Living can be difficult sometimes, but being alive is wonderful, exciting and full of possibility. The dissonance between these aspects of “life” can be confusing and seem unresolvable. Why is that? How is it that quality of experience can diminish quality of life? Why do some people feel they are not worthy – they make no difference, no contribution, create no benefit? Sadly, some believe they should not be alive at all, a tragedy that besets far too many.
Recently a good friend who is an architect asked, “How do I get people excited about what I do?” What a question to ask while we shared breakfast at a lovely restaurant on the shores of a river, the sun shining, ducks floating by aimlessly, and the ripple of water sending out a calming wave for everyone to share. Perhaps the beauty of being alive in that moment brought out his discomforting problem.
So we talked about things from neuroscience to philosophy to spirituality and it suddenly dawned on him: he was searching for something that didn’t need to be found. He was excited about what he did and that needed to be raised up and embraced. People didn’t need to get excited, he needed to allow his excitement to flow out from within: his joy at resolving each architectural problem and the excitement of sharing his vision of how the structure he was imagining for them would both reflect and enhance their lives – not just be a functional building that would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.
How can we do this? By opening our curiosity for possibility. Problems are all about what is wrong, what is bad, who is at fault and who is to blame. Solving problems is often a punishment. Curiosity for possibility is taking what exists now and making something more – making connections that trigger unexpected and extraordinary things. It’s because we isolate the elements of problems that we miss the possibility of discovering what the problem is trying to say to us.
Learning at school, or university or anywhere, just to solve the problem of exams and tests is very hard to get excited about. But, learning to open to the possibilities that will enrich and grow your future is learning that is irresistible. Working at a job just to get a pay-packet can be soul destroying. But working at something you know will help others add to their lives, solve difficulties, and achieve goals is a job that is worth waking up for.
Possibility surrounds us every moment. Our biggest barrier is that we just don’t notice. We are clouded beneath problems instead of igniting our curious mind with “What if?” and “I wonder?” opening our imagination to create something wonderful and enabling we never even imagined possible to come into being.
When asked about the purpose of life Joseph Campbell said, “to participate in the experience.” Brilliant, but I wonder if I can add a little to lift this into curiosity and possibility – “to creatively participate in the experience.” All you need to creatively participate is to engage, connect and share. In doing so, you become a part of the creative process, the invitation of possibility and an energetic contributor to the future.
Now that is exciting!