…conscience as the folly of self-determination…

“Being smart about life leads us down a  superior but narrow road of self-deception.” — Thomas Moore

I bet you missed  it.

This year’s Oscar-award winning animated short, “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan, is a marvelously envisioned parable of redemption.  I recommend it.

During his acceptance speech, Tan said “Our film is about a creature that nobody pays any attention to, so this is wonderfully ironic.”  How true … the irony of misplaced redemption.

Misplaced you ask?   How can redemption be misplaced?  Well, in exactly the same way that self-determination can misplace one’s conscience.  We sometimes forget where we put it.   We need to be reminded that it’s right HERE … inside us … all the time.

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…conscience and the horsemen of the disappointed dream…

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” – Emerson

Whether we realize it or not, we carry a future orientation, a continuing belief in something more … something more for us and for the world we live in … and along with that belief comes disappointment.

Our ability to be conscientious … to do the right thing, to hold a sense of integrity about our actions and decisions … that capacity doesn’t include disappointment does it?  Disappointment is supposed to come afterward … after we are done, learning, committing and doing, right?  After we have exercised conscientious action … well, maybe not …

I don’t like being disappointed any more than you do!

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…conscience for the sake of what?…

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”  —  Warren G. Bennis

Very often it hard to name exactly where our impulses originate.  We have conscious intentions and unconscious ones.  And, try as we might, our desire to evaluate —  to be conscientious and to do the right thing — is really difficult.

So eventually we have to ask ourselves:  “Conscience for the sake of what?”  What are we trying to realize by “doing” the right thing?  Which voice really supports us “the most” anyway?

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….conscience as an enclosing circle around the other…

“He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!”
–Outwitted, by Edwin Markham

Consider for a moment the mechanics of eye-sight: a small aperture that lets light in.

Surprising, right?  “Love and I had wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!”  There is both metaphoric inclusion and line-of-sight inclusion.  What we take in with our eyes is essentially light — a substitute for love.

OK — maybe I’m pushing it.  Any act of conscience is a moral evaluation — a decision to see things in a certain way. Not quite the same thing as light (or love really).  But still…

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…conscience as the doorway to our depths…

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a family where verbal adages and maxims carried a whole lot more weight and meaning than what the words themselves might indicate. And I doubt that I’m alone in that.

As radical as it sounds, families are closed systems.  Oh sure, families DO relate to other systems and in that sense they are open – but they are often treated as “closed” by virtue of their membership.  The bond of blood creates a dividing line which culturally is hard to overcome.  Not everyone can join.

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…creative imagination as “everything possible”…

“Everything that exists, even a stone, has two sides to its nature.  It fiercely maintains is own individuality, its own solidity, and yet it reaches from itself in the subtlest flow of desire.” — DH Lawrence

I live in New England.  It’s winter.  And this morning I looked out from my second floor window and saw three gray squirrels on the trunk of an oak tree.   And what I saw – as normal as it was – was fascinating:  three squirrels in a territorial game.  Up and down the tree they scampered.  First one and then the other.  Round and round they went. Over the truck and across many branches with real vitality and speed.  An exuberant, lively expression in an otherwise frozen landscape.

And, at the highest point of my fascination, when they were running without constraint — “everything possible” seemed real.  Conventional limits were irrelevant.  “Everything possible” was the un-containable outreaching of  life’s energy simply trying to satisfy itself.

Everything possible.

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…creative imagination as turning importance on and off…

The lessons of living and dying are intertwined.  The pursuit of wisdom … entails the practice of dying: … let go of issues,… possessions, …illusions, …regrets.
— Tom Owen-Towle

I don’t know about you — but for me — my interests (and pre-occupations) go on and off — for no apparent reason.  Important now, unimportant later.  In play now, off the grid later.  Total concentration followed by total disinterest.

It’s really quite bizarre.  I don’t mean to imply that none of my pre-occupations are consistently important (or unimportant) …. only that, if I chose to notice …  many things capture my imagination for a time and then flame out … all at once.  Poofft!  That singular spark of importance which I give to a topic, image, relationship, or thought … just disappears.

“Hey?…  What was that about?” I wonder.

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