Good Advice

The head of school sent forth the 8th graders with this good advice:

1. Embrace change. Learn to love it.
2. Do good. Keep on doing good. When you see something good that needs doing, do it. Don’t wait for others. Especially do good for strangers.
3. Find your own punctuation. That means: Take moments to stop. Think. Be intentional. Eat. Laugh. Share meals.
4. Don’t be tourists. “Walking is a virtue, tourism is a deadly sin,” Bruce Chatwin said. Yes, walk in the hidden places. Dig in.
5. Be a duck-rabbit. This is from Ludwig Wittgenstein. In other words, be paradoxical; be a mystery. When people try to box you in, resist.

While Dominic A.A. Randolph addressed these remarks to soon-to-be high school students, the advice seems pertinent to creative writers, like me. As a writer, I want to    1. love new ways of writing    2. write to make the world better, kinder    3. find new ways to punctuate sentences (or not punctuate — look no period)    4. engage fully, even subjectively    5. be a writer who is paradoxical, counter-intuitive and funny

Randolph also inspired an earlier post which described 3 aspects of community: 1. Hard work 2. Passion 3. Diversity.

https://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/what-is-community/

I love learning and learning about learning. Having kids and learning alongside of them (and with them) is like being in grad school and grade school at the same time. A mystery wrapped in a conundrum. A duck-rabbit. Both and.

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What Is Community?

Community is 3 things — hard work, passion and diversity.

Hard work. A ton of research shows you need 10,000 hours of practice to be a world class master. Malcolm Gladwell reported this in Outliers. Hard work, dogged effort and continual engagement are more important than talent, inclination and ability.

Hard work is probably more important than luck. Resilience – not giving up — is key.

Note to self: Remember this when exhausted by my writing load (much of it self-imposed). I am logging my hours towards mastery. I may be closing in on my 10,000 hours of writing. For five years, I have written probably for 3 hours every day, which equals about 5,000 hours. And then considering my writing life before the last five years, it’s possible I’ve nearly got 10,000 hours.  

Another note to self: When talking to my kids, I must praise their effort and not their fabulousity! (But then I’m so crazy in love with my kids that I tell them all the time, you are so wonderful. I guess I should say, your hard work is so wonderful!)

Passion. I’ve been reading Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work. The guy’s good. He talks about following your bliss and paying attention to the stories you tell about yourself – your archetypes and night dreams.

Note to self: Moore says it’s okay to have a whole lot of passions (or 4 blogs!) – for work and life. When I heard Moore speak at Marble Collegiate Church years ago, he said the one word he couldn’t advise as a guiding principle in life is “balance.” Moore said, “If you have to choose between two things — do both!”

The Hero's Journey & The Matrix

I’m with him. I’m up for following my passion and following my bliss. Remember Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey? Loved it way back when. Still love it today. The Matrix is based on the hero’s journey: http://www.mythsdreamssymbols.com/herojourney.html

Diversity. Diversity is not only having diverse classes, races, religions, ages, but points of view.

Note to self: Do not become so in love and so entrenched with my own point of view that I see the world solely through my own Matrix glasses. 

Thanks to Dominic A.A. Randolph, the head of school at Riverdale Country School who shared these 3 thoughts on what makes for community at a gathering last week.

Riverdale’s tag line is Mind, Character, Commitment, Community. His smart blog post is: http://blogs.riverdale.edu/headofschool/2010/09/25/ms-and-us-parents-day-speech-september-2010/#content.

Wow.