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UX14 - The ancient journey of creativity and the blind spot of industry (Marc Rettig)

uxindia
October 11, 2014

UX14 - The ancient journey of creativity and the blind spot of industry (Marc Rettig)

People have been creating together for thousands of years. Some of those people have written about their experience, and so we have the possibility of building on their wisdom. In this talk, Marc Rettig describes the age-old story of people who seek to have a creative voice through their work, and to connect their personal excitement and possibilities to the needs of the world. As this story repeats itself for many in the world of “user experience,” another familiar dynamic comes to light: the challenge of working in settings that express desire for creativity, but reward compliance. And therein lies a defining question of our time and our careers: where does profound creativity come from?

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October 11, 2014
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  1. Marc Rettig UX India 11 October 2014 The journey of

    creativity
  2. These  slides  were  first  presented  at  UX  India  2014,  in

     Bangalore  India.  For  more   informa?on,  see  h@p://www.2014.ux-­‐india.org/     I  have  placed  my  speaker’s  notes  on  many  of  the  slides,  to  give  some  sense  of  what  I  had   to  say  with  each  image.       Cover  art  by  Hannah  du  Plessis  of  Fit  Associates     To  contact  the  author,  email  marc@fitassociates.com               This  work  is  licensed  under  the  Crea?ve  Commons  A@ribu?on-­‐NonCommercial  4.0  Interna?onal  License.   To  view  a  copy  of  this  license,  visit  h@p://crea?vecommons.org/licenses/by-­‐nc/4.0/.  
  3. products services decisions methods research communications budgets plans strategies Over

     the  course  of  35  years,  I  have  worked  on  scores  of  projects.     Most  of  this  work  focused  on  outcomes.  Measurable  outcomes,  either   directly  made  by  the  team,  or  affected  by  the  team’s  work.       But  for  the  past  fiYeen  or  twenty  years,  I’ve  had  a  sense  of   dissa?sfac?on…  
  4. purpose values relationships connection alignment boundaries communication care creativity It

     seemed  to  me  that  I  was  being  asked  to  work  with  the  things  we  can  see  and  measure,   but  the  invisible  and  intangible  SOURCE  of  those  things  was  leY  outside  the  scope  of  the   project.  The  way  people  get  along  together,  the  way  they  relate,  communicate,   collaborate,  who  they  are  and  how  they  see  their  place  in  it  all  –  this  seemed  to  me  to  be   the  “real  work,”  if  we  were  going  to  have  las?ng  posi?ve  impact  on  the  world.     So  now  my  ques?on  is  this…  
  5. How can we advance the practice of work that truly,

    no joking, improves life?
  6. This is a mythic question. For 10,000 years, people have

    been trying to create together. Some of them were poets.
  7. Common themes: not “Who are you?” but “Who are you

    becoming?”
  8. Common themes: The experience of life as a journey, including

    the journey toward your creative work.
  9. Two chapters, two journeys 1. The journey of deep creativity

    2. The journey of becoming: taking your creative place in life
  10. 1. The journey of deep creativity

  11. The way we pay attention to the world shapes what

    we create.
  12. the gap Current Situation | | Better Situation (The  shape

     of  this  sec?on  and  many  of  the  ideas  it  contains   are  taken  from  the  work  of  O@o  Scharmer  of  MIT,  as   described  in  his  book,  Theory  U.)     Here’s  a  situa?on  in  which  we  are  going  to  work.  Our  goal  is   to  somehow  shiY  it  to  a  be@er  situa?on.  But  how  do  we   cross  the  gap  between  “what  is”  and  “what  could  be?”      
  13. Just do something à the gap Current Situation | |

    Better Situation Maybe,  for  example,  we  are  concerned  about  traffic  in  Bangalore.  The   Just  Do  Something  approach  says,  “I  know  how!”  “I  have  an  idea,  and   I’m  sure  it  will  work.”  Maybe  you  believe  it’s  necessary  to  construct   more  roads,  for  example.  Or  maybe  you  want  to  raise  taxes  on  cars.       Shallow  a@en?on  leads  to  shallow  ac?on.  There  is  no  crea?ve  journey   here.       It’s  easiest  to  be  the  expert.  To  see  and  do  what  you  already  know.  Or   think  you  know.  It’s  easy  to  project  your  vision  onto  the  situa?on,  then   try  to  persuade  it  to  conform  to  your  vision.       And  if  you  are  working  for  one  of  these  people,  it  is  easy  to  play  it  safe,   to  be  polite,  to  do  what’s  expected  of  you.    
  14. the gap Current Situation | | Better Situation Observe Prototype:

