Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who cares?

Here's the conundrum: I am absolutely free to make myself up, yet I am entirely dependent on a world that is totally made up already. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It is just how things are. Furthermore, as I act on my freedom and make myself up, I add to the whole mess. My way of life can't help but show up in the world. I generate physical and social artifacts that contribute to the enormous clutter.

What about this assessment? The world is a mess, an enormous clutter. Does that strike you as true? Think of cities, industrial sites, railroad corridors, that closet, drawer, garage or basement somewhere in your life. Messes are everywhere and the world includes every single one of them.

Certainly the world also teems with innumerable pockets of meaning, organization, and order. But there is no continuous thread that runs through them all. All of them are nested in the wider world. And so are we all.

I call this situation "structural" because it sets the conditions that prevail whenever and however we make ourselves up. Messes are incongruencies where things don't match up, things are out of place, or broken. They can be picked up, sorted, re-ordered, hidden away, repaired or ignored.

We make our way in this kind of world, but usually the chaos recedes from view in order that we can attend to particular pockets of meaning (jobs, health, family, tending to our stuff). When our caring engages our attention within one or more pockets of significance, our lives inflate with that significance. We have a purpose.

Purpose is rooted in ambivalence. The structure wherein we make ourselves up is the mess of the world. The world has already been made as both definite and as yet undefined. Neither aspect is under our control. The dynamic tension between our freedom and the brute factuality of the world comprises who we are. So how are we?

The dismal and delightful game is ours for the stretch of time we each endure, our lifetime. Our roles are self-selected within the factical circumstances of our inividual perspectives. Win-lose games don't ultimately add up to much. Yet the game of building significance has neither victors nor victims when it is grounded in the tension and not aimed at eliminating it.

Creativity research supports the game of building significance. Though not the easiest or simplest game to play, this game reliably provides the means to manifest easy motion, not as a product of play but in and through the process of play, of being who one is.


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