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art and artists, Maker culture

PROGRESS COMES AFTER

PROGRESS COMES AFTER

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that past mistakes have consequences and what we have been and done does not just disappear because of good intentions now.  [Sometimes it takes a long time to get back to pono.]

It seems to be a given.  We’re clumsy oafs, us humans.

Often we break things without meaning to.  Our words and our actions break hearts and shatter lives – our own and those of the ones we love.

Other times, life takes its toll.  We get lost, we fall down and we lose our way.  Bits of ourselves get lost somehow.

On the other hand, broken can become stronger and more beautiful.

It does take time.  It does take care.  It takes patience and gentleness.  It is not likely to be an easy fix.

One metaphor that points the way to repairing brokenness beautifully can be found in a Japanese pottery technique called “kintsugi” or gold-joinery.

The following video, “When Mending Becomes Art” published by Kintsugisouke, is an introduction to this ancient art form.

AN OLD WAY TO REPAIR POTS

“Kintsugi” is an old way of repairing broken pottery developed by the Japanese using lacquer or some other resin laced with pulverized gold.

The story goes that a samurai broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it off to China to be repaired.

When it came back there were ugly metal staples all over the cup firmly holding the cracked bits together.  This was unsatisfactory.

The cup was sent to another artisan, an old Japanese goldsmith, who worked on perfecting a new way to heal the broken cup.

He made each crack in the cup a thing of beauty.  He honored and emphasized every flaw.  And the gold in the cracks caught the light and threw it back each time the old warrior drank his tea.

 I got to thinking about kintsugi and about all the ways we humans get broken.  I ended up writing a poem about it.  Here it is:


KINTSUGI MUSINGS

 ‘Kay.  Try this:

Take this clay tea bowl.

Now throw it on the ground…HARD!

Go for it!

Okay.

Look at those clay bits scattered all about.

Is it still a bowl, do you think?

Sure doesn’t look like it, huh?

 

Okay.

Now, say “sorry” to it.

Go on.

Apologize.

 

Did it go back to the way it was before?

No, huh?

Come on…

Put some SINCERITY into it.

LEAN on that remorse.

Say, “PLEASE forgive me.”

Say, “I didn’t mean it.”

Say, “It was an accident.”

Hmmm.

Try pulling out the big guns.

Say, “I LOVE you!”

Yeah, really…

Say it from the heart.

 

So…

Did all that saying work?

Not really, huh?

Broken’s broken, ain’t it?

And words don’t do a thing.

 

The pieces are still lying there,

Looking all forlorn.

They will not hold together.

The integrity is gone.

When you try to make them fit,

Try to press them into place,

The pieces fall apart.

Sad, huh?

 

Try pouring some tea

On all those broken bits

And the wet just runs down

All over your feet.

Hmmm…

 

Now, what?

Oh, wait…

Here’s some sticky resin stuff.

And, look at this:

There’s this shiny golden powder sitting there,

Right next to you.

 

Let’s try something.

Here, take this brush.

Now pour a dollop of that goopy stuff on this plate.

Swirl it around with the brush.

Right.

Now mix in some of that powder.

Just stir it right on in.

Slowly, slowly, slowly.

Mix it all up.

No lumps, no bumps.

Mix it all up smooth.

 

Okay.

Now, grab up one clay piece

And turn it so the broken edge faces up.

Brush the glop – all golden now – along that ragged edge.

Carefully, carefully…no slopping allowed.

Then grab up a second clay bit

And fit together the edges.

 

Resin oozes out of the crack, huh?

Okay.

Run your brush along that golden bleeding line

Along the front, along the back.

Make it smooth and smoother.

Gently now, like a dream.

Now…repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

You will mess it up, you know.

You’ll get impatient and you’ll push too hard.

The glop will spread and splotch

And you’ll have to start it over.

 

Again, again, again.

You’ll have to keep on mixing,

keep on brushing,

keep on smoothing,

On and on and on

Until each clay edge is touching a matching other

And every crack glimmers golden.

 

Oh-oh.

There’s one piece missing.

(It probably got pulverized,

Or maybe it got lost.)

No matter.

Glop some of the gloop into that empty

And smooth, smooth, smooth it on out

Over the edges, front, then back.

There.

 

Okay.

Now, set it aside.

Wait.

It’ll dry in the bye-and-bye.

 

And…

Oh!  Will you look at that!

The bowl is resurrected,

But it really is NOT the same.

Oh, no.

Now it’s something other.

Now it’s something more.

It gleams now in all the broken places.

Gold shines in all its cracks.

When you pour some tea in it

None of the wet runs out.

 

And when you hold what once-was-broken,

Healed now after all your gentle care,

Maybe then you will understand:

Fixing what you break

Is not supposed to be easy,

And words alone won’t get you there.

By Netta Kanoho

The following video about Kintsugi and the philosophy behind it was published by The School of Life in collaboration with Mad Adam Films and is part of a weekly series of offerings.

The School of Life is both a YouTube channel and a real-life school for adults that focuses on how to live wisely and well.  They are bent on asking the important life-questions that you never got to ask in regular school.

There are ten physical hubs in cities around the world including London, Melbourne, Istanbul, Antwerp, and Seoul.

Header Picture credit:  Sunrise Over Maui by April Schultz 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.

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DEVELOPING PRESENCE

DEVELOPING PRESENCE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing awareness that all phenomena are empty and illusory and the only meaning and mana in any situation is what the people involved bring to it.  [It’s a cool thing to realize that we humans are the arbiters of the meaning and mana in our own lives.]

