"There is no must in art because art is free." - Wassily Kandinsky
Although there are no ready-made, everyone-do-this-or-else rules for how to be you, I really enjoy encouraging each other to be the grandest possibility bursting to bloom forth.
I've been inquiring to myself how to do that within the context of a group--or, even larger, in a culture.
Geographically, I like to be surrounded by all types of people exploring being all they can be--not necessarily all trying to achieve the very same thing.
For a long time, I agreed with Paul Graham above and sought that sense of camaraderie. I tried out San Jose, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York--whew--and that's only the last couple of years.
"Originality is ... a by-product of sincerity." -Marianne Moore
Nowadays, I don't agree with Paul Graham. If you are doing anything new, and you expect to find people who care about the same things as you do than (a) it may not be that pioneering to begin with (b) you might want to look deep at your supposed "need" for external vouching (c) who said contrast and, heck even opposition (ever seen a beautiful pearl?) is all bad?
Sure, I thrive within mutual respect, but I have witnessed that's not necessarily the same as people "caring about the same things."
So my open-ended question nowadays is: Under what condition(s) or what environment is risk-taking liberated? And, allowing our own "original" to us ways? This is a big topic and I've created another feed titled "Community" expressly to share resources and book excerpts for this exploration (don't worry if you don't subscribe, I'll link to its contents from time to time here).
I am not waiting for any finished wrap-up conclusion to that question, as a place of innovative risk-taking itself is a little fuzzy and messy, just like hunches are:
Innovation tends to be fuzzy, it resolves itself with time and thought." - Hugh MacLeod
One of my favorite snippets ever on drawing forth the best in people--mutually--is below. (I've also a bunch of my favorite excerpts from this gem of a book, Infinite and Finite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility shared in a Google Document.)
"If in the culture into which we are born there are always persons who urge us to theatricalize our lives by supplying us with a repeatable past, there will also be persons (possibly the same ones) in whose presence we learn to prepare ourselves for surprise. It is in the presence of such persons that we first recognize ourselves as the geniuses we are.
These persons do not give us our genius or produce it in us. In no way is the source of genius external to itself; never is a child moved to genius. Genius arises with touch. Touch is a characteristically paradoxical phenomenon of infinite play.
I am not touched by an other when the distance between us is reduced to zero. I am touched only if I respond from my own center--that is, spontaneously, originally. But you do not touch me except from your own center, out of your own genius. Touching is always reciprocal. You cannot touch me unless I touch you in response.
The opposite of touching is moving. You move me by pressing me from without to a place you have already foreseen and perhaps prepared. It is a staged action that succeeds only if in moving me you remain unmoved yourself. I can be moved to tears by skilled performances and heart-rending newspaper narratives of heroic achievement--but in each case I am moved according to a formula or design to which the actor or agent is immune. When actors bring themselves to tears by their performance, and not as their performance, they have failed their craft; they have become theatrically inept.
This means that we can be moved only by persons who are not what they are; we can be moved only when we are not who we are, but are what we cannot be.
When I am touched, I am touched only as the person I am behind all the theatrical masks, but at the same time I am changed from within--and whoever touches me is touched as well. We do not touch by design. Indeed, all designs are shattered by the touching. Whoever touches and whoever is touched cannot but be surprised. (The unpredictability of this phenomenon is reflected in our reference to the insane as "touched.")
We can be moved only by way of our veils. We are touched through our veils." -- James Carse, Infinite and Finite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility
credits: Wall Panel for Edwin R. Campbell's Villa, by Wassily Kandinsky (worth seeing his work in person--the presence is palpable--this one at the MoMa); Hugh MacLeod's Cartoon #212 "Hacker" (Hugh's interpretation of the Hacker Emblem)
p.s. The books that have fallen into my lap related to community, unconditional acceptance (a prerequisite to risk-taking), and teamwork include a “random” powerful section on agape (start on page 295, “No Strings Attached”) in Keeping the Love You Find, Ubuntu, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (this book in particular has been a blessing and a balm), Never Eat Alone, Who’s Got Your Back?, and even Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (which is really focuses on collisions and community with other people sparking innovation, and not solitary confinement). I am also intentionally set to re-read The Wisdom of Teams.
p.p.s. Not only an idle question this one of: Under what condition(s) or what environment is risk-taking liberated? Perhaps it'll be the underpinnings of an actual geographical place, or an online space, or both? We'll see.