Category Archives: Love

Have you made art today?

I’ve been asking myself this question daily as of late. In part, because it reminds me that I am an artist – something I’ve only recently embraced. And in part, because it spurs me to action if the answer is no.

There’s a lot going on these days. It seems some of us have become caught in a cycle of  seeking and finding the worst in each other. Of creating solutions that perpetuate vengeance and violence rather than compassion or healing.

When reality is ugly, brutal, far from utopia and idealism, art shows us beauty and possibility. It encourages. Resonates. Reminds. It gives us new questions and new ideas. It pushes. Heals. Helps us to expand. Art is activism.

Whether you paint or dance or cook or sew or write or act or sing or whittle or sculpt or compose or love or…

Have you made art today?

The institutions of human society treat us as parts of a machine. They assign us ranks and place considerable pressure upon us to fulfill defined roles. We need something to help us restore our lost and distorted humanity. Each of us has feelings that have been suppressed and have built up inside. There is a voiceless cry resting in the depths of our souls, waiting for expression. Art gives the soul’s feelings voice and form.

~Daisaku Ikeda

The Four Agreements

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk had been on my mind earlier this week, and The Four Agreements have now taken up residence in its stead.

I’ve been actively working on unblocking by committing to write, so I’ll take these little bells as encouragement to keep going.

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a short book, based on Toltec Wisdom. In it, he elucidates four agreements, or practices, we can implement daily to enjoy a more fulfilling life.

I’m very consistent on agreements #3 and #4, and I easily redirect myself #2. But I must admit, I abandon the very first one when I’m not careful. That’s the one I’m revisiting  now.

It would be a good exercise to (re)read the book and do some extended writing on each of the four principles. But for now, I’m posting them in their simplest form as a gentle reminder to myself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

 

 

Probability, Possibility and Change

I believe in the potential for change. Change is, after all, one of the few constants in life. Even at the cellular level, there is always change. Birth, aging, sickness, death. Rebirth. Change.

I’m speaking about it in grand terms, but what I’m really talking about is the potential for individuals to evolve. To shift in attitudes, ways of thinking, and behaviors. To learn new things and be affected by them.

Ultimately, I believe in the potential of humans to be human.

…humans are always evolving (Freire). Not in the sense that humans are some how deficient, but rather that they, like plants, continue to seed and bloom and remake themselves. To live is to grow. Stagnation is, in effect, death. 
~Nicole D. Collier, In Defense of Inquiry

Earlier today someone mentioned in an offhand manner that grown people don’t change. Moreover, an attitude a man held five or six years ago would still be his attitude now.

You could make the case this is likely true. But as someone committed to developing my potential and helping others realize and develop theirs, I’m not so stuck on probability. I invite you to embrace possibility.

If we all stuck to what was probable, inventions we take for granted today would never have been birthed. If we dismissed things based merely on probability, who would ever take risks? What would be the purpose of ever dreaming beyond the present moment? There would be no bucket lists. No Nobel Prizes. No late blooming ballerinas. No manned missions to space. What use would anyone ever have for toiling or exploration?

When we are quick to write off the very possibility of human change, it becomes easy to write off those who have made poor choices in the past. Because they’ll “never amount to anything,” we expel kids from school without a second thought. Because “they’re worthless,” we allow people to die slow deaths in cages. And those who get out alive can scarcely live because, “they’re criminals anyway,” so they’ve proven they can’t handle voting, making an honest living, or {insert thing “good” people can do}.

I’m not arguing that we should ignore current evidence of ideas and attitudes people hold. After all, it’s sage advice to believe people when they show you who they are. But they’re showing you who they are at a given moment. Not who they were at birth. Not who they’ll be at death. Life shaped us to be who we are right now. Are you satisfied that this is the final version of you the world will ever see?

Human revolution cannot be pinned down to one specific thing. It is any action that leads to positive change or improvement in the inner realm of a person’s life. It is an ongoing process. The important question to ask yourself is whether you are on a path of continuous personal growth. ~Daisaku Ikeda

If we’ve not bothered to investigate – to engage another in a conversation, to see if evidence warrants new opinions, we’ve denied another human being the chance to be human.

Transformative learning occurs when one makes meaning of her life experiences. It often happens after a disorienting event. Something knocks you off balance and you are thrown into emotional vertigo.

Someone you love dies unexpectedly and you question the meaning of life. You travel abroad and confront culture in previously unimagined ways. You experience a profound betrayal. You read a book or watch a movie that elucidates a deeply resonant truth.

Whatever the event, you’re suddenly off-kilter and you must fight to reorient your life. Sometimes this reorientation means revisiting images of the past and reframing them. Or discarding them completely.

But the point is, you change. Your perspective changes. You release long-held beliefs. You alter your behavior. You’re different. You do what humans have the capacity to do. You learn and grow. You evolve.

It can happen at any point to any one of us. Even you…

We mustn’t discard possibility.

Impossible is nothing

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
The White Queen, Alice in Wonderland

What impossible things do you believe in?

I believe in the power of telekinesis. I just haven’t mastered yet.

I also believe I can levitate under the right circumstances.

I believe a well-written work – be it essay, play, poem, and so on – can change your whole life. It can cause you to think differently, pay attention to something you’ve never noticed, open your closed heart, or take action. It can cause you to dance, cry, or be a better person.

I believe in the transformative power of love to change a family, a community and a society. People can treat each other better: use more loving language, choose more loving actions, advocate more loving policies. Loving shifts can make a huge difference in our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Love can render greed obsolete.

Difficult, maybe.

Slow, yes.

Impossible? Nah!