What Marie Kondo Means by Spark Joy

I finished reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

Well, actually I finished reading it last year, and now, everytime I walk into my closet, I say, “Tomorrow, I’m gonna start!” That’s been going on for a few months.

But today I’ve really started! I’ve just finished filling two garbage bags. But now I’m becoming just a little hesitant, losing a little confidence. A lot of things are easy: Jeans, socks, and sweaters with holes.

Some things caused me to hesitate: There was a long sleeve, rugged, thick shirt perfect for cold days. In fine condition. I paused. But the fact is, it doesn’t bring me any joy. It’s not my color. It’s not embarrassing to wear, but it is a little on the “kids” side of things, if you know what I mean. The style isn’t very adult. So I held it, thanked it for its years of service, and into the trash bag it went. It’ll keep someone else warm this winter. Or the next.

But I’m still hesitating. After two bags, I wondered if there would be anything left in my closet to wear! I wondered if I should go up to Barnes & Noble and buy her latest book “Spark Joy” to get back in the spirit of things. Even though I hate to lose my momentum, I remember that when I was engrossed in her book, one day something clicked in my mind, I and understood it in my soul. (I’m holding her book now and its radiating great energy!)

I also did a little googling. The first thing that came up was this LA Times Article. I think it provides a good summary. I’m going to quote one thing that they actually quoted from her book:

“[Hold the item] firmly in both hands as if communing with it. Pay close attention to how your body responds…. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill,” Kondo says. Conversely, something that doesn’t elicit joy creates a sensation of heaviness. – Bonnie McCarthy, The Los Angeles Times Home

When I was thinking of going to Barnes and then decided maybe to get the Kindle version, I read some reviews. One guy’s review had some good things in it that I will quote:

In a nutshell, the konmari method involves getting rid of anything in your life that doesn’t spark joy. Starting with clothes, you go through each item and decide what stays or goes based on whether or not it sparks joy when you hold it. Joy is the only criterion: ‘If it makes you happy, then the right choice is to keep it confidently, regardless of what anyone else says.’ – Moi Surtout – from Amazon Review for “Spark Joy

See, just doing this is starting to get me back into the spirit. Clothes are interesting, and definitely the best place to start. Does this bring me joy to wear this? Does this make me feel good to wear this? Most of the time with clothes, at least, it has to do with their age. They’re faded, out-dated, or have holes. They’ve lost that “luster.” But that value isn’t always the criterion: I remember a very special T-Shirt that Marie described in her book. It was old. It was maybe considered childish by others. But she loved it, and still loves it. She loves to wear it when she’s at home relaxing alone. It’s one of her favorite things: So she keeps it. I have a similar relationship with a blue Adidas sweat suit: Thing must be almost 20 years old, but no other sweat suit has ever fit me so perfect and felt so good exercising in. I love it. I totally love it!

Try to get the voices of other people out of your head, when you are deciding whether to throw something out. And ask yourself, “Does this make me happy? Does this give me joy to have in my life?”

The answer will be spontaneous.

The Cure for Fear is Following Your Bliss

“I’ve said in the ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’ that if you go on your own proper voyage, there will be protection, magical aid to come to protect you. If it’s not your proper voyage, that will be missing, and you’ll be in trouble. But if it’s the voyage of your own spirit and soul and destiny, don’t be afraid. There will come assistance.”

– Joseph Campbell, Collected Works, Audio Series II, Volume II – Perspectives on Creative Mythology, II.2.2 ‘Hermes, Alchemy, and The Voyage of Ulysses,’ The Adventure of Circe (1:43)

Twitter Should Take Some Notes from Peach

I think Twitter should take notes: Instead of thinking how to make it easier to use, think of how to make Twitter more Fun, Creative, and Useful alà Peach and Google Now. Twitter feels stale, like it has hardly innovated since 2006, and it feels like its catering to brands and celebrities instead of the user. I wouldn’t accuse Google of having Social and Fun in their DNA, but one does feel like they are constantly innovating, in the name of the user, trying to make themselves more useful. Peach also has a personal, interested in the user first, mentality. They’re coming at if from the fun, creative side, but there are seeds of service popping up like the “move” and “song” magic buttons. I’m having fun in Peach, which keeps me in there, and going back more often, and in this attention economy, that quality is hard to overestimate. Twitter should be thinking in terms of pushing into “personal digital assistant” in as much as being a public message bus.