The search for meaning and mana is a very human thing.  It’s been going on for centuries now.  The words themselves are so nebulous that it’s hard not to head off into the woo-woo zone when you talk about them.

ANOTHER FORM OF MANA

I was reading Tobin Hart’s book, THE FOUR VIRTUES:  Presence, Heart, Wisdom, Creation, and it struck me that what he calls “presence” is really one more form of what I call mana.

According to Hart, Presence is that “tug of aliveness in the silence.”  I do love that phrase.  It’s beautiful!

However, it doesn’t really say much.  (That’s the problem with all this wisdom-stuff.  You end up spouting poetry and everybody around you just goes, “HUH?”)

Hart goes on to say that Presence is an “openness to beauty and mystery.” He says Presence requires the capacity to be silent and still, to endure emptiness in order to witness and open to the good, the beautiful, and the true.

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  More beautiful blather.

The components of Presence, according to Hart, are:

  • Appreciation (that openness to Beauty and Mystery)
  • Stillness
  • Focus and Attention, which includes things like steadying your mind, not-doing, centering yourself, and pausing in your walk to notice the World around you.
appreciation
Appreciation by mark via Flickr [CC BY-NC]

APPRECIATION REQUIRES HUMILITY

Being open to the Beauty and Mystery of what is in front of you is often called “appreciation.”  It does seem to require humility.

If you are complacent in your knowledge of the World and if you are armored in your sureness that you know what’s what and what is really going on, it’s sort of hard to get entranced by the Mystery of the World around you.

Mystery is what you don’t know.  Mystery provokes wonder.  When you think you know all of the everything, it seems to me, the World gets a lot narrower and shallower.

THE WORLD BECOMES YOU

It’s a funny thing:  the World is pretty obliging.  No matter how you think and no matter what you know, it’s pretty easy to see what you believe.   Evidence mounts up all around you that you are right, right, right.

The World is quite malleable.  It is perfectly willing to climb into the box you’ve constructed.  You can get a heck of a lot of World into a very small box, apparently.

Do you think that people are out to get you?  Guess what.  You’ll find plenty of evidence that, indeed, they are.

Do you think people just naturally like to help each other?  You’ll find lots of evidence that is true as well.

Do you find the World unsatisfactory and boring?  That, too, can be arranged….

So if you want to glimpse the Mystery at the heart of the World, then you have to be really careful that you’re not letting your mind order the World around.   Since it’s something we humans are really good at, this is a very hard thing to not-do.

IS IT ME?  IS IT I?

In his writing, Hart seems to be separating out “I” and “me” from each other.  They are both inside of you, he posits, but they are nuanced and different.

There’s a part of you that observes and witnesses the World in all its glory, trying to see what is really there.  That’s the “I” part.

Then there’s the “me” part.  “Me” is mostly just in the world, so distracted and caught up in the busy that it’s swimming around in one big chaotic soup.  “Me” gets lost a lot.

I’m not sure what to do with this.  I do know that I agree with Albert Einstein’s thought that either it’s all a miracle or none of it is.

I really think that it’s my “me” part that is responsible for most of my poetry.

The confusion that comes from immersing yourself in the World produces more interesting thoughts than the observer-“I” part that sort of stands back and keeps trying to sort out the glory and reduce it so it can fit into neat little boxes.

stillness
Stillness by criana via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

STILLNESS

This thought reminds me of my ch’i kung explorations of Mountain energy…getting grounded in Earth energy and all that. I do notice that the one thing people with mana have in common is the ability to be still.

My Si’fu (teacher) once demonstrated a particularly powerful stance to our kung fu class.  He stood there in the center of the circle, perfectly poised with his arms and hands at the ready.  He didn’t do anything….and, literally, no one could attack him.

Remarkably, the man conquered us with his stillness.  There was no opening, no invitation for an attack, and none of the students in the circle felt any sort of aggressiveness was warranted, even though we had been instructed to move against him.

It is a thing I have tried to emulate ever since with very little success.

Another kind of still focus is illustrated by this picture of a Tibetan Buddhist high lama, His Holiness Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche.  He is displaying the vitarka mudra, a hand gesture that signifies “teaching, giving instruction, reason and preaching.”

hh-dilgo-kyentse-rimpoche
HH Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche by Wonderlane via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Perhaps this kind of centered stillness might also be effectively applied to the way an artist and a writer goes about making art as well.  Art, after all, is only an extension of the one doing it.

It occurs to me that practicing any form of art is sort of like weapons-training in kung fu.  We are taught that any hand-held weapon is just an extension of your arm and hand.  It does things, but you’re the one directing it using your body and your mind.

The same thing happens when you use the skills and tools you’ve developed to make your art or your poetry.  Your art, your poem, your dance performance takes form as your mind and body give it direction.

attention
Attention by nofilm via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Stillness is the ground for focus and attention.  If you can’t be still you are unlikely to develop enough focus to actually finish anything meaningful.  (Mana doesn’t come with built-in octopus tentacle suckers it seems.)

And if you are flibbertigibitting around like a demented butterfly, it is unlikely that you’ll be capable of giving anything much attention.

Stillness, according to all the wisdom teachers, is also the ground for tranquility and for peacefulness, so it is probably a good thing to work on.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

Hart has a number of guidelines for how to work with the mana mindset.   Here are a trio of ideas I picked up on:

  • Sensations and feelings can be used as a guidance system and built-in feedback loop which can help you stay aware of the world around you.

It’s sort of like that hunter-sense of terrain and place.  If you know in your body where you are and what you’re standing on, you automatically move in ways that don’t disturb the world around you.

