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Category: (IPS) INNER PEACE SYMPTOMS

achieving inner peace

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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FINDING YOUR OWN BALANCE

FINDING YOUR OWN BALANCE

The wise guys say Life is a balance.  Physically that is a truth.  You breathe in and you breathe out.  Too much breathing in and you hyperventilate; too little and you turn blue.  Eat too much and you gain weight; eat too little and you waste away.

Balance is fascinating.   I remember that as kids, my friends and I used to try getting the teeter-totter plank to sit perfectly level on its fulcrum as we piled on.  We never did get it quite right.  We tried sitting in different positions on the see-saw board, adjusting the mix of thin and fat kids and throwing in assorted pets as part of the challenge.  It was a heck of a lot of fun.

see-saw
“Children View See-Saw” by Marcelo Campi via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
This YouTube video, “Defying Gravity With Korea’s Premier Balance Artist” was recently published by Great Big Story, the result of a collaboration with Korean Air.  In it artist Rocky Byun, a “balance artist” based in Tancheon, South Korea demonstrates how he is able to find the balance point in anything – rocks, furniture…even bikes and motor scooters.  His amazing sculptures appear to defy gravity.

In another, earlier video filmed at a shopping mall in Dubai and posted to YouTube by Pretty Pink in 2013, Byun is shown performing his art.  He constructs sculptures that incorporate everything from a bunch of irregularly shaped rocks, a laptop, a motor scooter, and even a small refrigerator standing on one corner.

ORIGINS OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE

There is one balancing act that is even more difficult than what Byun and his fellow balance artists can do.  That is the one that’s been dubbed “the work-life balance.”

Everybody is supposed to work at getting that one right.  Somehow, some way, we are all supposed to aim for developing an optimal career AND have an optimal family or personal life as well.  Ri-i-i-ght.

Before the Industrial Revolution, there wasn’t much talk about trying to balance work and the rest of life.  Most people lived in the middle of their work.  Farmers, for example, lived on their farms and the whole family pitched in to help grow and harvest crops as well as take care of all the other things necessary for living.

Work and the rest of life were not separate things.  Work was just part of living.  With the developments of automation, factories, and corporate offices came the Big Divide.  It became normal for “work” to happen “someplace else.”

“Work” became a “job” or a “career” and got compartmentalized away from the other lifestyle things like family, health, leisure, pleasure, community-building and spiritual development.  The priorities of the work-place and the job or the career were often very different from the kinds of priorities one needs to set for personal development or for the growing of relationships and families.

It all takes time and effort, no matter whether you want to get good at your job, advance in your career, develop as an individual, or participate in group or community activities.  It can get terribly complicated.

The expression “work-life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970’s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and his or her personal life.  In the United States, the phrase was first used in 1986.

DEALING WITH THE SEPARATION OF WORK AND LIFE

By 2010 there were all kinds of studies about work-life balances and imbalances and the effect that work has on the rest of a person’s life.  It’s a given, they say:  When the work-life balance is out-of-whack, you get out of whack.

Theories abound about how one goes about finding a “proper” balance.  Everybody weighs in with their own prescriptions and solutions to the dilemma as technology makes it easier and easier to stay connected with your work-world regardless of where you happen to be.

It’s sort of ironic, that.  Now “work” happens at home again and still we separate it from the rest of life.

It would not be so distressing if there wasn’t such a lot of guilt attached to our failure to get the balance “right” and real.  You want to be a success at your work.  You want to have a grand family life and lots of friends and so on.

Everybody tells you that you can do it all, have it all.  (And the sub-text is:  What are ya?  Lazy or something?)

BALANCE OR BUST

The problem, of course, is that you’re trying to make all the differently weighted and shaped things in your life form a structure that defies gravity….flies, even.  You’re trying to be an amateur balance artist and your structures don’t come out looking elegant and awesome like Byun’s work.  Trying to get the balance right is not nearly half as much fun as the game my friends and I used to play with the see-saws.

One way to make it all work is to run yourself ragged trying to get it all done.  That one often ends up with you all twisted into a stressed-out pretzel.  Not good.

This YouTube video by Anna Stefaniak for The School of Life, “Work-Life Balance,”  lends some much-needed perspective on the subject, I think.