How to Find Your Purpose Part 2: Becoming and Worthiness

And I realized that when you set yourself on a path to really follow your heart’s desires, the dreams that you were born with, the dreams that are deepest in your genotype tend to find you or you find them. – Martha Beck

 

“The key is you’ve gotta do what speaks to your soul, what puts you into a ‘peak’ state.” – Carl Harvey – The Big Life Show

Becoming and Worthiness

I’ve had a revelation or realization just now while I was working on a song. It envolves two ideas: 1. Becoming 2. Worthiness. And the two ideas are interconnected. First, let’s talk about the process of “Becoming.” I’ve heard Joseph Campbell as well as Buddhist literature refer to this word. Joseph Campbell calls it the “burning point.”

Here’s the central thesis: Whatever field or endeavor you choose to be engaged in, are you comfortable being there, happy being inside of it, inside this world or activity, even when things aren’t going right or well? Because you love the process so much, in and of itself, that you actually look forward to the challenge of problems that are inherent in this field of activity?

If so, that’s a big sign that this is your calling or purpose in life.

Also you know that just being in the process will spontaneously produce unexpected upside results. For instance working on this song the last couple of days, there have been times when it felt great and other times that it didn’t feel like it was good, and its still not finished, but I know that staying with the process through the up and down feeling is when the unexpectedly great lyric seems to come out of nowhere, or my voice unexpectedly achieves notes, depths, and vibrato that I didn’t know I was capable of, until it happens.

So, its the doing of something that is the best teacher of how to do it.

That leads me to the second idea of “Worthiness.” So often I stopped with a creative idea, whether it be in writing or music, because it didn’t seem to be going well. This lead to a feeling of “unworthiness” to continue.

But if its something that’s really your calling or “why you are here,” then the Ego falls away and you lose your discouragement because you know that you are doing your best and that you are just as “Worthy” as anyone to be engaged in this endeavor.

The word “talent” is meaningless and a totally misleading idea. People who are successful in any field get good at what they do by doing it, and doing it, and doing it. Not by starting out by knowing how to do it.

And therein lies another key: Pleasure. Take any activity that could become a career, no matter where your results lie on a scale say, between 1 and 10, if you get pleasure out of the activity itself, then you’re going to engage in the activity long enough to where your results improve and keep improving.

You’ll become so good that you can make a career out of this activity, and you would be inside your “bliss station” all the time as well.

You have all the patience in the world to stick with it because deep inside you don’t want to leave this field. So you lose your anxiety about things being “not quite right” about a piece you are working on. The challenge actually thrills you.
Because you get to keep playing in the field.

And that’s where the adventure begins.

You’re not worried about accomplishment: That’s an Ego identification.

When you’ve found your bliss, the ego drops away, and its all and only about being inside this certain field.

How To Find Your Purpose In Life

Update (Later the Same Day): You here this phrase all the time: "Why have I been put on this earth?" Part of our brain laughs it off as a joke, and another part resonates with it. That's because half the day we are pummelled with messages of our insignificance, as if to trance us into being "cogs in the wheel," and the other half of the day, the delicate but real song of our soul whispers to us quietly, "You are the one. You have all the answers." Is it any wonder we are schizo? But seriously, this phrase comes up so often, you have to believe it is an archetype of the unconscious. The Super-Ego always wins in conversation by turning it into a joke, so even when it stirs the soul at cocktail parties, its seriousness quickly dissolves by Monday morning. Still, its mere existence has profound implications for the existence and drive behind this article/blogpost.

“Life is a game of either your getting warmer or your getting cooler, and everything in your body and in your emotions responds with relaxation when you head towards something that’s right for you. That’s ‘warmer.’ All you have to do to find your purpose is keep moving toward warmer and away from cooler.”Martha Beck

 

