Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Your Bliss

Near the Fountain

Wild Rosemary

Pink Flower

Grasses

Blue Flower

Fountain 1

Fountain 2

Fountain 3

Reflecting Pool 1

Reflecting Pool 2

While I was off to an artist's retreat in Texas at Laity Lodge, my friendly book club buddies at High Calling Blogs were finishing up Make the Impossible Possible. I was sorry to have to race through the end of the book to catch up. Even now, I'm panting.

Ironically, or maybe fittingly, the final chapters were about the experience I was actually having: following my bliss, embracing a sense of 'flow' in my life, stepping towards dreams. I used to be a graphic artist. I don't want that career again. But I knew I belonged at this artist's retreat. Why? I still can't tell you for sure. But a few things Strickland says are the beginning of an explanation...

...someone wise once said that luck favors the prepared mind....

...[we] need to trust the small, transcendent experiences of [our lives]...to explore [our] passions and draw from them the inspirational fire and fuel that make extraordinary achievements possible...

...flow... is any experience in which you become absorbed so completely into what you're doing that the world fades away and nothing else seems to matter...

... he took his dreams seriously and lived his life in a way that prepared him for the day when opportunity might favor him. When it did, [he] was ready...

...A dream is about building something— relationships, identity, quality of experience. Because dreams rise out of genuine human needs, they feed the spirit in a profoundly satisfying way. A genuine dream brings direction, conviction, substance, and satisfaction to your life the moment you commit yourself to it.


What Strickland doesn't say is how amorphous the beginning of a dream can be. We feel something, that sense of 'flow' and we feel we're at a cusp. The way he first felt when he touched clay in that classroom long ago. Hunched over intently, digging in, shaping, did he envision an arts center that would profoundly alter the lives of the poor? Did he envision a music hall that would bring music to their ears? A greenhouse growing orchids so frail they'd re-ignite the hardened souls who'd tend them? No. But he put his hands to the clay.

Like I said, I don't know what clay I put my hands to this past week. But the coolness of it, the smoothness, the way it is sticking to my fingers feels right. And for now it's enough to follow that bliss.

TOTAL ASIDE (well, maybe):
Speaking of not knowing where our dreams will take us, Stone Crossings is going to be translated into Korean. I'm a little dazed at the thought. But happy, of course.

RELATED POSTS:
High Calling Blogs Final Chapters: Tell Your Story
Laura's Tell His Story
LL's LL and Lauren (But Not Jim) at Laity Lodge

POETRY FRIDAY:
High Calling Blogs RAP: Surprised by Words (see post for our NEW POETRY PROMPT)
Ann’s Meeting Words
Erica’s Random Acts of Poetry: Petals
LL’s daughters’Ballads, Grasses and Bliss
Brian’s The Anatomy of a Gift
Laure’s In Itself, To Serve You
Yvette’s Freedom
Monica’s Gratitude, Carpool and Cubicle
Barbara’s The Dance of Pandora
Jim’s Détente
Marcus's Christ is Risen, But
nAncY's Adoration
Cindy's Spring Clean
Crystal's Uneven Exchange
Laura's Burden
Mike's Cool
The Unknown Contributor's Anyday
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18 Comments:

Blogger Billy Coffey said...

Those are beautiful pictures, and I'm glad you enjoyed your retreat.

"...luck favors the prepared mind..."

I really like that.

There have been a few moments in my life when I have experienced flow. It's an elusive thing, but I know this: once you have it for the first time, you crave it thereafter.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

This post touches where my heart is in so many ways...maybe I should read the book.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Dianne said...

This book is on my list now.

I liked this part:
...flow... is any experience in which you become absorbed so completely into what you're doing that the world fades away and nothing else seems to matter..

There is indeed something about being lost in that good and sacred way!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hey LL,
Haven't read the book but I sure know how holding the beginning of a dream feels. These words resonated, "A dream is about building something— relationships, identity, quality of experience. Because dreams rise out of genuine human needs, they feed the spirit in a profoundly satisfying way. A genuine dream brings direction, conviction, substance, and satisfaction to your life the moment you commit yourself to it."

Sort of sums up what's been going on in my head for the last few months with regard to summer plans and the ebb and flow of decision making and committing to the dream. Thanks for an insightful post and beautiful pics.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

L.L.--

I have missed you! I'm glad for your bliss-ful retreat :)

I love all the quotes you feature here; and, yes, so much of what he had to say is profound. I have been feeling I was too hard on Mr. Strickland. He does, after all, only try to encourage us to make the world a better place.

And I can do that.

