Have you noticed the number of work-out, cooking, and various other demonstration videos out there? It's as if, because we are on lockdown, the last thing we want to do is be still and contemplate our thoughts. There seems to be a fear of the quiet, the solitude, or rather the fear of what that quiet and solitude might evoke out of us. Hence, the mountain of content available on social media to distract us from ourselves. Julia Cameron, who some have described as a "founding mother" of the self-help genre told The Sunday Times, “It feels like this is a good time for people to find their inner life. People are more connected to intuition. A silver lining of corona is people slowing down and being contemplative” That is the hope. The action to achieve a sense of self-reflection isn't easy but definitely worth it. Cameron wrote the book The Artist's Way some 28 years ago with the intention for us to get into our head in order to get out of it. That is, in order to feel a sense of purpose and flow in our lives we need to do the things that help us figure out and identify those voices and patterns that are hindering our growth. Finding what motivates us often comes in those quiet moments, if we allow ourselves to be quiet that is. Sometimes though, it is a chance meeting where we feel something shift within us and clears our path toward what we believe is our truth. Jay Shetty, motivational speaker and author, has built an empire on the premise that our purpose finds us, if we are open to allowing it to reveal itself. In a profile of Shetty in Success magazine's The Power of Purpose issue, the article describe's Shetty's mission as helping people, "create space for their purposes to reveal themselves, and then to pursue them relentlessly with the goal of building fulfilling and meaningful lives." And for Shetty, it all began with a chance meeting with a monk. I guess deep down inside we are all searching for a meaningful life. What we are prepared to do about it is a completely different thing. For John Urschel, former lineman in the NFL it was having to decide between two successful careers and which one would ultimately bring him the most fulfillment. See, Urschel had a passion and a gift for mathematics but his "dharma" (as Jay Shetty would describe it or his "calling") led him to play football for the Baltimore Ravens. But it was in mathematics that Urschel found his zen. His father wrote a particularly poignant message that would describe the beauty of mathematics saying, "To live a happy life, one has to be able to see the beauty that is around us. That sounds easy, but it is surprisingly difficult to do. It requires mental training. Studying mathematics is an ideal form of mental training. Mathematics strips away the dirt of the world to leave the beauty and purity of mathematical reasoning."
Urschel would eventually make the decision to leave the NFL in favour of pursing his PhD at MIT. Perhaps how he describes MIT says it all telling Sports Illustrated, “I love being here. I love every day I’m here. The happiest I’ve ever been in my life is when I’m at MIT. Ever in my life. EVER in my life! Happiest ever.” He would describe to SI the journey, the angst, and ultimately the decision that would change the course of his life. It also calls to mind Jay Shetty's belief that we have many callings in this life and that knowledge takes the pressure off of us having to find "the one." Perhaps that is what Clare Waight-Keller is doing during this global time of quiet. The former Creative Director of Givenchy recently announced that her initial contract with the design house had come to an end. I met Waight-Keller many years ago when she headed up design at Pringle, just before she left for Chloé, and what struck me then was just how gentle and genuine she was. Despite the stresses of a demanding and judgemental industry, Waight-Keller maintained a humanity about her. It was what helped Meghan Markle to decide who would design her wedding dress that would be seen around the world.
While we don't know what Waight-Keller will do next she did leave a message on her Instagram that was truly reflective of that person I met briefly. She said, “Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art.” I think what helps Waight-Keller is her grounding and the place where she feels grounded, her home in Cornwall. It is the place where she detaches from the hectic life of being a creative director and it is the place where she finds the space she needs to regenerate or, come back to herself. Nature can do that for us. Nature, as I have often written, helps us quiet our minds. It helps us find a peaceful way to think, if that's what we choose to do. It helps us feel less afraid of those thoughts. I hope you enjoy these articles. I hope what you find here will add value to your thoughts rather than add to your distractions. And if not, well, I'm sure there is an app for that.