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Read | The Invitation

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It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy
fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

By Oriah Mountain Dreaming,

from the book The Invitation

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Watch | Creating Freedom: The lottery of birth

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I first heard of Raoul Martinez’s work on the podcast Little Atoms. On it, he talked through the ideas in his book Creating Freedom. I highly recommend reading it. The book is accompanied by a documentary film.

We do not choose to exist, or the environment we grow up in. Our starting point in life is one of passive reliance on forces over which we have no control. THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH shows that from birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces: familial, educational, cultural, and professional. The outcome of this battle not only determines who we become, but the society that we create.

The book was informed by over a decade of research. It exposes the mechanisms of control that pervade our lives and the myths on which they depend. Exploring the lottery of our birth, the coercive influence of concentrated wealth, and the consent-manufacturing realities of undemocratic power, he shows that our faith in free media, free markets, free elections and free will is dangerously misplaced and makes a case for creating freedom on our own terms.

The documentary was nominated for Best Documentary at London’s Raindance Film Festival and went on to win the Artivist Spirit 2012 Award at Hollywood’s Artivist Festival.

Watch at the link: http://xmovies8.fm/watch/yd6rrVd7-creating-freedom-the-lottery-of-birth.html

 

Read | Seneca on friendship

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Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests. There is no such thing as good or bad fortune for the individual; we live in common. And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself. This fellowship, maintained with scrupulous care, which makes us mingle as men with our fellow-men and holds that the human race have certain rights in common, is also of great help in cherishing the more intimate fellowship which is based on friendship… For he that has much in common with a fellow-man will have all things in common with a friend.

Via Brainpickings

The Missing Apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, published in 1943  is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. I’ve encountered it in my work with numerous health and social care charities in the UK.

maslow-pyramid

Abraham Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.(1)

However, I recently found out from this Big Think article something which I think is highly significant. Maslow later modified the hierarchy and added 3 more tiers with self-transcendence added at the top.

 

8-tier

 

“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos” (Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York 1971, p. 269)

I’m not surprised that the modified version does not get referred but I am disappointed and frustrated that it isn’t because it makes perfect sense to me.

From the Big Think article:

This is what the final stage of Maslow’s pyramid is about: Having met our basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid, having worked on our emotional needs in its middle and worked at achieving our potential, Maslow felt we needed to transcend thoughts of ourselves as islands. We had to see ourselves as part of the broader universe to develop the common priorities that can allow humankind to survive as a species.

Maslow saw techniques many of us are familiar with today — mindfulness, flow — as the means by which individuals can achieve the broader perspective that comes with self-transcendence. Given the importance of coming together as a global community, his work suggests that these methods and others like them aren’t just tweaks available for optimizing our minds, but vitally important tools if we hope to continue as a living species.

 

Read | ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’

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small red leave nestled on a bigger leaf

It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction. The hope I am interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety,” the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked. And Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movement’s mission as to “Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation, rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams”. It is a statement that acknowledges that grief and hope can coexist.

I’ve only just realised that the essay ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’: Rebecca Solnit on living in dark times was published in the Guardian newspaper on my birthday this year. What a wonderful birthday present it was and it’s a very timely read.

I know of Rebecca Solnit’s work through Brainpickings which discusses her book Hope in the Dark, and through the wonderful podcasts by On Being. In her own words she says:

I want better metaphors. I want better stories. I want more openness. I want better questions. All these things feel like they give us tools that are a little more commensurate with the amazing possibilities and the terrible realities that we face.

The essay is about hope as different from optimism, the importance of collective memory, embracing complexity and collective action. It’s an enriching read and a great reminder at the moment. Read Rebecca Solnit’s essay ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterwards either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

 

Read | The loss of Fabric

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When places like Fabric disappear – places that allow particular subcultures to flourish and alternative forms of politics to be forged – the damage is even more telling as they destroy the very possibility of subcultures forming in the first place. Hence, the richness and diversity of London’s cultural capital suffers.

A piece by Oli Mould, lecturer in Human Geography at Royal Holloway University.

Read | Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’

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Stop Saying ‘I feel Like’ from the New York Times

This is what is most disturbing about “I feel like”: The phrase cripples our range of expression and flattens the complex role that emotions do play in our reasoning. It turns emotion into a cudgel that smashes the distinction — and even in our relativistic age, there remains a distinction — between evidence out in the world and internal sentiments known only to each of us.

“This is speculative, but ‘I feel like’ fits with this general relativism run rampant,” Sally McConnell-Ginet, a linguist at Cornell, suggested. “There are different perspectives, but that doesn’t mean there are not some facts on the ground and things anchoring us.”

A good piece from the New York Times on the confusion of emotion with facts and how ‘I feel like’ closes down argument and conversation. It links to something I’ve blogged about before about opinions.

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