    new things & services Here  is  a  li@le  deeper  approach:  Go  out  and  look  at  the  situa?on  before   you  decide  what  to  make.    Allow  for  the  possibility  that  you  don’t   already  know  what  to  do.  Or  that  what  you  did  last  ?me  might  not  work   in  this  situa?on.       Then  prototype  the  thing,  iterate  it  against  the  possibility  that  your  first   try  might  not  be  the  best  try.       This  is  common  in  industry,  yes?  Many  of  us  receive  requests  to  look  for   “unmet  needs.”  To  find  “ac?onable  insights”  through  observa?on.  If  we   find  a  problem,  we  know  we  can  make  a  bandage  for  it.    
  15. Observation’s enemy: Judgment The necessary step: an open mind There

     is  an  enemy  to  working  in  this  way,  an  enemy  that  prevents   people  from  observing  in  a  way  that  lets  them  see  clearly  what  could  be   helpful  in  any  situa?on.  That  enemy  is  “The  Voice  of  Judgment.”       In  this  diagram,  the  eye  is  your  center  of  a@en?on.  The  circle  is  your   collec?on  of  beliefs,  assump?ons,  and  stories  about  people  and  the   world.  With  our  a@en?on  centered  inside  this  bubble,  everything  we  see   and  here  is  filtered  by  those  judgments,  presupposi?ons,  and  stories.  Or   another  way  of  interpre?ng  this  diagram  is  to  imagine  that  the  bubble  is   a  screen  onto  which  we  are  always  projec?ng  our  beliefs  and  stories.  So   we  are  constantly  looking  at  the  world  through  our  own  projec?ons.     But  we  can  learn  to  move  our  a@en?on  to  the  edge  of  this  bubble.  To   put  our  beliefs,  assump?ons,  and  stories  about  the  world  behind  us  for  a   ?me,  and  simply  open  to  whatever  our  senses  bring.       Each  move  into  deeper  crea0vity  requires  a  courageous  step.  To  move   into  crea?vity  that  draws  from  clear  observa?on  of  other  people’s   experience,  we  must  make  the  step  of  opening  our  mind.  Open  your   mind  to  see  what’s  really  there,  including  the  things  that  don’t  align  with   your  expecta?ons.       This  is  something  you  can  prac?ce  every  day.  Give  it  a  try!   Tip  o’  the  hat  to  O0o  Scharmer.  
  16. the gap Current Situation | | Better Situation Observe Prototype:

    new things & services Immerse New processes & structures Here  is  a  s?ll  deeper  way  of  working.  Beyond  simply  observing  as  an   outsider,  then  returning  to  your  world  to  conceive  “solu?ons,”  go  inside  the   situa:on.  Immerse  in  it,  so  you  can  see  what’s  under  the  problems.       Maybe  in  our  traffic  example,  we  observe  that  some  amount  of  the  traffic   has  to  do  with  moving  goods  and  supplies  to  stores.  Trucks  restocking   stores.  So  beyond  observing  that,  you  go  to  the  stores,  spend  ?me  in  their   world,  see  through  the  eyes  of  shopkeepers.  And  you  ride  with  the  delivery   drivers,  or  become  one  yourself.  You  spend  ?me  in  the  warehouse  and   shipping  facility.  You  see  the  organiza?onal  processes  and  structures,  and   the  rou?nes  of  human  life  that  are  the  ROOT  SOURCE  of  the  things  you’d   like  to  improve.     Tip  o’  the  hat  to  O0o  Scharmer.  
  17. Immersion’s enemy: Cynicism The necessary step: an open heart –

