Ramble [on DR Thursday]

I’m like a two-year old: I want to know “Why?” For instance, the lichen growing on the birch tree is Hypogymnia physodes, but it’s also known as “Monk’s Hood.” Why?

There’s a wildflower also known as Monk’s Hood. I read that the flower gets its name because its petals resemble the cowls once worn by monks. However, the flower is also known as “Wolfsbane.” Why? What does the bane of a wolf have to do with the hood of a monk? I’m capable of inventing a slew of possible connections but they will be just that: inventions.

In an attempt to bore you beyond rescue, I’ve lately been fascinated by how much of our world is a blizzard of unhinged information in search of a context. For instance, conceptual art needs an explanation. Without a curator, it’s nothing more than a banana taped to a wall. Twine with a dirty sponge. Oddity seeking to be taken seriously.

In the 21st century, we measure relevance by the number of followers, not by the substance-of-the-matter-being-followed. It’s a popularity contest. Lots and lots of flowing information, most of it useless. Without use. Without substance. And, scarily for us: without being questioned.

What is empty content pushed through a fabricated context? “Breaking” news. MAGA. Q.

It occurs to me that society needs more two year olds! A healthy practice of asking “Why” would spare us from certain death-by-bloviation.

A cowl, by the way, is both a monk’s hood AND a loose neckline in contemporary women’s clothing. Wouldn’t the monks be surprised if they’d confused their cowls!

Now, get out there and find context for this bit of useless information.

read Kerri’s blogpost about LICHEN

pieta with paparazzi © 2010 david robinson

Delight In The Question

a new canvas, stretched and ready for gesso.

a new canvas, stretched and ready for gesso.

So what is next?

There is a sweet void that follows in the wake of every project and this particular void is vaster than most (don’t you love the phrase, “particular void?”). This project, The Lost Boy, was and continues to be more layered than any other. It pulls on emotional and spiritual roots that have not been available in other performances and so the post-show disorientation is mighty.

I’ve come to appreciate my time in the void. It is the time of reflection. It is the time of rest. It is the time of long walks. It is the time of questions finally answered that invite bigger questions. I’ve learned that disorientation is necessary for reorientation and reorientation never comes as an answer but always comes in the form of a question: so, what’s next?

Yesterday I tacked a large canvas to the wall. It is now covered with layers of Gesso and is ready for paint. I delight in this phase of preparation. It is akin to the anticipation of meeting with an old friend; the conversation will be rich and far reaching. I also bought a new sketchbook and have set myself the task of filling it within the month. Many years ago, while sitting in another void, I was staying with my pals Duncan and Liz while directing a play. Liz, familiar with voids, insisted that, after rehearsals, I do a hundred paintings before I sleep. Each night, tired from a long day of rehearsal, Liz sat with me as I did one hundred paintings, quick gestures with brush and ink, paper fluttering to the floor. We laughed and I felt renewed. After ten paintings en route to a hundred, the notion of judgment and too-much-thinking goes out the window. The joy of the action takes precedence over the illusion of a finished product.

I’ve written often of the lessons Saul-the-tai-chi master taught me. Focus on the field of possibility and not on the opponent. In other words, offer no resistance to those things that appear as obstacles. Sit with gratitude in the void. Paint a hundred paintings before you sleep. Delight in the question.

Choose Your Experience

767. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It’s after 7:00pm and I just realized that it was Sunday. One of the privileges of wandering is that days of the week blend and become one. There are relatively few patterns so markers like workday and non-workday do not exist. This has been somewhat true most of my life. The line between work and play is indistinct. My play and my work have mostly been the same thing.

This afternoon Skip and I did a test run of experiences for our new start-up business. The audience is entrepreneurs. Some members of our team are young entrepreneurs so we gathered and talked through the content with them and then threw them into some experiences. Having been a data-basher most of my life it’s an interesting flip to do things to gather data and adjust my work based on audience responses. I learned a lot today!