Can't fly a plane, but I can do that. (okay, the airplane thing really got me. What was that all about?)

Welcome home, teacher. Can words feel like clay in hands? Because your blog has been like Mr. Ross's classroom for me.

4:02 PM  
Blogger sojourner said...

welcome back! i love the photos and your closing comments on the book - perhaps i will find time to read it - in lieu of that i've enjoyed reading over your shoulder

4:54 PM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

LL...beautiful pictures! I am glad you had a good time. You were missed! I liked what Strickland had to say about flow, too. Like Laura, I think I was a little hard on him at the end there...and one funny thing about it is that my frustration at his optimism made me take a good look at myself and think about what it is in me that has a hard time embracing the idea that anything is possible. The book planted a lot of seeds in my mind that might take awhile to take root but will certainly bear fruit, I am so glad that I've had the chance to read the book and discuss it!

And a big congratulations on your book coming out in Korean! That's wonderful.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

Ah, it's easy to identify those moments of bliss and flow and complete at-one-ness with self and Everything. But it seems hard knowing how to let those dreamy moments lead into reality. For example, the times of most profound union and joy for me have been singing in the college choir. I'm a mediocre alto at best, and I think it was the phenomenal conductor that made the experience so wonderful, so there's little chance of it being replicated elsewhere (though I've tried). And what about those writing spurts that hit like an adrenaline rush but wane with passing time? How do we direct our passions into something meaningful, enduring? My dad doesn't think we're meant to live in the flow. We are bound to duty and responsibility and productivity. But idealistic, artistic me desperately wants a vocation that nurtures and invites bliss. And I'm hopeful that there is something of that nature out there with a paycheck attached.

7:17 PM  
Blogger nAncY said...

an art retreat sounds really nice.

i have a associates degree in graphic design. that was another lifetime ago in 1975. i did not follow that into a career.

9:01 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Billy... thanks. I like taking pictures in the morning, the way the light is new and slant. And you chose one of my favorite quotes!

Sarah... like I said over at HCB, the book lacks nuance. But it is well worth the read for its inspirational qualities. He really is profound. Not so much in expression as in the way he has lived his life so passionately and clearly.

Dianne... I realize that some things we get lost in can be not-so-good. Yet even in those things, I'm thinking there's something deeper we're sensing, reaching towards.

Beth... sometimes what we think is a dream turns out to be a passing thought. What I like about Strickland is the way he dips in, tries things on. If they really fit, he goes for it. It's an amazing way to live.

Laura... gosh, you make me swallow hard with your sweet encouragements. I'm glad you have found some kind of sanctuary here. I understand why you were hard on him; the book lacks a balance that may actually exist in his life. But overall, I admire him. Greatly.

Sojourner... the photos. Those are my sweet indulgence.

Erica... I love that your frustration eventually led to self-reflection. That's something we could all try out. And thanks for celebrating with me on the translation-into-Korean news. I'm beaming!

Joelle... You bring up a sticky point... finding pay for our bliss is not simple. That's where Strickland's message needs massaging... I mean, he addresses these things but only in a cursory way. Part of the key is to be patient... life takes time, dreams take time.

9:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

nAncY... oops! Missed you. It was nice. More than nice. I'm still floating down the Frio River in my dreams. :)

9:10 PM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

These photos are AMAZING.

The pink flowers are just stunning.

9:08 PM  
OpenID soulintention said...

This is an extremely inspiring post - and love the quotes - especially the one

...flow... is any experience in which you become absorbed so completely into what you're doing that the world fades away and nothing else seems to matter..

this is bliss at its finest - I will take this quote to heart - and again thank you for your work at HCB --

9:49 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

I love the definition of flow . . . I wonder how many moments in life we are truly in the flow? Are all of those moments "creative"? Glad you were able to go to the artist's retreat, LL.

10:17 PM  
Blogger laure said...

a life following anything is a life of lots of "And for now ..." that's really important for me. it's enough.

10:26 PM  
Blogger e.o.w. said...

Oh, I love these photos, especially the Rosemary and then those splashes of water, they made me smile.

(deep breath)

oh, to reach into the center, touching the origin of things...

I'm glad to hear about your retreat.

3:52 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Lovely photographs, lovely words.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts. I sometimes seem to lose my bliss for whatever reasons, so that I just don't think I have anything to offer or anywhere to go. I guess Elijah even ran into that. As we're reminded, he was a person as human as we are.

I like the thought that "luck" can be more prone to come to a prepared mind. Reminds me of sports in which that's true as well.

3:04 AM  

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