Dr. Nick Grant, a psychologist, Dr. Mike Metzger of Clapham Institute, and Ray Bard my publisher, each taught me about water.
Life is a journey on water. Your conscious mind is above the waterline. Your unconscious is beneath.
That weightless, magical world below the waterline is fundamentally different from the world of facts, figures and logic that hovers above it.
The arts are an invigorating plunge into the unconscious, that part of your mind that understands the languages of color, shape, proximity, radiance, shadow, silhouette, pitch, key, tempo, interval, contour, rhythm, and frame-line magnetism.
Our relationship to the unconscious is like our relationship to water. We need it by the cupful to survive, but if you stay underwater too long, you will drown; a psychotic break.
Life is a journey on water. To better understand this Jungian journey, watch Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the 1990 film, “Joe Versus the Volcano.”
Nick Grant made me aware of the symbolic nature of water.
Mike Metzger taught me how to look at water in a second way:
You meet four people on the Ocean of Life, but you meet them again and again. The first person you meet is drifting, pushed each day by the winds and waves of circumstances. The drifter always goes with the flow. You know you’ve met a drifter when they say, “Whatever. It’s all good.”
The second person you meet is surfing. They seem to be having a good time, but they never really get anywhere. They mostly paddle around in the ocean, looking for another wave to ride. The surfer is always looking for “the next big thing.”
The third person you meet is drowning. Lots of people “go under” once or twice in life and need a helping hand. They may need rescue financially, or chemically, or relationally, but this is normal.
There are also professional drowners: “It’s been the worst week of my life, I don’t know what I’m going to do.” So you come to the rescue… but the next time you see them, “It’s been the worst week of my life, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The fourth person you meet is sailing. Confronted by the same winds and waves that controlled the drifter, surfer, and drowner, the sailor navigates. “If I turn the rudder and adjust the sails, this wind will take me wherever I want to go.”
You cannot navigate by watching the wind and waves. You must have a fixed point, a non-negotiable guiding light that does not move. The North Star – Polaris – is perfectly aligned above the axis of the earth. It is that guiding light around which the whole world revolves. What is your non-negotiable, your star that does not move? When you have found it, you will always know where – and who – you are.
Ray Bard taught me a third way to look at water. When you’re writing a book or considering a business venture, it is essential that you discover two things:
1. How widespread is the public interest?
2. How deep is that interest?
If public interest is neither widespread nor deep, you’re looking at a puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle.
If interest is widespread but not deep, you’re looking at a bayou. Be careful. A bayou looks like an ocean at first because the interest is wide, wide, wide. But that interest is not deep enough to drive action. You can go broke when you see a bayou and think it is an ocean.
If interest is narrow but deep, you’re looking into a well. You can draw a lot of water from a well. “The Care and Feeding of Quarter Horses” held no interest for most readers, but those who owned a quarter horse had deep interest. The book was successful.
If public interest is wide and deep, you’re looking at an ocean. But you’re going to need a boat – a platform – on which to navigate your ocean. If you don’t have a platform, you’ll drown. And you’re going to need a plan, or you’ll drift.
LIFE: You need a guiding light to let you know where – and who – you are.
BUSINESS: Ignore puddles and bayous. Drill a well or find an ocean.
BALANCE: Your conscious mind is always with you. It is a boat that floats on the water of your unconscious mind. You plunge happily into the unconscious when you are exposed to the arts, and you emerge feeling refreshed and renewed. We read about this feeling in the 42nd Psalm:
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterspouts; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
Phil Johnson taught me about balance. It was his favorite word.
When Pennie and I were young and beginning our hero’s journey, Phil was our old man in the woods. He was our pastor, and old enough to be our grandfather. These were the last words Phil spoke to me a few days before he died:
“You acquire an education by study, hard work and persistence. But you absorb culture by viewing great art, listening to great music and reading great books.”
When Phil spoke about absorbing culture, he was talking about the arts. The arts include fiction and fantasy in all its forms: novels and movies and TV shows and poetry and dance. The arts include pottery and sculpting and landscaping and gardening The arts include theater and music, painting and photography, facial expressions and tones of voice.
Essentially, the arts are anything that speak to the heart rather than the mind.
The world below the waterline – the world of the arts – is a healthy, refreshing place of escape, a vacation available to you every day. But you must come up and breathe the air of reality or you will soon discover there are monsters in the deep.
“The great problem in the United States is not repression or neurosis, which it was in Europe when Freud wrote about everything. No, our great problems are narcissism and addiction. Tommy Jefferson set us up. ‘Life, Liberty, and the… Pursuit of Happiness!’ If you pursue happiness directly, it evades you, but you feel entitled to it… It’s wonderful, but it has a dark side: addiction. We have done a dance with addiction in this country from the very beginning.”
– Dr. Nick Grant, July 1, 2007, Wizard Academy
Activities are stimulating.
Addictions occur when we try to replace the arts with activities.
Activities make us feel good on the outside.
The Arts make us feel good on the inside.
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our
pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
– Gillaume Apollinaire
Today is a good day
to pause in your pursuits,
and just be happy.
Roy H. Willams
Jim Edwards has managed hundreds of employees and would grade himself a “B” as a manager. So why do business owners worldwide turn to Jim for recommendations on how they can improve as a leader? Jim says, “You don’t have to be a superstar to outperform your competitors.” That’s just one of the common sense, funny, blunt organizational insights he shares with roving reporter Rotbart on this week’s episode at MondayMorningRadio.com