Another way to find the right “balance” for you is to decide what your purpose is in life, what brings meaning and mana to it…not somebody else’s pronouncements about what is right and good and real.  Just your own thoughts.

Here’s a YouTube video, “Work/Life Balance Is a Myth” by award-winning American photographer  Chase Jarvis.  In it, he points out that not everyone is cut out for the mad dash of doing-doing-doing that can lead to $ucce$$ big-time…and the real is, they don’t actually have to be.

It is possible, after all, to have a meaningful ordinary life.  It just depends on what you want and where you put your head.

 

Jarvis helped to co-found an online education platform, creativeLIVE in 2010.   The group puts together free on-line classes and works to help Creatives market their work.  The tools they provide can help other Creatives realize their own dreams.  A good thing.

FINAL THOUGHT – ANOTHER IPS

crater sunrise
“Crater Sunrise” by Chad Goddard via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that you are the framework of your own life.  [You’re the only one who can balance the elements of your life to create a synergy that supports you as you dance to your own heartsong.]

Here’s a poem:


MUNDANITIES

The mundanities are three:

People, money, and time.

If you understand those things,

The world will start to rhyme.

 

If the Celestial’s your focus,

The Mundane will make you fall.

Too much of the Mundane

And you can’t see up at all.

 

The only answer’s balance

And that’s not easy to do.

There really is no recipe

For this ever-changing stew.

 

You do the best you can,

You give the best you’ve got,

You’ll rise up and you’ll fall

And for sure you’ll hurt a lot.

 

And when there are no answers

When you can’t see what to do,

You can only trust the simple truth

Residing inside of you:

 

That the Universe keeps changing,

Moving first this way, then that,

And if you follow where it leads you,

You might make it through intact.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Balance” by Thomas Hawke via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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FAIL BETTER

FAIL BETTER

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that action and failure are two sides of the same coin.  [The trick is to use failure as a signal for a course correction rather than as a stop sign….]

FAILURE HAPPENS

I’ve just devoured a book, FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER:  Wise Advice For Leaning Into the Unknown, and it’s left me with a full and satisfied feeling.

This book grew out of the transcript of a commencement address by Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun who is also a best-selling author of many wisdom books.  Her teachers have included master Tibetan lamas, Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rimpoche as well as the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  At various times since she became a nun in 1981, she served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado and as the director of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.

The speech from which the book was made was a promise fulfilled.  When her granddaughter Alexandria entered Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Ani Chodron told the girl she would give the commencement address when the Alexandria graduated.  This was a large gift.

When her granddaughter graduated in 2014, Chodron presented this speech.  It is based on a quote from Samuel Beckett who advised, “Ever tried?  Ever failed?  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.

In this clip from an Oprah Winfrey Network “SuperSoul Sunday” episode published as a YouTube video in that same year, Chodron tells a little bit about the speech.

The book that was made from the speech is a graceful, simple thing, but, as is true of a lot of Chodron’s work, the information in it is layered, and it unpacks beautifully.

AN OLD STORY

My favorite bit is when Chodron tells an old Chinese story about an old farmer with a beautiful stallion and a strong and strapping son, both of whom are precious to him.

One day the horse runs away and the farmer’s wife and all their friends in the village moan and groan and tell each other how terrible it is.  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

the-gaze
“The Gaze” (of a wild Mongolian horse) by Marko Knuutila via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
The next day the horse returns home with a wild mare.  The farmer’s wife and the villagers celebrate and tell each other what a grand thing it is.  Now the farmer and his wife have two horses.  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The following day, the son decides to try and tame the wild mare.  The horse throws him off her and his leg is broken.  His wife and the villagers wail.  It is a catastrophe!  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The day after that, the Chinese army comes through the village and conscripts all of the able-bodied men in the village to fight in the latest war.  The son, with his broken leg, stays home….well, you know what the farmer’s wife and the villagers said.  You know what the old man said.

That’s where the old story ends, but you do get the feeling that it probably goes on like that over and over again, ad infinitum, with the old man saying, “Maybe yes, maybe no” while the people around him mill about and react emphatically to every circumstance and situation.

