Posts Tagged ‘possibility’

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Philosophy Tuesday

December 12, 2017

A work of art

is not a living thing

that walks or runs.

But the making of the life,

that which gives you a reaction;

to somebody’s the wonder of man’s fingers,

to somebody’s the wonder of the mind,

to somebody’s the wonder of technique,

and to some it is how real it is,

to some how transcendent it is.

 

Like the 5th Symphony;

it presents itself with a feeling,

that you know it if you heard it once, and you’ll look for it;

though you know it, you must hear it again,

though you know it, you must hear it again.

– Louis I. Kahn

 

(An excerpt from the movie My Architect, which is a fine documentary worth seeing.)

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 28, 2017

In life, we may not always be able to keep our word.

Breaking promises is something that happens.

But we can, always can, without exception, honour our word.

That may sound like the same thing.  But it is not.  Quite not.

And grasping this distinction is both empowering and incredibly freeing.  It is the pathway to a much clearer, authentic, and powerful way of being and interacting with each other.

Firstly, we tend to collapse breaking a promise with being a bad person.  It’s quite similar to the way we have collapsed the notion of being responsible with the idea of blame.

And so we get reaaaaal squirelly when it comes time to give our word to something, to make a promise, to say what we will do, or be.

Our promise, such as it is, all to easily becomes a wishy-washy thing, full of caveats and asterisks, even if they’re not spoken out loud.

And when a word is broken, we tend not to be too rigorous in acknowledging it or dealing with it. Apologies offered aren’t often exactly apologies, mostly explanations and excuses, devoid of authenticity and integrity.  Plus there’s this kind of secret handshake and agreement thing going on:  if I don’t call you out on this, you won’t hold me responsible either… ok?

Promises are big things.  They are quite scary in many ways.  They are bold statements spoken forth in the face of the vast uncertainty that is the future.

And promises will be broken.  You will break promises.*

And that is OK.

For here is that distinction:  The promise, your word, wasn’t kept, and It was broken.  But by acknowledging that the promise was not – or will not be the moment you know it won’t be – kept, by acknowledging the impact of the broken promise has/had, by taking responsibility for it not being kept, and by accepting the consequences and outfall of it, you can still honour your word.  You give your words weight.

To honour one’s word is to honour one’s self.

Because, really, what are we beyond that of our word?

If we treat our word as dismissible, small, and not worth the metaphorical paper it is written on, then we are weakening who we fundamentally are.  We are treating ourselves the same way, as dismissible, small, without value, and we are inviting others to do the same.

Through authentic promises, backed up with intentful action, and when broken coupled with authentic apologies, we close the loop and know ourselves (and each other) as mighty and whole and true.

We shed the background guilt towards ourselves that’s coupled with background (righteous) resentment towards others.  We gain a greater sense of ourselves, connect with each other, and together we can create big and bold promises towards what we actually want in life.

 

* If you’re not, consider that you are making promises that are too small…

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 21, 2017

Sometimes, making art is easy.

Sometimes, making art is really difficult.

Sometimes, our best work will come into being with ease.

Sometimes, our even bester work takes more than blood, sweat, and tears.

They are both art.

They both end up beautiful.

Neither one is the ‘right’ way.

Neither one is the ‘wrong’ way.

It is just art.

It’s how art goes.

And here’s the thing,

Living life?

It’s an art.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 24, 2017

Halloween is just around the corner, a time of costumes.  A time quite loved for that very fact, the one day everyone is allowed* to put on a costume and play.

Though… it’s not the only time of costumes.  In truth, don’t we kinda wear costumes every day?

In many ways, I’d assert, we do.

Natch, they are quite the different kind of costume than that of a ghoul, an anime character, your fishtank, or of a sexy [insert profession/noun here]**.  But they are costumes nonetheless.  They are the costumes we wear to reinforce the role we want or feel the need to play, and they are the costumes we wear to project a (specific) message to the world.

