Chase The Butterflies

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

Wisdom butterflies that have recently fluttered across my path:

Soaking up the morning sun and drinking coffee from the deck of Common Grounds, 20 said, “You’ve heard this one, right? There are three sides to every story.”

Standing on the side of the road peering into Judy’s car, she gave us some sage relationship advice. She said, “That’s the secret to life, you know: listen before you talk.”

Kerri was composing a song. I asked her how she starts, how she knows where to start. She said, “I don’t know. Sometimes you just need to put your fingers on the keys and follow the music.”

There is an aging pink post-it note stuck (permanently) to the desk. It reads, “Make The Adventure.”

On a recent phone call, Skip offered wise counsel about how I see my role in a new business, “Find your own metaphor,” he said. ”What is the metaphor that will keep you energized, that taps into your 10,000 hours?”

Sitting behind his drum set, waiting for rehearsal to begin, John said, “Our job is to make the art, not to determine its reception.” And then he said, “What do you think?” and laughed.

Josh took a belly punch from the universe yesterday. He said, “I want to be angry but anger does me no good. I have better things to do with my life than get angry.”

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

P-Tom weighed in with this: “Faith is scandalous,” he said, “It pushes back against everything we experience.”

Dog-Dog raced across the yard in hot pursuit of a butterfly. I’m wagering that he knew he would never catch it, but the chase was glorious.

Bumble

photo-1I’m sitting on the deck sipping red wine. It is twilight. Jim is playing the mandolin (he is an extraordinary musician) and Kerri is playing her keyboard. They are rehearsing outside because it is too hot in the house. The breeze off the lake is a godsend. Dog-Dog does not know what to do with all the activity. He is running around and around; there is no sense to his crazy figure-eight patterns. I’ve learned his looping is actually Dog-Dog glee. He likes their music, too.

The fireflies are sparking. Kerri and Jim are working through a series of slow tunes for a performance this weekend and I am falling into their playing. I routinely tell them that they need to make an album together and they routinely smile and laugh at me. It is their laughter that comes through their playing and I love it. This world, I believe, like me, needs more laughter.

There is magic in a mandolin and I am suddenly reminded of my conversation with Arnie earlier today. We had a much needed phone conversation. Over the many years of our friendship Arnie has walked me through multiple mazes of my own construction. He has listened to more than one of my epic rants. He has a gentle way of asking just the right question to stop my rant in its tracks. I seek his counsel when I am lost. He somehow knows when I need an ear to bend or just a walk with a friend. His superhero name might be The Velvet Dope-Slap. I am grateful to be the dope to his slap.

During our conversation we bumbled into the topic of wisdom. I am now old enough to understand that bumbling is the only path to wisdom. No one seeking wisdom will ever find it. Seekers are notoriously serious. I have always been suspect of the dour saints that pock western sacred spaces. The Buddha laughs. Shiva dances amidst the destruction. There is wisdom in dancing, too.

Arnie and I agreed that wisdom only comes from repeated and dedicated folly. Sooner or later, if we are lucky, the mask of comedy breaks through the sad mask of tragedy; we learn to laugh at ourselves and our dedication to drama. It is through the laughter that wisdom finally reveals itself.

Kerri just gasped and stopped playing, “Oh my god! Look at the moon!”

Jim laughed at the interruption, and, pulling his glasses off his forehead, said, “Wait, I have to put my far-eyes on.”

 

Wake Up To Your Dream

a detail of my latest painting

a detail of my latest painting

Oscar said, “I’m way too busy. I have too much to do.” He’s a junk guy, a scrapper and we’d just pulled a piano out of the back of his old truck.

“”That’s better than the reverse problem,” I said. “Too much time and nothing to do.”

Oscar smiled. “My grandfather always told me that sleepers wind up with nothing but dreams.” He added, “I’m trying to teach that to my son.” His son, a strapping young man, rolled his eyes.

It was a nice sentiment, a worthy lesson, and like all sticky-note wisdom, the flip side is usually also relevant. Sleepers wind up with nothing but dreams. People without dreams wind up walking through life asleep.

Once long ago I walked through a house with a realtor named Hans. The place was crammed with piles of stuff, stacks of books and mountains of magazines. I felt claustrophobic and couldn’t wait to get outside. Standing in front yard, having escaped, I said, “I don’t know how people live like that.” Hans replied, “Everyone has their heaven. What looks like hell to you is heaven to them.”

