“The ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered. And you don’t have to do anything about it. You just have to keep asking. And before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.”
— David Whyte, On Being interview “The Conversational Nature of Reality”
And it’s that deep not-knowing — in other words, emptying oneself of opinions and views and beliefs and so on — the more that one does that, the more you somehow come to rest in this primal humility of the fact that this world is boundlessly mysterious and unknowable. And yet, at the same time, that is the fount, the origin of how you then respond to this mystery of life in its specificity
If I consider my life honestly, I see that it is governed by a certain very small number of patterns of events which I take part in over and over again.
Being in bed, having a shower, having breakfast in the kitchen, sitting in my study writing, walking in the garden, cooking and eating our common lunch at my office with my friends, going to the movies, taking my family to eat at a restaurant, having a drink at a friend’s house, driving on the freeway, going to bed again. There are a few more.
There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one person’s way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own life and you will find the same. It is shocking at first, to see that there are so few patterns of events open to me.
Not that I want more of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can life well. If they are bad for me, I can’t.
⚘ Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building, pp. 67-68.