Friday, June 1, 2007

Triads of Any Task

The Triads of Any Task

Three motivations within any task: compulsion, blame, and delight. Wise is the one who knows what moves him.

Three perceptions in the midst of any task: the one completely cloaked, the one in the shadow, and the one completely in the light. Wise is she who constantly seeks them all.

Three experiences within any task: the experience of the slave, the experience of the condemned, and the experience of the creator. At any moment, both the slave and the condemned may become the creator, by a choice.

Three rivers of feeling run through any task and leave their mark on those involved: the feeling of fear, the feeling of shame, and the feeling of joy. Wisdom thrives swimming in only one.

Three choices within any task: To see it as an obligation, to see it as a punishment, to see it as an occasion to dance. Wise are they who can find the inner music in any task.

Robert Patrick, © 2007


I wrote this triad after having one of those (for me) significant dreams where I wake up, remember the details, experience strong emotional content with the dream, and know that it is speaking to me. I spent several days reflecting on this dream, listening to its message, and then wrote this triad over another several days.

Part 1: for me, I have come to realize that any task I engage in, whether daily and routine, or huge and life changing, if I consider it, I can find lurking there these three motivations. I say "lurk" because one of these is usually obvious. The other two, though, are always there, hidden, perhaps, to my ego. The significance of noticing that "compulsion" or "blame" or "delight" is a motivator is that I can notice which is moving me at the time, and then I can choose which one I really want to work with. In reality, I am finding that compulsion and blame, vestiges of the culture and family I grew up in, often are the initial and obvious motivators, delight is the one I choose to work with.

And the great joy of this is discovering, so far, that there is no task, however difficult or trivial or overwhelming or boring--in which I cannot find a delight.

Part 2: I have alluded to this already. Compulsion, blame and delight are all already present in any task I undertake. One might be obvious--in the light. Others may be lurking in the shadows, barely perceptible, or completely hidden to me. Regardless of which is where, I do better to find them all and see how they are moving me, and then, am free to make my choice for how to proceed.

Part 3: The slave is the extension of compulsion. When I do a task because "I have to", then I am slave to the compulsion. Likewise, when I do a task because not doing it will leave me "guilty" of some judgment, I must ask whose judgment this is I am walking around with. I stand, in the task, already condemned. The point of observing these experiences of slave and condemned is that I can then choose, rather, to work from the delight involved in the task. When I choose to work from delight, I become creative, fluid, dynamic. I become the creator--I who moments before was the slave or the condemned.

Part 4: The feelings, too, are extensions of the motivators: fear of the compulsion, shame of the blame,and joy of the delight. This is just another angle on any task: the emotions that are running through me will color my world and will leave a mark on those I am "tasking" with and for. Suppose I am cooking food for my family, am doing it under some compulsion (I have to do this), am feeling anger and fear around having to do this task--fear that I won't get to do other things that I'd prefer to be doing, for instance. Does the food not become filled with the emotion I am running? Will not my family then "feast" on my fear at some level?
Imagine the same meal prepared with the choice to cook in and through the delight of the task. Fact is, I love to cook, and if I can settle down and observe what is moving me, I can choose to cook with delight.

Part 5: The word "choice" should be obvious by now. No great coincidence that I am also re-reading William Glasser's Choice Theory: A New Psychology for Living right now.

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