Engaging Reality

“At your last seminar you mentioned the dimensional difference between understanding and engaging reality. I feel I missed the moment. I thought I would find it on your blog. Would you point me to this writing?”

I think I hit that theme directly or indirectly in a number of my writings, but here’s what I had written in my personal notes for the seminar you’re referring to…

“There’s a dimensional difference between understanding and engaging reality, all the ways and skills we’ve developed to keep the direct experience of reality at bay and away from us. A lot of that is a reaction to our vulnerabilities and fragilities, fear of the actual size of life, its mutability, and our inevitable inability to really control and own it.

“Turning over thoughts in one’s head in an attempt to ‘understand’ without taking any one of them linearly into a realm of experimental exploration is probably the most common pattern of such avoidance. That can be in the form of pet worries, random anxieties or favorite abstractions and obsessions, incessant internal fidgeting. These usually fall into versions of mostly unconscious, reactive repetition in security, sensuality and power/control issues.

“Making something exceptional from the moment – falling into and completely engaging reality – will inevitably involve qualitative, virtuosic application. The canvas or creative space for that first demands disciplined conception, some vision or specific direction. Then you have to bring your tools and necessary elements into the space you’re occupying, making sure they’re honed and functional. And finally, lose yourself in the process of devoted engagement. This is true for anything a conversation, a work of art, a relationship, a career…”

Here’s an accessible little piece of adventitious commercial art that brings the point home from a likable angle, at a moment in time when the story is currently still unfolding; just adding this quote to give some potent context…

“I was a train wreck, I was just like a time bomb waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times when I didn’t want to be here. It was just not good, I was just so lost. Where do I go from here? What do I do now?”

– Michael Phelps

One Comment Add yours

  1. R.R. says:

    “I knew one of these days when I would check your blog, there would be something new on it…. That’s a fun surprise to find, and always a little thrilling.
    ‘It’s what you do in the dark…that puts you in the light.’ In the dark, in one’s own internal private negotiations, and in all the moments of each day, the individual choices and all the work (shitwork and not), that others don’t see. ‘Rule yourself.’
    I had never seen the video before but it comes piercingly alive next to your writing. The quote was very surprising to learn connected to Michael Phelps, to imagine him even having those thoughts at any point in his career or its construction. What a maze of thoughts…..in contrast to his streamlined and crystalline mastery in moments where I’ve watched him swim. To imagine his hard work over time, muscling and working through doubts. I see the difference in understanding and engaging reality you’re talking about. It’s a very human conversation. And, wow. Thank you.” – R.R.

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