     My favorite book is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Joseph Campbell is my favorite person too. I think I first read it in about 2002, and it just blew my mind. One of the most important sections describes that a Hero “answers the call to adventure.” That’s probably the most important action the Hero takes, in fact what makes him a hero in the first place. Unfortunately, “The Hero” wasn’t written as a Self-Help book, so I never could translate it into my own life. For years, and still to this day, I kept asking myself, “What is my calling? What is my calling?” But I couldn’t “hear” an answer.      Sometimes it’s a matter of wording. Some time later I was listening to Deepak Chopra’s “7 Spiritual Laws of Success” and when he came to the section on finding your purpose he said, “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I here’?” I remember, I was in the shower when I heard that, and it floored me. Maybe it was just the different wording from “What is my calling” to “Why am I here?” That “Why am I here?” phrasing has a deep resonance spiritually, as if your purpose was somehow equal to that of Christ or the Buddha. For the western mind, it is exhilarating to hear it put that way, an opening in the soul happens, but its also difficult in our modern society, with its day to day demands, to sustain that emotion.      In our Western society we are much more likely to think of purpose as what should my career be? A writer, scholar, actor, musician, athlete, politician, businessman? The other day, I had a hint of what I should do. I had been allowing myself a little time in the morning and evening to do the thing I loved (In my case it was reading, specifically fairy-tales and mythology) but not during the heart of the day. During that time, I thought I had to be “practical” find something practical to do, even though it was literally was sucking the soul out of me.      Finally it struck me: Why not hang on to this thing I love all day long? Just stay with it, stay with it, don’t let anyone scare you off of it, and let it keep opening, opening, opening? To me, not only did this feel right, but it resonated with the story of Theseus escaping from the “Labyrinth.” He held on to a wax string. If he had let go of that string, even for a minute, he might have been lost forever and never escaped. So, that’s my new idea. Let me know what you think, and I’ll try to keep you updated. You know, last week I learned that the phrase “a ventura” means “by chance” in Italian. I also noticed reading fairy-tales how nothing is planned. Everything happens spontaneously, “by chance.” It struck me then that that’s why and adventure can’t happen by planning. Everyone’s adventure is unique and spontaneous and it sort of “happens” to you, develops outside of your control or planning, but the way to trigger it is to “hold on to the string” of where your soul is telling you to go. Not where your lust is telling you to go, not where your fear is telling you to go, and not where your society and social duty is telling you where to go, but where your soul is telling you to go. 

“You must let go of the life you have planned in order to accept the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell “The Kingdom of Heaven will not come through expectation, but rather the Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the Earth but men do not see it.” – Christ, “The Gospel of Thomas.”

The Symbolic Meaning of a Water Fountain

waterfountainThe water represents the energy, the ambrosia of eternity pouring into the field of time. The endless flowing, the continuous flowing, represents the eternal nature of this mystical dimension and also the infinite nature of its source. Since you can’t see the water’s source, that represents that it’s coming from the ground of being and also that it’s coming from another dimension which is invisible to our senses. On a deeper level there’s the paradox and the archetypal sense of the infinite coming from nothingness, which ironically enough is being postulated as the literal truth in the latest scientific origin stories such as the Big Bang theory.

Most fountains that you see spring from a round bowl-shaped container or vase. The inside of the bowl or pool is sacred space, a “Holy Grail” you might say, which represents the transcendence of duality or on a psychological level, the gap between our thoughts.

Water has long been seen as symbolic of the ambrosia of eternity. A fountain represents a sacred opening, gap or tunnel which is a connection to eternity itself.

In a way, a kind of mini temple, yet completely natural: a religious, mystical experience paradoxically combining both the mystical and the physical, representing a connection created by nature herself.

This is why it evokes an archetypal response of beauty in most people: The aesthetic being, at least on the symbolic level, the manifestation of a mystery.

02/09/16 Update: One element that struck me recently, especially looking at the still photograph, is the Lingam/Yoni symbolism. And there is a strong dichotomy of the Lingam, representing Shiva, coming out of the bowl/vase shaped Yoni, which is representative of the feminine aspect. But if you think about it from a Hindu perspective this makes total sense: The “Void” out of which everything comes and back into which everything goes is the Mother Goddess of the Universe. She is it. Symbolically speaking, the divine feminine represents life itself, and the Lingam, the male divine, represents the snake, who by piercing life, right through the middle, throws off death, just a snake throws off its skin.

The fact that the Lingam and Yoni are seen as together, like the Ying and Yang of Asia, as well as the water and bowl of a fountain, represents that the two are one, that the feminine and masculine are merely two different aspects of the same thing, just like the eternal and the imminent, the mysterious and the manifest, and indeed, life and death: this represents to the soul the transcendent nature of its own being.

Read this quote by Joseph Campbell

“Nevertheless-and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol-the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 217, The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Here, the “realm of the gods” is symbolized by the Yoni, the void, the bowl, the feminine. And the “world we know” is represented by the Lingam/Masculine aspect. The masculine is representative of manifestation, but that manifestation has the potentiality to come in contact with the divine, indeed become divine, if it has the energy, drive, and intent to summon itself into one direction, namely that of the spontaneity residing inside the bowl of its own heart.

Another dichotomy: Notice in the fountain and in Hindu temples, the Lingam aspect is coming out of the Yoni, not going in: That’s symbolic of a resurrection. New life (Nova Vita) in this case not coming from sexual intercourse, but from a birth of the heart.