    disconnect your identity from your point of view Tip  o’  the  hat  to  O0o  Scharmer.   Again,  this  move  into  a  deeper  process  of  crea?vity  requires  us  to  move  our  center  of  a@en?on,  and  again  there  is  an  enemy   standing  in  the  way  of  that  move.  When  we  begin  to  see  the  world  through  other  people’s  eyes,  begin  to  see  without   judgment,  we  will  see  complexity  and  difficulty  we  previously  avoided  or  filtered  out.  Our  crea?ve  work  may  be  blocked  by   cynicism:  “This  is  too  complicated  and  established.  These  people  will  never  change.”  “We’ve  tried  to  help  this  kind  of  thing   before,  and  it  didn’t  work.”  “It’s  going  to  be  way  too  expensive.”     The  an?dote  to  cynicism  is  to  move  your  a@en?on  outside  yourself,  so  you  no  longer  are  the  only  person  (or  team  or   company)  involved.  You  are  part  of  something  much  bigger.  When  you  realize  that  you  are  just  one  part  of  a  much  larger  set   of  possibili?es,  and  open  your  heart  to  working  with  everyone  else  who  is  part  of  what’s  going  on,  more  becomes  possible.     Those  new  organiza?onal  structures  and  processes  are  going  to  be  made  of  the  same  people  you  are  cynical  about.  Open   your  heart,  work  with  them,  give  them  your  passion,  help  them  create  something  that  lets  out  the  possibili?es.    
  18. the gap Current Situation | | Better Situation Immerse New

    processes & structures Let go: question assumptions Reframe: new purpose and principles Observe Prototype: new things & services
  19. Here  is  what  O@o  Scharmer  calls  a  “U-­‐Journey,”  and  what

     I  am  calling  a  “deep  crea?ve  journey.”  Observe  the  situa?on.  Go  inside,   immerse,  see  from  many  points  of  view.  Then,  if  you  have  opened  to  truly  see,  let  go  of  your  presupposi?ons,  and  let  go  of  the  idea  that   YOU  are  the  one  to  “solve”  it,  you  make  room  for  something  new  to  be  born.     This  is  important  because  the  processes  and  structures  men?oned  in  the  previous  slide  aren’t  the  root  source  aYer  all.  There  is  an  exis?ng   system  with  a  life  of  its  own,  and  that  system  is  full  of  people  who  hold  certain  values  and  beliefs  about  what’s  good.  You  can’t  get  new   processes  un?l  you  work  with  THEIR  ROOT  SOURCE:  the  priori?es  and  possibili?es  of  the  people  who  live  the  situa?on.     I  tried  to  think  of  an  example  in  our  transporta?on  story.  Maybe  we  see  that  in  the  case  of  some  foods,  the  situa?on  already  contains  the   possibility  of  some  items  not  going  first  to  stores  for  people  to  buy  them,  but  directly  from  the  warehouse  to  work  places.  By  two-­‐wheeler.   Reducing  traffic,  crea?ng  jobs,  relieving  store  owners  of  some  burden  while  s?ll  allowing  them  to  par?cipate,  and  so  on.  Whatever  the   right  example  is,  the  point  is  that  you  won’t  get  to  this  profound  possibility  on  your  own,  but  only  by  tapping  into  the  diverse  collec?on  of   viewpoints  and  possibili?es  represented  by  the  people  who  live  out  the  system  every  day.     This  is  the  place  where  something  profound  can  happen,  because  you  are  working  at  a  profound  level.  You  can  reframe  the  purpose,   together  you  can  redraw  the  principles.  and  THOSE  will  lead  to  new  processes  and  structures,  which  you  can  prototype,  and  which  teach   you  what  products  and  services  are  needed  to  bring  the  principles  to  life.     Tip  o’  the  hat  to  O0o  Scharmer.  
  20. The enemy of letting go: Fear The necessary step: an

    open will – work from a sense of belonging to the larger whole The  enemy  of  this  kind  of  work  is  fear.  Fear  of  change,  fear  of  inadequacy  and  failure.  Fear  of  collabora?on  with  people  who   are  very  unlike  yourself.  Fear  of  LETTING  GO  of  what  you  KNOW,  of  what  you  are  comfortable  with.  Of  the  things  that  have   made  up  your  iden?ty.  “I’m  a  web  designer,  not  a  transporta?on  innovator,  not  a  facilitator,  not  a  social  worker!”     The  step  required  -­‐-­‐  the  courageous  step  in  this  crea?ve  journey  -­‐-­‐  is  to  open  yourself  in  such  a  way  that  you  see  yourself  as   part  of  the  larger  thing  that’s  happening.  You  already  par?cipate  in  all  of  its  possibili?es.  There  is  something  “trying  to  be   born,”  a  future  that’s  trying  to  show  up,  and  that  is  your  customer.     Tip  o’  the  hat  to  O0o  Scharmer.  
  21. I’m  not  saying  this  is  The  One  and  Only  Process.