Chodron advises the students to take the old man as a model as they go out into the world to meet whatever is out there for them.  She tells them, “If you can just remember the old man and what he had to say about what is happening, you’ll remember that you never know where something will lead.

GET CURIOUS

Her whole point is that we live in the middle of the Great Mystery.  Nobody knows where life will take us.  Nobody knows how we will grow and develop from moment to moment.

The nun tells the graduating class that it’s a good thing to get curious about your outer circumstances and notice how they impact your internal talk.  That internal talk will be what you carry around with you and it does impact what you do in the world.

Each of us is part of a continuing saga and it sometimes goes well for us and sometimes not.  Nobody can know what happens next.  It unfolds.

mystery-trip
“Mystery Trip” by Przemko Stachowski via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Chodron advises that if you can avoid getting caught up or lost in the storyline, then there is the possibility that you will learn something about Mystery and about your own self.  You might even get to a space where you can stand still long enough in the rawness and vulnerability of what you feel to actually be able to get past it gracefully and learn the lessons each episode has for you.

From this space, you will be able to communicate the lessons you’ve learned from that to other people.  The event and your feelings about them become a door to a space where you can build something new.

The key to getting into that space where creativity and making can happen is to get curious.  To notice what is happening inside you as well as what is happening outside in the world.  To stand up again after you fall down.  To try again.  To “fail better,” as Beckett says.

This YouTube video, “Get Curious,” published by Sounds True, is a part of Chodron’s speech at the university.

AFTER THE TALK, MORE TALK

After the speech, Chodron agreed to a follow-up interview with Sounds True publisher Tami Simon.  This interview, which is another rarity for Chodron, is included in the book.  The teaching unpacks the points Chodron makes in her speech and also offers valuable strategies for working with the outer circumstances of your life to help develop your own inner strength and to reaffirm your own inner goodness.

At one point in all this Ani Pema says, “Failure opens an unguarded, vulnerable and wide open space.  And from that space the best part of ourselves come out.”

“Vulnerability” by Clive Moss via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
She goes on to explain how the process works and how it feels from the inside.

At the end, Chodron and Simon agree, there is only “Forward.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

My favorite quote from the FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER is this:  “Failing better means that failure becomes a rich and fertile ground instead of just another slap in the face.

I do recommend that you get this book.  The lady is wise.

Here’s a poem:


I HAD FORGOTTEN

 

I had forgotten:

wrapped up in

just the facts, m’am,

so busy measuring out

and weighing up

the ashes of old dreams,

caught in the conflagration

of yet another apocalyptic end,

I had forgotten

just how beautiful

the ruins look

and just how much I love

the nicked and dented

lived-in parts of

this life I have made.

 

Sometimes I confuse

the facts for the truth.

A common failing, I suppose.

 

And here I am again

working on being “special.”

 

Silly.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit: “Scraggly Tree Sunrise” by Ken Schwarz 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.

Chodron keeps pointing out that it’s never a one-shot deal.  There will be many opportunities for failure and many ways to fall down.   The trick is to work on learning how to use the failures and handle them in better ways.    Save

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ORDINARY MAGIC

ORDINARY MAGIC

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that transcendence has nothing to do with escaping the world or your own self.  [All it means is stepping out and dancing your own heart-dance right out in the open, in the middle of the world and in the middle of yourself.]

“Listening to your heart” often seems like a scary thing.  Your heart keeps insisting that you just have to do things that are counter-intuitive and not-the-thing — the very opposite of what everybody around you says is the Smart Thing To Do.

Your heart often keeps urging you to make these moves that make no rational sense, insisting and insisting that the very thing you are trying to ignore or avoid or resist has to be embraced.

Your heartsong, it turns out, is also what holds you together when your life turns to dreck and you have been knocked down to the floor again by some other Life-thing.  Not only does it help you get back up, it can even help you keep your feet under you the next time you get a 2×4 upside the head.

This seems to me to be a very good thing to explore when you’re searching for meaning and mana for your ordinary life.

THE POWER OF THE HEART

In this YouTube video of a TEDxRockCreekPark talk, “The Power of Resilience,” neuro-psychologist Sam Goldstein tells a story about his work with children and touches on some of the things that his patients have taught him.  His early work with children led him to focus on studying resilience in humans, his life-work.

