I love aha moments especially because their timing seems to be so magically orchestrated. Like the moment I heard Elizabeth Gilbert talk about passion.
I always get a little awkward when surrounded by people who have a concrete goal in life, seem to know exactly how to get there and just go without being side-tracked. We live in a world where determination and rationality are highly respected and admired. Being interested in everything, learning something everywhere and wanting to talk to everyone is then a rather flaky form of existence.
Not if you're a hummingbird...
You see, Liz Gilbert tells us, "there are two types of people. There are jackhammers & hummingbirds. Jackhammers are focused and efficient.
Hummingbirds move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field. Trying this, trying that. Two things happen, they create incredibly rich and complex lives for themselves and they also end up cross pollinating the world. That is the service that you do if you are a hummingbird person.
You bring an idea from here, to here, where you learn something else and then you weave it in to bring it there. Your perspective keeps the entire culture aerated, mixed up and open to the new and fresh. That is the path that you are supposed to lead. Release yourself from the pressure of finding your one passion. Trust it.
If you humbly and faithfully follow the hummingbird path, follow your path of curiosity, you might be surprised where you end up. It might be exactly where you want to be, surrounded by the people you want to be with."
I watched the hummingbirds when we were in Costa Rica and was mesmerised by their agility, speed and their beauty.
Thank you Liz, for clarifying my path. Hummingbirding is my passion.
Beauty isn’t only in the eye of a passive beholder as a way of appreciation. It is in the hand of the creator too in a more active way. We can do what we do, whatever it is, with a dedication to beauty. We can do something or change something to make it beautiful.
When I say beauty I mean to go beyond physical perfection, whether it is a woman, a word, a garden or a piece of furniture.
I do believe some are more sensitive to beauty than others. I crave it and will look for it wherever I am, whatever I do. Every time I am relieved to find something yet again, that has a beauty of its own. It can be two children holding hands, lovers on a bike together, birds flying in perfect formation but one, my cup of tea on my favourite Moroccan silver plate, my love’s small wrinkles around his eyes, an old lady feeding the ducks, my mother’s hands, the shadow of a candle on the wall, the way the light comes through the opening in the curtains, a twinkle in the eyes of my children. Those are moments of passive appreciation, of nourishment for the soul.
But there is also beauty to be created in the way we approach others, the words we use, how we take a turn when we are driving, how we hold our coffee cup, what we post on Facebook.
‘Beauty is an overarching, guiding concern in life: when we say that something is beautiful we are saying that it manages to integrate and embody qualities that are dear to us…Appreciation is indeed part of it - appreciation of, say, kindness, persistence, intelligence, skill and insight - but moments of beauty happen when we bring qualities we value to life.’
Beauty can come to life out of everything that is done with love, attention and dedication and that insight is vital. At times we can feel helpless and get dragged into a state of desperation when we spend too much time looking at everything that lacks beauty. The news, injustice, politics and immorality can suck the life out of our visions.
I have decided that the greatest form of activism is to get up, look around and see where you can make a difference in adding beauty to what is around you. You will find that beauty is so much more than an appearance. It inspires us on all levels to do the same. To look out for beauty and to contribute to adding it whenever and wherever we can.
How can you bring more beauty into your bit of the world? Would love to hear your comments!
This article is inspired by The Book of Life which aims to be the curation of the best and most helpful ideas in the area of emotional life and I can highly recommend for your regular dosage of beauty. (non-affiliate link)
It is believed that if you want to get a peek into a person's soul all you have to do is take a look at their bedside table. I am not sure if this is true for everyone but in my case I feel what is by my bed is indeed stuff that is in my head finding its way to my heart at some stage.
I don't read everything in any particular orderly manner. My head is filled with an eclectic mix of knowledge (otherwise known as chaos) and likes to be fed accordingly. I have still not figured out whether it is by serendipity or by pure chance why I pick up one book and not the other at any given moment. Whatever the spirit behind the scheme of things, something always jumps at me at exactly the right moment, leaving me holding on to a particular word or phrase as if it is the magic key to a new insight.
My perfect day starts, after having sent off my teenagers into another day of adventure and doing the domestic rounds at home, with a cup of coffee and 30 minutes with a book. This morning David Whyte winked at me with his Heart Aroused. I opened it up at a page I had marked and came across this passage:
'To create the golden moment we must know where the gold lies in ourselves, but we must not have narrow, tidy images of what makes up our ‘gold’. Without the fiery embrace of everything from which we demand immunity, including depression and failure, the personality continues to seek power over life rather than power through the experience of life. We throw the precious metal of our own experience away, exchanging it for the fool’s gold of a superimposed image, an image of what our experience should be rather than what it actually is, the final element of creation’
The right words to understand emotions can be extremely powerful. I have discovered this not only through David Whyte and other philosophers, poets and writers but recenty in email contact with my friend Salley Knight. She is an artist. Full stop. Not only does she create incredibly beautiful silk pieces but the description of her artistic process is so poetic that nobody really wants her to ever finish it. Her journey is art. And it reminds me how the journey should always be the art. That that is what David Whyte means when he talks about creating golden moments. Not only the 'tidy images' of the process when everything is picture perfect and we know what we are doing and looking confident and in control. But also the moments of doubt, feeling lost in the forest of possibilities. Stuggling with our own limitations. Our fear of not knowing, messing up, even losing interest.
Sometimes the journey to continue working on your art may be looking at a rain drop on a winter day
or stopping to consider that all art is in fact political. Opening up to the magic to feed our soul even if that means not doing anything directly related to what we feel we should be doing.
It is my son's birthday today, he is 17. When I mentioned this is my email to Salley she replied:
'Such a tender vulnerable age all full of not knowing masked otherwise, often.'
Being able to sum up my emotions of a mother looking at her son and seeing him growing into an adult, in 13 words, is art.
Sharing our vulnerability is not welcomed by everyone. Neither is our art. Goethe begins a famous German poem with the admonition: 'Tell a wise person or else keep silent'.
Preciousness is in the eye of the beholder.
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(If you are interested in finding out more about philosopher/poet David Whyte you will enjoy this interview from On Being with Krista Tippett. )
Inspired by everything that matters and convinced that creative living is on top of the list.