For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. - Steve Job's 2005 Stanford commencement speech
T. Michael writes:
What I like about what your writing addresses is the nature of transition. Our society invests so much capital (of all kinds) in keeping things the same that embracing change feels like inviting someone to smother you with a pillow.
I realized a few years ago when I was telling someone that I was going through a transition period, that I had been going through transition periods for most of my life and it was only an illusion that the troughs were anything more than pauses between transitions."
Schizophrenic. That's what transitory periods look like when there's keen resistance. One day I write this and not much than a week later I write this. They're both sides of me. But this feels closer to home now: more of a synthesis...with heart.
Over the short term, people are more likely to regret action than inaction. But over the long term, people tend to regret more their failures to act, their inability to take advantage of opportunity or move forward to gain something new. [In a global study encompassing China, Japan, Russia and U.S.,] people in all these countries gazed back at their lives as a whole, they tended to emphasize things they should have done rather than things they should not have done. - Neal Roese, Ph.D., "If Only: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity" (a psychologist whom specializes in research on regret and counter-factuals)
See-saw. I still find I'm clinging to an old part of me that is dropping off like bright aspen leaves on a crisp October morning... Back this June a journalist says to me, "I'm off to JavaOne. Gotta pretend I still care about enterprise software." I replied, "I gave up pretending." He replies, "I noticed." (Yep, last year this time I was still writing for an enterprise software blog, offline now that they've been acquired.) The leaves are floating now. Maybe what I can do is notice my connection to the wind flitting through the gold flakes.
I was profoundly affected by reading aloud my "Marketing: What's Love Got to Do With It" essay for the audio book/podcast version (for the fall More Space book). I had never read the whole piece in a single sitting. And definitely not aloud. (Advice: Read your work aloud before your final draft, awkward sentences will jump off page.) The first half was salvaged from an earlier draft and the second part is totally new. It took months to write because I made it hard (but that's another story).
It's long. It's a breezy, caffeine-fueled zip at first and it exhausts me. Every 25 minutes I come out from Studio A (or so the impromptu sign reads on the door while recording) for a breather to chat with my housemate.
After the last session, he tells me: "I could hear you in there. And you sounded different that time. You sounded light-hearted."
He couldn't have known I nearly choked up in a rising tide of emotion about three times. What starts off as sounding like a savvy ex-dotcommer establishing herself as a thought-leader slowly transitions to someone who can barely read the closing line without my voice cracking. The truth is the subject matter and entire tone of the piece changes over the course of 11,000 words. And in the reading my heart follows, my heart flowers.
It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. - The Velveteen Rabbit
I hadn't intended to make the point of the essay so dramatically visceral. The first and last part of the essay themselves echo a story in the essay. It compares two stories about friends dying of AIDS both written by Natalie Goldberg's friend (longer version of comparisons here). In the first piece the author is relevatory, or "naked" as BlogHers say. The first piece is off to a start: "I am in the hospital room waiting for Fred too die so I could go to the Lexington Hotel with Larry and fuck my brains out."
A true work of art comes into being only where a bond of spiritual communion is established between the artist and his public, a bond which rests upon the resonances of their common unconscious. Why is it that a painting is more than a photograph, a sculpture more than its model, a symphony more than an assemblage of sounds, a book more than a dialectical puzzle of ideas, a drama more than a dialogue? It is because thay awaken unconscious resonances. The spectators in the hall or theater are fully aware of this. Their emotion is no longer individual but collective; it creates between them an undefinable unity, because it awakens in them that which binds them together, namely, their unconscious, symbolic, poetic life. - Paul Tournier, The Whole Person in a Broken World (via Open Range Pedaling)
The second version is naked too. But here what one witnesses is a naked heart. What Goldberg notices is: "I could take Miriam's revised second piece to Asia, to a small village there, maybe a place that knew nothing of AIDS, and they would understand her writing, because it came from the place where we are not American, not gay, not a New Yorker."
Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities. - C.S. Lewis
In the second part of the essay I used Jeff Davis' pith advice from his book Journey from the Center to the Page. I came back over and over to: What am I writing for? He says: "When you privately ask “What am I writing for?” the ego can rest (and it’s rare for our writer’s egos to rest). You don’t have to impress anyone. In this space, you can be more honest with yourself about what leads you to write." And I think from this honest space comes more emotionally evocative writing.
Much innovation comes from asking questions. Tom Asacker calls this the mystery phase of any brand, asking "I wonder..." questions. Ford asked: "I wonder if people will purchase an automobile if I can get the price down to 'x'?" Being open: "Managers can either dictate strategy from above in a deliberate fashion or allow strategy to bubble up from below in an emergent fashion... When attempting new market disruption, the one thing managers can know for certain is that they do not know how a market will evolve," says Clayton Christensen.
Every novel starts with a question... I always start with a question, and the answer is the novel. And I find that "in the moment when everything changes, for good or ill," as someone once said, that's where I find the story. - "How I Write: Jacquelyn Mitchard", The Writer, September 2005
I suppose it's the same for ourselves. For personal innovation. Living in questions. To wonder. And to wonder again. And in the story pivoting on moments when everything changes we may allow ourselves to unfold into eternity.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren't led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.
Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity. - Tao Te Ching