Resilience researchers ask why some people handle adversity better than others and go on to lead normal lives despite negative life experiences while others get de-railed by them.  Goldstein is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah, a Research Professor of Psychology at George Mason University and the director of the Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center in Salt Lake City in Utah.  He’s written many books and articles on the subject.

Goldstein’s own work has led him to understand that it is the ordinary, heartful actions of everyday people that fosters and instill in childen the strength, hope and optimism they need to face the world.  It is, as he calls it, an “ordinary magic.”

He also points out that our heart is connected to our brain in more ways than any other organ in our body.  It affects us physically and mentally as well.   He encourages us to listen more to our hearts.

In this YouTube video published by the HeartMath Institute, “The Importance of Resilience” further explains the real effects of the heart-mind connection, applying it to the business world.

HeartMath Institute is a nonprofit research and educational organization founded in the 1980’s by Doc Childre, an internationally known authority on optimizing personal effectiveness.  He believes that the “intelligence of the heart” can be harnessed and originated a system of “heart-based tools and technologies” that has been used widely in business, the military, hospitals, clinic and schools to enhance health, performance and well-being.

Another scientist (one who’s turned mystic) is Gregg Braden.  He spends his time exploring ancient wisdoms from a scientific perspective, sharing what he has discovered on his journeys and his thoughts on these discoveries.

This next YouTube video, published by philosophical freeborder in 2015, features Braden talking about how the emotions of the human heart can apparently affect the electromagnetic field of the earth in a GAIAM TV interview.

The thinking’s “out there.”  It’s also fascinating.

Braden’s book, RESILIENCE FROM THE HEART:  The Power to Thrive in Life’s Extremes, is also worth checking out.

FINAL THOUGHTS

From the ancient wise guys to modern-day big brains, the advice remains the same:  Listen to your heart.  That’s where the magic is.

Here’s a poem:


CARING FOR THE ESSENCES

I am learning:

The wiseguys are right.

It really does NOT matter

What happens to me.

The only thing important

Is my response.

 

Building up and tearing down,

I wade through the stream of Time

And dance in the Creative

As I work on caring for

What is essential to me on

This journey I am making.

 

Caring for the essences of my existence

Keeps me hopping,

But on the stage

The dancer leaps with abandon,

Throwing out her heart

And following after it as

The beauty of the dance

Continues to grow.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Sunny Sunday Mornings” by Chris Chabot via Flickr [CC BY-NC 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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WHERE ARE YOU STANDING?

WHERE ARE YOU STANDING?

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that your own truth is based on what you feel or deduce from where you stand.  [So then the question becomes:  Where are you standing?]

It’s the human dilemma, it seems to me:  we each have this spark of the Creative in there and it demands that we do Something to deliver the gift that each of us is to the World.  There is even a built-in expiration date on the thing.  (We only get a certain amount of time here in the World, after all.)

It’s not that there aren’t guideposts, and training manuals and how-to books, and tapes, and organizations galore that are perfectly willing to tell you which way to go.  Everybody has an opinion, everybody has The Right Way.  Uh-huh.

stand
“Stand” by Go to See This World Through Lenses via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

GETTING ON WITH YOUR OWN DANCE

It seems to me that the only thing that’s worth anything in all the blather is knowing that you are free to do whatever you want to do, just like everybody else.  It is a good starting point.

You get to choose which way you go from where you’re standing.  The rest of it you make up as you go along.

It does work better if you listen to your own heartsong.  It gets right lively if you dance when you can.  (Trudging along with your head down tends to be so disheartening.)

movement-9
“Movement 9” by Pedro Martin via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Since you’re just the messenger, the gift you are holding is the important thing in all this.  Your  job is to make your delivery.  The world is waiting on you.  (If you step on too many toes, of course, there will be consequences and you’ll either handle them or not, but that’s just another part of the story.)

Your delivery-man  or -woman journey probably goes better if you can find your own way to dance.  Dreams and visions are a part of that journey.  Where you go and what you do is all on you.

WHAT IF YOU’RE A NON-STARTER?

It is always an option to be a non-starter.  You could just say no to all that effort and trying and turn your back on your mission.  Of course you can.  You’re free, remember?

