Silly: having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.
Somewhere I read that our brain is a powerful predictive machine. It is endlessly evaluating everything within and without us, looking out for cues about what will happen. All of this to reduce uncertainty, avoid pain and, when possible, achieve success and joy.
We are always predicting what will happen in the next moment.
The problem I see is that all those predictions are based on our past experiences. We predict the outcome of something in the future based on our memories of what happened in the past.
I can sense a high risk of repeating ourselves, trapped in some kind of pleasure loop. This predictive approach makes our brain blind to everything possible but improbable.
That’s why some silliness is desperately needed. As Steven Pressfield wrote in his book “Do The Work”; “Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.“
I believe that most of the ones we celebrate as explorers, artists, pioneers, inventors, innovators are just silly people who delivered a result. But before getting there, before achieving a recognizable outcome, they were all most probably regarded as silly or foolish.
When we go for the impossible, we may find something possible but unpredictable on the way.
“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” — form Do The Work by Steven Pressfield
“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” — Kahlil Gibran
When I read this quote from Gibran, a word stands out; “pain”.
I can’t really say why, but I feel a deep connection with that word.
Maybe because nowadays everyone seems to focus mostly on happiness, considering pain a momentary condition to overcome as soon as possible.
Or maybe it is because it is “pain” that taught me the most powerful lessons in my life.
I’m well aware of the inspiring power of wonder or the energy created by joy. But we should never underestimate the creative potential of pain.
Pain is part of life. When we feel pain, we can do everything we can to get rid of it. Or we can explore it to find the lesson it carries.
I believe that to awaken the artist within, we must be willing to delve into pain and sadness, to explore our shadows, to face our dragons.
“Our fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
In over two years of this morning practice, I had all kinds of days.
Some days I woke with so many ideas in my head that I don’t know where to start. Other days words flow out so quickly that I struggle to squeeze everything in a15 minutes writing slot. There are also days where I know what I want to write about, but I couldn’t find the words. And then there are days when my mind is dry, and I stare at the screen without any clues on where to start.
Luckily for me, I have the BeTheChange cards with me all the time.
What I do is to pick one and see what kind of emotions and thoughts the card generates in me.
There is one card in particular that I love. It’s a colourful card with the following words: “Kidfulness, remaining curious”.
The funny thing is that in many months using these cards, this one never came out. Never.
This morning is one of those in which I have an idea, but I couldn’t find the words. Yesterday I had a few conversations about the power of art. So, I woke up and I wanted to write about art and artists. But I didn’t know where to start.
No problem, I thought. I took my deck of cards, shuffle them as usual, and one fell.
So, now I have the idea of art in my mind and the word kidfulness before my eyes.
And I feel that there is a powerful connection there. That curiosity that comes from the need to find meaning in everything without knowing anything.
Artists and children teach us that the wonder comes from within.
“I agree with Schopenhauer that one of the most powerful motives that attract people to science and art is the longing to escape from everyday life.” — A. Einstein
I’d be curious to understand how “everyday life” was for Schopenhauer or Einstein. But I can relate to their point. We all go through many moments and situations that we don’t like. When it looks like things are conjuring against us and the only thing we’d like to do is to escape from our present reality.
We may decide to escape backwards or hide from reality, losing ourselves in mindless entertainment or using substances to disconnect from reality. Unfortunately, this route only brings temporary pleasure as it doesn’t really change anything.
As Schopenhauer and Einstein suggested, we can choose to escape forward by creating a new reality through art and science, learning and growing. The good news for me is that we don’t need to do what Einstein or Schopenhauer did to change reality.
We just need to focus on our own craft because when we change, our reality change.
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” ― Anaïs Nin
“A map is not the territory it represents.” — Alfred Korzybski
We love shapes and forms because they answer to our need for predictability. They create order and help us understand reality and make informed decisions. They can also be measured, so they allow us to gain clarity about where we stand. They defined boundaries.
However, we should always be aware that the shapes and forms that we used to interpret reality, are products of our mind.
Countries, religions, organisations, social norms.
They are all shapes and forms that we put on top of reality to make sense of it.
But they are not reality.
When we convince ourselves that those shapes and forms are the reality that they become cages, taming our human potential.
“Perception always intercedes between reality and ourselves.” — René Magritte
This is why art is vital.
Artists remind us to look beyond shapes and forms to see the infinite essence of everything.
“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” — JFK