A palimpsest is a page of text that’s been wiped of its content to be reused for new writing. However, the original text may still show through as new words are written on top. This can create a synergistic effect, with the patterns of the old and new writing overlapping each other to reveal unexpected beauty and meaning. Can we think of human character the same way?
At times it feels like the walls are closing in, the way is cut off, and there’s no path forward. However, whatever can be closed can also be opened. When we’re trapped, how can we open a door and get a move on?
In A recipe for happiness, we turned the conventional view of happiness on its head and discussed the role goals play in producing happiness. However, we didn’t look very closely at why striving after goals generates happiness. In this post, we’ll dig deeper and see that growth lies at the core of this process.
In the previous two posts, we saw how accumulated knowledge can get in the way of seeing things as they are. We also learned a couple of ways to help transcend these preconceptions to experience things directly in the present moment. But what about those things we really do know? Even these may not be as certain as we often think, thanks to the “knowledge trap”.
A tale of two yams highlighted how our assumptions, memories, and what we think we know can paper over the living reality of what’s right in front us, causing us to misunderstand people, things, and situations and, significantly, to miss often obvious opportunities. However, we can rediscover these lost bits of reality by setting aside our preconceived notions and seeing the world afresh. An effective way of doing this is by looking at things from “strange views”.
Over time, we build up knowledge about the world. For instance, we know what a yam looks like. However, if we expressed this knowledge in a picture, it probably wouldn’t look much like a flesh and blood yam. Somehow our knowledge gets in the way of seeing the world that is right before our eyes. What can yams teach us about experiencing reality unfiltered?
Many of us see happiness as the ultimate goal of life and pursue it relentlessly. However, this often leads to dissatisfaction and distress. Could it be that the pursuit of happiness prevents its attainment? Is there a way for us to flip the script and achieve the joy we seek?
Time is a funny thing. It can fly, drag on, run out, move faster or slower, and much else besides, all while the clock ticks its regular beat. This malleability of time gives us a tool for beating the clock by capitalizing on the “do” in the is-do-be cycle.
Fungi live on the line between old and new, directly transmuting death into new life. We makers can learn from this process of “newtrifaction” to birth new works from what is dead and gone.
Is Do Be began as a vocation to practice psychotherapy in my youth. Over the years, this vocation would be transformed and reinterpreted many times over under the pressures of internal and external forces. This is the story of those transformations.