Rebecca Solnit

Wanderlust (book 24 of 26)

Wanderlust (book 24 of 26)

December 2, 2018
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in Tip
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Wanderlust. Rebecca Solnit. Subtitled A History of Walking.

“[…] each walk moves through space like a thread through fabric, sewing it together into a continuous experience – so unlike the way air travel chops up time and space and even cars and trains do. This continuity is one of the things I think we lost in the industrial age – but we can choose to reclaim it, again and again, and some do. The fields and streets are waiting.”

The most beautiful of languages she has, Rebecca Solnit. There are passages in this book where I am enraptured, of the sheer beauty of the words strung together with intelligence and tender loving care, all at once. The first two pages of chapter three Rising and Falling: The Theorists of Bipedalism is one of those places. I marked it in my copy of the book, with the words What a magnificently beautiful passage!

“[..] the sense of place that can only be gained on foot. Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors – home, car, gym, office, shops – disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”

Rebecca Solnit manages to write an expose on walking that takes it far wider than my imagination could have conceived. Making me realize just how important walking is, how it has roots in our hominid-background, and how it is, perhaps, on the verge of extinction…

“When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.”

The passages I bring forth here are all linked together; all relate to the sense of place and space of walking that Solnit circles back to, over and over again in Wanderlust. I could as easily have chosen the topic of revolutions or perhaps of citizenship, and how walking has played an integral part in shaping the history of humankind. Or perhaps the apparent gendered bias making public spaces available for walking by men, and not women, for millennia. But I didn’t. As I write these reflections, I flick though the pages of the books I’m to write about, and as my eye falls on my pencil-scribbles in the margins, what tugs at me shapes my writing. And thus, this is what wants to be reflected upon.

“But there are three prerequisites to going out into the world to walk for pleasure. One must have free time, a place to go, and a body unhindered by illness or social restraints.”

I go for walks. By my very lonesome. Revelling in the different vistas my neighboring recreational area of Bulltofta grant me as seasons pass.

I take walk n talks as often as I can. Whenever someone asks me to join them for a cup of tea (usually they suggest coffee which I don’t even drink…), I almost always suggest a walk n talk instead.

And. I do CoachWalks, talking my clients walking with me, often along the paths of Bulltofta where I spend so much of my time. I usually look up, throw my arms to the side and exult Welcome to my office! When in physical motion, it’s hard – not to say impossible – for the mind to be immobile. So walking is one of my secret tools in my coaching tool box.

“Walking has been one of the constellations in the starry sky of human culture, a constellation whose three stars are the body, the imagination, and the wide-open world, and though all three exist independently, it is the lines drawn between them – drawn by the act of walking for cultural purposes – that makes them a constellation. Constellations are not natural phenomena but cultural impositions; the lines drawn between stars are like paths worn by the imagination of those who have gone before. This constellation called walking has a history., the history trod out by all those poets and philosophers and insurrectionairies, by jaywalkers, streetwalkers, pilgrims, tourists, hikers, mountaineers, but whether it has a future depends on whether those connecting paths are travelled still.”

Wanderlust. And important book.
Pick it up. Read it. And never look upon Walking quite the same way ever again.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Start living that way.

June 22, 2017
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in Tip
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”Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side had won, and you had the kind of society that you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now!” – Paul Goodman

Dream societyA few years ago, I came to this conclusion myself. For years I was dreaming of a more gentle, loving and generous society, one where the connection between one and all was encouraged and acknowledged – what Martin Luther King Jr. called the beloved community -, when suddenly it struck me: I don’t have to live my life in a state of lack anymore. I can live my life, as if the world I dream of, is already here, where there is an abundance of love, generosity and gentleness.

So I did. I started to believe in the good of each and everyone I meet, which sometimes is harder than I would like for it to be, for sure. I started to be very generous with my love, with my caring, with my gentleness. Both towards myself (and that’s possibly where it’s made the biggest impact, honestly) and towards those around me. It’s one of the best moves I’ve ever made – in part because it makes for a much sweeter experience here on earth.

So. What do you dream of? What kind of society do you paint inner pictures of, when you imagine the best possible life for yourself and the world? What’s stopping you, from living the life you would live then, starting here and now?

Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.

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#blogg100 – Infinite space.

