Imagine The Possibilities! [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” ~ Lao Tzu

I’ve had this quote sitting on my desktop for months. I’ve been on a Lao Tzu kick, a Kurt Vonnegut kick, a Rainier Maria Rilke kick…all at the same time. They are, not surprisingly, in alignment on many topics, among them self-mastery. “The secret?” they whisper. “Stop trying to control what other people think or see or feel and, instead, take care of what you think and see and feel.” Their metaphoric trains may approach the self-mastery station from different directions but the arrival platform is the same.

It’s a universal recognition: take the log out of your own eye.

Sometimes a penny drops more than once and so it is with Saul’s advice to me. “Look beyond the opponent to the field of possibilities.” “And, just what does that mean?” you may shout at your screen. It sounds like new-age hoo-haw.

Ghandi said, “Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong.” It is the height of self-mastery to bring ideas to the table rather than a gun. It is the height of self-mastery to bring to the commons good intention and an honest desire to work with others to make life better for all. Power is never self-generated but is something created between people. Power is distinctly different than control. Power endures since it does not reside within a single individual. Power lives, as Saul reminded me again and again, not in throwing an opponent but in helping the opponent throw themself. “Focus on the possibilities,” he said again and again. Throw yourself to the ground often enough and, one day, it occurs that there may be another way.

Work with and not against. It seems so simple. The bulb hovering over my cartoon head lights-up. Work with yourself, too, and not against. Place your eyes in the field of all possibilities. Obstacles are great makers of resistance, energy eddies and division. Possibilities are expansive, dissolvers of divisiveness.

I am writing this on the Sunday that Christians celebrate their resurrection. The day that “every man/woman for him/herself” might possibly and-at-last-transform into “I am my brothers/sisters keeper.” All that is required for this rebirth is a simple change of focus; a decision to master one’s self instead of the never ending violent attempt to exercise control over others.

It’s the single message, the popcorn trail left for us by all the great teachers. Instead of fighting with others, master yourself. Imagine the possibilities!

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE CEILING LIGHT

Create Something [on DR Thursday]

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

I’m on a Vonnegut bender. Lately, I’ve fallen into his quotes and I think I’m about to re-read everything he wrote. Standing on the threshold of synesthesia, he submitted his master’s thesis in anthropology on the shapes of stories. It was rejected by “the committee” as being too simplistic, but embraced by the world after he achieved success as a writer. The man was as witty as Quinn and a definite stander-on-the-margins of society, reflecting back both its beauty and brutality.

Trapped in the amber of the moment. Gorgeous. And, standing at the center of the moment, all the explanations necessarily fall away. There is no “why” because there is no separation, no other place to be or person to become. The committee would reject the notion outright since committees are dedicated to explanations and justifications. The elevation of one idea above another. The writer, the artist, serves a different master. “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” Yes, another Vonnegut quote. Create something. Soul growth rather than reasoning.

At the center of the moment there is no why. There is no space for puzzling-it-out. There is simply this: a rousing and rowdy “why not!” Blue sky. Tall grasses dancing. Feel it. All of it. No single explanation can possibly contain it.

read Kerri’s blogpost about GRASSES AND SKY

prayer of opposite © 2004 david robinson

Let Fly [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice For The Young

It is now my opinion, based on life’s experience, that it you don’t find the cliff, the cliff will find you. Wing development is the name of this game. Hide in the closet, bury your head in the sand, drink yourself to oblivion, pretend the monster is not at the door, and you’ll discover in your last moments that looking the other way was, in fact, your cliff.

Master Marsh once asked me why I had the need to run and jump off every cliff. At the time I said, “I don’t know!” My latent response comes straight from Vonnegut: wing development. Apparently my wings took their sweet time developing and needed some extra cliff-age. And, as we all know but are too polite or arrogant to admit, wing development never ceases. There’s always another cliff until there’s not.

We had a rare warm day so took a walk on our favorite trail. The brilliant raw sienna of the empty pod caught Kerri’s eye. While she took photos of the pod I thought about the thousands of seeds it once held that took flight on the wind. A few certainly found fertile soil. Most did not. That’s the idea behind Kurt Vonnegut’s advice. Don’t hoard your idea seeds. Put them out. Audition for the play. Submit your story. Offer your idea. There’s great truth to the advice: your job is to put it out there, not to decide whether or not it is good enough. Explode the pod rather than protect the seed.

Greg recently told me said, “it doesn’t have meaning until it’s published.” He wasn’t speaking about publishing in a newspaper or by Random House. Sending an email is an act of publishing. To text is to publish. Greg was referring to sharing. It has no meaning until it is shared. And, sharing your creations can be -and often is – vulnerable and scary. Giving a speech is terrifying to most people. Dancing, painting, composing a song, playing a solo, offering your idea in a meeting…all are acts of publishing. All are potential cliffs to jump off.

Explode the pod. Let the seeds fly. The wind will carry them. Some will find fertile soil. Most will not. Wing development is easier when you realize that you are a pod of ideas and not a judge of worth or value.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE POD