Through the lens of value #37: “Defining what you do without pigeonholing yourself.”
By Jacob Sapon, CC Apprentice & Tour Manager, March 2017
What is the Compassionate Creativity? What is the Compassionate Creativity Tour?
This journey, like all journeys, will require some tolerance for uncertainty.
In one day’s time, Kali Quinn and myself will set out on a 10,000 mile journey around the United States, moving from Providence to Buffalo by way of California. We will stop at potlucks and gatherings hosted by our family, friends, and colleagues. We will read stories from Kali’s book, “I Am Compassionate Creativity,” play fiddle and guitar, and interview each of our hosts about what compassion and creativity mean to their lives. Perhaps most importantly, we will follow of a set of 111 values—one each day of our journey—and attempt to figure out for ourselves what it means both to use these values to mold our daily experience and to communicate these values to others as we travel.
Why? To what end? In order to accomplish… what, exactly?
I often found myself answering these sorts of questions this past week from friends, mentors, and colleagues, and, to my surprise, I rarely gave the same answer twice. My heart and gut led me to embark on this journey, and my head is still searching for words to articulate what inspires me. My intellectual self, encouraged by the curiosity of my friends, now seeks to clarify and to articulate our purpose.
And yet, our project from the beginning has been about learning to live and breathe more easily in the nebulous space of ambiguity, where things don’t fully make sense quite yet, and we don’t entirely know exactly what will happen. This mental space is full of potential, opportunity, limitless dreams, and yes, sometimes fear and doubt. Our project has been about learning to trust the people and the process, trusting that if we can be both compassionate and relentlessly curious, something powerful and beautiful will arise.
Our society values numbers and cold hard facts, and well-defined terms. We test our students relentlessly, emphasizing linear thinking and quantitative skills. These skills are essential to functioning in today’s society. Yet I wonder if by not also teaching the ability to swim comfortably in uncertainty, and to focus on process rather than results, that something essential is lost.
On the other hand, naming is a powerful action. It’s a way to move concepts from the world of thought into speech, and ultimately from speech into reality. Naming is part of the uniquely human process of storytelling, which we use to build meaning around the disparate events that make up our lives.
Both of these modes of relating to the world—living comfortably in uncertainty versus seeking to articulate, define and plan—have their times and places. Ideally, we could freely toggle back and forth between both. As our journey evolves, so will our definitions.
And so it is with humility and respect for the namers that came before me – Kali Quinn, Jeff Matteis, the members of the previous 111 projects, and more – that I now playfully articulate 11 different possibilities of what The Center for Compassionate Creativity both is and is becoming:
- Compassionate Creativity is a philosophy that values both individual and community—encouraging us to know ourselves and love each other.
- Compassionate Creativity is a set of spiritual and artistic daily practices that work to develop our creativity and hone our compassion
- Compassionate Creativity is a set of ethics
- Compassionate Creativity is a method of guided introspection
- Compassionate Creativity is an experiment in the use of art as a means to bring people together
- Compassionate Creativity is a collection of stories used for inspiration and healing
- Compassionate Creativity is a practice of micropolitics that strives towards a world where each and every person views every other human being as part of the same global family– where every stranger is treated as a brother or sister, father or mother, aunt or uncle.
- Compassionate Creativity is a journalistic exploration into how people relate to Compassion and Creativity around the country
- Compassionate Creativity is a means of honoring both our joy and our grief through music, storytelling, art and community
- Compassionate Creativity is a worldwide community of shared values
- Compassionate Creativity is a shared vocabulary of words and ideas that illuminate and allow us to connect our spiritual, mental and emotional experiences…
Which of these definitions resonates with you the most, and why? What other definitions or incarnations of Compassionate Creativity can you envision?
When are you more comfortable naming or defining your self, goals, and relationships, and when are you more comfortable with leaving things ambiguous and undefined?