Borrow A Cup Of Belief [on Merely A Thought Monday]

The sun is streaming through the windows. It is an immediate spirit lift. We sip coffee and our conversation wanders in no particular direction.

We inevitably discuss of the absence of normal, our rolling wave of disruption. “I wonder what will happen this week?” We laugh, “Knock on wood!” For a moment we sit in silence. We’ve stopped asking, “What else can happen?” We keep the question to ourselves. We’ve grown superstitious.

For us, this pandemic time will always be known as the era of disruption. All recognizable patterns are shattered. New patterns have yet to find a foothold. Each day a tumbling unknown.

I often write about “not knowing.” It is the land where learning becomes possible. The first caveat: Have the experience first and make meaning second. The second caveat: Suspend your judgements and learn. Both are rooted in the intentional suspension of knowing. Open to life.

We are definitely having experiences. We are careful not to arrive too soon at meaning.

Yesterday I read that, when life tosses us the uncontrollable, we default to imaginary controls. We do the dishes, we vacuum the rug, rather than face what is out of our control. There is great comfort in the imaginary.

Sometimes belief in yourself is hard to come by. “Knowing” that you can do it. “Knowing” that you can stand firmly in the “not knowing” is never a given. Especially in times of continuous disruption. It is only after the fact that you “know” with certainty that you can do it. “One step at a time,” we chant.

It is, in these times of disruption, that we borrow belief from each other. You tell me that I can do it. I tell you that you’ve got this. Others “know” what we do not. They see our fortitude. We see theirs. It is why human beings are a herd animal; we come to know ourselves through the eyes of the other. We go next door to borrow a cup of belief.

Beaky’s note now sits on Kerri’s bed stand. A treasure newly found in a long forgotten purse. One of our imaginary controls, cleaning out the closets, produced this gem. Beaky, no stranger to disruption, reaches across time and the threshold to offer timely encouragement, “I know you can do it.”

“Momma says we got this,” Kerri says. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never argue with Beaky.

read Kerri’s blog post about KNOWING

Start Walking

photoTell Me. How can I be a learner?

My mind went absolutely blank, and I heard myself saying, Its simple. To be a learner youve got to be willing to be a fool. ~George Leonard, Mastery

I used to do a lot of work in education. My career in the theatre took a sharp left-hand turn when I started consulting with schools. The puzzles that plagued educators seemed to me easy to address. To be human is to be curious. Tickle the curiosity, begin the story and get out of the way.

Tom once told me that teaching is about relationship (not control). He also told me that the best teaching/learning needed to be directly applicable; it had to be immediate. It had to be real. It had to matter – to both the teacher and the learner. The trick is to extend the mattering into greater and deeper levels of abstraction.

An emphasis on testing is an emphasis on knowing. Great learning places the emphasis on not-knowing. It reinforces the pursuit and dispels the notion that knowledge is something achievable. Worthy questions always open more worthy questions. To be human is to be curious. To be alive is to wonder what is on the other side of the hill and then take a step toward it.

The fool George Leonard references isn’t “ the unthinking person,” it is “the carefree fool in the tarot deck who bears the awesome number zero, signifying the fertile void from which all creation springs, the state of emptiness that allows new things to come into being.”

Emptiness. Not knowing. Relationship. Mattering.

Step Into Unknown with SigThe question, “How do we/I do it?” is a great step-stopper. It is the leading edge of every personal and organizational stagnation excuse. We don’t know how. I’ve come to believe that it isn’t a natural question but is learned behavior. It is an emergency brake installed by a system that values right answers over great questions.

My wife and I have a short-hand phrase, Beaky’s Wheelchair, to remind us when we stall, that “how?” is something that can only be known after the fact. No one knows “How?” at the beginning. Beaky needed an electric wheelchair to be mobile and the world of insurance/medicare was standing still. After months of waiting, with no clue which direction to begin, we started making calls. We met every “no” with a “why not?.” We asked a multitude of foolish questions. We learned. And learned some more. Within a matter of weeks, Beaky had her wheelchair.

How do you play the guitar? Paint a picture? Bridge a conflict? Transcend a limit? Know one knows. Tickle the curiosity, let go of any notion that you need to know how, and start walking.

text from Krishnamurti as it appears in my painting

the text from Krishnamurti as it appears in my painting

 

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Reach Out. Peer In.

I've yet to title this painting but it seemed right for this post.

I’ve yet to title this painting but it seemed right for this post.

It’s a mid August morning with a hint of fall in the air. The breeze carries that “something” that is indescribable, more of a feeling than a chill or the changing of leaves. Never-the-less it is present. It is the signal and my body knows even as my mind debates. It is too soon for this – but even as I think the thought, I wonder what that means. Too soon based on what? Compared to what? This is my first summer in my new home. Last year I was an occasional visitor. I had glimpses into the cycle of the season so I have little with which to compare.

It has been a surprising summer all the way around. We’ve been traveling almost constantly since early June. The first few weeks of travel was planned, the rest was not. I’m not sure what the summer was like here because I was not present for it. The neighbors tell me it was a wet and cool summer. “Summer never came,” is a phrase I’ve heard more than once. After this summer of travel I will move into autumn with mere glimpses of the season.

I just had a call with Skip. He inspires me and makes me think things I would not ordinarily think. We’ve not talked for many months and our call was about catching up. Since I am writing about glimpses I was aware during our call that the best we can do is offer small windows into our lives. I said, “These past few years have been extraordinary in the changes and transformation I’ve experienced.” I was fundamentally incapable of articulating how profound my experiences have been. “It’s been like peeling off layers,” I said. A simile is the best I can do. Like or as. Glimpses. Events. Metaphor. No one can ever know the full scope of my walk just as I can never know the fullness of another person’s life.

During our call Skip told a story of walking through the woods with his wife when his cell phone rang. It was his daughter and infant granddaughter calling on Facetime. Skip’s granddaughter was taking her first steps. He and his wife peered into their phone and watched the miracle of first steps as their granddaughter, taking her first steps, looked into her mother’s phone at the excited faces of her grandma and grandpa. Glimpses into spaces.

We peer for a moment into a space. We stand in a space for just a moment. We try to share what we see. We try to share the fullness of our experience but can only approximate. Reaching out and peering in. Standing on the deck feeling that indescribable something that my body knows. My mind debates. This is life. Reaching out and peering in. What else?

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