I’m writing this on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s gloomy outside, with the sound of traffic being a cacophony of rubber meeting a wet road. Beside me is a vase of flowers, papers, a stapler, and an empty cup, and under me, my dog sleeps.
Last weekend I asked somebody what their process of creating was, and we both concluded that the question is a bit ridiculous to answer, yet, I think people’s answers usually say a lot about how they experience the world.
Everything is the process!
Sure, some processes require specificity, such as flying an airplane or performing surgery — but the process I am thinking about is a bit more nuanced and general. I suppose it is the process of being a human, existing, fulfillment, purpose, and creation.
I remember when the pandemic began, and articles circulating on social media presented us with stories of historical figures that lived through pandemics and created their magnum opuses. The pressure to suddenly get our lives together was encouraging but served with a side of self-induced guilt. There was a societal pressure not only to survive the pandemic but to thrive. And comparing ourselves to those that appeared to be thriving certainly did more harm than good.
In 1665, in England, the first death from the Bubonic Plague was documented. Like the COVID19 pandemic, people were told to quarantine and practice social distancing. During this time, Issac Newton, the mathematician, and scientist, changed the trajectory of physics and transformed humanity’s knowledge of the world.
But for Newton, these discoveries didn’t just come out of thin air; they were the result of years of a rigorous process that provided him with the awareness to experience those epiphanies which the pandemic helped induce. It was because of his process that he arrived at his discoveries.
In Buddhism, there’s a teaching about non-duality, which means there’s no such thing as this and that. Duality often leads to division and conflict (look at the world). If our approach to the process is thought of as something that only happens if and when, we create large walls around us that separate us from the rest of the world, and we believe that somehow we are victims or deficient in something.
Non-duality runs parallel to the teaching of interdependence, which means that everything depends on each other.
I can type on my computer because I have electricity. I have electricity because there are engineers that make it possible to power my home, and those engineers, to do their job, must eat and sleep — and they can only eat if there is food — and that food comes from farmers who rely on water for their crops, and so forth. You eventually conclude that nothing is possible without everything else.
So similarly, the process cannot be what it is without everything.
The creative, spiritual, value-driven, whatever process — is made possible through the lens through which we engage with ourselves, each other, and the world.
What we choose to wear, what we listen to, what we read, who we talk to, the food we eat, what occupies our mind, what happens in the dark when we’re alone, how we speak, how we sit — every small and large leap that we take, offers us a new ingredient that goes into the recipes that lead to the outcomes that we create.
The process is not just what happens after you shower, have your coffee, and go into your office — it is everything leading up to it and everything coming after.
The process is a vessel that houses just about everything. It isn’t a scientific method, mystical approach, or list of rules or commandments. It is a state of perpetually becoming.
And through your process, surprises and discoveries are possible.
Beginner’s Mind | A Playlist
Following the Beginner’s Mind playlist below on Spotify, every issue will be updated with new music. I’ve also added the titles of the songs below. This issue’s playlist is best when played from beginning to end.
Sandusky Uncle Tupelo
Fleeting Smile Roger Eno
Reason to Believe Stina Nordenstam
Alexandra Leaving Sharon Robinson
A Whiter Shade of Pale King Curtis
Nothing Rhymed Tom Jones
I love this. "I suppose it is the process of being a human, existing, fulfillment, purpose, and creation."