This one does take a lot of practice.

  • Pleasure is a tool for understanding what nurtures youThat one, taken to the extreme, sounds like a hedonistic sort of thing –”It feels good, so it’s gotta be good.”

I suppose if I were an academic sort, I could probably get lost in the nuances of the differences between a pleasure like an ice-cream sundae and one like wild jungle sex or something….Hmmm.  Might-be, could-be actually fun!

  • Mindfulness is a way to experience the world deeplySometimes I can really get behind this and sometimes not.  My problem is that Mindful-Me tends to be like that centipede lying in a ditch trying to figure out how to walk around with all those legs.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When I look at the people who I consider powerful and filled with their own kind of mana, I do see all of the qualities Hart mentions.  The work these people produce does seem imbued with echoes of their own “presence.”

They are fully human, these people, so I am guessing that if I want to produce art with mana, it means I have to keep working on just being a real human being

MY THANKS

Thank you for sharing in this bit of silliness with me.

As a reward, I offer this beautiful YouTube video, “Icheon Master Hand” that was put together by the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) to celebrate the exhibit, “ICHEON:  Reviving the Korean Ceramic Tradition” which was on display at the Museum in 2013.

The video features five masters, Lee Hyang-gu, Kim Seong-tae, You Yong-chul, Choi In-gyu, and Jo Se-yeon.  They live in Icheon in South Korea, a designated UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, and are part of the city’s efforts to revive a 5,000-year old tradition of Korean ceramics.

And here’s a poem:


PFUI!

Oh, I give up!

Dragon gets me into things

And then stands there grinning

While I flounder around

Trying to find my balance again

In a space turned upside down

Or sideways or inside out.

 

I Ching nags and scolds me

All the time to be patient

And steadfast and true.

 

Archetypes wander around in my head,

Making themselves at home,

Lying on the couch, watching tv, and

Checking out the refrigerator

On the commercial breaks.

 

My inner drill sergeant revs up

At the drop of a hat.

And that stupid knight in the rusty armor

Won’t go away and leave me alone.

 

And here I am, the fool,

Trying to find my way

Back to being ordinary.

 

Why can’t I be a normal, unconscious person?

They are probably very happy.

Ignorance is bliss, right?

 

Me, I have to aim for stars

And run after rainbows.

 

Idiot!

After all the striving and trying,

I’m not even conscious yet.

Probably semi-conscious.

Definitely not post-coital.

 

All this cosmic stuff is getting me

REALLY IRRITATED!

Must be P.M.S. – Pre-Mastery Syndrome.

(Or maybe I’m just horny?)

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Presence by zlaping via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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THE TEN THOUSAND HOUR THING

THE TEN THOUSAND HOUR THING

Everybody’s heard about how putting in 10,000 hours  working on a particular skill-set pretty much “guarantees” that you will be very good at using those skills.

The number makes the “rule” easy to remember.  It’s so nice and round.

It’s also more than a little intimidating!  Ten thousand hours apparently translates to about ten years, after all, and I’m not sure whether that includes time for eating, sleeping and doing all of the other stuff humans do.

On top of the sheer immensity of it all, there is a caveat hooked onto that number:  any self-improvement and skill development that occurs after you’ve reached a certain level of skill is actually tied to how you spend your time practicing and expanding on what you do.

WHAT IS IT REALLY?

The 10,000-hour thing bounced around scientific circles since the 1970’s.  Why, the Big Brains wondered, did some people achieve an extraordinary mastery in some discipline while others did not?

It was in 2005 that a research team headed by Neil Charness, a psychologist from Florida State University, published the results of a decade-long investigation of The practice habits of chess players.

Their findings were popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book, OUTLIERS: The Story of Success, and all of a sudden every man- and woman-in-the-street was urging their offspring to put that nose to that grindstone.

THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY

Throughout the 1990’s the Charness team placed ads in newspapers and posted flyers at chess tournaments, looking for ranked players to participate in their project.  They eventually recruited over 400 players from around the world.

For each player, the scientists collected a detailed history and created a timeline of their significant training and practice events.  The players were asked questions like these:

  1. At what age did you start playing chess?
  2. What type of training did you receive each year?
  3. How many tournaments have you played? When?  Did you win or lose?
  4. Were you coached? By whom?  How?

And so on…

The Charness study not only asked the players how long they practiced, it also asked what the players did when they practiced.  What the Charness team found was that chess masters dedicated five times more hours to serious study of the game than the players who plateaued at the intermediate level.

THE HOW OF THE MASTERS

The grandmasters focused on what Anders Ericsson, a colleague of Chandress, called “deliberate practice.”  These players chose to do activities that stretched their chess-playing abilities where they most needed stretching.  As Ericsson would say, the grandmasters challenged themselves “appropriately.”

The grandmasters studied the moves of historic gamesmen.  They memorized important game strategies until they could recognize the start of a game-winning gambit.  They studied counter-moves and practiced blocking or subverting their opponent’s efforts as well.

In this YouTube video, “Deliberate Practice,” calligrapher Esteban Martinez allows his viewers to watch as he practices writing his kanji.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.

COMPETITION DOES NOT FURTHER

An interesting sidelight was the finding that, after a certain point, tournament play really did not significantly improve playing skill.

The better guy wins.  Period.  If the better guy is you, you’re just using your skill well.  If the better guy is not you, then you lose the game and probably don’t learn much that is new.  The improvement to your game playing, if any, is a small “don’t-do-that-one” insight.