     You  can  find  other  people  who  would  agree  about  the  necessity  of  going  deeper  than  the  surface,  agree  on  the   necessity  of  involving  people  other  than  yourself  and  your  team  as  “experts,”  but  who  would  draw  the  process  or  journey  in  quite  a  different  way.  (I  can   recommend  the  wonderful  work  of  Dave  Snowden  and  his  team  at  Cogni?ve  Edge  as  an  example.)     But  I  am  saying  this:  work  that  touches  the  roots  and  soil  of  a  situa?on,  work  that  has  a  chance  of  bringing  something  be@er,  meaningful  for  people,  and  las?ng,   requires  deep  crea?vity.  Deeply  crea?ve  work  means  connec?ng  your  insides  –  your  sense  of  care,  and  connec?on,  and  Who  You  Are  –  to  the  situa?on  you’re   working  with.  Ar?sts  do  this.  Writers  do  this.  Inventors,  engineers,  teachers,  mothers,  religious  leaders,  and  yes,  designers  do  this.     Whatever  your  personal  story,  whatever  the  story  of  your  team  or  organiza?on,  we  are  all  invited  to  par?cipate  in  work  that  is  bigger  than  ourselves.  The  truth  is,   our  work  is  ALREADY  bigger  than  ourselves.  It  already  has  impact  on  the  world.  We  can’t  help  but  change  the  world,  and  each  of  us  already  is  doing  so  through  our   choices  and  ac?ons.     When  we  embark  on  a  deep  crea?ve  journey,  the  heart  of  the  work  and  the  quality  of  the  work  is  not  related  to  intelligence  or  craY.  Those  are  useful  in  their  place,   and  each  of  us  has  our  giYs  to  give.     The  heart  of  the  work  is  in  our  openness  to  the  world  and  its  possibili?es,  our  openness  to  taking  our  place  in  the  crea?on  of  something  that  brings  more  life  to  the   world.   And  that,  it  turns  out,  has  been  a  challenge  for  people  throughout  the  ages.       Creating from a true connection between your authentic self and the people who live the situation you aim to serve requires a deep attention and courageous inner steps. And that has been people’s experience for centuries.
  22. 2. The mythic journey of becoming: taking your creative place

    in life. The  reason  that  great  poetry  and  literature  is  popular  through  centuries  is   because  it  reports  on  the  experiences  all  humans  share.  As  I  have  made  a   shiY  to  work  that  starts  with  social  ques?ons  rather  than  business  or   technology  ques?ons,  I  have  also  been  learning  from  people  who  have   studied  the  more  soulful,  mythical  and  poe?c  aspects  of  the  experience  of   people  who  have  sought  to  create  something  meaningful  in  the  world.       Over  ?me,  as  I  married  my  own  experience  to  these  stories,  poems,  and   myths,  I  synthesized  it  all  into  the  following  few  steps.  This  is  a  synthesis,   not  a  retelling  of  a  par?cular  myth  or  even  a  single  scholarly  point  of  view.    
  23. David Whyte: poet and scholar of poetry Heart aroused: poetry

    and the preservation of the soul in corporate America Joseph Campbell: scholar of world mythology Hero with a thousand faces Here  are  two  key  sources  I  have  drawn  from,  among  many  others,  as  I  have   lived  out  and  wri@en  about  this  journey.       I  don’t  know  if  what  I  am  about  to  say  will  sound  very  “Western”  to  an   Indian  audience.  I  see  it  as  being  about  the  human  experience  (but  I  have   never  told  it  to  a  non-­‐Western  audience).     This  is  my  version  of  the  old  story,  based  partly  on  my  own  experience   through  the  past  decade,  and  streamlined  for  ?me.      
  24. The  story  begins  with  you  being  asleep.  Crea?vely  snoozing.  

