Just Looking

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Last night I noticed a book that had been sitting around that I hadn’t looked at in some time. This is a John Updike book titled, curiously enough, ‘Just Looking’ . I opened to a piece he wrote about art he was exposed to when he was 10 and one that stood out was by Cezanne called ‘Pines and Rocks’. The artist depicts a snippet of nature that would most often go unnoticed for its rather plain appearance. Yet Cezanne depicts the scene with such love and beauty that the everyday is transformed into something to savor. And how often is this true in our lives?

I was staying at our cabin recently in northern MN on a lake and it is a beautiful setting. When I first arrived, and periodically throughout my stay, I didn’t notice the beauty or my surroundings. I was off in my head thinking about other things or just feeling distracted for one reason or another. This is normal life. In the past I may have tried to figure out why I was distracted and what I could do to be more present and appreciative of the setting and glorious nature all around me. Now I know that all that is happening is I’m experiencing my natural variations in states of mind. And like the weather, the stormier days or hours will pass. But there is nothing I have to do to change my state of mind, it will do that on its own.

And the key thing that somehow the Cezanne image reminded me of was that our default setting is well being. That underneath whatever mental agitations or distractions I may feel, underneath all that is love or beauty or feeling good. That always in me and all of us. And as Cezanne points out, in the most mundane aspects of nature and our lives, beauty and love are always pulsing just below the surface.

The Wisdom of Interpersonal Curiosity

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I was walking our dog this morning and reflecting on my experience in relationships as often being perceived as too sensitive. This has come from partners and people I worked with. and family members. And I guess I internalized this as some truth about me and how I’m wired. Then I had the thought this morning as what if that is actually my gift, rather than something somehow a bit wrong with me?

With this one new thought, my world shifted a bit. My love of depth and soul and interpersonal dialogue that gets below the surface is seen in a new light. I have often had the through in the past of why aren’t others more curious, about me and my experience and their own experience? Why is it that most people seem to prefer staying focused on the doing and accomplishments than the the being and the experience of life?

I turned to a book called ‘The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life’ by Thomas Moore which was a great resource for me in the past as I explored my inclinations around Soulful Living. I turned to the following piece from Moore that seems serendipitously relevant to my musings this morning:

‘…the essence of enchantment – the recognition that the world is infitinitely more vast and mysterious than we can imagine when we regard it only scientifically (rationally), and that a voice, music, or some other kind of utterance emerges from it, providing an opportunity for us to be related to it and profoundly affected by it.’

And this gets at the experience I’m after in life and with clients, exploring the mysteries below the surface of everyday life and thoughts we discover richness and new depths of experience that everyday busy mind keeps us distracted from.. And from here also emerges new insights and creative thinking and love that are always present in us when we can turn our attention this way. When we can become curious about the lived experience of our partners, our friends and our colleagues, we can invite a deeper connection and inspiration and love that springs from the mysteries within us all.