The biggest problem you encounter when you give up on your visions and your dreams is that you will probably end up dissipating all this good energy that became available to you when you first started out.  When you decide to just give up, you are very likely to end up standing there in the middle of the road, scratching your head wondering how you’re supposed to share this gift you know you’re carrying.

RECURRING OBSTACLES AND OBSTRUCTIONS

The other thing about this journey is that, invariably, no matter which direction you choose to take, there will be a really big ball of knotted strings — your if-thens and your maybes and your buts and your can’ts — right in the middle of this road you’ve decided you’re supposed to be traveling down.

It is huge, this ball.  It blocks the whole road.  You’ll probably have to push that ball out of the way so you can get on down the road you’ve chosen to take.  (Every time you stop to take a breather, that stupid ball’s probably going to materialize right in the middle of your road again.  It’s what it does.)  It is H-A-R-D.  Yes, it is.

And every time the ball comes back and you’re standing there feeling disgruntled, you have to decide again:  Go on?  Stop?  Turn around?  Take the time to try to dismantle the ball (and watch it morph into some other recurring obstruction) or just keep on heading towards your dream?

You know, if you do give up on dreaming and visioning and all that and refuse to enter into or continue onward in the fray, it’s possible that you will get to be a rock that sort of sits there eroding in the wind and the wet.  Just part of the landscape.  Somebody may come along and turn you into a piece of a wall or something.  Maybe you’ll get to be part of some other road.

rocks-on-koki-beach
“Beach Rocks on Koki Beach” by Adam Theo via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Maybe that’s okay.  You’re useful.  You’re doing something.  And then you’re dead.  Right.

Or maybe you can transform yourself into a leaf floating down a stream, just cruising and looking pretty, bumping into things.  You’re already dying, but it’s a sunny day and it’s okay. Nothing much happens.

mango-leaves-in-chings-pond
“Mango Leaves in Ching’s Pond” by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You party with all the other leaves or sit around telling each other things and all that.  It’s cool.  Then you sink down under the water and turn to sludge.  Right.

A BETTER WAY

There’s got to be a better way, don’t you think?  Here are some thoughts from motivational speaker Iyanla Vazant, speaking at the 2014 ESSENCE Music Fest, a “party with a purpose” that started in 1994 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily toward African-American women.

It’s a YouTube video, “Iyanla Vanzant On Creating a New Life Vision,” published by Essence in 2014.

The Essence Fest, as it’s known locally in New Orleans, has become the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States.

And here’s a poem:


 DARING TO DANCE THE TIDE

Daring to dance the tide.

(Won’t reach my dream-place ‘less I try.)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(No question ’bout it,

Those scary waves are so very high!)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(Stomach in knots but my hands are steady,

My heart’s already sailing on,

Going high and wide.)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(Hey, heart!

Wait for me!

Here I come….

Hoo-hoo!

What a ride!)

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Maui Sunrise” by Angela Sevin via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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STEP BY STEP BY STEP

STEP BY STEP BY STEP

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to get on with taking one more step in your right direction regardless of how you are feeling.  [This comes after “feeling your feeling” and accepting it.  Doing trumps feeling every time….]

It is a funny thing how if you keep taking one more step every day, eventually you get a lot of stuff done.  Things change because you make this move or that one.  The world reacts.  The people around you come or go.  Course-corrections happen.

UP THE STAIRCASE

So you’ve got a goal or a project you want to complete.  Others have done it, but, wow…it’s a whopper.  It looks like a mountain from where you’re standing and that feels overwhelming.  There’s probably not going to be an elevator, but if you’re in luck maybe somebody will have built a staircase.

Some of those staircases might be a bit hard to handle, however….

suspended-staircase
Suspended Staircase by Aaronth via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If you already know how to get to your goal maybe you can make your own staircase.  Breaking things down into smaller and smaller bits allows you to stand a fair shot at accomplishing one designated step each day if you’re doing a thing that has already been done before.

You see how other people have achieved the goal you want to shoot for.  You decide what “manageable” means to you.  You systematically break down the big project into itsy-bitsy small steps and then you do them.