They are our broadcasting system.   Clothing choices, hairstyles, technology, brands, patterns of speech, mannerisms, the accessories we sport, and the vehicles we drive… all crafted and brought together to be our costume we put on (often every day) and go out into the world as “it”.

It’s a great mode of communication.  And when the costume comes from a place of authenticity, it can be a glorious self-expression.

When the costume comes from a hope of hiding, of identity, of shouting something we want to feel or be, when a costume is born of external concerns and of uncertainty and self-doubt, it can lead us places we don’t really want to go.  A costume can be the personal version of James Howard Kunstler’s description of the banal suburban home:  a television broadcasting 24 hours a day the message “I’m normal, I’m normal, I’m normal.”  A salve, but one that ultimately leaves no freedom or peace of mind.

As with many things in life, we often pick our costumes by accident.  We put them on without knowing it, we inherit them because it’s what we were surrounded by, we get into habits.  And often we get quite muddled in trying to figure out if we truly like something, if it is truly authentic… or if it is just our identities telling us we like it as a way of protecting itself.

It could be fun to add another layer to Halloween and use it as a chance to be mindful and examine all the costume choices we’ve made (and we make).  Sit back and take stock to see which of them truly serve us, and those we are instead caught in serving for.***  We can even fold in and take a lesson from children, who are wonderfully facile at putting on a costume and playing it to the hilt for twenty two and a half minutes, and, on a dime, change their outfits and get deep into playing something else.

Be clear, create and play on, reveling in the game of knowing we get to be in a costume of our choosing every day.

 

* That “play” and “costumes” are societally considered (still/by some/most) childish and weird and taboo and incompatible with being an adult is in of itself an interesting avenue to investigate the underpinnings of.  Equally interesting is the split in the mind of the avenues of play, such as sports and the surging acceptance of computer games, that are socially OK and are not thought of or siloed into the same category of what may be called play or playtime… ****

** The whole ‘sexy noun’ phenomenon is also a whole other post onto itself…

*** And for that latter group, seeing what’s there and getting onto the work of completing and transforming to create the liberation and possibilities we want.

**** Here’s a TED Radio Hour episode on play.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 3, 2017

the definition of being empowered

and in action

is not that we have THE say in how something goes

but rather

that we have A say in how it goes

for there are no guarantees

as much as we’d like there to be

that what we do 1:1 will always produce our desired outcome

instantly

flawlessly

with glorious music

and recognition of what a great person we are

no

that is more likely in fantasy land

and yet

there remains quite the difference

between being attached to being THE ONE

or instead embodying THE ZERO

the game to play is not to be the golden saviour

the game to play is in the world of contribution

working like a bricklayer

adding to the body of work

sometimes we may make the foundation upon which something will spring forth

though we will never see it

sometimes we will work on the blank facade at the back of the building

that is still, nonetheless, vital to its completion

and sometimes we may be lucky enough to put the final, crowning brick

that shifts things immensely

we can never know if our actions will be the tipping point

or if it will be a step towards such

in the end, it doesn’t matter

because in the world of contribution, there is no bigger, or smaller

it’s all contribution

when we let go of our ego of absolute control

and true our actions to our authentic selves

and seek out opportunities to make a difference

we (re)gain our voice

we have our say in how things will go

things shift

worlds are created

and we go to bed fulfilled

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 26, 2017

Argue for your limitations,

and sure enough,

they’re yours.

– Richard Bach

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 19, 2017

There are two types of “learning” in the world.*

The first is the kind that things like mathematics fall into.  There is a definite set of processes, rules, procedures, and methods that produce a solid and individual answer.  2 + 2 = 4.  Physics is like this.  Chemistry is like this.  And, in many ways, most of our schooling is like this.  Even the bits that aren’t, the bits that would fall into the second type, are generally taught in the same manner.  Spelling, history/dates, geography/lines on a map, algebra:  all quantifiable and capable of a right/wrong ranking.  You either know it, or you don’t.  You either have it, or you don’t.  And to learn it means memorizing, logicizing, and proper reproducing.**

Which is all fine and good.  Informational learning is important, vital, and can help us do a lot of things.  We want the engineer designing and airplane to know their equations and figure things through.  The brain surgeon should know the structures of the brain and how to diagnose problems, and what remedies to apply.  Statisticians can help us make sense of large sets of data through rigorous procedures.  It’s all great.

