened the experience of the things for her, I think.  It could be, too, that Cecilia is particularly sensitive to stone her own self and that also was an enriching factor.

LAYERS AND LAYERS AND LAYERS

It’s important, I think, to remember that the layers incorporated in a work may be deep or shallow.  The one looking at it brings his or her own world and views to it as well.  Hmmm….

Native scholar Greg Cajete has written that in indigenous ways of thinking, we understand a thing only when we understand it with all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion and spirit. My goal is to make art and poetry that tap into these indigenous ways of knowing….

People are affected by my poetry because they arise out of my life experiences that are mirrors of their own.  Everyone has experienced loss.  Everyone has experienced anger, betrayal, disappointment and pain.  Everyone has experienced joy.  Everyone makes decisions about the paths they will take and the ones they will not.

This is what I share with others – my own paths toward grace.   For me, the paths that lead to grace are buried in the detritus of the everyday and they are also illuminated by my own cultural understandings and mindsets.  My mission seems to have been about finding the paths and byways that resonate with me, marking them, trying to follow them.

MAKING THE CONNECT

As for my audience, well…I am still trying to suss that one out.  A new book has just come out that addresses that very question.  Nicholas J. Webb, a popular speaker and corporate strategist, has written a new book, WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE:  How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint

Webb has spent 25 years helping people gain insights into what their customers want.  His company, Cravve, provides counseling and training in customer design and innovation for many of the world’s top brands.  This book tells you how you, too, can figure out what all those eyes that you’re trying to get to notice you are wanting to see.

In this YouTube podcast posted by CT Corporation (a subsidiary of Wulters Kluwer) as part of their business marketing “toolbox,” Webb talks about his ideas for dealing with “touch points” – the places where you connect with other people.  As I listened to the podcast, it struck me that Webb’s ideas are all about making good connections.  They are positively Oceanic in mindset.

 

(Wulters Kluwer is a multi-national information services company based in the Netherlands with operations in over 35 countries.  CT Corporation is “the largest registered agent service firm in the world representing hundreds of thousands of business entities worldwide. It provides software and services that legal professionals use,” it says here.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My audience is probably going to be made up of the people who are trying to do the same as me, people who are trying to add mana and meaning to their own everyday lives.  I think there may be a market somewhere in all that.  I just need to refine my walk so that I can connect with the people who are already working on that their own selves.

As I am learning my craft and learning more about my market, my real reward will be spending a bunch of time in what I call “Little-G World”…where I can be just like a little god, making it all up as I go along.  That is a cool thing, I am thinking.

Also, I am thinking that the late, great Ray Kroc once said, “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”  In WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE, Webb helps you figure out how to influence other people to love you for doing what you love.  This, too, is a good thing…and it’s very Oceanic.

And here’s a poem:


CONNECTING THE DOTS

Art.

What is art?

Art is not a piece of work.

It is a reaching inward and a coming back.

 

Artist.

What is an artist?

What are artists for real if they are more than

The producers of pretty objects

Meant to cover up some wall space or match a couch.

 

We are the keepers.

We hold.

We are the seekers and explorers.

We go.

We are the lost ones.

We come back.

We are the messengers.

We carry the dreams.

 

We look forward and see what can be.

We look back and see what was.

We look outward and see illusion.

We look inward and we wonder.

We accept what-is and build from it.

We accept what-is and choose the good.

We accept what-is and work for change.

 

Native.

What is that?

It is a way of life,

It is a way of being.

It is a reaching forward and a coming back.

It is looking inward and looking outward.

The way of Art is the way of the Native.

It is walking in Beauty and taking it in;

It is holding the Beauty and pumping it back out.

 

This is Native.

This is Artist.

It is a way of being.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Oceania Boards by Karen Green via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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LIFE DE-STALE-INIZATION

LIFE DE-STALE-INIZATION

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to practice Life De-stale-inization.  [What’s so good about same-old anyhow?]

THE RISE OF RE-PURPOSING

Re-purposing is one of the latest post-modern trends, it seems.  When you re-purpose something, you adapt it for another use.  Most re-purposing gets done to things, probably because there’s so much stuff just sitting around.  The stuff’s still good.  It’s usually under-utilized or obsolete or redundant or otherwise superfluous, but, for one reason or another, nobody wants to haul it away.

So, the deal is that you take this existing thing that’s no longer quite so spiffy and deconstruct it, reconstruct it, or manipulate it into something else that’s more useful or interesting or fun.

Re-purposing is also another way of Un-Seeing.

The cool thing about the re-purposing mindset is that you look at something and then figure out what else it can be.  You could develop some seriously artful or surprising projects that way…like these, for example:

repurposed-truck
Repurposed Truck by Paul VanDenWerf via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
tyre-chameleon-and-bee
Tyre Chameleon and Bee sculpture by Annalisa Mandia (at the Nomadic Community Gardens, Shoreditch, London). Photo by Maureen Barlin via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
repurposed
Repurposed by Jeremy Hill via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0] Old train used as mural in Santa Fe, NM
double-happiness
Repurposed Billboard by Irish Typepad via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]  “Double Happiness” at the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture. Swingset installation by Architect Didier Fiusa Faustino. (Uses billboard ad space.)
repurposed-garbage-truck
Repurposed Garbage Trucks by Colin Knowles via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0] Garbage truck as snow-plow

TURNING THE RE-PURPOSING MINDSET ON YOU

You could also use the same re-purposing mindset to develop a different sort of life for yourself.  If you’re feeling stuck or stale or under-utilized, then re-purposing might be the way to go for you.

