Patterns where there are none

Last week, one of your fellow readers hit reply—replies come directly to my personal email box—and shared some thoughts about connections and interesting juxtapositions in the week’s email. After I pointed out that the patterns they commented on, were simply a byproduct of how I write and how the email is assembled automatically, they rightly observed, “Lol, humans finding patterns where they don’t exist. A timeless classic.” I completely agree, and our power of pattern-finding is an awesome tool.

I was reading, and found a new-to-me Einstein quote. (You’ll find it soon, some time in February.) When I capture a quote from someone already in my collection, I have to check; There are ~800 quotes these days and sometimes I “find” one I’ve forgotten. (Surprisingly though, I can usually tell on sight if it’s in the collection already.) This led me to a search for “einstein” here on the blog. (There’s also a tag for Albert Einstein, but the search nets more posts including those I failed to tag.) I found a quote already on the blog—but not the new one that prompted it all—that was so old, it wasn’t in my collection. I fixed that, leading to a very old blog post, with a very high slipbox address, 4a784: Part of a Whole. And also 4a789: Do You Have a Question? Those were posted in 2013.

They’re about curiosity and broadening our sphere of compassion. Which sounds a lot like my just-barely-one-year-old vision and mission.

My vision is a world where everyone can flourish. My mission is creating better conversations that spread understanding and compasion.

So, as a human here finding connections, that’s a breadcrumb from 8 years ago hinting at the path I took to today. Awesome.

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Elevation

But it was the problem that mattered. It was the customer’s problem that needed fixing, not Charlie’s spiritual state. He took an ordinary thing and elevated it. That’s all. That’s all… In the real world, this is how it’s done.

~ David Essman from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2021/06/09/take-something-ordinary-and-elevate-it/

Suppose I wanted to elevate the art of conversation. What don’t I know about conversations? (That’s not snark, but an actual question for myself.) Who is good at conversations? Who do the masses think is good, and who is objectively good? Actually, what if the art of conversation is just fine— fully elevated so to speak? What if I wanted to elevate others’ conversations to the highest level of the art? How would I do that? Would it be enough to sit in a tower and learn everything there is to know about the art? No, I think I would have to learn as much as possible and go out into the marketplace, (that’s a Diogenes reference,) and have as many conversations as possible. What if I tried to make each conversation intentional— pay attention to it, and try to learn something from each one? What would happen if you intentionally did that thousands of times?

I don’t know. Let’s find out.

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Bitter is better

Remember that anything really worth doing is probably hard work, and will absolutely require you to do things you don’t currently do, which will feel uncomfortable for a while. This is a “hard truth” we must all face. If it was easy, everyone would already be doing it.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2016/10/eat-the-broccoli/

Somewhere along the way, I learned to like vegetables. I mean, really like vegetables. I know you think I said, “give me a lot of vegetables,” but what I actually said was, “give me all the vegetables.” Brussel Sprouts? Do you remember when they used to be bitter? …because, yes, they really did breed them differently in recent decades to be less bitter. Artichoke—not just the hearts, but the whole thing… yes, I know how to make them, and keep your hands out of the way when I eat them. But a good one is hard to find these days as they’ve been bred to be more “palatable.” Peppers, yes of all sorts. Tomatos, I ate them all. Beans, kale, spinach, turnips, cucumbers… steamed, raw, tossed as summer salad (aka, with EVO and red wine vinegar)… nom nom nom nom.

A little over a year ago, I settled on my personal mission: Creating better conversations to spread understanding and compassion. To make progress on that, I need to eat my vegetables. And—as discussed—I love me some vegetables. I’m currently, slowly working on adjusting my life to be focused on two things: Recording kewl conversations with people, and writing; writing about those kewl conversations. It’s not that I currently have responsibilities to eschew, but rather there are still too many off-focus things I do which I’m working to eliminate.

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Vulnerability and transparency

https://alistapart.com/article/the-untapped-power-of-vulnerability-transparency-in-content-strategy/

Something I stumbled over the other day related to my recent efforts within the Movers Mindset project to find a focus vision and mission.

In the context of the linked article: What I’ve done with Movers Mindset has often been vulnerable and transparent. It hasn’t worked—”worked” being defined as, “made the project able to continue indefinitely while doing good things.” But it also definitely has not hindered my efforts.

I simply wanted to leave this here so that I can read it again at some future date.

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Achieving greatness

So you want to achieve greatness. You’ve decided that ho-hum mediocrity is not for you. Alrighty then. Well, if you’re going to do that, you have to make a choice: whether to take The Big Road or The Little Road.

~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2020/09/18/go-big-go-small-just-go/

It turns out that this rhymes with my vision and mission. (Please start here if you just thought, “what vision and mission?”) I was deep in the workshop trying to find my vision and mission, when this post from MacLeod drifted through my sphere of awareness. I think if I hadn’t already been in the middle of doing the hard work of orienteering, this post would have tipped me into starting the hard work.

So my question for today is: If you don’t feel like you have a clear vision and mission, what would you have to expose yourself to which would be likely to make you tip into being compelled to find them?

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On a mission

When I arrived at the atelier, the canvas was blank and I simply began poking at making little pin-points of color. Poking just to see each little point. Sure, I avoided some entire areas of the canvas. That top-left corner didn’t interest me, but that area above the center caught my focus. Then my gaze wandered a few inches and I found I was putting points down in another, new-to-me, blank area. Day by week by month by year by decade I wandered up to the canvas. Curiously, I now realize I never looked each day at the canvas as I walked up—or walked away or simply past. I just headed to this atelier and— Although, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I thought it was a video game Arcade at one point, and it looked like a snowy ski slope too for a while, and I recall breaking waves and some sea smells. That’s… interesting. When exactly did I realize that this place is a true Atelier? Sure sure yes yes, the particular dots are still very [very!] interesting; the minutia seems fractal and the more closely I peer, the more interested I become.

But just the other day—although, it quickly became a couple weeks ago, soon to be a couple months, a couple years, a couple decades…

But just the other day I peered over my glasses and looked at the whole canvas for what might have been the first time ever. Holy shit, it’s a Georges Seurat painting of some afternoon on some island! I mean: The overall composition is so blindingly freakin’ obvious and banal that I’m tempted to chuck the whole thing as trivial— …until I pear closely and see all the infinitely intricately interconnected dots and—bam!— VERTIGO!

My vision is a world where everyone can flourish.

My mission is creating better conversations that spread understanding and compasion.

Will you join me?

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Part of a whole

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

~ Albert Einstein

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