004 Only the questions
On beauty and trying to solve equations with bubble gum
7 Things to Draw on This Week
War and uncertainty are running rife and I’m thinking about beauty. Yes, beauty.
Definition of Beauty
beau·ty | \ ˈbyü-tē\
The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest). (dictionary.com)
It's the part of this explanation that defines beauty as 'something else'. That cannot be described, but we know it when we feel it.
Watching my daughter sleep. The moment my husband walks through the door and gives me a big smile and kiss. Sharing a joke with friends or strangers. Feeling a deeper connection to nature or working on something that brings meaning.
These are the moments of beauty to be cherished.
If you want to learn how to find these moments of beauty in your own life, read on…
1. John O’Donohue on The Inner Landscape of Beauty
I listened to a re-run of an interview with the brilliant Irish poet, theologian, and philosopher John O'Donohue. I urge you to listen to both this interview and his books as audio versions because his voice has the most beautiful accent and rhythm.
Even though this episode was recorded just before his untimely death in 2008 his words will resonate, especially in the current climate.
I mean, I think that — and it’s the question of beauty, I mean, you’re asking, essentially — as we are speaking, that there are individuals holding out on frontlines, holding the humane tissue alive in areas of ultimate barbarity, where things are visible that the human eye should never see. And they’re able to sustain it because there is in them some kind of sense of beauty that knows the horizon that we are really called to in some way.
I love Pascal’s phrase that you should always keep something beautiful in your mind. And I have often — like in times when it’s been really difficult for me, if you can keep some kind of little contour that you can glimpse sideways at, now and again, you can endure great bleakness.
The quote he talks about is from French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, writer, and theologian Pascal Baise who says:
“In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.”
2. Only The Questions
One of my other jobs is as a facilitator for ‘Flown’. I facilitate their daily 'Flock's, which are like digital co-working spaces for deep work to promote focus and productivity.
At the beginning of a Flock, we ask members to set intentions for their deep work sessions or for the day ahead by asking thought-provoking questions. So I'm always looking for prompt ideas to get our members' little grey cells working out.
A brilliant tool I've discovered is Only The Questions by Clive Thompson, is a self-confessed computer geek and journalist who writes about science and technology.
This nifty little program scans text and outputs just the questions from the said text. I must admit I'm slightly addicted! Here's the questions I generated from James Clear's The Proven Path to Doing Unique and Meaningful Work.
Some work as lovely prompts I’ll be using for my Flocks and my own journal:
What story do you want to tell with your life?
What craft do you want to spend your years reviving and improving
How do you know the right answer?
3. Are You Undermining Your Own Intrinsic Motivation?
Adam Grant shares his wisdom and a paper about intrinsic motivation and why it's essential to take time out for your hobbies, fun, creativity and, yes, looking for those beautiful moments.
If you read the research he mentions, what I would say is 'standard vs non-standard' work times depends on your job. What's important is you set boundaries around both.
4. Slow Down, Live Well, Have Fun
Agree or not, here’s a post from the Idler readers with ideas for a manifesto of pro-idling policies, that made me chuckle!
5. Many Years Later…
After many years of avoiding it, I picked up a paintbrush this week. After giving up freelance work in the digital world, the process of making analogue art instead has overtaken me. It's the most beautiful and frustrating process all at the same time, and I adore it. Here's something I made…
6. Wear Sunscreen - Baz Luhrman/MarySchmich
I played this classic spoken-word track to my kids the other day, and the advice is never more relevant than it is today. In case you don't know, it's about more than sunscreen. It's advice for living!
Mary Schmich wrote the original text for the Chicago Tribune in 1997 titled 'Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.
"Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum."
Here’s the original video to the Baz Luhrman 1999 recording.
7. And Finally…
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
- Marcus Aurelius
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