The Transformative Power of Beauty

I was not having a good time tonight.  Technichal and logistical problems were driving me nuts.  In fact, I’m at my parents house right now, and I walked in to my moms room to ask her how easy it was to get on the roof, because I wanted to jump off of it.  (before anyone freeks out, I was kidding.)

SCaution: Magician Ahead!

She was watching America’s Got Tallent on TV, and it just happened that a magician by the name of Landon Swank was up to perform in what I think is the semifinal episode. 

I love magic, and I’m talking about stage magic here – the art of illusion. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, so I had to stop and watch him perform.  It was so elegant, so beautiful.  He was in this stage set of a living room, and I was thinking about all the things he could have hidden in it.  All the tricks he could do with it.  But rather then the all too common trick-a-second, blink and you’ve missed it kind of magic that is so often done today, he took a different aproach – doing a slow, gentile, almost meditative sequence of effects in a story progression.

I’m not going to try to describe it, I’m sure it’ll be on his page on the official site:
and if not, I’m sure it’ll be on youtube.

It was beautiful – it wasn’t trying to say or do anything, other then “here’s a bit of wonder I want to share with you.”


As I walked out of the room after the segment ended, I noticed that I fealt totally different.  I wasn’t exausted and overwehelmed any more, I fealt comfortable, and ready move forward, and that, my friends, is the power of beauty.

Have you ever had an experiece like this?  what does it for you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Is an “adult” what I want to be?

I had a major realization today. I realized that since I was a small child, all I’ve wanted to be is an adult. I had very little interest in most of the things that “children” did: sports, playing with other children my age and so forth. I always felt like I related better to the adults around me than to those who were supposed to be my peers. I never really felt they were my peers. As a second grader, I didn’t want to learn soccer, I learned computer programming.

Being Adult
Creative Commons License photo credit: young_einstein

Some aspects of this have been a wonderful gift to me throughout my life, I’ve developed my technical and creative skills, and had the opportunity to do some really wonderful things at a remarkably young age.

But this is all familiar territory for me, today was something new.

Today I realized that maybe being a “responsible adult” was not really what I wanted. It had never occurred to me to consider any other possibility, and even as I write these words my monsters (to use Havi’s term) are going crazy yelling at me: “how could you want to be anything but a responsible adult, what else is there that it would be reasonable to be?”

Today I unpacked the meaning of the words “responsible adult” to me.

I came to understand something really powerful in the process of doing this. I realized that in my mind “responsible adult” was nothing more than societal programming, the set of rules that I absorbed unconsciously from the time I was a tiny baby I’m watching the people around me and drawing conclusions about the rules that they operated by based on what I saw. One of the things that’s interesting to note, is that at the time that I was receiving this programming unknowingly I was not in a position to really understand or analyze what was happening. My two or three or four-year-old brain didn’t understand why people were doing what they did, and some of the conclusions it came to are really not useful to me.

For instance:

Urgency should be the key driver of my decision-making. If the phone rings, it needs to be answered immediately. If an e-mail comes in, it needs to be responded to immediately. If someone needs something from me it’s my responsibility to deliver it instantaneously regardless of what else is going on. This is not useful, at least not to me.

Another example:

The only way to be even remotely okay is to be perfect. Less-than-perfect is completely unacceptable. Once again, this is something which is so limiting since perfection, in the sense I’m referring to it here, is not something that I can ever reasonably expect to reach.

Here’s one that really hit home:

When I’m not able to do something easily and naturally, it means that I’m bad, I’m not good enough. Not only should I be doing things easily and naturally, I should be doing them in a way which is unique, but not too different from how other people do them, because that’s not okay either.

All of a sudden I started to understand why I felt painted into a corner so much of the time.

So what now?

Think the most important thing is to recognize that these things which have been part of my worldview till now don’t have to stay a part of my worldview. I find it hard to put into words, but just identifying and articulating is already changing them even as I write this post.

I’ve also become aware, that it would be helpful to encourage myself to be willing to do things in a more childlike way, at least some of the time. This is something I’ve known before, even something I’ve taught when I’ve worked with other people, but I’ve never really given myself permission to do it myself.

Wow, that feels really big. I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Come play with me?

This is big stuff, when we talk about programming, and change work, and particularly our own internal process, it often brings up things both for ourselves and other people. If my processing my stuff has triggered you in a way that’s uncomfortable, I’m truly sorry and that is not my intention. This is also not advice, sometimes I do give advice here–talking about how to integrate storytelling into life and business, or maybe about how to make technical things work better, for example–but this is not advice. This is nothing more, and nothing less than me sharing my process.

I would love to hear your responses, or any parts of your process you want to share that were sparked by this in the comments below. So come play with me.