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One of my earliest memories of doing stuff with my mother is of a newspaper cutout, sheets of paper and her sitting beside me encouraging me to apply whatever iota of critical thinking I could summon to whatever was the task of the day, usually some Close Up essay competition or the other. I don’t recall us ever submitting any of those, the discipline of wrestling thoughts into semi-coherent arguments perhaps being the point of the entire exercise. That sense of writing as a vehicle for thinking aloud about a subject is one that has stayed with me over the years.
I would like to say that this search for (small t) truth at the nexus of a subject is what motivates me to write but that would be bending the truth somewhat. That is partly the truth of course, but it is the sense of being curator of my own little corner of the internet, and the probability – however increasingly minuscule in this world of SEO and algorithms – that makes me write publicly. I have known the delights of minds connecting over a turn of phrase deliciously delivered and also the angst from forlorn pages which have seemingly disappeared into the great void of the internet. Be that as it may, that is a drug, the lingering memories of a past hit drawing me to write again and again in hope.
It has been a fascinating month going through the Art of Manliness Jump-start your Journaling 31 Day Challenge. I suppose the key is in the challenge bit because for what it is worth it wasn’t the easiest of things to complete. A few themes came at me time and time again, mainly related to my relationships with people and how much (or how little) I ave allowed others into my deepest space. That (friends and brothers, mentors, my romantic relationship and a few others) is one of the key focus areas for the next year, which I have captioned The Year of Living Intentionally.
Loads to do!!!
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For the Day 30 prompt. Thankful for:
- Life: Given how many people I know who died during the course of the year, both young and old
- S: Who chose to accept me, warts and all
- T&M: Who continue to hold down the fort on the family front through what have sometimes been testing times.
- Books: For the opportunity to slip into them away from the world
- Friends: Who have stuck with me through the years
- Work: Which in spite of a growing sense of dissatisfaction still pays the bills.
- Travel: The chance to get away from it all from time to time.
Photo by Brett Patzke on Unsplash
The Hero’s Journey makes for interesting reading, showing how in 12 stages the boy becomes a man as he journeys through a life. Although based on myths, the underlying idea behind this framework is that these myths work because they represent how we understand how life happens to us. Vogler’s model, which the folk at AoM espouse, is an abridged version of the original in the Joseph Campbell book (The Hero with a Thousand Faces) and identifies 12 steps (from the Wikipedia page) as below:
- The Ordinary World: the hero is seen in his/her everyday life
- The Call to Adventure: the initiating incident of the story
- Refusal of the Call: the hero experiences some hesitation to answer the call
- Meeting with the Mentor: the hero gains the supplies, knowledge, and confidence needed to commence the adventure
- Crossing the First Threshold: the hero commits wholeheartedly to the adventure
- Tests, Allies and Enemies: the hero explores the special world, faces trial, and makes friends and enemies
- Approach to the Innermost Cave: the hero nears the centre of the story and the special world
- The Ordeal: the hero faces the greatest challenge yet and experiences death and rebirth
- Reward: the hero experiences the consequences of surviving death
- The Road Back: the hero returns to the ordinary world or continues to an ultimate destination
- The Resurrection: the hero experiences a final moment of death and rebirth so he (or she) is pure when he reenters the ordinary world
- Return with the Elixir: the hero returns with something to improve the ordinary world
For what it is worth, it feels like in so many parts of my life I am somewhere between Stages 1 and 3, either having just being called or just having rejected the call for the first time. Mentors and mentoring are going to be key for this next phase of my life. This is certainly something that I will need to return to over the next few weeks.
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And so comes Day 7. Whilst those who believe in numerology think seven is the number of perfection, the past few days have been anything but perfect. What they have been though is an opportunity to flex thinking and writing muscles which I haven’t used in a while, which were to put it bluntly beginning to atrophy.
The general idea has been to try to block time out in the morning- between waking up, devotions and heading out to work- to pen a few words in response to the challenge of the day. There have been hits and misses along the way but thankfully I’ve managed to show up. Here’s to discipline winning through and birthing delight in the end.
Image Source: Heartwoods
It feels like a good time to try to develop a regular practice of journaling. For one there is the need to reflect properly on my latest attempt at rebooting, as well as the plethora of other more intelligent folk who think it is a good thing: David Sedaris, Austin Kleon, Michael Hyatt, Samuel Pepys, David Thoureau to name a few. The benefits are many, ranging from providing opportunities to reflect on life, a record of one’s day (both for the individual and for posterity) and also a source of material for future creative writing pursuits.
Of these, providing a record of my thoughts and feelings on the day as well as potentially providing source material for future writing projects stand out most. Here’s to hoping I develop the discipline and reap the benefits, even if all I manage to do is log each day.
Based on prompts from The Art of Manliness.
In conversation with a gentleman I consider a mentor of sorts, the question about what was going on in my life at the moment got asked. After a few moments pause, I realised that the answer lay somewhere between ‘nothing of note’ and ‘normal’.
With the Summer Fridays out of the way, life is focused on fleshing out budgets for 2017 at work and waiting on a direction on a critical decision I have to make; somewhat of a lull compared to the frenetic pace of life over the past few months.
It is a good-ish place to be in I suspect – one cannot run away from the hum-drum, everyday, quotidian things that are the basis of life – I can only hope that if and when the bedlam returns, I have learned enough in this lull to be prepared.
Its midway through the year already…. 2009 has sped by with alarming inerrancy…. And the midway point will soon be reached…….I find myself musing, questioning, probing and sifting through the evidence hoping to find proof that I have indeed focused on the right things so far that will make the most difference when push comes to shove and the bricks fall down as though ripped to shreds by a tsunami of cataclysmic proportions……….The big chronological milestone approaches too, and with it comes a sense of dread – I will officially become ‘old’ in my book – but then on the other hand is some gratefulness for still being alive against all odds….. …… Its taking stock time here………….I really hope the verdict is not “mene mene tekel parsin”