|I promised a minimalism post 6 months ago so here are some thoughts I’ve accumulated since then.
I attended the Graphic Design Advisory Committee meeting today at Holland College. The instructor April and I had the following conversation, not really related to design but definitely related to marketing.
“Is that an iWatch you are wearing?”
“No it’s a Fitbit.”
“It tracks my 10,000 steps a day and if I’m short for the week, I’m jogging in place in my living room at the end of a day to reach my goal!”
“Isn’t that deliberate insanity?”
It’s as though the marketing of this Fitbit era smacked me in the face and I was repelled in the opposite direction with such clarity.
“I’m going to invent the Zenbit. You basically sit there and do nothing and stare at it. It doesn’t track your performance. It doesn’t have any goals to measure. It reminds you to do nothing.”
If I have a New Year’s resolution this year, it’s to do less. That’s it. Less not more. Well and maybe market the Zenbit. I kid, I kid.
Just today a friend sent me an email about Wu wei.
Wu wei means – in Chinese – non-doing or ‘doing nothing’. It sounds like a pleasant invitation to relax or worse, fall into laziness or apathy. Yet this concept is key to the noblest kind of action according to the philosophy of Daoism – and is at the heart of what it means to follow Dao or The Way. According to the central text of Daoism, theDao De Jing: ‘The Way never acts yet nothing is left undone’. This is the paradox of wu wei. It doesn’t meant not acting, it means ‘effortless action’ or ‘actionless action’. It means being at peace while engaged in the most frenetic tasks so that one can carry these out with maximum skill and efficiency…
Wu wei involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things; it invites us instead to respond to the true demands of situations, which tend only to be noticed when we put our own ego-driven plans aside. What can follow is a loss of self-consciousness, a new unity between the self and its environment, which releases an energy that is normally held back by an overly aggressive, wilful style of thinking.
This strikes a chord with me these days because of my Anat Baniel Method training. As practitioners we don’t override or take over movement for someone, instead we often go for a ride, or wait, inviting movement until the student figures out a way to do something with what you are calling upon their nervous system. Waiting and waiting sometimes, allowing them time to process it. They are acting and we can then invite more movement or help them to perceive a difference when there was no movement. If I were to take over and move them there is no learning on their part. The key part of the relationship is waiting for them to make sense of things. To create order from the disorder.
Sandy the other design instructor touched on this too in regards to teaching design "You can't teach creativity to a student, but you can guide them and direct it."
How can I help someone slow down long enough to figure things out if I don’t myself? I truly believe there will be a place for me to help others do less and learn about themselves more with this technology connected, over achieving, multi-tasking, goal oriented, competitive culture we live in. That is not to say I don’t have goals or embrace technology. I know that I tire of technology. I know that there is happiness to be found looking inwards not outwards. I know that I have goals but they are flexible goals…I certainly won’t break if they aren’t attained. I certainly won’t ignore my instinct to rest when by body is telling me to do so, but my device is telling me that I haven’t reached a goal that truly won’t matter at the end of the day, or the week or your life.
It’s familiar in Karate too. We never attack first. We take the opponent’s energy and redirect it. The first move is a block never a strike.
It’s certainly in line with my minimalist approach of wanting less and being content with what you have. I can find peace in this direction as I sure haven’t found it being busy, searching high and low for what’s missing.