The God of your understanding is just that: the God of your understanding. What you need is the god just beyond your understanding.
I read this to suggest: Go as far as you can, and then a little further. But only a little. Further than your current concept of god, of your current understanding of mercy, of the future you imagine for yourself, of the world you want to live in.
Somewhere between today’s version and something unimaginably ideal lies the zone of Just Beyond.
Practice: Imagine what advancing toward your heart’s desire might look like. (If it shapeshifts, take a deep breath, and allow the picture to come into focus. This can take minutes; it can take years.)
Advanced practice: Take a you-sized step toward Just Beyond.
Related practices: Author’s Statement, Ask for what you want
My idea of luxury used to be a high penthouse and twenty-five tailored suits. Now …my idea of luxury is having three pencil-sharpeners in different parts of the house.
Luxury is an assessment, not a price-point. It is also a state of mind: anything that feels luxurious to you belongs on your list.
My list includes blue sky, fresh lemons, series entertainment (books or television shows with recurring characters), Yaktrax, and scissors. Lots and lots of scissors.
Practice: Identify something easy to access with a low price point that you consider luxurious.
Advanced practice: Stock up on said item and notice what you feel. Does having more feel more luxurious? Or less? Do you find luxury calming or stimulating? How long do the associated feelings last?
Related practices: Tutu, Ask for what you want
The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.
I know meditators who don’t “do” gratitude, and grateful people who aren’t interested in immediacy. They treat meditation as meditation and the present moment as the present moment. Still, I think Holden is on to something.
Practice: Identify which comes more easily to you. Gratitude or presence?
Advanced practice: Commit to connecting the two. When you feel grateful, investigate whether you’re present. When you feel present, intentionally access a sense of gratitude.
Related practices: Trousers, Need
Being compared to men was always higher praise; my youthful priorities were misaligned along multiple axes.
Mine were too. I had been taught that male, white, and dead were synonyms for Excellence. And I bought it. I thought (without thinking) that buying it was the price of admission.
Practice: Identify your synonyms. Is there any reason that Excellence can’t — or has to — look like you?
Related practices: Author’s Statement, Rough Drafts
If you can’t take the first step, take the second.
This makes no sense at all. It also works pretty well.
Even when depleted, I can sometimes do something. Even two or three somethings. Apparently momentum has a logic of its own.
Practice: Start something, anything, that you don’t know how to start. Or start something adjacent. (The principle being that action leads to action.)
Related practices: Need, Tuesday nights
I don’t mind being called a dumb blond because I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not blond.
Poses have meaning. When you put on a jacket, are you dressing up? Conforming? Wearing drag? Strutting your stuff? Secretly Clark Kent?
Its meaning is in your hands, which means you have options.
Practice: Identify one of your poses. (This may take a while. Once a pose becomes habitual, it feels like who you are.)
Advanced practice: Decide whether it still serves you.
Related practices: Done, Permission
You don’t find the time to make things, you make the time to do things.
This is putting it mildly: You either make the time or you don’t — and which you do defines who you are. Makers make things. Gardeners spend time in the garden. Activists spend time in the community.
Making time for an activity means it matters to you. The reverse is true as well.
Practice: Your choice. Would you rather update your identity or realign your schedule?
Advanced practice: Explore your reasons to hold onto an identity that doesn’t reflect the ways you spend your time.
Related practices: Busy, Busy, Busy, Boredom
Do you allow the world to come to you or do you pounce on it? Are you acting from impatience? Enthusiasm? Anxiety? Eagerness?
Practice: Close your eyes and let your eyeballs rest comfortably in their sockets. This may take a while. (My breathing slows and my shoulders drop before my eyes relax.)
Slowly open your eyes. Notice whether you use your eyes to take in the world or to advance towards it. Or something else entirely.
Noticing what you tend to do allows you to play with alternatives.
Related practices: Loneliness, Perfect
All social issues are temporary and brief. Go deep.
Reading this, I want to say “Huh?” and pretend I don’t understand. But some part of me does understand; something in me knows that confusion is a hiding place.
To learn more about Thurman’s ministry, watch: https://www.pbs.org/video/backs-against-the-wall-the-howard-thurman-story-cgv9gi/
Practice: Replace “all social issues” with content of your own:
My business dilemmas are…
My health problems are. . .
My feelings about . . .
Advanced practice: Identify what gets in the way of you “going deep.”
Related practices: Accordion, Self-attack
Remember: The gods of creativity are not obliged to explain anything to us.
Creativity, like faith or courage, simply is — which suggests taking a naturalist’s approach. Observe without expectation. Avoid sudden moves. Collect data until you have enough to form a theory, then test the theory.
Practice: Do something you hypothesize will lead to creativity. Notice the results. Do something arguably the opposite. Notice the results.
Related practices: Please, Alert Emptiness, Tuesday nights