April 10, 2017
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“We have already had to think anew so many concepts of motion, we shall also learn gradually to realize that it is out of mankind that what we call destiny proceeds, not into them from without. Only because so many did not absorb their destinies and transform these within themselves as long as they lived in them, they did not recognize what went forth from them; it was so alien to them that they believed, in their bewildered terror, it must have just entered into them, for they swore that they had never before found anything similar in themselves. As we have long deceived ourselves about the motion of the sun, so we still continue to deceive ourselves about the motion of that which is to come. The future stands firm, dear Herr Kappus, but we move about in infinite space.”

tender handsIt is out of (hu)mankind destiny proceeds, not into them, but out of them.

Yes.

We create today, tomorrow, and the future beyond. Each of us, individually, and each of us, collectively.

It simply does not happen. We make it happen, as we move about in infinite space.

We.

MeYouWe make it happen.

I hear people ask, bewildered, why the generosity, warmth, kindness and compassion, that was rampant on the streets of Stockholm on April 7th 2017, seems to spike at times of great need. Asking why it is not always so. Listen to Rebecca Solnit in On Being, and you will know. Both why it happens as it does, and why it doesn’t happen with it doesn’t. And know that it can. Because it is out of mankind destiny proceeds, as Rilke writes to his young aspiring poet-pen pal.

It can happen. If we want it to.
Both individually and collectively we can live out of a place of great compassion, for one another.
We can. Let’s.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 41 of 100.
The book “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – It is unrealistic.

March 31, 2017
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I’ve seen enough change in my lifetime to know
that despair is not only self-defeating, it is unrealistic.
– Susan Griffin

I believe this to be true.
Not necessarily on an individual level, but most definitely on a collective level. I mean, an individual may be in a hole so deep, there is no perceived way out. Despair is a most likely, and probable choice, in a situation like that. It is still a choice though, meaning that it’s not a default setting. It’s not the only possible way to be, when one finds oneself deep down in a dark hole. But perhaps we are more used to people despairing in such situations, than staying in high spirits, enjoying the little things in life. And even those people will likely fall in and out of the feeling of despair, as hopeless thoughts comes and goes, which they do. All by themselves.

But despair is self-defeating. For the individual.
NaughtAs I close my eyes, and feel my way around, and into, the feeling of despair, tasting it, smelling it, feeling the texture and size of it…. it opens up a void within me; unfathomable depths of nothingness.

And from that place… nothing sparks.
Nothing can live. No initiative, no interest, no connection.

There is simply… Naught.

But we are not all there, in despair, at the same time. Not if there’s enough of us to make up a small group. And that’s why, on a collective level, self-despair is unrealistic – because we are a social creature, meant to be together, connected, intertwined, helping and being helped. When one of us is down for the count, the rest of us will – must! – step up and rise to the challenge, doing what needs be done.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 31 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Basis for action.

March 22, 2017
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Sometimes I am accused of being too hopeful. That nothing will come of it. That I should be doing more – in a sense – everything. I sometimes retreat, hurt, wounded, saddened and defeated by these accusations. Worried that I am not doing enough, that my hope for and positive beliefs of a better and more loving world, are futile, pointless, without meaning.

But then I take comfort in the fact that I have hope. I’d rather have that, than be cynical and defeatist.
And I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. There are others who, like me, are hopeful, and that, like me, use that as the basis for action.

”…it’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”

Stemming from hope, action can – and should – be taken. But action is not merely something that’s in the doing, which I think a lot of us believe. We’ve forgotten that action can also be in the being, as well as in the more subtle doings that are not visible. In thinking good thoughts. In spreading energies of love and generosity. In staying silent. In letting someone else shine, holding a space for them to be able to do just that.BoldomaticPost_I-am-only-one-but-still-I-am

Like Helen Keller says, I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And I keep on getting more and more proof that the attitude with which I step into something – regardless of what – matters a great deal. Do I want to get away from something, or am I eager to get to something else? A world of difference in the feeling within. So yes, action stemming from hope is amongst the finest action we can take.

With a spring in our steps, with bounce and eagerness, wanting change, willing change, inspiring change. Being a force for, rather than against. With an eye to today and tomorrow, leaving behind us the thing of the past, which is what is is. But it does not have to be the same tomorrow, not If I take action, if we take action.

So act, by all means. Act!

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 22 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Amplify power and reach.

March 16, 2017
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”Activists often speak as though the solutions we need have not yet been launched or invented, as though we are starting from scratch, when often the real goal is to amplify the power and reach of existing alternatives. What we dream of is already present in the world.”

