Do Your Work And Then, Step Back

A while ago, I spent a few months travelling across the USA and one of my favourite places was the rather laidback city of Portland, Oregon. There is a thriving food, art, music and craft beer scene and it’s also renowned for its slightly hippyness. What’s not to like?

Maybe I could sense something in the air, but it was while wandering around this wonderful city that I started thinking about the words ‘Do your work and then step back’ by Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism.

From my point of view, everything gets done and works well in Portland but there seems to be this wonderful consciousness there that whatever you are doing, your intention is to do it well even if it takes a little longer and this includes everything from working on one of the infamous (and rather fabulous) food trucks to making coffee which is practically an art form there.

Yes of course, there are the overly pretentious, hipster places as depicted in TV comedy Portlandia, but it’s even the ‘regular Joe’ coffee shops where there is a sense of pride in everyday work. Community is very important there and after only a few days you really notice it. Portland has a downtown/centre, but the heart of the city is not there, but in the thriving centre of each local neighbourhood.

One of the barmen I met there said one night: ‘The slower you chill the ice, the fewer bubbles you get and you have clear ice’
or as I interpreted it:
‘The more slowly and mindfully you live your life, the fewer obstacles there are and so, the clearer things become.’

Being in Portland reminded me of the benefits of being more conscious and mindful of things you do each day, however small they may seem. It doesn’t have to take time, just a momentary awareness and focus on what you’re doing. A kind of mindful meditation I guess.

It was lovely hanging out in Portland and I can see why people want to live there. It’s a quietly inspirational place which encourages you to do your own thing in your own way whatever that may be. Again, what’s not to like?

More Beautiful For Having Been Broken

I was recently reading about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery. Other than being aesthetically pleasing and delicately minimal, what caught my eye about it is the underlying motivation behind it in that gold or silver lacquer is used in the repair process in the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

So, what would happen if we were to see ourselves and each other as being more beautiful for having come out the other side after having been broken?