There will be glitches and days when it just doesn’t come together, but if you keep on doing one more prescribed step, then eventually you get to where you want to be.

One possible way to take that step forward is to put together an “if-then” plan as well as a “coping” plan.  Here’s more on that in this YouTube video,”What Small Change In Your Life Can Make a Big Difference,” published by BiteSize Psych whose Facebook page says his aim is to “revolutionize how we use psychology to better our lives, one video at a time.”

Pretty soon, you’ve got a new plate spinning on a new stick stuck on that stage where you’re in performance mode.  Then one day you look up and it’s a whole new world you’re looking at.

The thing about that kind of plan is that it only works if you want to do something that’s already been done before.  If you’re trying to figure out how to do something new and different, you’re facing a mountain wrapped in fog.  It’s sort of hard to even see the shape of it, much less carve out the steps to help you get up the thing.

fog-over-mutnovsky
Fog over volcano Mutnovsky, Kamchatka, Russia by kuhnmi via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

ANOTHER KIND OF STEPPING

Peter Sims, in his new book, LITTLE BETS:  How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries, explains that most successful entrepreneurs (especially those who started businesses with limited capital) have a tendency to take little concrete actions to discover, test and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable.  He calls these experiments “little bets.”

You make these miniscule little moves that will maybe work.  When they do work (and even when they don’t), the little moves provide you with information about the next little step to take.  Then you take that step.  If it works, you do it again and add another little bet to the mix.  If it doesn’t work, you try something else.

Because you don’t know what is actually going to happen when you are trying to do something new, you can’t analyze things too much at the beginning.  How can you analyze something you know little or nothing about?  You’d be shooting blind at a narrow target on some unknown horizon.

You, for sure, are not going to be able to develop an elaborate plan because you just won’t know all the factors that are going to be set into motion by your actions.  It’ll be slow.  It’ll be frustrating.  Sometimes it will be downright disheartening.

 LIKE DIFFERENT STYLES OF COOKING

These different ways of stepping are sort of like the difference between cooking according to a set plan with a specific menu, recipes all picked out and all of the necessary fixings on hand in your own well-equipped kitchen, and winging it with whatever happens to be in your friend’s pantry and cupboards.

If you’re doing the set meal, it’s likely that you’ll be able to plan out how you’re going to get everything cooked in sequence, efficiently and well.  It’ll all get done and the results will probably be predictable.  You and the people you feed will know pretty much what to expect.

If you’re throwing stuff together catch-as-can, maybe it’ll turn out good or maybe not.  The result will depend partly on what is in those cupboards you’re rummaging through and partly on how good you are at improvising and playing with food.

chunky-chili-cooking
Chunky Chili Cooking by Bob Peters via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
That example was tendered by Professor Saras Sarasvathy from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Sarasvathy is one of the few researchers studying how entrepreneurs tend to make decisions.

She says that the MBA-trained managers she teaches at the Darden School are likely to follow the methods used by the set-meal cook.  Their “procedural planning” approaches are highly dependent on making predictions about the future based on past experience.

planning-closeup
Planning Close-up by Dan Foy via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Detailed planning is the primary method used to try to predict things like consumer demand, financial costs, what market conditions are likely to be and from where the competition will probably come.  When a lot is already known, these methods work perfectly well.

However, many entrepreneurs, Sarasvathy says, are more likely to be like the improviser cook rummaging through the cupboards of a new-to-them kitchen.  They are more likely to be the ones who experiment and play and come up with new ideas that have never been seen before.

Success in the business world does depend on predictability and reliable results so there will always be a need for procedural, detailed planning.

However, in this world of accelerated change, it is also a very good idea to develop the ability to experiment and try out new approaches, to practice “experimental innovation.”

