7 April 2016

Q & A

“I love the idea that accessing your sites and finding all the hidden jewels can and should be a bit of an effort on people’s parts, but I do think that having a more obvious place to respond directly to what you have posted will offer more of an ‘invitation’ for public dialogue. I was wondering if it would be possible to have an area for responses built into your blog? This is the site I check into to follow your postings, and I have looked up and down it several times to find where I can respond to what you post. This happened recently after listening to the beautiful music of one of the new playlists…I listened, was moved, and wanted to post something there that would also encourage others to listen.”

Okay, that sounds fair enough. This blog was originally conceived as an evolving art piece that would allow for some fluctuation of subject matter yet keep the central theme of pertinent, natural human potential and development, as I see them anyway, in sight. Like a river making its way through turns, hills and valleys, or an exceptional conversation…that intentionally seeks unusual, revealing angles and experience, and hopefully is also a decent representation of my work in general while still being accessible for anyone. So, I want to be somewhat discerning about what’s included in that public dialogue.

I certainly appreciate and encourage response, which also serves to guide me toward variations of themes that people are actually interested in. It’s true that there’s an extra step in the process that probably requires “a bit of an effort” to pause and consider before responding, like walking to a friend’s house to talk instead of just texting her or him. Still, on the top right of this page you’re now reading from, you can click on ‘Contact Us’ and write whatever you’d like, which I’ll receive personally. On the bottom right of this same page, or any page on this website, there are six sites under ‘Additional Resources’ that open into dozens of ‘Leave a Reply’ options that others will see and which I’ll also eventually receive.

Thank you for your “hidden jewels” comment.

“I’ve enjoyed some time not only on your blog but also the other pages that have come up. The music playlists are a welcome addition to the early morning hours. Sitting quietly with your thoughts on information, consumption, and curious about how that all fits into morning contemplations… It seems like for years now I’ve carved out more space in the mornings when I feel alive and alert to play with ideas, yet find myself with some query over the idea of how that plays into overconsumption or even what the term means.”

I admit to being a fan of the idea that evolution, of anything but especially a human being and the experiences one struggles with or looks for progress and resolution for, requires some intentional linearity, what the Buddhists sometimes call supple, enduring concentration. That can open into contemplation, a great word – “1: The action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time; 1.4: A form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the divine.” However you want to word it, how one engages time and how many different directions you (don’t) turn, look or think in a given period of time are crucial factors, for example, in “it takes both proclivity and application to look beyond what is given into where it came from and where it might be taken…” or even seeing clearly what’s right in front of you.

Grandeur, I believe, in any field of work or play, exploration, relationship, art…comes mainly through staying with something longer and more attentively than is usual, after others have turned away and moved on to something else. I also believe that limitation (and suffering in general) – personally, relationally, mentally, emotionally, artistically, spiritually… – is most often self-created by various forms of internal fidgeting, which so often is simply “Right, got that; what’s next?” leading to unending superficial missing of the entire point yet not noticing and having a lot to say about it anyway. That impulse, “What’s next?”, is the preference for consuming the next thing, and that can even be a question, “On to the next question…” The problem is, the first thing was never really gotten, not completely, not to its roots and flowers – its meaning and imaginative possibility.

A pianist acquires all the information she needs to play a complex sonata by reading the sheet music in three minutes. Then there are the three months of setting aside other appealing distractions and impulses to allow the music – in practice and contemplation – to drip out of her head and expand into illuminations in all her bodies so as to know it and embody it. She then has something unique to say, something to give back that will move someone else into new experience. That’s a sophisticated process in many ways, but the simplest part of it is just “I’m going to stay here with this one thing until I know it.” Back to our Buddhists, that’s all that Buddha did. But if you follow the trajectory of anyone who is really exceptional at what they do, you’ll find a similar ethic.

Just obscure musings from a silly blog. Thank you for the comments and questions.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Albert Einstein

“Just wanted to express a few things concerning your last blog, even if a bit clumsy, realizing more and more how any of the threads you give us can be taken and explored in so many directions if one has enough curiosity and endurance, so that our world expands rather than contracts…

The first time I read your last blog I felt some kind of tremendous elation and joy for all that was presented and rushed to write you a note, then had a second thought, that I should take more time to stay with it a bit longer.

I went back reading and revisiting the hidden jewels links this morning, I noticed a link that I missed the first time: “seeing clearly what is right in front of you.” I started to watch it and burst into tears, not quite sure exactly why, I felt so deeply touched and nourished inside and was amazed at the art you created, the care, attention to details, original presentation with so many angles and possible directions to explore further, you taking the time to present something unique even though many things could very well go unnoticed, just like real life. But when you stay a little longer with things (the grand noticing) the beauty and complexity of things start to hit you back and you find yourself in a very different place…marveling at the beauty of life.

I was thinking of my music, like the incredible journey of making parchment (and that is just to have empty « paper »! you would still need to write the text and paint the illuminations), it feels so much like a slow and laborious process, but it helped me realize that it is ok to be, to go slow rather than rushing into a final product. It encourages me to redefine or find a more balanced relationship with time, especially because our society is radically at the opposite of that, wanting to have everything as quickly as possible.

As you say with the pianist, it still takes time and creativity to process (to mature in the barrel), integrate a piece of music so completely that every part of us is then able to give it back with the appropriate qualities and spirit so that it has more meaning and impact at delivery.

I’m myself wondering if it would be a help to have a way to register for your blog so that when there is a new post we immediately get it into our inbox, although I can see that you might want to keep the “effort” alive by having us check ourselves. The problem though is that we are distracted and consumed with so many things nowadays that it is hard to remember what the real priorities are.

For me reading your posts always puts me back on the right track, keeps me awake, provokes wilder, broader thinking, encourages new discoveries and gives me a deeper sense of purpose staying focused on what truly matters. Your posts are like a beacon of light when lost in the darkness of a threatening sea, and the lighthouse is always sending its light.”

Thank you for taking the time and care to respond so voluptuously. I do appreciate the affirmations, and am also glad that you find some worthy things in this blog and take it as seriously as you do. Although the more encouraging experience in reading your letter is just that you felt compelled and followed that up with greater investment, including through time…to whatever, and wherever that may take you. It’s an excellent example of the theme in motion here (also as extension of the nature and purpose of conversation preceding it). I particularly like your gesture to genuinely pause and reconsider, not be fooled by appearances or initial reaction, take hold of and fall into the moment, independently own it, which I think is so often the missing piece in being able to see and produce something truly original, personal, nuanced and powerful.

“…so that when there is a new post we immediately get it.” That kind of goes against everything being discussed here, and I do like taking a stand on some things, even if that means being overly idealistic about it and taking the consequences for that. I think we should all take the personal freedom and responsibility for our own priorities, whatever they are, and back that up with our choices, otherwise they’re not our own real priorities. Besides, the shelf-life of the relevancy of this conversation seems long enough, and anyone can check in here whenever they’re inclined.

Thank you again for your passionately sincere appreciation and encouragement.