Everyone has their heaven. Everyone has their hell. Isn’t it a good bit of sticky-note wisdom to remember that heaven does not look the same to all people? And, to some people, depending upon how present they are, heaven is here and now. The same sticky-note applies to hell in the here-and-now.

Flipping to the weather channel I found, instead of the weather, an episode of Why Planes Crash (answer: the weather!). A flight attendant who’d survived a crash said, “When the plane is going down, people get religion really fast.” I thought, I bet the opposite sticky-note is also true. Religion is rule bound and usually comes with an in-crowd, a right way, or a chosen people. When the plane is going down I’ll bet all the rules go out the window (so to speak), the divisions become meaningless, and what people get is how precious, unique, and vast is their life – and all of life, for that matter. They don’t get religion, they “get” life. Ric Elias was in the plane that landed on the Hudson River. For him, going down in the plane served as instant clarity. He left the plane knowing without doubt what mattered. He no longer needed to be right. He no longer had time for negative energy. He no longer had time to be too busy. He woke up to his dream.

 

 

Be The Fool

The Fool card from The Radiant Rider Waite deck

The Fool card from The Radiant Rider Waite deck

Each day I open The Bible of Mankind (sadly, now out of print) and read a phrase. It’s a form of daily meditation for me akin to throwing the I Ching; I pick from the reading what seems relevant. Some days the phrase is confusing, some days it is curious, some days it is profound. Every day it is significant. Today, the phrase was from the Buddhist tradition and under the subtitle, Foolishness & Wisdom:

“The man who has learned little grows old like an ox. His flesh grows but his knowledge does not.”

I delighted in the pairing of foolishness with wisdom. I suspect there is only one path to wisdom and it requires a good deal of foolishness. I googled the meaning of the Fool card in the tarot because, as I recollect, when upright, the Fool is about beginnings and bold steps into the unknown. From my search I found other words and phrases like unlimited potential, purity, and innocence. The Fool is ever present and has in his (her) bag all the tools and resources necessary for the journey through life. The Fool came to this earth to learn.

Another phrase that caught my attention was this: the Fool is always whole, healthy, and without fear. He is the spirit of who we are, the spirit expressed and experienced as wonder, awe, curiosity, and anticipation.

Recently, Bruce and I had a great talk about how life looks different at 50 than it did at 30. The main difference is that you know without doubt that it is limited. And, because the big death is visible, all the little death passages, the steps into the unknown, take on more import. Yearning is more electric when mortality is undeniable. All of the belief and investment in outcomes and achievements dissipate. This life is an experience, nothing more. It passes. And, it is dealer’s choice whether the experience is expressed and experienced as fear or expressed and experienced as The Fool: wonder, awe, and curiosity.

The wisdom path is the Fool’s path. The ox, to become a fool filled with knowledge, need only step out of its pen, into the unknown, and be filled with new experiences.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Eve, by David Robinson

Eve, by David Robinson

Go here for Fine Art prints of my paintings.

Feel The Day

My favorite face of exuberance.

My favorite face of exuberance.

And so, the sun! These crisp, bright fall days bring pause. They make us slow down and pay attention to the small things, the sensual things: the smell of coffee, the sweet taste of butter on warm toast, the gentle music of the leaves, the blue sky vibrant through the luminous yellow leaves.

These are the days of easy appreciation; gratitude stands close-by. With senses heightened and deep inner quiet rising to the surface comes the simple acknowledgment that this day will never come again. It is precious, like all days, but on these days-of-the-senses, when reason, explaining, and justification take a break, the obvious becomes apparent. Every moment of life is this rich, precious. Wisdom comes through the senses, when tight reason takes a break. This life is passing. This life is bigger than any one of us. It is as vast as a human heart.

Turning my face to the autumn sun, I close my eyes and with great relish listen to the exuberant life celebration of Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog, barking because he can, digging holes to bury treasure, racing around the yard for no other reason than it feels really good.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Yoga.ForwardFoldOr, go here to buy fine art prints of my paintings

 

Embrace The Paradox

Mark Seely's gift to me: A Wordle of my blog

Mark Seely’s gift to me: A Wordle of my blog!

This is a landmark post: number 1000. When I started blogging I told Horatio that I feared I only had enough thought for 10 posts. He said, “If you can write 10, you can write 1000.” I wrinkled my brow in disbelief but it turns out that Horatio was right. With every step comes a new perspective. Kerri has a phrase I love: take down one tree at a time. In other words, if you can’t see where you are going, take the step that you can see; many single steps translate into miles of walking just as one post at a time can become 3 years of small thought-shares all in a row. What is a lifetime but a long series of days?