CHECKLIST OF STRATEGIES TO EXPLORE

  •  Experiment.  Learn by doing.  Fail quicker and learn faster.  Develop experiments and prototypes to gather insights and identify problems as you build up to creative ideas.
  • Develop an attitude of playfulness and humor.  Let ideas incubate and hatch.  Suspend premature judging games and let the idea grow as it will.
  • Soak up life. Take the time to get out into the world to get fresh ideas or insights.  Reflect on and try to understand human motivations and desires so you can address meeting them in a new, cooler way.  Figure out how things work from the ground up so you can build the thing well.
  • Define problems, find solutions.  Use the insights you gather throughout this process to define the problems and needs you are encountering so that you can find the solutions that will resolve them.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel.  Make use of small wins to make necessary pivots and course corrections when they’re needed and eventually you’ll find a way to complete this project you’re doing.  (It probably won’t turn out exactly as you pictured it.)
  • Repeat, refine and test.  Repeat, refine and test.  Repeat, refine, and test.  Each time you do this you’ll have better insights, more information and a more complete framework for this thing you’re building.

Instead of a stately march, the experimental innovation mode is more like a goofy dance that sometimes actually makes it to Cool.  It seems to me that knowing how to waltz, tango, swing, and tap-dance as well as promenade can be a very good thing.

Here’s another poem…


 THE THOUSAND MILES

 

I know I’ve heard the one about

The thousand-mile journey

Beginning with one step

At least a thousand times.

Everybody says it…

Over and over, ad nauseum,

Trying to get you to

TAKE THAT ONE STEP –

The step that starts you on

The long, long journey.

 

Nobody ever tells you

There’s another part to it.

Nobody ever says,

“The path of a thousand miles ends in the heart.”

They forget to tell you that part.

And I have to think

How much EASIER it would’ve been to know

(As you started off on that thousand-mile walk)

That something so fine was waiting there at the end.

How do you quest when you’ve got no goal?

How do you even start?

 

Can you feel it?

Do you hear it?

Listen for the rest of the promise:

At the end of all the trials and tribulations

You will meet along the way,

The penultimate Holy Grail is one heart…

One all-too-human heart…

One glorious, beating, feeling heart

That’s open to the raw and scouring winds

Blowing through this old world…

Laying down the sound that powers your dance –

The sound behind compassion,

The one that invokes reverence, wonder and awe,

The one that bestows gratitude and untrammeled joy.

 

That back-beat, solid and strong,

Lifts up your tired feet and sets your body moving

To the pounding rhythm,

Whips right through you like a sonic BOOM-bada-BOOM-bada-BOOM.

 

Well…

Now you know.

Are ya gonna just sit there?

by Netta Kanoho

Heading picture credit:  Sunrise, Haleakala, Maui by blese via Flickr [BY-NC 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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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.

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 you.  That 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 deeply.  Sometimes 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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STANDING IN AMBIGUITY

STANDING IN AMBIGUITY

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that the willingness to stand still in the middle of uncertainty without giving in to despair allows for new opportunities to show up and gives you the space you need to notice them.  [If you focus on fears and doubts, there really is no room in your head for paying attention when a new door opens.]

Apple founder Steve Jobs had an interesting take on how to deal with the uncertainty of life.  He suggested using the ultimate uncertainty, death, to get past the fears and doubts you are likely to encounter during times of change.

steve-jobs-with-red-shawl
Steve Jobs With Red Shawl by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, ProjectRED Grouppicture, retouched by Sagredo, via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]
Jobs has been quoted as saying, “All external expectations, all fear of embarrassment and failure – all these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.   You are already naked.”

This is, I think, a profound thought, and it is probably the best (and the most difficult) way I know of dealing with “standing in ambiguity” – the whole uncertainty of just living your life, making plans and executing them, having goals and realizing them,  and so forth and so on.

WHAT IT IS AND WHY DO IT?

“Standing in ambiguity” equates, I think, with poet John Keats’ “negative capability,” which he describes as “when a person is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason….”

Wise guys through the ages have tried to get us to just sit with the uncertainty, feel the feelings, understand why they are welling up in us, and then step away from those feelings and look at where we can make our next move.  After that we can take the next step, then the next one, and so on until we get to a new place that feels more comfortable for us.

But, uncertainty and ambiguity is never an easy space to be in.

So then there’s this question:  If it makes us so uncomfortable, why would we even go there? 

One answer is that it is in this space that Creativity happens.  All that discomfort produces new ways of looking at things, change-making moves, and products never seen before.  (It also produces a lot of crazy people…but that’s another story.)

Here’s a short YouTube video, “Embrace Ambiguity,” by IDEO.org, an organization that works with nonprofits, social enterprises and foundations to design solutions for social impact around the world.  It explains some of the benefits of standing in ambiguity that creative people can use.