Hundreds of follow-up studies in a diverse array of fields validated the Charness team’s finding that deliberate practice is the key to excellence.  If you practice deliberately, you do get very good.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Assorted life-coaches and other advisors will usually give you the following pointers after they’ve explained about the hours.

  •  In order to get past “good” you have to take on projects that are beyond your current comfort zone. You have to bite off more than you can chew, but not so much that you choke on it.
    • Because the project is an exploration of new territory, you are going to have to shift into high gear and pick up chops. Hustle becomes the order of the day as you try to keep all those spinning plates going on that forest of sticks on your stage.
  • At some point you will go into overwhelm.  If you keep on going past that point, you will break through your  former comfort zone barriers.
    • That’s when your “comfort zone” gets bigger.  That’s when you’ll succeed at pushing back the fences and walls that enclose your zone and all of a sudden you’ll have more space to move.
  • It is a good idea to measure and get feedback on everything when you’re heading onto new territory. Measure, track, and listen your way to a new understanding.  Then you’ll be able to repeat your successes and avoid the potholes and bogs into which you’ll probably fall the first half-dozen or so times you do this.

WHAT MOST ADVISORS DON’T SPELL OUT

All of that practical advice is good and righteous.  They are very likely to work just fine in real life if you actually do them.  However, most of the advisors do tend to touch on (and then bypass) a most important point.

It seems to me that what you are really doing during all the rest of the 10,000 hours as you work towards mastery of the skillset of your choice (after you get “good enough”) is deliberate practice.  No matter what other skills you are refining and perfecting, the one that is the meta-skill, fully transportable into every endeavor, is that one.

maui-trees-at-sunrise
Maui Trees At Sunrise by Derek van Vliet via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that mastery requires practicing deliberately over time.  [Doing something over and over without conscious thought (like a caged hamster running around a wheel) is not deliberate practice.]

As you work your way towards becoming a superb artist or a magical performer, a superlative farmer or a business-magus extraordinaire, you will also be learning how to pay attention to details without drowning in them.

You will be learning how to focus down on the essentials of a thing, learning to suss out what matters and what does not.

You will be developing the capacity to turn your hand to any task, even when it is outside your comfort zone.

More importantly, you will be developing grace and agility, the confidence and the trust that you will be able to deal with anything that life throws at you because, like the chess grandmasters, you will develop a very large repertoire of mindsets, strategies, and moves that work as you move along your way to your own mastery.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Real is “deliberate practice” is just another phrase for what the wise guys call “mindfulness.”

To me, it’s a cool thing to know that a person can get to that without having to sit in a corner folded up like a pretzel, trying to breathe right.  I have a hard time sitting still and have spent a lot of my life failing at that one.  It’s good to realize I won’t actually have to.

What do you think?  Your comments are always welcome….

Here’s a poem…


WAITING

Waiting properly, not stagnating,

Not caught in indecision,

Patiently doing what is essential,

Right, real, and true,

Letting time work its changes

One by one by one.

 

When the time comes to move,

You will know it.

There is no need for haste.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Chess by Bob Vonderau via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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WHAT DO YOU OFFER?

WHAT DO YOU OFFER?

When comedian Steve Martin was interviewed by radio host Charlie Rose, the funnyman was asked to answer the “how” question aspiring performers always ask those who have made a success of their career.

Martin said nobody liked hearing this answer, but he did it anyway:  Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Here’s a YouTube video published by Suzanne Pope with that segment of the Charlie Rose interview:

Cal Newport used that quote as the title for his 2012 book , SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU:  Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You LoveIn the book,  Newport shares the journey of exploration he made in response to his own confusions about finding work that would add meaning and mana to his life.

The current mono-focus on “following your passion” was particularly unsatisfactory to him.

THE PASSION MINDSET

Often, when we go looking for answers, we are spoon-fed thoughts like those in this beautiful YouTube video, “Finding Your Life’s Purpose – Passion” by The Journey of Purpose TJOP, featuring words by Randy Pausch, Steve Jobs, Will Smith and Stuart Scott.

Newport found that what he calls the “passion mindset,” where (he says) you focus exclusively on the value your job is offering you, to be both simplistic and misleading.

He noticed that this stance, which is pretty much a staple cliché handed out willy-nilly by assorted career advisors and life design coaches, often leaves you at a crossroads, trying to hear a heart that is confused, mumbling and stuttering.

The passion mindset, he says, also sucks away your head into fantasies and daydreams of “better” choices that exist “out there.”  Instead of focusing on what is on your own plate, you spend all of your time dreaming about what is on some other plate somewhere else.

It does work.  This mindset can help you soar.

If you’re just starting out, however, holding on to the passion mindset is above your pay-grade.  You haven’t finished building out your wings yet and soaring just doesn’t happen when all you’ve got are stubby wings.

AN ALTERNATIVE MINDSET

Newport’s book is a reminder that there is another, more traditional approach to your working life that has been in existence for centuries.  He calls it the “craftsman mindset.”  In this one, your focus is on the value of what you are offering to the world.

In this TEDxKC YouTube video, “Stop Searching For Your Passion,” writer and branding specialist Terri Trespicio argues for letting go of the passion search in favor of “just doing.”  Passion, she says, is the fuel you run on.  Doing is what you spend the fuel on.

WHY DEVELOP CRAFTSMAN MINDSET?

One of the most useful things Newport does in the book is delineate the traits that defines “great work”:

  • Creativity
  • Impact
  • Control.

Somewhere on everybody’s list of the things that make their heart sing these items show up.