This inspirational YouTube video, “Finding Your Meaning of Life,” was put together by TheJourneyofPurpose (TJOP).

Basically the video tells you that you get to create your own meaningful life.  It’s one of those human “super-powers” each of us is issued.  All the people who appear in the video are folks who took up the challenge to give their own lives meaning and mana.  They did okay with it.  Maybe you can too.

LIFE DE-STALE-INIZATION HACKS

These ideas come from James M. Kilts, the author of DOING WHAT MATTERS.  I think they’re good ones for when you’re facing situations with a lot of moving parts….like re-inventing yourself, for example.

  • VISION.  Adopt a straightforward vision of what you want to do and how you want to do it.  Make it actionable and easy to understand.  That way anybody who wants to join in your dance knows what they’re supposed to    do in it
  • FUNDAMENTALS.  Don’t get caught up in the fad theory of the day.  If you stay focused on the fundamentals and apply them rigorously and across the board, many problems become less likely.
    • Mostly, A-B-C and 1-2-3 helps prevent !@#.
    • I remember a story a friend of mine told me about his uncle Howard’s most memorable champion collegiate wrestler.  The guy won state collegiate wrestling championships even though he only knew three fundamental wrestling moves.  The wrestler was very strong and he knew those moves very well.  He won match after match when he performed each of the moves excellently every time his coach told him to do them.
  • FLEXIBILITY.  Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to problem-solving.
    • Templates work within limits and they do not travel widely with the same effect.  Study each situation and make sure the solution custom-fits the problem.
    • It’s also wise to remember that f’r real, there is no such thing as a “foolproof” system.  (The creativity of fools is legendary.)
  • INNOVATION.  Just because something worked in the past does not mean it will work in the future. Kilts says, “Things change, nowadays, very quickly and fundamentally so beware that superficial similarities aren’t hiding some deep differences.”
    • For some reason, this one reminds me of that 1984 comedy-horror movie,  GREMLINS.  Those little furry mogwai guys were really sweet…until they got wet.
    • The movie was directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg.  Chris Columbus wrote the screenplay.  It was a huge commercial success and the critics loved it.  However, the film was heavily criticized for some its more violent bits.
    • Another very popular blockbuster adventure film that came out around the same time, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, also received similar complaints and Spielberg suggested that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) change its movie rating system so that concerned parents could be forewarned about a film’s more controversial content. The MPAA did change the rating system within two months of the film’s release.
  • TIMING.  Process is never a substitute for excellence of actions even though it is an important element for its success.
    • Process has its own requirements but an excellent action taken at the wrong time won’t work. A fancy, beautifully done flying kick is easily avoided by one well-timed step to the side.
    • One visitor to our Southern Style Preying Mantis class told us an amusing story.  He said that because his dad was a top-notch instructor in Tae Kwon Do he had been trained in it from an early age.  By the time he was a teenager our visitor had developed a big head about it all, strutting around with a major bad-ass attitude.   He said he was especially good at delivering powerful flying kicks and he terrorized his competition. His dad set up a sparring demonstration that featured the boy’s spectacular kicks.  Every time the boy tried the move, however, his father stepped to the side and everybody watched as the teenager went sailing past the master and earned another whack.  It was humiliating.  It also shrank the boy’s head considerably.
  • MEASURING.  Kilts says, “If you can’t measure it, it’s not real.”
    • This is an old and hoary piece of advice and it’s a good one.   Measuring a thing does indeed make it more real.
    • I always do wonder, however, what the measuring stick is.  With one action, you can save a child’s life.  With another action, you kill that child but you make a heck of a lot of money.
    • The question comes down to this:  What are you measuring for?  That thing you are measuring for is what illuminates and defines the meaning of any action, it seems to me.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON IT ALL

Re-purposing yourself is a big, long-term project, but if you’re feeling stuck, starting on making a change may help get you moving again.  Also, if the results you are currently getting are unsatisfying to you, re-purposing yourself can help you achieve more of what you really want in your life.

Either one might be the impetus you need to begin the process of de-stale-inizing your life.

Here’s a poem….


CAULDRON

You are sitting in the middle

Of the cauldron now,

The big one at

The very center of the Universe.

 

The perfume of your sacrifice

Rises all around you,

Reaching up towards Heaven

As you ripen, as you mellow.

 

Giving up the old,

Letting go, letting be.

 

Others crowd around you

Wanting, needing, demanding juicy bits,

Scraping, bowing flatteringly,

Trying to get you to notice

 

That they are there waiting

For you to pick them up and carry them.

After all, you are so very strong

And they need you, don’t you know?

 

But Heaven’s there, up above

That cauldron where you sit

Marinating in the juices of the world.

It opens wide to swallow you up, you know.

 

All you have to do is

Release this need you have

For being needed,

Being noticed.

 

There will be no thunder if you turn aside.

There will be no hallelujah chorus if you don’t.

 

The only thing that happens is,

Eventually, once you’ve steeped

As much as you can stand,

You’ll climb back out.

 

You’ll wander down

the eternal road again,

Maybe doubling back or maybe going on,

Dancing or drooping, weighed-down or floating.

 

The ripe scent of you wafts upward,

Tickling the nostrils of the ancients.

 

You are being helped,

Even though it feels as though

All that has been is in disarray, disordered,

It means little…

 

What is flying apart now will join

Again in splendid new arrangements.

 

Press on….

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Sunrise Panorama by Peter Liu via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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