Dance A Simple Dance [on Merely A Thought Monday]

keep things simple copy

“Simplicity. Patience. Compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” ~Lao Tzu

“Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” ~ Steve Jobs

I am at home in my studio. Even during the times – like now – when my well is dry, I go into my studio and the world makes sense. It is quiet. My intention is pure: I seek an experience, an exploration, not an achievement. In other words, I enter into a relationship with something so much bigger than me. It is a simple dance with no end. The paintings are a map of this relationship.

Krishnamurti wrote that “stillness is the act of worship – not going to temple to offer flowers and pushing the beggar aside on the way.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (thus, not being still;-) in our world of angry competing narratives. Screaming moral high ground. All the shouting down of others. All the static and noise and agenda-masked-as-righteousness. The celebration of the lie (the official term is a ‘post-truth world’). The difference between rhetoric and lived realities. We ask almost every day, “How does this make sense?”

Rome fell. Ask Google the question why? and you’ll get a list of eight simple reasons. Over reliance on slave labor. Military overspending. Government corruption and instability. The loss of values. Weakened and eating themselves from the inside out, they became exposed to easy invasion. Lots of noise. Loss of center.

We know there is no sense to be made so we walk in our beloved Bristol wood. We walk the trails next to the Des Plaines River. We walk the streets of our neighborhood. We hold hands. Simple. We talk about the leaves, the color of the sky. Kerri takes photos of things that catch her eye. Beautiful shapes. Geese flying en masse. An ancient tree. Radiant purple vines climbing from the ochre grass.  We attempt to leave the angry noise even for a short while, to dip our toes into the quiet.

Yesterday we came to the end of the trail and heard a bagpipe playing The Water is Wide. It was lovely. Haunting. So out of place yet so perfect. It made sense. We stopped and listened as the music reverberated through the woods. It brought us fully into the moment. The cool air and sun. The music mixing with the rustling of the leaves. No where else to be. Nothing to change or control or get through. Simple.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about keeping things SIMPLE

 

whitetree website box copy

Hang It Up [on Two Artists Tuesday]

the clothesline copy

On island, we often hear phrases like, “throwback community” or “another, simpler time.” It’s a place with no stoplights. People leave their keys in their cars. Locked doors are a rarity. People wave when passing on the road.

It is not without its feuds and divisions. The conservative impulse meets the wheels of progress with creative tension, just like everywhere else in the world. Things change through a tug-of-war, albeit slower, perhaps at a more human pace.

We moved into our summer home and found that Deb told us the truth: the dryer doesn’t work well so it’d be better to put up a clothesline. We did.

I am no stranger to mindfulness meditations, I’ve read more books than I should have on presence, attention, and awareness. None of them are as useful or transformative as carrying a basket of freshly washed laundry out to the clothesline and pinning the clothes up. It cannot be done quickly. It must be done with care. The sun warms your back. The clothes smell fresh and the breeze is heavy with lavender and lilac.  The grass swooshes beneath your feet.

Efficiency and convenience can sometimes be great robbers of the moment, and too easily reinforce a life of getting-through-it or, at best, getting-on-to-the-next-thing.

After everything is hung up on the line it is nearly impossible not to turn around, breathe deeply, and take in the day.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE CLOTHESLINE

 

schoolhouse beach website box copy

Walk Simply

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

I am an Aquarian and live in my head and at 30,000 feet. Practicality is not my strong suit. That makes the theme of my work this past few weeks most unusual: I’m discovering the sensible, the useful, the concrete.

This bizarre phase started a few weeks ago with the first few chapters of my book. I shared them with Megan-the-brilliant and she rolled her eyes and told me I needed to come down from the clouds. “Smaller steps!” she insisted. “Break your thoughts into bites that people can actually take!” I protested but she was right. So I set about trying to find ways to bring my balloon closer to the ground. “More weight!” my inner sociologist cried! “Less hot air!” my inner archeologist chirped.

I thought I was failing until last week while facilitating a workshop I went on a rant about the practical steps, the utter simplicity of steps in re-forming a culture of control into a culture of empowerment. It made sense to me, and much to my surprise, it made sense to those dear people on the receiving end of my rant. They got it. I achieved small steps! I achieved bite size thoughts! For the rest of the workshop I couldn’t help but wade into the sensible. Who was this man?

The book is now falling into place. I’m channeling a tiny model maker or a watch repairman. I’m giddy with detail. And, I’m recognizing the larger lesson is this: the philosophy, the ideas, the theory are easy for me, but to put them into action is what is now required. The bite size steps are really for me. If I can’t act on it, if the steps are too big, it is not useful to me or anyone who meets me at the crossroads. I’m a great witness, a studied observer, a world-class listener. And it’s time to walk simply. Or simply walk.

Change Your Song

675. 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 is funny to me the confluence of thought-rivers meeting in my life. For instance, Lexi recently introduced me to the Pete The Cat series of children’s books. When Pete’s white shoes turn red from treading in strawberries, is Pete upset? Goodness, no! He simply changes his happy song from “I love my white shoes” to “I love my red shoes.” A very complex thought delivered through a children’s book simplicity; motivational speakers the world over try to convey the same message with startlingly less finesse.

Just as Pete The Cat flowed into my day, Skip and I are in the midst of collaborating on a series of support mechanisms for entrepreneurs. For me, the heart of the series lives in my passion wheelhouse: change your story, change your world. This thought is a simplicity that gets lost in the adult world’s need for complexity. More than once in my consulting life I’ve heard, “But it can’t be that simple!” Translation: that is something I can do so I can either embrace it or insist that it is not possible. Often in the world of adults, complexity is equated with value. If it is simple, it is suspect (note: this is why our education and health care systems are in advanced states of collapse). Our attachment to complexity is often protection against owning our responsibility for change we know is necessary.

And, because Pete The Cat met Skip in the playing fields of my mind, my work with Skip is now finding children’s book simplicity. I heard the adult in me (admittedly a very small, some would say, stunted part of me) just exclaim, “It can’t be that simple!” The voice of Pete The Cat followed immediately saying, “Oh, but it is. It is so simple. Change your song, celebrate your world!”