    This  is  a  kind  of  staleness  or  comfort  with  the  way  things  are.   Working  to  please  others,  following  the  script  handed  to  you  by   your  culture,  your  parents,  your  boss.   I  don’t  know  about  you,  but  for  me  this  meant:   -­‐  Living  up  to  others  expecta?ons.  Living  to  please,  to  conform.     -­‐  Choosing  mostly  by  criteria  I  was  given  by  upbringing  and  culture.   -­‐  Feeling  like  life  was  something  that  was  happening  to  me,  not   something  I  was  par?cipa?ng  in.   -­‐  Following  my  intellectual  passions  and  growing  in  craY,  but   otherwise  numb.  Emo?onally  dull.  My  own  opinions,  feelings,  and   Self  blanketed  by  deference  to  (mostly  self-­‐constructed)  boundaries   and  “shoulds”.    -­‐  Living  “un?l…”  wai?ng  for  the  right  invita?on,  circumstances,   money,  job,  permission  from  someone  else    -­‐  Puong  pain,  insecurity,  fear,  and  flaws  in  a  bag  –  a  growing  bag   where  an  angry  me  sat  in  the  hidden  dark.       BUT  THERE  COMES  A  POINT  WHEN  YOU’VE  HAD  ENOUGH   “With  all  of  our  goals,  missions  statements,  posi?ve  thinking,  bonus   mileage  plans,  and  future  career  moves  safely  to  the  rear,  we  can   look  around  and  find  ourselves,  slightly  chilled,  in  a  small  unfamiliar   clearing  in  a  dark  wood,  facing  that  stubborn,  not-­‐to-­‐be-­‐accepted   life  we  have  made  and  must  call  our  own.  One  day,  we  wake  and   see  our  life  as  we  have  made  it.”  David  Whyte  
  25. In the middle of the road of my life I

    awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost. Dante Whyte  writes,  “In  three  lines  Dante  says  that  the  journey  begins   right  here.  In  the  middle  of  the  road.  Right  beneath  your  feet.  This  is   the  place.  There  is  no  other  place  and  no  other  ?me.   …When  you  do  wake,  you  are  rousing  a  different  part  of  you,  a   barely  experienced  life  that  lies  at  your  core.  Having  forgo@en  this   central  soul  experience,  you  do  not  recognize  where  you  are.  To  the   part  of  you  that  loved  your  sleep,  it  feels  as  though  you  are  lost.”     The  poe?c  tradi?on  is  that  this  is  a  scary  place,  but  it  is  the   necessary  place  of  beginning.  There  are  many  portrayals  of  this.   Read  Joseph  Campbell’s  work  on  the  Hero’s  Journey,  for  example.   The  journey  begins  with  an  awakening,  a  sense  of  inadequacy,  and  a   seong  out  from  home.     When  you  are  awake,  you  pay  a@en?on  to  the  world  and  to  your  life   in  a  different  way.  A  deeper  way.  This  makes  way  for  the  possibility   of  crea?ve  engagement  with  the  world.  But  that  doesn’t  start  with   your  hands.  It  doesn’t  start  with  your  intelligence.  It  happens  first  in   the  intui?ve  mind.  Closer  to  our  iden?ty,  our  sense  of  self.  Down  in   the  place  where  there  are  no  words.     AYer  Dante  woke  in  the  woods  he  hadn’t  walked  far  before  he   emerged  from  the  dense  trees  and  could  see  the  sun  shining  off  the   distant  peaks  of  paradise.  He  walked  forward,  only  to  encounter   three  beasts  that  blocked  his  way.  A  leopard,  a  lion,  and  a  wolf.     In  other  stories,  it’s  a  different  monster.  In  the  tale  of  Beowulf,  it   was  a  monster  named  Grendel.      
  26. In  the  story  of  Beowulf,  a  king,  Hrothgar,  had  a

