important work

“You have the right to make a difference.”

Finding important work for me has been a lifelong struggle that, at times, fills me with pain and self-doubt.

I’m comforted by  the words of David Whyte, who calls this search a pilgrimage.

The stakes in good work are necessarily high. Our competence may be at stake in ordinary, unthinking work, but in good work that is a heartfelt expression of ourselves, we know, in the end, we are our gift to others and the world. Failure in truly creative work is not some mechanical breakdown but the prospect of a failure in our very essence, a kind of living death. Little wonder we often choose the less vulnerable, more familiar approach that places work mostly in terms of provision. If I can reduce my image of work to just a job I have to do, then I keep myself safely away from the losses to be endured in putting my heart’s desire at stake. (Crossing the Unknown Sea, p. 13)

Troubadour Hope Chest

Troubadour Hope Chest

It provokes. It challenges. It lures. It’s beautiful. It contains and protects hopes and dreams. It takes up space. It’s practical. Every home needs a Troubadour Hope Chest

A couple of weeks ago I met with friend and fellow slow learner, Tricia Postle.

Together Tricia and I formed a group we call COTH or Creativity-On-The-Hook. Once a month, we meet for tea, state our intentions, and report to each other on our progress. See earlier entry.

During our first meeting, Tricia shared the details of her intentions: her to do lists, her  goals, her best intentions. I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but most of the items on her list felt dull and ordinary, full of duty and obligation and all those good things necessary to support and nurture Tricia’s brilliant creative projects.

But then Tricia started talking about how  she wanted to someday travel as a troubadour musician. She spoke about rhythms, the songs, the traveling, the Persian rugs, the tour mobile, the demands of composing in the form, the possibility of a postmodern gypsy caravan. When she spoke about her future life as a troubadour, her physical presence transformed. She sat straight up. Her eyes brightened, and her voice lightened. Her visions of self as troubadour literally pulled her forward. There was a passionate woman in love with her future, speaking of longing and desire, sitting at the edge of her seat.

That’s when the idea came: why not invite some of this passion and desire into the everyday?  Why not bring something physical and real into our homes as a reminder of what is possible?  Why not use this container as a repository for carefully selected objects that bring us closer to a future we want to live into?

After some searching, Tricia now has her Troubadour Hope Chest.

In an email, Tricia says:

I like that it’s empty, I like that it’s there. I rearranged the studio so that it’s visible from all points. It seems to glow and make the rest of the furniture recede. In short, every household should have one.

Questions for reflection:  What’s calling me forward? What kind of future might I create from my own longings? What kind of hope chest might I find?

You have the right to practice

…and to practice without thinking.

From Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice:

The diligent student can read entire books on this subject if they wish (it never hurts), but the deepest realizations come to us from the daily practice of drawing.  It is the pencil that teaches best, and anyway, the trees of theory can obscure the forest of practice. I would go so far as to say that practice is philosophy, for practice itself encompasses philosophy, and philosophy without practice is shallow indeed.  A lengthy description of a glass of water is no substitute for the experience of drinking a glass of water; so it is with art.

From Erich Fromm:

It is essential… that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.

From Dexter Ico’s description of his workshop for performers and public speakers: Practice Makes Practice:

Most everyone can relate to stage fright, public speaking, and performance anxiety, and everyone knows that the only way to get over it is to go through it…you learn by doing, on stage, and from sharing your observations of each exercise you go through. Minimal time to think, maximum time on experiential exercise.

From Kathi Kizirnis of Practice Yoga:

If it makes you think you’re separate from, “other” or “not like” the rest of the world, it’s not yoga you’re practicing.

From Kazuo Ohno

Not thinking. Only Soul.

 

 

 

You have the right to learn what no one can teach.

You ask yourself the question, and then you answer it.

Slavov Zizek

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wW5JMc12vs&feature=player_embedded#at=157]

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde