What vs How

“I don’t know how
to persuade him” said the founder.

“What
do you want to have happen?”
I asked.

“I want to persuade him.”
she responded.

“No.
What do you want to have happen
by persuading him?”
I asked again.

“…”

“I want you
to move your focus away from the how
to what it is you really want.” I remarked,
breaking the silence.

“What do you want?”
I asked again.

“I want…

I want to feel supported.” she answered,
after much thought.

“When’s the last time
you felt supported by him?”
I asked.

“I’ve never felt supported by him.”
she answered.

“Then what makes you so sure
that persuading him
is the way to feel supported?”
I asked.

To Stop Thinking

One
of the hardest things
I had to learn in art school
was how to stop
thinking.

At first,
I just told myself
to stop thinking,
which made me think
more.

I only stopped thinking
after I learned
to empathize with my materials—
be it wood,
or metal.

And I only learned
to empathize with my materials
after interacting with it
over
and over
and over again,
learning
to support
and to be supported
in that relationship.

Until there was
trust.

Trust
that came from
having co-developed
a contract
of support.

A creative process
we casually call
“making”

Perspective, Where Art Thou?

We often assume
we can take
someone’s perspective.

Until we realize
that the perspective we took
wasn’t theirs
or that it wasn’t the one
we needed.

To make up for this
we sometimes think we can get
their perspective
by asking.

Until we realize
that people aren’t always aware
of the whereabouts
of their own perspectives.

At which point
we realize
that the only way forward
is to discover
their perspective
together
until we realize
empathy.

Slow Progress vs Stuckness

Telling someone
who feels stuck
to have more patience and grit
is akin to telling
a drowning person
to keep holding their breath.

There are times
when progress is merely slow.

Then there are times
when we are stuck.

When progress is slow,
our direction need not change.
Thus,
with patience and grit
we can prevail.

But when we are stuck,
we must significantly change direction
—even if momentarily.

The question is
in which direction?

To support someone feeling stuck
may we be there
by their side
to help them learn
the requisite new choice
of direction.

To be a Person

The Chinese character
for person (人)
are two strokes
leaning against one another.

As if to signify
that to be a person
is to be there for each other
as each other’s support
at. all. times.

At first,
this seemed
impossible.

After all,
we cannot
actually be there for others
at all times.

That is,
until I realized
that others can sense our support
even
in our absence.

Thus,
being there for them
at all times.

But then it seemed
unnecessary.

We don’t
actually need
others to be there for us
at all times.

That is,
until I realized
that the moment we sense
we have no support whatsoever
is often
when we take
our own lives.

Thus,
needing someone
to be there
at all times.

By Whom?

We sometimes resent
not being heard by someone,
unaware
that the reason why they won’t hear us
is because
they are in dire need
to be heard by us.

We sometimes resent
not being supported by someone,
unaware
that the reason why they won’t support us
is because
they are in dire need
of our support.

We sometimes resent
not being respected by someone
unaware
that the reason why they won’t respect us
is because
they are in dire need
of our respect.

By whom
will this Gordian Knot
be severed?

Where am I?

Focusing on a desire
of what we want
can create the tension
required to motivate us
to keep moving
toward the future.

And yet,
such desire alone
can often lead us
to inadvertently focus
on where we are not.

It is in being aware
of not only our desire,
but also the progress
we’ve made thus far
that we may recognize
where we are.

It is in this awareness,
where notions of
past, present, and future
can make way
for a sense
of belonging.

A sense
that we deserve
to be where we are,
thanks not only
to our own merits,
but also the merit
of our supporters,
and our circumstances.

Rumination vs Reflection

We often confuse
rumination
with reflection

When we ruminate,
our minds race,
overwhelming us with anxiety,
which makes it difficult for us
to think
or to communicate
clearly
and effectively.

In this state,
those around us
can feel confused
and insecure,
which leaves them
unwilling
or unable
to support us,
which then leaves us
feeling isolated
and lonely,
which fuels our anxiety
and overwhelm.

A vicious cycle,
this is.

All by Ourselves

There is little we can do “all by ourselves”

Even if we have eyes,
we cannot see
without receiving support from light.

Even if we have legs,
we cannot stand
without receiving support from the ground.

Even if we have lungs
we cannot breathe
without receiving support from air

When we claim to have done it “all by ourselves,”
we’re probably either
insufficiently appreciating the support we’ve received from others
or
insufficiently feeling appreciated by others.

Our ability to appreciate others
is often intricately intertwined
with feeling appreciated by others.