Intend And Forget

I have many titles for this painting and have used it a few times for posts. It is ultimately about intention and inner guidance.

I have many titles for this painting and have used it more than a few times for posts. It popped up for me again today. It is ultimately about intention and inner guidance.

I just finished writing this post and realized that, in many ways, this is the continuation of yesterday’s thought: clear the mental static and the channel to full expression opens. So, here is part two of my meditation on inner static:

John and I were having a conversation about the passage of time. He told me that he’d recently found some old lists that he’d written of life goals and intentions. The interesting thing about discovering the lists was 1) that he’d forgotten writing them and, 2) that he’d achieved most of what he’d written. He said, “The form of what I created was different than what I’d originally imagined but I was surprised to see that I’d actually created what I intended.” It was as if he had to write the intention in order to activate it. Forgetting the intention was necessary to give it space to manifest and grow. Write and forget.

When I was first training as an actor, late in every rehearsal process, my teachers consistently advised that we let go of everything we’d rehearsed and just show up. “You’ve done your work,” they’d say. “Now, let it go and trust.” Many years later when I was directing plays and teaching actors I gave the same advice. “Let go and trust. You’ve done your work. All that remains is to be present.” From the teacher/director seat, the moment of letting go is palpable; you can literally see and feel the phase in the process when an actor needs to let go of their work to come alive. They need to get out of their own way. They need to get out of their head and give all of their focus to the relationships on the stage. The work moves from the head to the body. It is this last step that transforms their study to a living pursuit. Forgetting the work creates spaciousness and allows the art to happen. Art is always about relationship and great art happens when the relationship is clear and expansive enough for all comers.

One of the most profound lessons I gained from my time in Bali concerned this dynamic connection between setting an intention and letting it go. While I was on the island my internal monologue disappeared; one day I realized that I was completely quiet. Thought was a choice and not a plague or chattering background noise. Silence was simple when no story was necessary, when no interpretation was needed. In the middle of that silence I could set an intention (“This is what I want to do/find today”) and then forget it. Before the day was over I would have found what I intended. The steps came to me; I did not have to seek the steps. Sometimes the intention was simple and sometimes seemed complex but that didn’t matter. If I clearly stated what I wanted and returned to silence the necessary coincidence always found me. I felt as if I could see the pieces on the game board moving on my behalf. There was no internal noise to compromise my intention so there was no external discord confusing my choices. I was conscious of my connection.

Alan calls this co-creating. Work with the energy and cease trying to force things to happen. John told me of his lists and I wondered how many people have had the same experience. We make lists, we try to make the list happen, life gets in the way and we forget. And, in the moment of forgetting, we relax our grip on how we think things need to happen. We forget the form and inadvertently open to possibility. In the forgetting we create the steps necessary for fulfillment: spaciousness, trust, and quiet participation.

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2 Responses

  1. When I was at the end of my training to be a counselor my mentor said: “You have studied the methods of Maslow and Freud and Adler and Perls. Now forget all of them and focus on the method of Glassberg.” He continued: “There will be a time when you are with a patient and haven’t a clue what to say or do. You will want to turn to the Masters and mimic what they might say or do. Don’t. Just be still and listen to your inner voice and you will say or do the right thing.” Sure enough I had been working, fairly successfully, with a 15 year old boy who was in fights all the time. He had gone a long time without fighting and was making good progress. One day the Vice-Principal called me to the office because Ron had been in another fight. He was sitting in a tiny “interrogation” room with the lights out. I walked in and could feel the atmosphere was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Ron had his books on his lap and was looking down. He wouldn’t give me eye contact. I thought to myself, “what the hell do I say that will make this better?” I remembered my mentor’s advice and just sat quietly for a while and listened to my inner voice which said out loud “Ron, I see that you are hurting. Let’s just sit here quietly and hurt together.” About ten seconds later tears started dropping onto his books. He cried silently for a couple of minutes. Then I asked him if he was ready to go back to class. He said he was so I suggested he go into the bathroom and wash his face with cold water and then return to class. We never talked about that event again. We didn’t need to.

    That event taught me to trust my inner voice when I worked with kids. It served me well for the next 37 years. I am so grateful to Don (my mentor) that he urged me to forget about everything I had learned and trust my self.

    When I went to UCLA, above the proscenium of the Royce Hall auditorium (one of the finest concert halls in the country), was written something like: Education is what is left after you have forgotten what you learned in school. How true. Sadly, when they remodeled the building after the 1994 earthquake, they changed that to: Education is learning to use the tools which the race has found indispensable. I like the original words better. They give the same message of “learn to listen to your inner voice”.

    Love to you and the yet to be introduced Kerri,


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