What would be possible if we had less of an attachment to “our personal babies” (be they an idea, a company, a movement, a team, a slogan)? Less attached to making our baby live and prosper, come what may, and more open to opportunities knocking on the door?

Hope in the darkAnd yes, I am speaking from personal experience as well. Many are the discussions I’ve had – both professionally and personally – that are right there on the edge of making a real difference, an impact… just to see it crumble and fall back into old and wellknown ways.

“Oh no, that would never work. Let’s stick to our old way of working, that’s more secure!”

Or even worse:
“We should work together, let’s unite, join forces. As long as the new organization still has our name, because that’s the best name for it!” with the prospective partners equally attached to their name, forgetting, all around, that what we are striving for isn’t in a name, it’s in the action we can achieve, inspire to, accomplish. And united we can make much more of an impact, than divided.

Copyright and patents. Regulations and best practice.
Collaborations between people with the same background, education, business.

We are very good at preserving the status quo, rather than be in constant maker-mode, adding, subtracting, tweaking, combining “what is already present in the world” to amplify the power and reach of existing alternatives. Bogged down into the administrations of setting up a new organization, rather than joining forces with the existing ones. Stuck in competition, over collaboration. Thinking we need to protect “our corner of the world” (be that an idea, a company, a movement, a team, a slogan) and possibly – probably – missing out on golden opportunities, popping up around us like mushrooms in the forest after a week of sun and rain both.

And yes. Of course – sometimes sweeping everything off the table to start from scratch might be the only viable option – but remember, that we are not wiping ourselves clean, are we? I will always bring that which is within my experience to the table, and so will you. That’s why collaboration, cocreation, combination of the unlikely, the diversity of experiences, more often than not will be more effective – but oh so personally challenging, most often! – to amplify power and reach into effecting real change and improvement.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 15 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Threads of ideas.

March 14, 2017
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One of the aspects of Hope in the dark that makes hope for what can be bubble up within like champagne bubbles, is this:

”So the threads of ideas weave around the world and through the decades and centuries.”

How it all is entwined, how nothing stands alone, but rather, through visible or invisible threads are linked, back and forth, crossing the expanse of time and space, in a web. Weaving us together. All of us; the living, and those long since turned back into start dust, all a part of the tapestry of life.

Arcs of historyThe arcs that oftentimes are longer, much longer, than what we believe them to be. (If we think that way at all… I know I didn’t use to, I’m certain I am not alone in that.) Our perspective often, most understandably, but perhaps not wise, that of a human – that is, looking at what is done, over a few weeks, perhaps years. Seldom going to far as to look at what can be done over a few decades or our entire life span? Perhaps that comes first with age – looking back, reverse engineering our path, linking significant events and decisions together. And then missing what can be done when we string lives together, putting life time to life time, making the arcs of history cross the universe in multiple dimensions.

I can vote. Of course I can vote. Why wouldn’t I?
Well, if not for the suffragette movement, it might not be such a matter-of-fact statement to make, right?

There are still a few countries in the world where female votes is not allowed, but the arcs of history will get to them to. Of that I am certain. When – I don’t know, but That it will occur, that I don’t hesitate on.

And if not for the evolution of democracy, perhaps but a few of us would have the right to make our voices heard at all, let alone to cast a vote, regardless of gender, more a matter of privilege and riches, than anything else.

”Whatever else the Arab Spring was, it’s an extraordinary example of how unpredictable change is and how potent popular power can be. And five years on, it’s too soon to draw conclusions about what it all meant.”

It did not happen as a odd occurrence unlinked to what went before it. Not at all. Many are the possible arcs of history that had a direct correlation to the Arab Spring. And like Rebecca Solnit states – who knows what might come of it? Like Zhou En-Lai, high-ranking member of Chairman Mao’s government said when asked of his opinion on the French Revolution: “Too soon to tell.” 

I wonder if it always is? Or perhaps: Feel free to express an opinion but never loose sight of the threads of ideas, weaving around the world, through decades and centuries, spreading hope for what can be, one day.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 14 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – The jewels of our soul.

March 11, 2017
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”We should take care so that we will lose none of the jewels of our soul. We must begin, now, to reject the white, either/or system of dividing the world into unnecessary conflict. For example, it is tragic and ridiculous to choose between Malcolm X and Dr. King: each of them hurled himself against a quite different aspect of our predicament, and both of them, literally, gave their lives to our ongoing struggle. We need everybody and all that we are.”

