Have returned from a trip – my first to Europe – and from writing elsewhere about the trip in a way that surprised myself. The recounting of the trip just poured through like sunshine, first thing in the morning, and I could hardly leave my bed–where I’d started off writing just a few simple notes–for most of the day. 🙂
By 6 pm I was hobbling in pain, my back loudly protesting what I’d done, but I wasn’t sorry. In the Play-as-Being community, such genuine appreciation overflowed, that I’d been able to welcome into the time those who had not been able to go, to include them in the adventure. Yet it wasn’t that I included anyone. Rather, they were always included.
I just showed how that was so.
This seemed connected to my waking up a few weeks ago with the thought loudly before my eyes: “I don’t want to teach. I (just?) want to write!” Which seemed odd out of context of the many years in which I’ve worked to articulate the knowledge I feel has empowered my own life. Why have I done that? In part, out of a desire to show appreciation, to ‘make good’, like a child who is well aware of what their parents have sacrificed to give them greater opportunities.
But times have changed and the context doesn’t even fit. There is a hierarchical way of sharing, of giving and receiving, that isn’t quite appropriate anymore, yet our systems and formulas have not quite moved beyond that way of thinking. We’re walking funny lines.
An ‘appreciating food’ practice a friend on the trip (a kind of a retreat, combined with social event), shared with us, consisted of taking a moment to contemplate how our meals, all their myriad components, reach our table each time… how many factors and relationships are required in order for any given meal to present, much less the innumerable factors necessary to gather such disparate people as we ourselves from all over the world, to appreciate that presentation. This practice, although simple, deeply affected my general way of seeing during the trip, and so the writing took on that flavor, came naturally.
It is far too easy to snap into a category and write ‘about that’, to try to line things up just so, knowing what is wanted… what is most ‘useful’. However, the benefit of going with what pours out is that there is 0 pretending to know what is valuable. There are too many factors, so you give up on capturing them all in advance, and go along with the momentum appreciatively.
This may be what Steve Jobs was getting at when he said that people don’t know what they want until you show them. Market research is useful, but incredibly limited. It matters to me that I’m clear and that what I write takes in mind the benefit of others, but I can’t be driven by that. I can’t be driven by a motive to ‘do good’. That’s an effect that in a way, I trust to happen with a deeper devotional intention.
There is a *marvelous* TED Talk that speaks to this beautifully, given by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love. She gave this talk about genius and inspiration after the gigantic success of that novel, so it comes from a vulnerable place. “What if my best work is behind me?” It isn’t a talk centralizing on her own fears. Rather, it draws upon the way genius moves, and what genius is… how much wider and free-er than can be contained by the will of a vessel trying to do well or be special.
If you haven’t seen it, it is worth the 20 minutes, and gets better and better as it goes on.