tales from urban dilettantia

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Theme Post: 2017

A new year sees the end of one theme, and the beginning of another.

In 2016, I chose ‘Share’.  I’ve reflected on it over the past few weeks, and worried that I’d chosen a ‘soft’ theme – one that simply involved ticking some boxes.  I shrugged off the things that I’d managed to share, and instead made a  list of the things I’d failed to share.  And when I communicated this to others, they pointed out that I was stuck in my usual routine of magnifying the bad and diminishing the good. 

Here’s a picture of some of my thoughts on ‘Share’, and my first forays into 2017’s theme, ‘Control’:

A picture of 'Share' (2016) and 'Control' (2017).
 

Control’ scares me.  It’s a theme I’ve been avoiding for years, skirting around the edges of it and looking away.  But I’m coming to admit that I believe that, without maintaining tight control over everyone and everything, I’m nothing.  That everything will come falling down.

This is a profoundly unhealthy way of being.  It ignores both reality, and the sovereignty of others.  And it’s something I think I need to tear down – not something that can be chipped away at gently.  Hence, ‘Control’ scares me, because I’m obsessed with it, and can’t yet envision what life would look like in the absence of that obsession.

Here’s another picture I made about it, after a bit more thought and some more conversations:

 

A picture of 'Control' (2017).
 

I think there will be more pictures, and there will certainly be more reading.  I’m not sure where this will all lead, but I hope it is somewhere better than I am now.

Sharing-Share

As promised in last month’s post, here is the mindmap for my 2016 theme, ‘Share’, along with a couple of mini maps about things that block or enable sharing.

They’re all dodgy phone photos, because the perfect is the enemy of the good, and because holding off until I manage to post beautifully scanned, cleaned-up versions in late 2023 won’t achieve much.

 

2016 'Share' Map

2016 ‘Share’ Map

 

Four central questions, or bundles of questions, popped up while I was working on the map.  I don’t have answers for any of them now, but I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be closer:

  1. How to manage overcommitting? How to say no? What not to share? Boundaries?
  2. But who wants to hear?
  3. What does sustainable sharing look like?
  4. Why does this scare me so much?

 

Share Enablers

Share Enablers

 

Share Blocks

Share Blocks

 

2016: Share

Before I die I want to...

Once a year, every year, I choose a theme.

It’s usually no more than a word. A guiding thought for the year to come. A subject of inquiry. A standing piece of advice for life’s decisions, big or small. Once, it was ‘sovereignty’, once ’hearth’, once ’capability’. I think once it may have been ‘balance’, and once ‘the small’, but my record-keeping is somewhat lacking.

So, once a year, every year, I choose a theme. But ‘choose’ isn’t quite the right word. It implies a range of possibilities, when in fact it is a matter of a single idea, bubbling to the surface. Almost always, it emerges when Ju and I meet to discuss the year just gone, and the one to come.

This year, somewhat to my surprise, my theme is ‘share’. I am surprised because it seems more outward-looking, more engaged with other people, and more open than any introvert-who-just-wants-to-be-left-alone could be. Consequently, I have found myself stubbornly pushing back against the idea.

Sharing time? I don’t have time!

Sharing energy? I don’t have energy!

Sharing stories, experiences, food, friendship, space? Did you hear what I said about time and energy?

Evidence that I have found a fitting theme.

As usual, perfectionism – ever my companion – intervenes. It appears self-evident that I need to conduct this inquiry on a grand scale, at no cost to all the other things I do. That somehow (if I’m a better person, a kinder person, a healthier and stronger and more organised person) time and energy will rain from the heavens and all will be well.

This is – self-evidently – ludicrous. I have learned and forgotten and learned again that the only way I do things well is incrementally, in tiny, successful steps. (I recorded this knowledge many years ago on The Map of Win which hangs in my hall, but I still forget and re-learn.)

And so, some tiny sharing possibilities.

Write here again – just a little. Nothing epic, nothing grand.

Help organise Cary’s open-house breakfasts at The Workhouse (instead of just showing up at best).

Process and upload just a handful of a three-year backlog of photos to my Flickr.

Give a tiny gift.

Make a date to appreciate a friend’s new house.

I will – as usual – make a mind-map soon to explore the idea of sharing more broadly and deeply. And this year, I will share it here.

 

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About

@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.