Rebecca Solnit quotes June Jordan, poet and polemicist, in Hope in the dark.

We should take care so that we will lose none of the jewels of our soul, because we need everybody and all that we are.

There is a place for either/or. Definitely. But we’ve done it, more or less constantly, for a really long time. So what if we at least try to meet the world from a both/and-perspective instead? Just  for a while. A day, a year, a century, a millennia? What if we try something else, something different, from what has gotten us here?

Because. We need both/and now. Humanity does. It needs the jewels of our souls – the jewels of my soul. And yours! You have them, you are aware of that, yes?
I have them too. And I am aware of them. Now. Today.
Five years ago – less so.
Twenty years ago – not a chance in hell that I would have seen, let alone recognized them!

We need everybody and all that we are!
Can you picture a world that is actually based on that foundation? Centered in that worldview – where my way, is my way. And your way, yours. And together, we complement each other, and enhance, enrich, enliven all that is and can be.

be you

I need you, to be all that you are, because that’s the invite to me, to be all that I am.
You need me, to be all that I am, because that’s the invite to you, to be all that you are.
Helping each other to treasure, and make the most of, the jewels in our souls.
Together.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 11 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – More in common than not.

March 10, 2017
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“We found out we had a lot more in common than what kept us apart.”

Synchronicity. Do you remember a blog I posted not too long ago, with a quote by Ted Kennedy?

“What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.” 

Read those two sentences, again.
Close your eyes. Breathe in… and out.

unites usAnd simply sit with it: we are connected. All of us. And when I focus on that which unites, over that which divides, it makes for a totally different experience of life.

Hey – that’s an experiment worth trying perhaps? Actually taking one day, to focus on what divides me, from each and every person I meet. Oh, my body cringes at the very thought of that, I can already feel how pissed off I will be throughout that day. Because divisive thoughts drive me farther away from people, from the warmth of those around, into a cold and lonely, miserable place. I am not tempted at all! Are you?

And then to do the opposite – taking a day to focus on what unites me, from each and every person I meet. Oh… that starts to bubble within me, the energy of it already putting a smile on my face! Most definitely a tempting experiment. For you as well?

If anyone is up to the challenge – please let me know what you find out. What serves you best? What makes you light up, what closes you down? How do you show up in the world, when coming from divide and unity respectively? And what are you met with, when your focus shifts from one to the other, what’s the energy transmitted and received? And what happens if you try it out, first with people close to you, and then with those whom you feel farther from, in world view? Shared humanity – is that what unity brings closer to us?

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 10 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Hope is in the dark around the edges.

March 6, 2017
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”Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they’ve always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it’s compromising: it recalls the mainstream when the mainstream was, say, rabidly homophobic or racist in a way it no longer is; and it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power.”

Have you considered how it’s only when we look back, in the rear-view mirror, that we can reverse engineer how we got to where we are now? How it’s never (ever?) a matter of an outspoken plan, but rather, in hindsight, the way the road meanders forward simply happens. Personally, this is certainly true, and perhaps easier to see, as it’s part of my story. I know what my plans were… and how the road to where I am now diverged, shifted, things happened which made me end up somewhere far from where I thought I would. For me – the place I am is much better – wider – more diverse and rich – than I though, than I planned, which makes me look forward with curiosity. Who knows where I might end up?

Arcs of historyBut when it comes to the larger movements of humankind, it’s harder to tell. The Arabic spring is a failure I hear, and I think (and Rebecca Solnit reinforces my beliefs!) How can you tell? It’s too soon. What do we know of where we’re at now, and where we will end up in 10-50-100 years time?. The arcs of history are – and must be – longer. They cannot be judged, measured, against the experience of my life. For me, as a mortal human being, a year, two, three, can feel like a long time. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s but a blink in time, is it not? What do you think it was like in post-revolutionary France 10 – 50 – 100 years after the Storming of the Bastille (on July 14th, which is now the French National Day, no less)?

In Hope in the dark Rebecca Solnit help me see how the arc of history is rife with examples of events, that we only in hindsight can see as pivotal moments, nudging society along, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but always upsetting the status quo. That hope can be found in the dark around the edges – and guess what? That’s where you and me reside, ordinary people, far from the center stage of politicians and business leaders, prominent thinkers and scientists. You and me – with the possibility of making an impact, nudging the arc of history? For better or worse? Can we know? Probably not, but the intent with which we act and how we choose to show up in the world might give a hint?

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 6 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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