What came clear to me was something that I’ve known for a while but did not fully grasp the magnitude until today. Human beings come into the world oriented to the unknown and strive to pretend that we are oriented to the known. We make meaning of chaos. And, what is chaos really? It’s a made up concept. It means, “I don’t know!” It has no use outside of the human need to make story and project order onto the world. It’s like the word, “wild.” Wild is only useful when there is an expectation of tame. Chaos is only meaningful relative to an expectation of order. Both are categories. One is generally comfortable because it provides the illusion of control and the other is uncomfortable because the illusion is of no control. Tame and wild follow the same general principle. I was in the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and as the earth threw my house off of it’s foundation and hurtled me through the air, I learned that control was not mine to assign. I learned that wild is tame and tame is wild and chaos drives order and order collapses into chaos. It’s a dance.

It’s not the nouns that matter. It’s the verbs. It is the movement. Nothing is static. Nothing is fixed. The answers are not important. The questions matter, it is the conversation and the relationship that hold the real stuff of life. Questions and relationships are fluid. They move. Orient to the unknown and you orient to the questions. The questions will open you to discovery. Orient to the known and you orient to the answers. The answers will close you to rules and righteousness. This would seem obvious but it is not. The most potent revelation of all: how you orient is a choice. Choose to open or choose to close. Orient to the unknown or orient to the known. Orient to the infinite game or to the finite. Choose your experience.

What Circle Are You On?

755.Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

There are lots of Venn diagrams showing up in my life. Today, Beth offered another that applies to education. The three circles of her diagram are Pattern, Metaphor, and Questions. Master these circles and you are a critical thinker. She brought to mind those other circles from my past, The Vicious and Virtuous Circles (I am now thinking of them as a Venn diagram – more on that in another post). I dug around and found these notes that I wrote almost seven years ago. Think about the notes as they might relate to education reform (or life change):

A Vicious Cycle has the following characteristics:
• There are winners and losers (a finite game)
• The direction of movement is “away from” something (a negative action)
• The actions are reactions.
• It is reductionary in every way (“tames” or over simplifies problems, reduces others, reduces self)
• Circumstance/Fear driven

The Virtuous Cycle has the following characteristics:
• The game is played for mastery (an infinite game)
• The direction of movement is “toward” something (a positive action)
• The actions are generative or creative.
• It is expansive in every way (allows for complex problems and identities)
• Values/Love driven

Both the Vicious and the Virtuous cycles are patterns. Just as water always follows the structure of the land, behavior always follows the underlying structural pattern. In other words, the pattern represents a way of being. The Vicious Cycle is a default pattern, an unconscious way of being. The Virtuous is an intentional pattern, a conscious and therefore, a creative way of being. The goal is to replace the default pattern with the intentional pattern.

To move from the Vicious to the Virtuous cycle, you first have to Identify & Clarify:
Identify your Vicious Cycle. Name it.

After you identify your Vicious Cycle, answer these questions:
Why move off the circle? What do you gain by staying in your default mode? In other words, what does the Vicious circle buy you (you only stay in dysfunction if you are getting something from it)?

Identify/Clarify your Intention
What do you want?
Identify/Clarify your Circumstance
What’s in the way? Name your obstacles.
Identify/Clarify your Values
What drives you? Name your yearning.

The required Movement/Action is to build a new pattern. Since the Vicious and Virtuous Cycles are patterns (structure of the land). Talk about the competencies in terms of building a new pattern. These are:

Pattern to catch your 1st thought, and then work on your second.
How: witness your thoughts; challenge your assumptions.
Pattern to suspend judgments
How: put down your need to be right, assume that you “don’t know”
Pattern to grant specificity.
How: Look beyond the superficial, own your fear,
Pattern to slow down
How: Breath, Be seen
Pattern to say yes and….
How: open your fist; entertain other perspectives
Pattern to step toward….
How: own your edges; make them horizons

Initially, the competencies may look too simplistic, however changing the behavioral structure of a human being begins with changing the patterning; also, systems never change through complexities, rather, they change through leveraging the local simplicity. It’s the pattern that reveals the local simplicity….

Thank you, Beth. Pattern. Metaphor. Question. What we do is really a matter of the direction of intention.