Being able in your work to use and stretch your innate creativity, work that results in your having a decided impact on the people in the world around you, and being able in your work to control how you use your time to get things done are among the most desirable attributes for a job and work you can call “great,” Newport says.  Most people would agree, I think.

The deal is, though, these job attributes are in high demand.   Everybody wants them.

Work that actually has all of these qualities all together is in short supply.  They don’t get handed to you as participation trophies when you show up at the door.

As Newport goes to some lengths to explain, these job traits are rare and they are valuable.

He points out, “Basic economic theory tells us that if you want something that’s both rare and valuable, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return – this is Supply and Demand 101.”

ANOTHER KIND OF CURRENCY

The author goes on to explain “career capital” – what it is and how to develop it.

Career capital is the key currency you will need to exchange for the “great” job you want.  It is an assorted set of skills and abilities you develop and own – what Hawaiians call mana’o – the unique knowledge and experience that are yours as well as your own ways of using them to product the results others find valuable.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  YOU

Developing and owning these kinds of skills takes time.  It requires making choices and decisions that hone your focus, that require commitment.

Along the way, as you develop these skills, opportunities will be offered to you because you have developed these skills.  You will be given chances to develop other related or complementary skills.  You will meet people who can and will help you along your way to your “great work.”

Newport spends the rest of his book expanding on strategies to help you choose your moves well as you build your life on this foundation of the craftsman mindset.

The following YouTube video, The Road Home to Craftsmanship,  is part of a 4-part series published by GOOD Magazine which is put out by Carharrt, Inc., a family-owned company in Dearborn, Michigan.  Carharrt makes durable work clothes that have become almost iconic.  Their motto is:  “Hard at Work Since 1889.”

 FINAL THOUGHTS

My own thought is that SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU is a great blueprint of a plan that has worked (and continues to work) for people who have found their own “great work.”

As always, you still have to go do it your own self….

Here’s a poem:


ROOTS AND WINGS

Papa was a drinking man,

A happy-go-lucky guy,

A laughing, gambling, good-time Charlie,

With a twinkle in his eye.

 

‘Twas Mama made him toe the line,

‘Cause all those kids had to be fed,

And every time he tripped and fell,

She poured rage upon his head.

 

Papa was a bootlegger

During Prohibition days.

“Party” was his favorite word

And he frolicked and he played.

 

And Mama sold the liquor

At 25-cents a shot;

All the girls could dance and sing,

Food was always in the pot.

 

‘Cause Papa loved his chickens

And he trained them into the night

And in the camp his fighting cocks

Were famed for winning every fight.

 

He grew the corn and ground it,

He built and cleaned the coops,

And when his roosters won the day,

Their rivals made good soups.

 

Mama kept Papa working hard:

He’d work the live-long day

In cane fields, then in pineapple fields,

And Mama saved the pay.

 

He grew a big old garden

And went fishing for more food.

Mama and the girls took in laundry

To help care for the brood.

 

And Papa was a joy to me,

On my head, the sun rose and set.

I was a marvel in his eyes.

I was his favorite pet.

 

He taught me love and laughter

And reaching way up high.

He showed there are no limits for

This one who would touch the sky.

 

Mama was the strict one

Who taught me all the hard:

How to work and when to fight,

And duty as its own reward.

 

The training that she gave me

Has stood me in good stead.

Responsibility and family

Got drilled into my head.

 

She set me firmly in the ground

Made sure that I sat strong.

She patted the earth all around

And scolded me long and long.

 

Making sure I stood up tall,

For all that was true and right,

Making sure I’d always keep

The real within my sight.

 

And Mama gave me roots

That go way down deep.

She it was who gave me strength,

So the course I set, I keep.

 

But Papa was the one who made me brave.

He gave me the wings to fly

His love was a celebration of

A promise none can deny.

 

He showed me that anything I want

I can have if I just try.

That I am all I have to be

And all I was glowed in his eyes.

 

He told me that inside the bad

All the good can still reside,

Waiting to be noticed,

Waiting to be recognized.

 

I bless them still, my tutu,

Every day that I draw breath.

My thanks and blessings always

For my course that they did set.

 

Because of them, my heart still dances light and free,

One gave me roots and the other wings,

In gratitude I bow to them,

Because of them my heart still sings.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture:  In Love With Clay by Carol Von Canon via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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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.

Mat (the LOML) 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 since she is a stone-carver 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.

One of my own goals 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 off, and trying to follow them.

MAKING THE CONNECT

As for my audience, well…I am still trying to suss that one out.

Nicholas J. Webb, a popular speaker and corporate strategist, wrote a book in 2016,  WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE:  How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint.

The book has been called “insightful and pragmatic.”  It should be.  Webb has spent 25-plus 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 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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LEADING BY FOLLOWING

LEADING BY FOLLOWING

Here are some thoughts from E. Thomas Behr, Ph.D. in THE TAO OF SALES: The Easy Way To Sell In Tough Times.  First published in 1997, it attracted a lot of interest until it went out of print.  It’s since been re-issued.  (A great book.)

The major thought Behr had was this:  if you lead by following your principles and your own authenticity, then it makes room for good things to happen….

1.     DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE.  If you take a stand on values and principles, perhaps others will develop the courage to do the same. Sometimes it leads to you being street pizza, when you try to face down assorted steamrollers, but I notice it does tend to be true that you can get a lot of the pettiness out of your life by doing this one.

This leaves a lot more room for creativity and for beauty, so what’s a little flatness here and there?

2.     SIMPLIFY ALL ACTIONS AND BEHAVIORS TO A FEW CONCRETE PRINCIPLES.  Let the values guide the results.

This one works really well.  Mostly, if you always follow a few basic principles that mean a lot to you, then people know where you are standing and they tend to allow you that space.

