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I recently went on a job interview that was conducted with a considerable degree of gravitas. It was an affair that required metered parking, a conference room, and an entire assembled committee present to ask questions. This is exactly the sort of thing I have been doing my best to avoid for the last decade of my work life. Yet, there we all were sitting at the table with all the questions. One of the questions posed in the interview was an unexpected delight:

How do you do the work?

That’s it.

That’s the whole vague and fantastic question.

At the time it was posed, I was confounded. I had never given voice to my process. How I do the work has been a very long and winding road across time and country, over the river, and through the woods. While the answer I gave summarized that journey, there is something about that question that has been revving and honking (with a Klaxon-like “AHOOGA!” sound) at me ever since it was posed. That question feels like a tiny clown car that I could get inside with twenty friends, and we could go anywhere in it.

So today I am here still mulling over that question with the intent to share some thoughts and scenes from my everyday work life that may help shed additional light on the answer as it continues to unfold. As Rainer Maria Rilke has written,

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

How do I do the work?

First off, there is a generous supply of silliness in my work, and that is by design. I have to do quite a bit of work on myself on a regular basis to get my mind-set right. That work begins with Shakti-building exercises and intentional goal-setting to keep me a happy, healthy human. I guess other people would probably call this “planning” or maybe “self-care.” Anyway, the way I do it looks like this:

Big plans

Having the right mind-set prepares me to deal constructively with the obstacles and menacing hindrances that inevitably present themselves as I’m going about the work, whatever that work may be…

Laundry Day Impediment

When working through problems and I get stuck, allowing time for conscious play, or blending the lines between work and play does wonders for unsticking the stuck.

The Building Blocks exhibit at the National Building Museum

A lot of the work I do is setting the stage with the right props and providing the space, time, and encouragement necessary for other people to play and learn and express whatever it is they want to say. Serving as a witness for this self-discovery is one of my favorite things about my work.

there were so many story starters in this little friend’s mind

It isn’t all fun and games. Yesterday morning’s work was a frenzied internal battle to get idea from brain to paper. When the dust settled this was the scene that remained:

Shrapnel from the War of Art

There have been times I have been crushed by the work and fellow passengers pulled me from the wreckage. Other times, Good Samaritans have come along to fluff me back up when I’ve gotten deflated. Never underestimate those singing spirits of the world who hide right out in the open.

~*~

How do YOU do the work?

What questions are you loving and living?

Create

 

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

-Pablo Picasso

battleship cheat

 

 

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

–Sun Tzu,  The Art of War

 

 

Battleship

El D and I had a play-date.

We went to see the play Red (it was great!) and now I can’t stop seeing the color everywhere.

There is something disconcerting about opening your eyes after a peaceful reverie to find a red octapus staring back at you smiling.

I know because that’s exactly what happened to me one morning this week.   I sat down and closed my eyes to an empty room for my morning meditation.

Fifteen minutes later, I opened my eyes and this was the scene that lay before me:

Sept 2013 001

Maybe this is how the Law of Attraction works? …like attracts like? …when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you…and all that.

…or maybe Moon Pie, my meditation partner, is slowly coming to terms with the fact that I ignore her completely every morning for 15 minutes.  She used to beat me with her toys, then deposit them in my lap and use my back as prop against which to practice her headstands. Now she just takes a bite out of my mat in protest and lines her toys up politely behind me.

Off the mat, still red, red, red…

Red is this giant, fuzzy brain growing obscenely larger day by day in my front flower bed…

Sept 2013 029

What IS that thing?! It’s ALIVE!!!!

So I plucked it from its stem and brought it in the house to better keep an eye on it.  There is no telling what shennanigans it plots beneath those convolutions.

Red is the swirly mess I made when slipping to take a picture too hastily…

Sept 2013 002

and red still, of course, when I finally got it right…

Sept 2013 007

The crab apple tree tapped me on the shoulder on my way to the mailbox.

“Excuse me, but did you say red?” she seemed to be saying when I looked up.

Sept 2013 027

And another splash of red in the food things popping out of the stuff growing around here…

Sept 2013 026

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