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WHAT MOVES YOU?

WHAT MOVES YOU?

Meaning and mana are the pillars that hold up the gateway to life lived as poem-fodder.  Oregon’s late poet laureate William Stafford once said, “Poetry and other arts come from acceptance of little signals that immediate experience contributes to beings who are alive and fallible and changing.”  Actually, meaning and mana are probably the pillars for the gateways to all the different lives a human can live.

Life lived by humans is almost never simple, even when the moves we make appear to be straightforward.  According to ancient wisdom teachers, our moves arise out of a mixed bag of needs and motivations, desire and goals that form the matrix we call “self.”  The motives and needs and desires are pretty much standard-issue, they say.  It’s just the mix that differs.

Science agrees.  Daniel H. Pink’s popular book, DRIVE:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, lays out the results of a wide variety of scientific studies about human behavior.  Pink lists the “three primary elements of true motivation”:

Autonomy (which is about understanding oneself and cultivating self-direction, a large part of developing mana or personal power)

Mastery (which is the other part of developing personal power)

Purpose (which is another word for “meaning”)

 

Says Pink, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another.  And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”  In his book, Pink goes on to present assorted ways and means for achieving that liberation in your own life by working with your own particular mix of motivations.

A PARABLE OF SORTS

Need an example of the wide variance in human motivations?  Imagine that you’re a time-traveling researcher gathering data for some scientific study or other research project about why people do the work they do.  Your subjects happen to be laborers working on a cathedral.  Not just any cathedral.  Make it a big one, like the Notre-Dame de Chartres.

Chartres Cathedral by anthony rue via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Four journeyman bricklayers are among the people who’ve agreed to take part in your study.  You ask them why they are engaged in this work they all do.

The first one says, “It’s hard work, but it’s my job.  I do this for my family, to provide for them.

The second one says, “It’s hard work, but this is my career.  I do this because someday I shall be a master builder and I will be the one in charge of a project like this.”

The third one says, “It’s hard work, but this is a part of my family tradition.  For generations now, my family have been bricklayers and builders.  I do this because I am carrying on the legacy of my ancestors and I want to pass it on to my children.

The fourth one says, “It’s hard work, but this is my calling.  I do this for the glory of God.  I do this because even when I am gone, this cathedral will still stand, and it will be beautiful.”

Each one of the bricklayers is doing the same hard work.  Each one looks at the work with different eyes.  Each one does the work for a different reason.  And each one of them are probably living very different lives.  Motivations — the “why” of living your life – vary.  So do the results.

This YouTube Video by the Great Big Story video network, “The Lone Man Building a Cathedral by Hand” is about 90-year-old Justo Gallego who has spent 53 years of his life building a cathedral on the outskirts of Madrid in Spain.  It is amazing….

THE EXAMINED LIFE

Life lived as poem-fodder requires a particular mindset – one that begins by looking at who and where you are now.  Poets, artists and storytellers are particularly prone to examining life-as-we-know-it.

We look at the messy chaos of it all, focus on one specific thing that catches at our hearts, and we unpack and tease out the meanings contained in this ordinary slice of life.  We roll all of these meanings and metaphors up into a ball that makes some sort of sense to us and we play with it.  Sometimes by doing that we can discover new worlds to which we can invite other people to come and play.

Here’s a YouTube video, “For Those Who Dream.”  It’s a heart-felt spoken poem by Osric Chau.

THE MEASURED LIFE

Scientists, engineers, technicians and other more linear sorts also look at the world with special eyes.  They pull out their tape measures and calipers and use them to tally the height and width and depth of some part of life.  They gather together far-flung bits of data and throw them into a funnel that moves the bits through a series of filters that have already been set up.  These filters have names like “hypothesis,” “premise,” and “theory.”

All of the data gets compared and correlated according to preset or already established ideas and ideals.  They hope, these smart guys, to suss out how the “rules” are supposed to work.

They take the little bits they’ve sifted out of the whole thing and press them into molds made according to older, established constructs to make more bricks.  With these  bricks they build other rules and constructs and edifices as they trundle right along making their visions “real.”

This way of seeing and doing can also be quite exciting.  This YouTube video, “A Day In the Life of An Oxford Physics Student” was published  by Simon Clark.  What is most evident is the young man’s passion for his field of study.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Very different ways of seeing become divergent ways of making.  Each one is a perfectly valid way to build a life with meaning and mana.

Here’s a poem:


NOT MY WALK

Oops!  Sorry!

I forget sometimes, you see…

Your walk is not mine,

You are not me.

You’re headed off in

Some direction that

Makes no sense to me.

 

Maybe it’s ’cause your horizon’s set

At an odd angle from mine.

Maybe your gravity well’s

Located in a different place.

I don’t know.

 

It really looks peculiar,

That way you’re standing,

But, mostly…probably…that’s just me,

Just the way I see.

Looking at your stance from here

Gives me the jimmy-jams!

What is holding you up?

 

Do you get dizzy from that levitating thing you do?

Does standing sideways like that

Feel to you like hanging your head backwards

As you pump your swing up higher?

 

Maybe not.  If that’s normal for you….

Hmmm….

 

There must be cool stories

Sandwiched in there somewhere

In all that precarious-looking

Crane-stance thing you’re doing.

There must be things

That I can’t see

From where I’m standing.

 

So tell me, please….

How’s it going for ya?

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Gateway by George Redgrave via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

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THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world.  In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so.  He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.

GETTING NEW EYES

One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising.  Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.

Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012)  It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making.  Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is?  Think about it….

TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES

Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing:  take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.

This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places.  When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.

For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world.  He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.

DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN

I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous.  You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.

Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said.  How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.

You need to get some Outsider eyes.  Ask yourself:  How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?

I grew up in Hawaii.  For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.”  It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America.  It has been an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place.  They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.”  Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.

hawaiian-767
Hawaiian 767 by Simon Clancy [CC BY 2.0]
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.

LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)

Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us.  Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things.  They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.

Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else.  They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.

Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.

Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else.  What you believe is what you will see.  It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.

Here’s another poem….


TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE

Island welcomes you when you come.

The gate is always open.

It is open when you come;

When you leave, it is open.

 

‘As how…

 

But, if…if you really want to be a part

Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,

Talking about, thinking about,

Here’s your first lesson:

 

Be Island.

Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.

Whatever you can give, give graciously.

Be who you are, gracefully.

 

That’s Island.

People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.

If you cry, they will hug you.

If you hurt, they will comfort you.

 

Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.

Show angry and they walk away,

Or return anger for anger.

That’s Island.

 

If you are real, Island is real.

If you play games, Island plays harder games.

If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –

Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.

 

‘As how.

Island is not how much money you have,

Or how many fine things.

Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.

 

‘As how.

You will be tested:  There will always be lessons,

There will always be tests.

Doesn’t matter how long you stay.

 

That’s Island.

People have been burned by strangers over and over.

They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…

If you will keep going, as they do.

 

‘As how.

They know:  Island is a cruel, cruel lover.

Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.

She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….

 

That’s Island….

If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.

Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.

Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”

 

Island will not be with you and in you and of you.

You can live here fifty years,

And STILL you will not be Island.

‘As how….

 

So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,

Know there is a price you will have to pay.

Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.

That’s Island….

 

Also know that when you have paid it

And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,

Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….

That’s Island.

 

Here is the key…

You can use it if you like:

There is only one gate to Paradise.

It is inside of you.

 

‘As how….

by Netta Kanoho

[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how….  It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that.  It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.] 


Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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