Not if but how


Sometimes it seems banal and sometimes not, but good to keep in mind in either case…

Whenever I encounter a story, asking how it is true seems more helpful than if. Asking if is an attempt to measure a story against another, and none of them have more than limited validity in the first place. But when I ask how the story becomes a question and a pointer and starting point for inquiry. 

When I ask how, I can explore how it is true in a conventional and limited sense, how it can be a useful guideline in certain situations, and when it may be helpful and when it may be less helpful. I can also explore the truth of it as a projection, and in other ways. 

Asking how, there is more receptivity, an opportunity to explore, and – not least – it is more fun and interesting.

The Universe Story: Yes, And…, and also Who & What


I was reminded of this part of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series yesterday, after Michael Dowd‘s talk.

And we, we who embody the local eyes, and ears, and thoughts, and feelings of the cosmos — we’ve begun at last to wonder about our origins. Star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of 10 billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter — tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth and, perhaps, throughout the cosmos.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

This made a huge impact on me when I saw the series as a kid, and it was a seed of a deep shift in my orientation to life.

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Yes, And…


I have enjoyed following the Improv Everywhere missions since I first heard about them on This American Life a few years back.

What I especially enjoy is their aim of shaking people out of their everyday routines in a way that is enjoyable for everyone (unless someone is set on not enjoying it), and also their long form improvisation guideline of Yes, And.

Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as “Yes, And…” and is considered the cornerstone of improvisational technique. Every new piece of information added helps the actors to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene.

This is not a bad guideline for life in general.

Life throws something at us, and we can respond with a Yes, And… We say yes to it, and then add our own, advancing the story from a place of Yes, And. The Yes is an invitation to allow it, and even find peace with and appreciation for whatever is happening. And the And is an invitation for us to bring it something else to it, to take it further.

Or we talk with someone, they say something that has a grain of truth in it, which just about anything has, so we can acknowledge that grain of truth, and add another perspective. The Yes is an invitation to find the truth in their perspective, and the And is an invitation for us to bring something new to it.

The Yes is a wholehearted Yes to whatever is happening, an invitation for receptivity and appreciation. The And an invitation to actively add something to it, bring something new to it, advance the story in a way that may be interesting, entertaining, beautiful and touching.

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