Maybe they are just being kind about not wanting to disillusion you and all or maybe they just don’t have the time to start shoving your head into other spaces, but who cares?  It works.

3.     TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MEASURING YOUR OWN INTEGRITY YOURSELF.  You are not the only one who knows whether you’re walking your talk.  It shows.  It’s a good idea to pay attention.

4.     CONFRONT YOUR OWN CONCERNS AND FEARS ABOUT AUTHORITY IN AN OPEN, CARING WAY.  I do have major “issues” with authority.  However, I have figured out that scorched-earth war tactics really don’t leave much for anybody to work with.

It’s a lot easier on everybody if I can be gentle.  This is a lot harder for me than coming out swinging so I have to be really gentle with my own self as well.

5.     MEASURE WHAT MATTERS.  That’s a problem I have with bean-counters:  They are so busy counting beans when other things matter so much more to me and I often cannot get my head around their concerns.  I do try because it is important, I suppose.

I just prefer measuring things like room to move and heart-space and stuff like that.  (I probably drive the bean-counters crazy.)

6.      IF IT AIN’T BROKE, BREAK IT.  The best thing about this one is that it helps me forgive my own klutziness.  Calling the stumbling around I do “re-inventing the world” is a lot cooler than saying, “Oops!”.

7.     REPLACE “CONTROL” WITH “ORDER.”  The neat thing about this one is that there are all kinds of order.  Some of them are quite lovely and meaningful to the people who are in them.

It’s a very cool thing to be able to see other people’s “order” as wonderments rather than as them being wrong because you are so right, right, right….

In this YouTube video, Art – Life Made Me Do It, Simon Birch, an artist who has gained some renown in Hong Kong, tells about his life and how his art grew out of it.

That is the thing, isn’t it?  Following your life, letting your days lead you to your best place, is often the best way to get to authenticity and gives your life its own meaning and mana.

So, hey…what are you doing to get back to you?

Here’s a poem:


GETTING BACK TO GRACE

 

Getting back to grace is Job One.

(It says so right here.)

So…

What happens when you’ve run out of cheek to turn,

And your back is to the wall,

And you’re looking at yet another transgression,

Another incursion, another this or that?

 

Getting back to grace is gonna be tough

When you’re bucking the gale-force winds

Of somebody else’s stubborn,

Of somebody else’s stupid

And somebody else’s something-or-other.

 

It gets even rougher when you’re leaning into

The tropical storms of your own blindness.

 

Hmmm….

Let’s do it step-by-step.

If Grace is a place where I can stand,

Then, probably, it doesn’t need ME to make it real, right?

It’s just there.

I mean…I didn’t invent it.

It’s THERE already…

Like, say, Haleakala, maybe, or Pu’u Kuku’i.

 

And if that’s so,

Then all I have to do is find it again.

Hmmm…okay.

Maybe I just have to take off this stupid bandana

That’s worked itself down over my eyes….

 

There!

Got it!

Oh…well….

Wouldja look at that:

I’ve been standing in Grace all this time!

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Follow the Leader by ehpien via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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MAKING ROOM

MAKING ROOM

I’m re-reading an invaluable book, CREATING A LIFE WORTH LIVING, which was written by Carol Lloyd, the founder of The Writing Parlor and the Life Worth Living workshops.

Over the years since I first read it in 2011 it has kept me focused on integrating my propensities for Making into a regular, ordinary sort of life.  It is an ongoing process, always.

As she was putting together her book, Lloyd interviewed a slew of creative people and picked their brains about how they do what they do.

In an interview with performance artist Chris Wink who was part of a New York-based theater group which was a collaboration of three artists, there was this thing:

“If you’re going to create something, the first step isn’t to start creating something, it’s to create the process,” Wink says.  “…tending to the vessel and shaping it into what it’s going to be is really important.”

The “process” is a matter of making room in your life to create whatever it is you want to make.  It is about finding the space and the time and it’s about choosing how you’re going to move forward towards your goals.

sunrise
Sunrise by Jessica S. via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that by eliminating what doesn’t matter you can do more of what does.  [Following your own heartsong matters.  It’s a good thing to make room for it.]

TENDING TO THE PROCESS

For the past month or so I’ve been working on clearing out the workspaces in my little house, re-organizing and de-cluttering them so that I can see what’s there and see the resources I have on hand.

Even more importantly, I have been clearing my head and seeing where I am going with all this dancing about.

I have been looking at how well my Making has been integrated into the rest of my life and tweaking the places where there are glitches or downright knotted and tangled bits, trying to get to smooth.

I am seeing how I need to make blocks of time available so I can actually sit down and make a something without having to worry about needing to be someplace else.

I am also clearing away all the non-essential stuff that clutters up my calendar with distractions from this thing I’ve declared is most important to me:  making stories, making art, and making meaning.

I’ve deliberately turned away from perfectly good opportunities for me to practice skills I’ve developed that lead me away from what I am calling “Flying My Falcon.”

I am setting up routines and rituals that help keep my energy flowing so that I have the wherewithal to actually make something worthwhile.

I am touching base again with the attitudes, the heart-people and heart-places that are valuable to me because they help pump up the wellspring that powers my Falcon-flying.

It is always an ongoing thing, this tending to your process.  It’s easy sometimes to get so caught up in the day-to-day crises and fumbles and stumbles that the thing you want most to manifest sort of fades away into the ethers somehow.

