Takeaway of the week: Holding space leads to spacious stories.
The Eye in I
Last week, as always, was a flurry of activity, but beneath the buzz of the beehive, in the subterranean tunnels imperceptible at street level with its busy rush of boots, the cauldron continued brewing a concoction.
It’s a stillness steadily growing familiar to me, the eye in the storm which recognises that in order to make the storm, you can’t be the storm. There has to be a separation between the end of one line and the beginning of another. Interstitial, liminal margins - spaces between spaces - are where I increasingly find myself despite the hustle and bustle that continues to speed up on the outside.
The subconscious needs a healthy diet, or it starts feeding on the mind. When left to scavenge for food, it might start off by digging in bins, but if the situation continues, it will resort to breaking into storefronts.
The cauldron distilled this into a question, a ready meal as I enter a new week: Am I feeding my subconscious enough (the answer is no), and what am I planning to do to increase and diversify its diet?
Typically, this would be the point at which I find myself up against the wall of “Not enough time”. Followed by lamenting the prison that is my calendar, constrained by the cruel death camp of my to-do list. Yet the presence of those almost sentient margins continuing to grow inside of me prevents me from taking the easy way out.
Instead, I am inspired to ask myself: Could I put out snack bowls? How about strewing about my day little pockets of time during which I may satisfy my subconscious’ peckishness?
All or Nothing tells me I need an hour or none at all. My schedule says nah-ah, I ain’t sparing that much. And so my subconscious sits beneath the table likes a dog waiting for crumbs. No wonder it rises in rebellion whenever it’s starved enough.
So this week I propose for myself an experimental meal plan: Building interstitial subconscious snacking into my daily hours. The premise is simple (and the challenge small and manageable): Three times a day, for 20 minutes at a time, go on a Pomodoro date with my subconscious and be adventurous enough to say yes to wherever it wants to take me. And whatever it wants to feed on. After all, keeping it well-fed enables it to nourish me… and prevents it from preying on me :)
The first day of the new week came and by in a blitz since I drafted the text, and I missed publishing this issue of the newsletter on Monday like I typically do. So thus I’m able to lead myself back to the drawing (meal planning) board and ask whether setting a binary goal with such high expectations - three times a day?! - rings true to the spirit of the thing. There’s an interstitial space between having too many S.M.A.R.T. goals and no guiding anchor whatsoever, and there lies the inner wu wei I’m growing towards.
It’s similar to unschooling, where not being told what to do may lead to a painful evolutionary process of first not doing anything at all, only to learn to take ownership as you come to realise that self-leadership is the highest-order form of authority… and that the very concept of “authority” is only a dirty word when it’s disempowering and disenfranchising to the self.
The I/Eye in World
As we get closer to year’s end, I reflected on six years of my annual Word of the Year ritual, and it was powerful to see the in-breath, out-breath of the past half a dozen years as a process of simultaneous retreat into the inner and expansion into a more widely connected outer.
And because all metaphor and no worldliness would make Jane grow complacent with the static state of things, I had fun reading the wide range of perspectives on this leadership piece on NFTs, in which I was quoted alongside rapper Ja Rule, billionaire Tim Draper, sci-fi magazine CEO Matthew Medney, and several rising leaders in the NFT space.
NFTs are much-hyped in pop culture and it’s hard to separate out the cutting-edge future possibilities from seeing media reports on people buying digital ownership of a jpeg drawing of an ape. But behind the media madness lies a fascinating future in which conventional rules no longer need apply, because a bunch of people have gone ahead and made new rules.
“Whether the NFT phenomenon is “Revenge of the artists,” as Bester said or a stalwart middle finger to the establishment as Ja Rule suggested, they combine the value and speculation of crypto with the self-expression native to the arts and entertainment world – and the combination has set off a reaction that we will see play out through 2022 and beyond.”
That sentence might just hold a far more metaphorical meaning for me, too… I bet my subconscious is nibbling on it as we speak :)
Writing this newsletter is a bizarre experience. I’m writing to no one, knowing it can be read by anyone, yet having little insight into who does. It definitely highlights social media’s more immediate (dopamine-rewarding) appeal! Until next time, my now nameless, faceless friends!
P.S. I speculated last week whether it’d work to hit reply to this email (if you’re reading it in your inbox), and it did 🥳 So if you’d like to drop a line, consider yourself invited :)