 

CULTURAL AMBIGUITY TOLERANCE

How much ambiguity you can tolerate is a personal thing.  Each person has his or her own level of tolerance.  The same is true for different cultures.

This YouTube video by Mary Rowland explains about the “ambiguity tolerance” of different cultures and what it means to you in practical, nuts-and-bolts fashion.

(I’m not sure who Mary Rowland is.  I couldn’t find anything about her on Google and her other YouTube offerings are not particularly helpful.  Still, this video is a lovely schmooze about an important topic.    Thanks, Mary Rowland…whoever you are.)

If your own ambiguity tolerance doesn’t match that of your culture, it’s quite likely that there will be friction.  If your own high ambiguity tolerance clashes with your culture’s lack of tolerance for ambiguity, you’ll have to deal with being labeled as a troublemaker or a ne’er-do-well.  If your ambiguity tolerance is low and you’re in a culture with a high tolerance for ambiguity, then you might be labeled as a ‘fraidy-cat, a worry-wort, or even a coward.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to figure out how to work with your culture’s level of tolerance for ambiguity as well as your own.  If the mismatch is too great, then perhaps you will need to go find a more supportive environment for yourself.  This, of course, will add to all the uncertainty.

JUST DO IT

Another take on how to deal with the uncertainty of life is in this YouTube video by Bob Miglani who exhorts, “Dealing  With Uncertainty?  Stop Waiting.  Move Forward and Embrace the Chaos.”

(Bob Magliani is the author of EMBRACE THE CHAOS: How India Taught Me To Stop Overthinking and Start Living.  In 2012, it was a Washington Post bestseller.  In it Magliani addresses how to deal with facing major uncertainty and stop doing the deer-in-the-headlights freeze.  He tells you that you have to let go of trying to control the chaos all around you and focus, instead, on what you can control — your own actions and your words and thoughts.  An interesting read.)

FINAL THOUGHT

The irony in all of this is that standing in ambiguity is…well…ambiguous and also very personal.  There are no final answers, no right or wrong way to do it.  There is only you and what you feel you can or must do.

About a year after my husband died, this poem came.  It  was a signal to me that I was ready again to turn around and face future.

After Fred died and the world I knew changed, I was very lost.  One of the first steps was getting through the grieving intact and through the acceptance and letting go.  And then there was the learning how to stand up strong in the middle of a heck of a lot of ambiguity.

When you’re already naked and the illusions in which you used to dress the world have all melted and dribbled away, when you no longer have anything obscuring your look into the Void, it does tend to free you up to do lots of other things.

I went and did a lot of other things.  Many of them turned out pretty okay.


I CAN TELL YOU GOODBYE

I can tell you goodbye now

And mean it, in my heart of hearts.

Your passing nearly killed me,

The pain squeezing me into

An otherness that whimpered

Helplessly against the loss

Of you and of the world

I thought I knew.

What is it somebody said?

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional….”

Something like that.

 

I decided not to suffer.

I don’t know what I’m doing

And no ultimate answer rises up,

No banner or signpost

To show me where to go.

I am lost in ambiguity,

Lost in the illusions

That keep swirling

Through this shadow-play.

And I cannot find my way

Back to the surety

I once knew.

 

You’re the one who was sure.

I thought you knew the way.

I only had to follow you.

Then you left me

Standing lost on this

Mist-covered mountain

And the world has changed

And changed and changed.

No visible landmarks –

All gone, along with you.

And your assurance that all of this is real.

 

You lied to me.

(Or maybe it was only to yourself.)

You were so sure that

I believed you.

I followed your lead

Because I thought I had no

Guidelines of my own.

And now I have to make them up,

All by myself, all over again.

Every day I make it all up.

 

It’s been good, you know.

I like it just fine now.

I have to thank you

Even though you brought

So much pain and confusion in your wake.

You taught me about a world

I had not known and made me

Play to its many faces.

 

Now I’m going back to what

I used to know,

Richer for having known you.

I loved you the best I could.

You loved me too, I know.

 

Good-bye, ei nei,

It was all good.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Sunrise by blese via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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