SHAPING THE VESSEL

The following YouTube Video, 8 Artists: Advice to the Young, was published by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s Louisiana Channel.  The video montage has snippets from interviews with Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovich, South African artist William Kentridge, rock singer and poet Patti Smith, American singer David Byrne, German film director Wim Wenders, Danish-Islandic artist Olafur Eliassan and British artists Dinos and Jake Chapman.

It’s wise and warm and a very nice space to put your head.  And that’s another part of creating process…

If you want to listen to the full interviews for these and other artists who are equally inspiring, CLICK HERE.

Here’s a poem:


MAKING MYSELF

I am making myself,

Day by day by day.

The choices I make, the moves I do

Create the conditions around me

As I play in the World,

As I play with all the other peeps

Who are all busy

Making their own selves too.

 

There are those who say there is a Creator,

An enormous amorphous being who

Personally had a hand in the making of me,

Who continues to oversee my days

Who notices every time I fall down,

Who apparently is the archetypical Control Freak Extraordinaire

Since this non-gendered One apparently feels a need

To direct my every move.

 

I find that…scary.

Well…

Lookit….

 

When I try to be the one herding lemming-folk

Who are determined on self-destruction,

Or are just plain oblivious to dangers and sharp teeth,

There’s a certain point where I drown

In the details involved in taking each one in hand

And guiding every one of their steps,

Soothing away the hurt of every bump.

 

I notice that it never helps the lemming-folk grow,

This interference of mine.

Their sleepwalking apparently deepens.

They still fall off cliffs.

They run headlong into crocodiles and things.

They pick up hammers and whack themselves on their own foreheads.

They blindly blunder into each other and bonk each other in the jaw.

Meanwhile, I go nuts,

Stuck on a meaningless treadmill of

Amoeba-like action/reaction ad infinitum.

I would not wish that state of being on any creature…

Especially not the one who put together all the wondrousness of the Universe!

 

Myself, I think the Dude/Dudette or Whatever

Just placed a spark of Itself into everything alive,

And each sparklet likes to play.

So they do.

And that’s how the Universe got born,

And that’s how it keeps going.

 

Me, I think I’ll just keep trying to keep my sparklet going strong.

I figure it’s the best way I can help out….

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Intention 1 by Teddy Llovet via Flickr [CC-BY-NC 2.0]

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DOING VS MAKING

DOING VS MAKING

Tobin Hart, in his book THE FOUR VIRTUES, defines “creation” as “harnessing the capacity to take action.”  Everything can “do” stuff….it’s why we’re here on the planet, apparently.  (Even rocks and dirt can “do” stuff.)  What turns doing into creating is what Making is all about:  a purposeful directing of energies that brings something new into existence.

Piling a bunch of rocks into a heap is doing.  Taking that same pile of rocks and turning it into a wall for a house, a taro paddy, or a fort…that’s creating.  Creation has an effect on the world.  And it requires some kind of mind to harness the doing energy purposefully.

The mind doesn’t necessarily have to be human.  After all, birds and wasps can build nests.  The main thing that differentiates human Making from animal Making seems to be the sheer volume of different things humans set out to make.

Humans are more likely to just play with the materials at hand in new and different ways to produce an extraordinary variety of often-useless objects that become a new part of the world.  Humans also tend to imbue their creations with extraneous meanings, making up stories that we call “voice” and “vision” to the things.

I suppose that’s also a part of Making.  Hmmm….

Here’s a TEDxBedford talk by David Litchfield who is a teacher at Bedford College as well as a professional illustrator who does work for The Beano and the Telegraph among other publications.

His talk, How Doing a Drawing a Day Changed My Life, is a perfect illustration of what comes of Making…the building of a whole new mindset and a whole other world to inhabit.  To my mind, that is Making at its finest.

Here’s a poem for all the ones who back away saying, “Oh, I’M not creative.”:


MAKING IT

I always have to giggle

When people tell me,

“Oh, I’m not Creative.”

I wonder whether they’re thinking

They are dumb-ass zombies,

Shuffling dull-eyed through the world

Losing bits of themselves, all unaware,

Like a pigeon dumping a load

On some old statue’s head

Without even noticing.

 

I want to shake them, you know.

I want to slap their heads.

I mean, WOW!

I want to tell them,

“Don’t you know?

Don’t you understand?

You’re human, dude!

You were born a Maker….

The evidence is all around you!”

 

Here we are…all us Makers

And don’t we spend our days Making?

Making do…

Making trouble…

Making excuses…

Making right…

Making wrong…

Making, making, making.

And now you’re trying to tell me

The flow of the Creative

Detours around you?

 

Aw…bull-pucky!

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  JUMP IN by H. Michael Miley via Flickr [CC BY-SA  2.0]

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STEP BACK AND SEE

STEP BACK AND SEE

Very often we are told that the best way to solve any Problem is to concentrate and focus down and down into it, blanking out everything except that Problem.  The Problem becomes a world all by itself.  By delving into it deeper and deeper, you’re supposed to be able to pull out a solution that should, logically, solve the silly thing.

There are all kinds of books and videos and so on and so forth about this…all kinds of how-to-do-it and do-it-yourself info.  It’s how you’re supposed to do things, and there are a lot of people who will tell you how.

Most of the time, this strategy works fine.  Sometimes it does not.

The thing about this particular strategy is this:  there will be times when you’ll expend a lot of head-achey, heart-breaky effort and you’ll wind up repeating and reiterating the same so-called solutions everyone else who ever focused down on a particular Problem found.  These tried-and-true solutions may not be completely effective.  They may just be “regular” stuff people always do when faced with such a problem.