     problem  with  a  monster   named  Grendel,  who  had  been  coming  into  his  great  hall,  killing   warriors,  and  carrying  them  off  into  the  night.  He  hired  Beowulf  to  kill   Grendel,  offering  half  his  kingdom  in  reward.  They  waited,  Grendel   came,  and  aYer  a  great  fight,  Beowulf  and  his  men  succeeded.  A  great   celebra?on  was  held.  Then  something  else  came  into  the  hall.  Killed   warriors,  carried  them  off.  It  was  Grendel’s  mother.     Whyte  says,  “It’s  not  the  thing  you  fear,  it’s  the  MOTHER  of  the  thing   you  fear.”     Beowulf’s  mother  lived  at  the  bo@om  of  a  black  cold  lake.  A  stag,   pursued  by  wolves,  would  rather  die  on  its  shores  than  go  into  the  lake.     Beowulf  entered  the  lake.  In  a  great  ba@le,  he  found  there  at  the   bo@om  the  sword  that  would  kill  the  monster,  and  he  did  so.     There  is  something,  for  each  of  us,  that  holds  us  back.  That  kills  our   courage  and  drags  it  off  into  the  night.  Something  that  keeps  us  from   living  out  our  true  desire.  There  are  things  about  yourself  that  you  are   not  proud  of,  the  things  you  have  come  to  feel  are  inadequate  or  ugly,   but  s?ll  they  are  part  of  you.  Perhaps  you  have  dreams  of  becoming   something  that  would  be  unpopular  with  your  parents  or  your   colleagues.  There’s  something  you  fear,  that  prevents  you  from  diving   down  into  the  place  where  you  could  find  the  death  of  your  fear.     Whyte:  “Ironically,  our  place  of  refuge  is  the  lake  where  the  greater   devouring  animal  of  our  disowned  desire  lies  in  the  shape  of  Beowulf’s   mother.  The  refusal  to  go  down  into  the  lake  is  the  refusal  to  be  eaten   by  life.  The  delusion  is  that  there  might  be  a  possibility  of  immunity   from  the  natural  failures  that  accompany  the  soul’s  explora?ons  in  the   world.  But  the  story  says  you  are  going  to  be  swallowed  by  something   greater  one  way  or  another.     The  only  real  ques?on  is  not  one  of  winning  or  losing,  but  of   experiencing  life  with  an  ever-­‐increasing  depth.  The  storyteller  says,   ‘Why  not  go  down,  at  home  or  at  work,  into  the  lake,  consciously,  like   Beowulf?’  Don’t  die  on  the  shore.  The  stakes  are  high.  The  stakes  are   your  life.”    
  27. In  story  aYer  story,  over  centuries,  the  hero  leaves  home

     on  a  quest.   AYer  a  long  journey,  he  eventually  comes  to  a  place  that  he   discovers  is  the  very  home  he  leY.  And  he  finds  that  he  is  now  ready   to  take  his  place  in  the  world.  He’s  able  to  integrate  all  the  parts  of   himself,  and  along  the  way  and  in  the  act  of  returning  a  spark  was  lit   that  is  the  source  of  crea?ve  fire.     Coming  home  and  taking  your  place  means  this:  Accep?ng  yourself,   just  as  you  are,  as  enough.  Those  things  that  made  you  afraid  to  go   into  the  lake?  You’ve  accepted  them  as  part  of  you.  It’s  not  that   you’ve  banished  them.  It’s  not  that  you’ve  become  perfect.  You   have  come  home  to  yourself.  You  understand  that  you  are  enough,   just  as  you  are,  warts  and  flaws,  strengths  and  victories,  defeats  and   shames,  prides  and  loves  and  hates  and  pimples  and  all.          
  28. Love  a9er  Love   Derek  Walco@     The  ?me

     will  come     when,  with  ela?on     you  will  greet  yourself  arriving     at  your  own  door,  in  your  own  mirror     and  each  will  smile  at  the  other's  welcome,       and  say,  sit  here.  Eat.     You  will  love  again  the  stranger  who  was  your  self.   Give  wine.  Give  bread.  Give  back  your  heart     to  itself,  to  the  stranger  who  has  loved  you       all  your  life,  whom  you  ignored     for  another,  who  knows  you  by  heart.     Take  down  the  love  le@ers  from  the  bookshelf,     the  photographs,  the  desperate  notes,     peel  your  own  image  from  the  mirror.     Sit.  Feast  on  your  life.    
  29. For  a  ?me  I  thought  “oh,  I’ve  taken  my  place,

