"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pinning and Unpinning

The wind blew vigorously in Syracuse this week. Rain poured. Of course this is why I schedule workshops with an outdoor laundry component. It is a surefire way to attract rain. Let me know if you would like to hire me to provide this service in your area.

When I checked on the samples line-drying outdoors, the gusts whipping the clothesline high into the air were thrilling. The clothesline had become a giant, noisy kite. Cloth squares - whipping with little firecracker-like pops - threatened to sail off, borne by the wind. I set about pinning the pieces more securely to the line. I pinned and unpinned. Some of the pieces, pinned with a single peg, twisted into balls around the line. Longer lengths of silk enveloped me as I pinned and unpinned; gradually sorting out the line.

I was reminded of a folk tale I’ve heard. An old woman is weaving the fabric of Life from porcupine quills. She softens them by chewing on them and her teeth are brown and small, worn from endlessly chewing the quills. She must also stir the cauldron of Life and when she stops weaving to stir the pot, a black dog goes to her weaving and undoes every strand, so that the old woman’s tasks endlessly repeat.

Some people believe that if the black dog would just stop unweaving the fabric, Life would be perfect and trouble free. But it is actually the problems the black dog causes that keep the cycle of Life cycling. Without the problems, existence would be static. The re-weaving, the stirring, and the endless pinning to the line seem immutable. But the potential to stimulate creative thinking is the unspoken part of the equation. Whether affecting the cycle is possible or not, it’s the thinking about it - the envisioning spurred by the challenge - that keeps the cycle going.

Kahlil Gibran, the mystic poet, said this many ways in his classic, The Prophet. The line I am remembering this morning is “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

Your problems are your opportunity for fresh ideas.
I’ll think about that while I am joyfully pinning and unpinning today.


  1. hmmm what a difference a week makes! (grin) You know I'm never really troubled about bad spells in life - I mean, how else would we be able to rejoice in the blessings that surround us without a point of comparison? Still I'm happy to say that my fabric is happily batching in the perfect weather of PA right now - I promise it will hit Syracuse by tomorrow! Have a great rest of the week!!

  2. Your picture takes me back to my girlhood days when mother and I would hang the clothes out to dry. The sheets and towels would snap and swirl in the western Kansas winds. They seemed to be lamenting having been hung out to dry in public(pun intended)and wanted to become untethered from the clothes pins and roam the plains in freedom. And isn't that what creativity is all about?


  3. I love hanging laundry on a clothesline outside. It feels so Zen. The mind is free to go to another place and you're outdoors in Fresh Air! What could be better!

    A question about unending cycles--Did Sisyphus notice anything while he was pushing and re-pushing, etc.! Like pretty stones or wild flowers or small plants making life in tight crevices? I've never heard that he did, but I hope so! And I suppose I can paint him with my own brush, can't I?

  4. The fabric pieces look like prayer flags.

  5. When I read a post like this one, I am beyond grateful that you did not stop blogging awhile ago when you were contemplating doing so. This post is a restorative gift of art, poetry and philosophy. Thank you!!