This post, the first of a two-part talk, draws from Brain Pickings post by Maria Popova.
Book of Genesis
Suppose there was a book full only of the word, let – from whose clipped sound all things began: fir and firmament, feather, the first whale — and suppose we could scroll through its pages every day to find and pronounce a Let meant only for us — we would stumble through the streets with open books, eyes crossed from too much reading; we would speak in auto-rhyme, the world would echo itself — and still we’d continue in rounds, saying let and let and let until even silent dreams had been allowed. - Kei Miller, On Being
1. Live with your whole heart.
Be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart...what I really mean … is be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you...
Q: Have you taken risks on behalf of the human or more-than-human world? Who or what inspires you in that direction?
Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail.
Q: Where and how does the word fail land in you?
To grow in love and service, you — I, all of us — must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success… Clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life.
Q: Do you value ignorance today? How would you go about doing that?
Cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn — that’s the path to a life lived large, in service of love, truth, and justice.
2. Own your shadows.
As you integrate ignorance and failure into your knowledge and success, do the same with all the alien parts of yourself. Take everything that’s bright and beautiful in you and introduce it to the shadow side of yourself. Let your altruism meet your egotism, let your generosity meet your greed, let your joy meet your grief. Everyone has a shadow...
Q: What is a shadow side? Have you discovered any in yourself? Would you be willing to try?
When you are able to say, “I am all of the above, my shadow as well as my light,” the shadow’s power is put in service of the good. Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection, it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of your life. As a person who … has made three deep dives into depression along the way, I do not speak lightly of this. I simply know that it is true.
Q: What would it look like to put "the shadow’s power...in service of the good"?
3. Welcome otherness, within and outside of yourself
As you welcome whatever you find alien within yourself, extend that same welcome to whatever you find alien in the outer world. I don’t know any virtue more important these days than hospitality to the stranger, to those we perceive as “other” than us.
Q: Can you think of a time where you *almost welcome to something you found alien? What held you back?*
The renewal [we need] will not come from people who are afraid of otherness in race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
Q: Where is your edge when it comes to otherness?