At the same time, this early instruction can create a strong context, feeling, and view (read: reality) that this is how learning happens, and that everything in the world can, and/or should, be known in this way.  Outside->In, knowledge based, right/wrong result type learning.  A context which then limits our access to, and comfort with, the second type of learning.

This second type is the kind of learning that is intuitive, fluid, and arises mostly from immediate, visceral, self-discovery.  It is gotten, but it is not fixed; it lives in the present.  It often bypasses the traditional take on what “knowledge” is.  This is the domain of the arts, of all kinds, the broadest casting of arts, the arts beyond that of just aesthetic pursuits.  It is the art of relating to others, the art of living, the art of movement, the art of the cosmos, the art of “emotional intelligence”, the art of mindfulness, the art of expression.   They are the arts that form our experience of life.

These are very important arts.

They also cannot be “learned” like math;  knowledge and examples and techniques can only be lighthouses to guide us towards the moment of personal discovery that makes it ours.  Trying to stick to the rote routines gained by knowledge only leads to stilted outcomes. ***

It can be hard to do the second learning when you’ve walled it off, forgotten and unknown, and haven’t used it for a long time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe all it takes getting and transforming the contextual trap we’ve been in, opening up to the ability we’ve had all along.*****   Let it out, let it exercise, play, explore, and get stronger.

Opening us up to new abilities, greater wisdom, and a plethora of new possibilities for our lives.

 

* Of course, we could probably create many more than two categories, or possibly there’s even a third or fourth category equally large to these two , but for the moment and for this exploration, let’s keep it at two…

** In later schooling, this tends to break open a bit more, such as with essay questions in English class, where a good teacher will allow for many modes of answers to be graded well.  In the flipside, though, even the most open, such as art, drama, music, etc, can get bogged down under the need to rank things.  The technique gets graded – something that feels as though it can be “learned” and demonstrated in a very right/wrong, have it/don’t have it kind of way (and which has much less to do with actual artistic expression).  This further creates the context that can limit being able to be in and play around in the second kind of learning.

*** This post arose from something I’ve been noticing in my kung fu practice recently, which has blossomed into a meditation on the nature of the art part of the phrase “Martial Arts”.  Especially as you delve deeper and deeper into the art(s), and, for me, as I teach others.  Some of my students are caught in an, for lack of a better term, “engineer’s mindset”, a very strong adherence to the first type of learning.  They learn the outlines of the forms quickly, but their progress hits a wall as the detail work comes along.  Trying to do kung fu from the outside->in, coming from memory and reproducing all the correct angles and tensions and body linkages and movements and etc doesn’t work.  The brain isn’t wired to do so, there’s too much there to keep track of and try to figure out or reproduce in the moment.  That first way of learning doesn’t work here. ****

**** This is also starting to intrigue me and make me wonder about those who are “not good at sports” – could this “not good” be caused by the context of what learning is (ie, caught in the context of the first kind of learning)?  It would be a barrier to  being in their body and learning intrinsically… *****

***** Interestingly, it’s the way we all did when we learned to walk.  We didn’t have language then, and thus no contexts and thus no idea of what “learning” is supposed to be… so we had to learn intrinsically.

****** For all of this, BTW, I had to break out of my own type-1 learning context (that, of course, I didn’t even realize I had) (And I still need to practice my type-2 more and more).  My kung fu training accelerated by leaps and bounds once I started my journey into transformation, as that type-2 learning suddenly became available to me.