The solutions you find using this strategy probably will work just about the same way as all the rest of the solutions that others have found.  It’s possible that the old trite answers will fall apart in the same way they have always done as well.

In order to tell when the tried-and-true road is less than optimal, all you have to do is check the results that other people who tried it got.  Perhaps the results they got are not satisfactory for you.  “Good enough” may not be where you’re trying to go.

There are other ways of looking at a Problem that can produce fresh, wondrous, and often peculiar, things.   There are other ways to play.

STEPPING BACK

Now, think about this:  What happens when you take a step back from the thing you’re seeing?  Instead of having The Problem looming large and important, blocking out your entire view of the world, you might, instead, notice the area around the Problem.

Maybe if you pay better attention to how The Problem is affecting the larger spaces you see when you step back, you might notice some detail you missed when your focus was so laser-sharp.  Maybe you’ll be able to notice another way to go next…something that might actually help mitigate the effects of the Problem better than a frontal, deep-drilling, logical approach.

Jumping into the fray before you’ve actually looked at the whole tangled mess as well as the space all around it often means you are ignoring some valuable information – like where all the exits are, for example, and whether there are more than one path that you might like to explore.  Stepping back and checking the spaces all around The Problem can lead you into unfamiliar, exciting new directions…or maybe not.  When you’re exploring new uncharted territory, there can be risks.

no-walking-backwards
“Danger! No Walking Backwards” by Matthew Klein via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

 A RADICALLY DIFFERENT WAY OF UN-SEEING

In this YouTube TEDxMarthasVineyard talk “Step Back and Look Again” the self-styled artist-designer-activist Sebastian Errazuriz details how he has developed and uses the practice of stepping back and widening his focus so that a Problem is just a part of a bigger world rather than the only part of the world he can see.  He uses this mindset to make his extraordinary art/design work.

Errazuriz is internationally acclaimed for standing different.  His work always surprises and frequently enchants.  It also often provokes controversy.  It is “remarkable” —  the subject of many remarks.

His explorations – from his artful public installations and political and social statements (some of which he talks about in the video)  to his product designs that include experimental furniture that move and flow gracefully; fashion designs that include fanciful 3-D printed shoe-sculptures that recall past relationships as well as a fur coat made out of (gulp!) teddy bear skins and a dress made entirely out of zippers; and transportation options like a motorboat coffin – have been celebrated in over forty international exhibits or featured on magazine covers and in assorted books and catalogues, and critiqued or exclaimed over in thousands of articles and on television.

There is even a book about his work, THE JOURNEY OF SEBASTIAN ERRAZURIZ.

The man’s body of work asks you to “look again,” to see what is hidden in front of your eyes and to really notice how extraordinary this world can be.

FINAL THOUGHT

Stepping back and taking another look apparently opens up the possibility that you will be more likely to see other ways of doing things that don’t involve getting caught up and trapped in a particular Problem.

Your visions and the things that grow out of them will probably be very different than what you’ve thought before.   Perhaps you’ll discover some interesting lessons (also known as “mistakes”).  Perhaps this way of Un-Seeing might lead to your finding uniquely effective solutions.

Step back….look.  What do you see?

Here’s a poem:


MIRROR WALL

 

I’m really liking where I’ve put my head…

I’m standing here, looking at this World of Dust,

Seeing it as a mirror,

A kaleidoscopic construct of shards and tiles

Made of fun-house mirror glass –

Each one reflecting an image

That is quintessentially human.

 

Every bit of it shines.

Every movement of the one standing in front of it

Is echoed in that mirror-mosaic that

Repeats a captured image endlessly…

Maybe into infinity.

 

If you stand too far away from the mirror that’s the World,

Then the thing is just a lovely bit of shiny…

Mildly interesting in a sort of kitschy, impersonal way,

But not particularly arresting because,

Let’s face it…f’r real,

The way us humans are built,

The most mind-catching thing

Is pretty much our own selves.

If we’re not in it, whatever it is doesn’t mean much.

 

Step close enough so

You can see yourself echoed in the glass

And the mirror-wall becomes

An animated interactive thing…

Interesting – fascinating , even.

 

But if you try to encompass it all,

Try to see the bigger picture

Of you and everybody else reflected in it,

Your monkey-mind goes boggling off,

Gagging on the overload.

 

The crazy bent-glass bits

Distort the images they capture

And send them back bent out of shape,

Warped into patterns

That merge and dance before your eyes.

You can’t make sense of what you see,

But your diligent little monkey-mind keeps trying.

 

Step in too close and focus

On one little bit and you

Miss out on the impact of

The beautiful play of movement

Across the patterns of that glassy wall.

 

But then it hit me:

The construct’s really just a wall, you know.

You don’t get to step inside it

Just by looking at it…

No matter how hard you try.

 

It’s a reflecting mirror-wall, silly,

All it does is bounce back images at you

And the images …

Well, they’re just little bits of

The you who is dancing there

In front of it.

It’s not SUPPOSED to enfold you.

(Who wants to get hugged by a wall?)

 

And then it occurred to me…

Maybe…

Somewhere in that wall,

There’s an entryway –

Some secret door or

Maybe a hidden panel

That you press.

Maybe you can’t see it if

You’re dazzled by the image-dance.

 

And maybe that is why

You have to reach out and

Touch that wall…

Run your hands along it,

Making fingerprint smears all over it,

So you can find that hidden door

The one that opens up into

The Mystery that

The world-wall surrounds….

 

Ho, wow!

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Mirror Wall by Jason Meredith via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 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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