Listen to the music on the journey of a lifetime: part 2

This article is Part 2 of  Listen to the music on the journey of a lifetime: part 1.

Life as music

You may have noticed that in the three marriages (the marriage with your work, the marriage of love and the marriage with yourself) each of these journeys eventually leads to an almost mystical experience – an interest in the great mystery of consciousness and the wonder of life itself.

I am sure you have had moments of complete peace staring into the eyes of a baby, or lying on the ground on a summer holiday looking at a wisp of cloud in the sky, or swimming in a warm sea, or hugging someone, or playing your favourite sport, or fully engaged in any activity you love.  There is an awful lot of Doing in our lives. Yet we know Being too, and we yearn for it more and more as the years go on.  A great innovation of recent times was the re-packaging of meditation as mindfulness, and research shows that attending to the present moment has benefits in mental health, well-being and sport, as well as in business. Doing something “just for the sake of it” creates value and well-being in life. It is not all about the journey. When we contemplate the extraordinary magnificence of life, of mother-nature and of the cosmos, we eventually return to the crucial underpinning of it all – that we have the consciousness to perceive it all. As we become increasingly interested in this consciousness that experiences everything, some people say that we may discover that this essential nature is the source of the great mystery that underlies the universe.

In his famous poem Four Quartets T.S. Eliot writes

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Whether we approach this from science, experience (phenomenology), spirituality or orthodox religion doesn’t matter much in this post-modern world. There is a great mystery to be explored and we are part of it.

Fulfilment in life involves both the journey of life and the joy of Being.

Through giving our gift to the world we accomplish something worthwhile and we can use our work as a vehicle for exploring Being. Reinhold Messner, the mountaineer who climbed Mount Everest solo, carrying his own equipment and without oxygen tanks quoted the Indian philosopher Tagore “The goal is not to reach the utmost limits, but to find the place that has no boundaries”. When you study a Chinese or Japanese martial art you begin by studying the techniques, but martial arts are so hard that you also have to study how to learn (learning how to learn). Finally, as you become a master, your art teaches you about the nature of life itself.

The journey of love is, of course, one of the most direct ways of enjoying Being, whether with a child, with a lover, in an intimate conversation with a close friend, or a spontaneous act of generosity with a stranger.

The marriage with oneself is both a voyage of self-awareness, self-management and self-healing and yet is also an opportunity to stop and do nothing, luxuriating in the immediate moment.

Developing ourselves

Malcolm Gladwell’s research suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert, and the motto of the British Special Forces training school in Hereford is “who trains wins”.

Luck comes to those who have put the effort in to make it likely.  Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

We need to study how we grow and develop:

  1. Learn to learn: there are many models of learning, but the basic idea is “plan-do-review” (and learn) and then experiment and plan-do-review again. Keep being curious and aiming to improve.
  2. Focus on your passion: develop yourself in the areas you are passionate about – you will have much more energy and perseverance in these areas and thus are more likely to put the time in to become great. That is why knowing your life-calling is so important.
  3. Explore  your “flow states”  – activities that engage your optimum psychological performance. What activities create a sense of timeless well-being as you do them? Make these central in your life.

What is your plan to grow yourself?

  • How will I know I have had a good life?
  • If I fulfilled my potential in life, what would that look like, sound like, feel like?
  • What is my potential in giving my gift to the world?
    • What shall I do to make this happen?
  • What is my potential in my love life?
    • What shall I do to make this happen?
  • What is my potential as a simple-living, conscious, human being?
    • What shall I do to nurture this- how do I develop Being?

These questions are the important ones to me – I would love to discuss them with you and to help you develop.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

“Start Close In”, David Whyte in River Flow, 2012

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