Tuesday 11 September 2018

Winds of fortune

Take you 5 mins to read this carefully. Why not have Carl Orff's O Fortuna in the background?
I've written about luck as proactive serendipity before. my mother caught some and so did The Beloved. All those citations affirm that getting lucky is an active process. You can't win the Lotto without buying a ticket, for starters. But you have to work a little harder than push €2 across the counter in the Lotto-shop.  Sort of: you also have to work less hard; to relax and be open to The New. You surely need to get off your sofa and out and about, though. The New is not to be seen on your ceiling at home unless you've had a delivery of mushrooms.

I've long ago given up on TED which I find elitist, self-regarding and complacent . . . and Not New. Nevertheless I found myself watching Tina Seelig talking about the Winds of Luck. Never heard of her!? She won the 2009 Gordon Prize for pioneering, continually developing, and tirelessly disseminating technology entrepreneurship education at Stanford where she teaches creativity. Her metaphor is that you have to haul up some sails to catch the wind; that you have to tinker about trimming the sails to go better forward; and when sailing you can't be super rigid about the destination.

In her TED talk Seelig told the story of getting What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 published. It was a long time a-coming and could have been dropped at any of several stages but for a timely push from La Fortuna and being in the right place to accept the shove. Ya gotta go the journey. Exec summary/review of WIWIKWIWXX here. Looking for a review of that best-seller I found another take on the question in Forbes by Frances Bridges who-she?  Here's another woman's right-place, right-time tale from Seelig's blog.

Seelig advice:
Planning a career should be like traveling in a foreign country. Even if you prepare carefully, have an itinerary and a place to stay at night, the most interesting experiences usually aren’t planned. You might end up meeting a fascinating person who shows you places that aren’t in the guidebook, or you might miss your train and end up spending the day exploring a small town you hadn’t planned to visit.
Blubon's comment: one of the great outcomes of my decade of research into cat population genetics is that it got me to places I would never have normally been: The AzoresBrattleboro, VT; Bilthoven; Cabo Verde. But on a different scale, even when I was at the regular stops on Grand Tour - Paris, Amsterdam, Roma, Lisboa - I wasn't at the Rijksmuseum or Notre Dame, I was fossicking around in the back-alleys of residential neighbourhhods meeting ordinary people. Ordinary, low-key, magic.

"The well-worn path is there for everyone to trample. But the interesting things often occur when you are open to taking an unexpected turn, to trying something different, and when you are willing to question the rules others have made for you. All agreed that it is easy to stay on the prescribed path, but it is often much more interesting to discover the world of surprises lurking just around the corner"
Blubon's comment: on my Camino walking away from Santiago, the most interesting people were those who cross the path at right angles. Or those who were prepared to stop and chat. Getting to Santiago is not the point; it's about shuffling towards the City of God.

Footnote: "Blubon" is a humble hat's off to Mumon (1183-1260) who wrote the commentary on The Gateless Gate a collection of Zen koans which make you not-think:
Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said: "The flag is moving."
The other said: "The wind is moving."
The sixth patriarch happened to be passing by. He told them: "Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving."
Ah So!

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