     and  that’s  how  life  will  be  from   now  on.”  Now  I  understand  that  life  involves  a  series  of  fron?ers.  I  experience   new  beginnings  all  the  ?me,  in  work,  in  family,  in  my  own  insides.  I’ve  come  to   see  them  as  coming  to  a  river,  then  spending  ?me  geong  myself  to  cross.  Time   making  the  crossing,  having  a  sense  of  arrival  and  maybe  also  disorienta?on.   And  feeling  afraid  or  excited  or  both  at  each  step.     OYen  we  don’t  recognize  that  we  are  have  come  to  the  end  of  a  chapter  of  life   un?l  we’ve  been  there  for  some  ?me.  I’ve  had  the  experience  of  suddenly   realizing,  “Oh!  No  wonder  I  haven’t  liked  those  projects,  that  work  that  I  would   have  been  thrilled  by  five  years  ago.  I’ve  moved  on  to  something  else,  I  just   didn’t  realize  it!”  Here’s  David  Whyte  again:  “We  can  experience  a  kind  of   fron?er  iden?ty,  in  which  we  can  live  a  life,  no  ma@er  what  threshold  we  find   ourselves  in,  in  each  stage  of  life,  there’s  a  way  of  understanding  what   par?cular  threshold  you  are  on,  and  living  a  life  that’s  up  to  the  conversa?on   you’re  asked  to  join.”     “There  is  a  kind  of  harvest  available  to  us  at  every  point  in  life.  Some?mes  the   harvest  is  in  darkness  and  despair  and  difficulty,  and  the  ?de  seems  to  have   gone  out  from  us,  and  it  seems  there  is  very  li@le  help  in  the  world  except  the   strange  hand  extended  to  us  in  our  darkness  and  in  our  loneliness.  Other  ?mes   we  seem  to  have  a  great  buoyancy  beneath  us,  a  great  ?de  flowing  with  us.   Strangely  enough  those  ?mes  of  great  success  and  flow  can  also  be  ?mes  of     forgeong  our  origins,  of  why  we  set  out  on  the  journey  in  the  first  place.  And   mostly  life  will  be  a  li@le  of  both  —    you  will  have  darkness  and  light  woven  into   your  days.”     “I’d  like  to  remind  us  of  the  mul?layered  complexity  of  everyday  existence.  And   that  one  of  the  disciplines  is  the  ability  to  hold  as  many  contexts  at  the  same   ?me  as  possible.  These  contexts  are  held  together  through  a  central   imagina?on.  In  poe?c  tradi?on,  [“imagina?on”  is  not  the  ability  to  think  up  new   things.]  Keats  and  Coleridge  would  call  this  the  secondary  imagina?on,  or   “fancy.”  The  primary  imagina?on  is  your  ability  to  form  a  central  image  inside   yourself,  or  to  discover  that  image  inside  yourself,  an  image  that  makes  sense   of  all  the  thousands  of  images  that  you  are  involved  with  in  your  life.  That  there   is  a  faculty  inside  human  beings,  this  faculty  of  the  imagina?on,  which  is  able  to     make  sense  of  any  level  of  complexity,  and  to  give  you  a  place  to  stand  at  the   center  of  it,  and  a  ground  from  which  to  step  from  into  your  new  life.”        
  30. San0ago   David  Whyte     The  road  seen,  then

     not  seen,  the  hillside   hiding  then  revealing  the  way  you  should  take,   the  road  dropping  away  from  you  as  if  to  leave  you   walking  on  thin  air,  then  catching  you,  holding  you  up,   when  you  thought  you  would  fall,   and  the  way  forward  always  in  the  end   the  way  that  you  followed,  the  way  that  carried  you   into  your  future,  that  brought  you  to  this  place,   …   so  that  one  day  you  realized  that  what  you  wanted   had  already  happened  long  ago  and  in  the  dwelling  place   you  had  lived  in  before  you  began,   and  that  every  step  along  the  way,  you  carried   the  heart  and  the  mind  and  the  promise   that  first  set  you  off  and  drew  you  on   and  that  you  were   more  marvelous  in  your  simple  wish  to  find  a  way   than  the  gilded  roofs  of  any  des?na?on  you  could  reach:   as  if,  all  along,  you  had  thought  the  end  point  might  be  a  city   with  golden  towers,  and  cheering  crowds,   and  turning  the  corner  at  what  you  thought  was  the  end   of  the  road,  you  found  just  a  simple  reflec?on,   and  a  clear  revela?on  beneath  the  face  looking  back   and  beneath  it  another  invita?on,  all  in  one  glimpse:   like  a  person  and  a  place  you  had  sought  forever,   like  a  broad  field  of  freedom  that  beckoned  you  beyond;   like  another  life,  and  the  road  s?ll  stretching  on.      
  31. Welcome to the frontier.