Friday, July 16, 2010

Scanners don't like to choose one subject

Scanners and renaissance people are really the same kind of bird. They have many interests and often they have many careers and many, many creative projects, ideas and plans. I'm a scanner so I speak from experience. I remember how my mother used to say, shaking her head sadly, "You can never finish anything." I did finish some things, just not everything I started. I had so many things I wanted to do! When new fascinating fields of study and expression appeared, I just dropped whatever I had been doing to immerse myself in the fresh adventure. If you think you're a scanner then check out Barbara Sher's marvelous books on how to accept it and turn it to your profound advantage.

Modern culture favors specialists. And that is an understatement. We are pruned and shaped by our society's tendency to homogenize and standardize until our variety, innate curiosity and sense of exploration is fairly well tamed. That's been our model, especially since the Industrial Revolution. Seth Godin writes so well about that in his new book Linchpin.

Being a scanner came up for me as I thought of what I wanted to write about in the blog format, where people often present one subject, and quite briefly too. But I had so many things I wanted to write about! I wanted to write about two books I read recently, Seth Godin's Linchpin and The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, which I read many years ago and had a yen to read again.

Both books are about freedom. Seth Godin's book is wonderful, and I am totally in favor of everyone becoming a linchpin and an artist in the workplace, rather than a replaceable expendable cog. But I have to say that the world described in Yogananda's book exerts a far deeper pull on me. The real-life experiences of saints, yogis and spiritual masters described in Yogananda's book make me deeply happy. Human potential is so much bigger than the small slice we settle for in the materialistic worldview.

Things are always happening all at once. You are reading books, meeting people, going to events, thinking various things, listening to music, dancing. The other day I was sitting in a chair at Tashi Choling, the Tibetan Buddhist temple where I worship. In fact there was a whole group of us sitting in chairs, rather than sitting on meditation mats the way most other people were sitting. Now we're chair sitters. We've been praying together for 30 years and we've grown old. One of us had had a stroke recently. Another was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I have been thinking of those aspects of aging a lot these days. How will we support each other? In what ways can we prepare?

I am getting ready to do another house concert tomorrow night. I enjoy performing. It's part of my calling. I love having permission to be bigger than life, to show more of myself, to delve into mythic dimensions and the various characters that live within me. I love the opportunity to go deeper, to express more fully. Doing more performing has got me thinking about the relationship between the artist and the audience again.

I read something from Downbeat Magazine about the artist and audience. It was written by a jazz pianist. He said that people usually don't feel very free and that when they go to an artistic event, they put themselves in the hands of the artist as a way of letting go into a bigger freedom than they are used to having in their everyday life. He talked about the risk the audience takes. The artist takes a risk too. Art is intimate and that can be risky. But what is the other option? How dull that would be, not to risk anything.

I love the photo I've inserted into this blog entry--the old tree, which stands there in all its years, worn but a steady support for the profuse beauty of the rose bush. Why did I choose that photo? It seems tender to me, the way the rose climbs and ornaments the tree. Tender and alive. And that is how I feel right now. What about you? What is moving in your blood and brain and soul?

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