Tuesday, May 04, 2010

After an absence, it's good to be back

It's been a month since my last post, and it has been one of those months that feels like at least a season. A month ago, winter lingered in our minds. Now, it is exuberantly spring.

I told a friend who was struggling with writing to write to find out what he had to say. Increasingly, this seems like wise advice to me. The very young me always had a plan and a statement. At the time, that seemed hard-headed and practical. Now it strikes me as hopeful and idealistic. Very little works out exactly as planned and quite often that's a good thing.

So if we don't start with a plan, how do we start? It's like decorating our homes: we start with what we think will work and add and adjust and negotiate and accommodate as we go. Some treasures are too good to pass up just because they don't - exactly - fit into our existing style. Some treasures (other people's) are relics that we would love to let go, but can't. We learn to work around them.

I have come to doubt the rhetoric of the precise plan that is precisely executed. Even when that seems to be the case, it is usually a matter more of successful improvisation and negotiation than it is an elegant unfolding. Everything worth doing requires that we adapt and adjust. Like the saxophone player, we tune continuously if we want to play in tune continuously.

Of course, if there is no plan, there is nothing to adjust. That's like cooking without knowing if you're making applesauce and porkchops or brownies (which I make with applesauce). It's not easier or more flexible: unlimited possibility stops us in our tracks until we can impose what looks like order. It's not really order. It's more like boundaries or filters: we see best when we can fit what we are observing within our field of vision.

This blog post is part of my useful limits for this day (which threatens to spin in so many directions, all activity and no centre). Stepping back into the flow here allows me to find the flow in other places. I didn't know what I would say: I knew that it was time to talk and listen again and that doing it in this form would allow me to more easily enter the other forms and shapes that require my attention today.

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