I’m writing this from a dining room table. All around me, covering the walls, are long strips of newsprint with a gathering storm of many colored post-it notes. The notes contain phrases, actions, like “Burn Your Trash,” or “Both Feet In, “ or “ Leave the Yuck Behind,” or, as you’ve already guessed, “Take Down One Tree At A Time.” They are story prompts. They are insight and idea prompts. Each prompt is associated with one of Kerri’s music compositions (she has 15 albums to date, with material enough for 3 more). They are building blocks for concert/storytelling evenings or keynote speech/performances. From the more than 60 post-it note prompts (and growing) we can combine any 9 to configure an audience-specific performance. The possibilities are endless. The viable themes are both unique and universal. Our umbrella title is Back To Center. We have a series of workshops to compliment the performances. The workshops illuminate the extraordinary moments and liberate the boundless capabilities of we mortals, we ordinary human beings. The big box is appropriately a prompt: Be A Ray!

Kerri and I are bringing our work together in a new form: Be A Ray!

Kerri and I are bringing our work together in a new form: Be A Ray!

As it turns out, I am a man of my time after all. The notion of a series of discreet component thoughts assembled to create a universal conception is taking over all of my processes – writing, painting, coaching, facilitating. It is the “many small steps making one large journey” philosophy of creation. It has taken over our world. It is contemporary: note the thought behind an App store or an Army of One. It is natural; cells do it. In the blog world it goes by the name of a “plug-in.” Build your own burger: design your car from the available components. It is the illusion of individuality in the midst of a constraint of choices. There is no arrival, just continuing process of expansive and interchanging capability. It is the Kahn Academy. Work at the pace that is appropriate to you. It is yoga: begin where you are, not where others are. It is what the old world of government process (ridiculously obscure tax codes), health care, education…the usual bureaucratic suspects and old school businesses do not understand. The world of rolling process has ascended; products and outcomes are obsolete before they hit the shelves. Story is more accurate than data (data is, after all, a type of story).

Nimble thinking requires nimble processes. Expansive living requires expansive thinking. Cathedrals are built one block at a time but the secret story of a cathedral is that it is never finished. It is always under construction, always changing, updating, repairing and modernizing. That’s the point of a sacred path. Stability, your sacred home, in this modern age is now found in motion, in a pure engagement with a moment. This is what we mean when we say, Be A Ray! Get into motion and focus your intention. Safety is never found in stasis.

Yesterday I wrote that a good life is marked by the capacity to stand solidly in the constancy of discovery. It is a paradox. Another prompt on the wall, one of my favorites, reads, “Embrace The Paradox.” Yes.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.

 

 

Get Almost Naked

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

Saul-The-Chi-Lantern shared two bits of wisdom this morning. The first was his secret for remaining free of the chaos of domestic life. When he returns home and finds the vacuum is running, all three televisions are blaring and there is an implied list of things for him to do, in his words, “I get almost naked. I take off most of my clothes because it will appear as if I am about to take a bath.” He suggested running a little bit of bath water just to support the illusion. He said, “In this way, you remain aloof of the confusion. People will leave you alone.”

Once, while exiting the freeway on my way to the Polyclinic, I saw a fully naked man walking leisurely down the sidewalk and, as proof of Saul’s theory, no one bothered this man. Most, if not all pedestrians and motorists alike steered clear of the fully-naked-man. Though a true scientist would argue that my assertion is false. Had the sidewalk man been nearly naked instead of fully naked he would prove a better sample case.

The second bit concerned intentional party behavior wisdom. Saul told us that as a young man he had the reputation for never sitting down at parties. People assumed that his capacity to stand for hours at a time came from stamina developed from his tai chi practice. Saul said, “This was not the case. I was dedicated to continued sampling of the appetizers on the table but had to mask my repeated visits to the table. Too many visits to the food table is not polite. My stamina had nothing to do with tai chi and everything to do with my dedication to food.”

There you have it. Pearls of wisdom for living a good life: 1) Get almost naked to remain free of the chaos. 2) Make several trips to the appetizers but do so in a subtle if not polite manner.

In case it slipped by unnoticed, be aware that both pearls are essentially studies in the fine art of creating illusion. 1) Pretend you are taking a bath. 2) Weave an illusion of stamina so you might graze the snacks without calling attention to your real intention.

Saying, “There you go! 70 years of wisdom reduced to two essential pearls,” Saul spun around and led us into a silent practice of the form.