This is a talk I delivered at my local toastmasters club on Monday 17th July, 2017.
In the first four and a half months of this year I visited 10 cities in 4 countries, mostly for work, some for leisure.
In early May, in the midst of this whirlwind of movement, I visited my local library, as I often do, and I was drawn to this book: The Art of Stillness: adventures in going nowhere. I'm not sure why I was so drawn to the book but it ended up in a pile of books that I borrowed that day.
The Atlas of Tomorrow is an interactive tool that promotes mental wellness as a critical component of thriving communities. Inspired by the I Ching, individuals are invited to consider a situation in their lives where they seek clarity, and then spin the dial to select one of 64 fable-like stories along the wall for poetic guidance. The stories and artwork provoke a surreal inner world, a “town in your head,” full of characters that can help us examine our struggles, behaviours and opportunities for growth. Designed with the idea of art as a form of meditation, the artwork was finger painted by Candy Chang and over one hundred members of the Philadelphia community.
There’s a great introduction on the wall also:
We tell ourselves strange stories. Stories like I am not good enough or I will never be understood. We hear these words in the private chatter, the hum in our heads that tells us who we are. But sometimes we catch a glimpse of who we might become. Perhaps it’s a rogue thought in the shower. A shiver of déjà vu on the sidewalk. But for a moment our mental weather clears and the world makes some kind of sense. They call this synchronicity, when our insides meet the outside in a meaningful way. You might call it gut sense of intuition, but you know when it happens. It’s encoded in the hairs on your neck, the flutter in your nerves, and it’s been with you all along, a deep prehistoric knowledge that occasionally breaks to the surface before disappearing beneath the next wave of chatter.
The machine on this wall was built to make these moments happen more often for you. Here you’ll find sixty-four stories inspired by the ancient I Ching that reach back to cold nights of campfires and stars, long before the written word. The I Ching examines the inevitably of change. For thousands of years it has provided counsel and reassurance to those of us who struggle with challenging relationships, difficulties with work, unhappy emotions, and forks in the road. These stories remind us that our problems are not unique and that wisdom endures, if we are willing to listen.
I considered a problem I’m currently facing, and I spun number thirty three: ‘The Nap’.