growing down

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Mostly we go through life growing up.

We get older. We learn from experience. We generally therefore get wiser. We get more aware, more tolerant, more reasoned.  We have knowledge, wisdom and experience on our side. So we can make better decisions, better choices. We can be balanced, measured, sage.

Maybe?

A A Milne’s book “Now we are six” is a wonderful collection of children’s poems that ends with this verse…

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever

A child’s logic. A child’s wisdom.

The problem is we don’t stay six, now and forever. We become, seven, fifteen, twenty six, fifty one, seventy three. At each stage of ‘growing’ we take on more rigidity, more stuckness, more ‘one way’ thinking. Life experience actually binds us. We learn rules, habits, behaviours, beliefs which constrain our potential.

Take a challenge you face today. Maybe it’s about money, time, work, relationships?

How would a six year old face this? What creative, unbounded, imaginative solutions come from the naive, inexperienced, free mind of a child?

Anything is possible. Maybe adults should start growing down? Going back to the free, unencumbered wisdom of childhood.

Maybe we all need to stay six forever?

 

the question is…

Steve Chapman - Can Scorpions Smoke?

A friend of mine has created a brand around the question “Can scorpions smoke?”. Steve Chapman is a creative genius who helps people think differently and explore the world with new eyes. His website is here, take a look.

His book of that name was on my desk today and the title kept catching my eye.  I wondered how silly a question can get?

Can pigeons whisper?
Can the sky tickle me?
What if wind is sucking not blowing?
Can bananas plot?
What if my eyes were on my toes?
Can water drown?
Can an itch be drawn?
Does anger like peanut butter?

Children have this wonder. As adults we lose it. Ironically education, society, organisation drive it out of us.

Yet our ability to face the world wearing a coat of possibility allows us to weather many storms. Breaking with convention, with patterned thinking, is a source of joy and creativity and possibility.

Just thinking about those few questions brought a smile to my face.  Thanks Steve.

 

constrained by knowing

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If I asked you to draw a picture. A picture which portrayed the act of making tea. The intent being to communicate the process. What would you draw?

You might depict a kettle boiling. You might draw a teapot. Water pouring into the teapot. You might sketch a teabag or you might show a tea strainer. Maybe a cup and saucer, or a mug. You might have a jug of milk, or a bowl of sugar. Maybe even a biscuit being dunked?

But would you draw tea plants being dunked in hot bubbling geysers? Would you show a cocktail shaker being vigorously oscillated with its tea and water contents?  Would the teabag be shaped like a rubber ring stretched over the cup so that the water could pour through, into the cup? Probably not.

Now it might well be that the tea making process has been honed. Improved beyond improvement. Maybe the teabag or the teapot and strainer are supremely efficient and effective. Maybe putting the tea into the water is the most practical method, rather than pouring the water slowly through the tea? But we probably thought we had it all worked out, for many centuries before the teabag was invented. Now we have at least three shapes of bag in the world.

Day to day, in everyday ways, we are constrained in our thinking by our knowledge. By historical experience. By custom. It makes us lazy. Deprives us of imagination and true creativity. Diminishes our ability to think divergently. It denies us new choice.

What are you doing right now, which you simply take for granted?

It is the way it has always been.

Instead, learn to unlearn. Learn to experiment. Especially in the way you live. The way you come to the world. The way you are.

Try breaking away from the constraints of what you know.

Maybe not knowing, will grant you a new freedom?