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May 8, 2016 - No Comments!

Compassionate Creativity: Revisiting Our Definitions

Lady Bird Grove, National Redwood Forest in Northern California, Week 5

By Jake Sapon

I wrote, at the beginning of our process, a few definitions of Compassionate Creativity.

Now, after over 15 gatherings and 7,000 miles of experience, I feel it’s time to revisit these definitions—to notice what about my relationship to our project, to compassion, and to creativity has evolved.

Throughout our journey, each person and place we have encountered has helped me to reflect upon my values, my dreams, and the limitless ways to be both compassionate and creative in the world.

From Lindsay in Fayettville, and Claire in Philadelphia, I learned how hospitality is an art form. From Kenny and John in Bisbee, I learned about generosity. From my cousin Rena in New York City, I learned a new frame through which to think about compassion and creativity. From guests at our gathering in Kansas City, I learned the importance of courage and openness in sharing my own art. From Ravi in Silver City, John in California, and my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Richard in Philomath, Oregon, I learned the importance of spiritual practice to my life.

The list goes on and on.

In each place we arrive, we bring all of these people and all of these lessons with us. As we continue, our definitions and values evolve, shift and grow. I write to you with immense gratitude for both all that I have received and learned and for what I have taught and given.

Through this learning, I have come to understand Compassionate Creativity as an attitude towards our relationships with ourselves, others around us, and the world. I associate the word Creativity with a sense of moving within a realm of expansiveness and imagination—a willingness to believe in possibilities, and to choose which possibilities to make real. I associate the word Compassion with a sense of connection—a felt sensation of the interconnectedness between all people.

Kāli describes her new book as a memoir that looks at the integral relationship between Compassion and Creativity, especially within moments of uncertainty and when moving through deep grief.

When I let these two qualities interact within me, I find myself creating and refining a system of values and beliefs through which to live my life:

  • Compassionate Creativity is assuming that everyone is an artist. It's believing that creativity is not some special characteristic only available to a select few, but the basic core of human expression. Compassionate creativity is understanding that the way we live our lives is our Art.
  • Creative Compassion is listening. It’s listening to each other and to ourselves not only with our heads, but also with our hearts and our guts as well. It’s learning how to communicate, even when we think it’s impossible, and learning how to believe that healing is constantly possible. It’s understanding that every person, every animal, every child, and every being can be our teachers.
  • Compassionate Creativity is creating our own definitions of success, understanding that there are as many ways to be successful as there are people in the world. It’s knowing that you—not anyone else—have the power to define your own dreams.
  • Creative Compassion is believing in the power of human connection. It’s trusting that we have things to learn from our ancestors and our descendants, that community can sustain and empower us, that open hearts are just as important as sharp minds. It’s understanding that one small action of kindness or of healing can have a very big ripple.
  • Compassionate Creativity is understanding that our processes are perhaps even more important than our products, and that work can and should be playful and joyous and loving.
  • Creative Compassion is learning how to work with our own feelings, particularly our own negativity. It’s learning how to navigate our doubt and our fear, our anxiety and our depression. It’s learning to blow upon the tiny sparks of playfulness, joy and compassion that can warm and sustain us in times of despair.
  • Compassionate Creativity is courageously learning how to share your art and your work with the audacity to believe that you have the power to shift the whole world.
  • Creative Compassion is choosing to believe that people are basically good-- that kindness and generosity tend to be the rule, not the exception.
  • Compassionate Creativity is creating or discovering your own system of values to anchor you through your journey in the world
  • Creative Compassion is understanding that these values will need constant interpretation, work and practice, play and love, and that the discipline of creating our lives requires both gentleness and precision.

***

What does Compassionate Creativity mean to you? Creative Compassion?

What have you learned about these words from your life experience?

 

 

 

April 15, 2016 - No Comments!

“Know That You’re Every Action Has A Lasting Effect:” Angels on the Road

Angels - 1 (6)

By Jake Sapon, CC Storyteller

At our gathering in Farmington, we talk about Angels.

In Hebrew, the word for angel (malach) literally means “messenger.” Thus, an angel is not necessarily a divine being, but is rather anyone who, at exactly the right place and time, carries a message. It is said that each of us here on earth is an angel, carrying a message to be delivered at a specific time and place, though we might not ever know when our message has been delivered.

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April 4, 2016 - No Comments!

The Inner Journey of Love: “Everything is an interpretation.”

Wilson - 1 (2)

Post by Jacob Sapon, CC Storyteller

As isolated incidents, each of our encounters on the road is merely a collection of events. A description of foods, colors, conversations, people, names, places, smells, sounds.

When put together in order, these encounters begin to form a more full picture-- like microscopic dots of paint that, when examined from a distance, become a painting.   This painting of places and people, told through words, is a story with a particular interpretation—an interpretation where people are, again and again and again and again, generous and kind. A story in which the world we live in is fundamentally characterized by a longing-- pulsing within all of our flaws and vulnerabilities--- to connect.

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March 29, 2016 - No Comments!

The Inner Highway: Befriending Fear

Fear_Road - 1

In every world traveler lives an agoraphobic homebody

In every well-known performer such unrelenting stage fright

In every tightrope walker or skyscraping window washer a fear of heights so vast

And yet

And yet

And yet

There also lives a love so great

For the world

The audience

The sky

That the merge their love and fear into wonder

Somehow managing to majestically soar on"

 -Kali Quinn in I am Compassionate Creativity

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March 27, 2016 - No Comments!

CC On Tour: Fayetteville, NC

By Jake Sapon, CC Scribe

After 6 nights of sleeping in different beds each night, I am exhausted. Upon arriving in Fayettville, however, I have no motivation to rest, as I am immediately swept up in a whirlwind of Quinn family enthusiasm and hospitality offered by our gracious hosts John and Linsday. John offers me a choice of drinks and macaroons, and we eat a sumptuous Easter feast of roast beef, cabbage, and potatoes cooked by Lindsay. The chickens in the backyard noisily contribute to the festive atmosphere. I find myself playing Chess with John, ping-pong with Kāli, and discussing folk music with Lindsay’s brother. By the evening, I’m completely worn out, and Lindsay tells me that I should feel no obligation to socialize, and can rest in an upstairs bedroom for as long as I need. She brings me a basket of soaps, shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries collected from hotel stays over the years, and tells me to help myself to whatever I need.

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Continue onto the next stop on the trip >>

March 26, 2016 - No Comments!

CC On Tour: Durham, NC

By Jake Sapon, CC Storyteller

We arrive at the Howe family home, a wonderland of art, sculpture, music and warm, welcoming energy within the North Carolina forest. As we share stories from Kāli’s book and play music, we transition into an intergenerational discussion of what it feels like to be the ages that we are. The age in the room ranges from teenager to nonagenarian. We remember what it was like to be seven years old, twenty-seven years old, and talk about how we have changed and how we have stayed the same. We are served “ferment,” a delicious blend of pickles seasoned with lemon and garlic, sweet potatoes, and “noise” a blended concoction of spices and yogurt. In the morning, Sarah Howe nourishes us with a stew of greens, carrots and meat, and I talk with Sarah’s cousin David—somehow, the conversation again turns to religion. He tells me he is agnostic, that he finds great beauty and meaning in the science that somehow, wondrously, describes this world.

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March 26, 2016 - No Comments!

CC On Tour: DC through Virginia

DC by Kali, CC Founder

DC - 3DC - 2

Virginia By Jake Sapon, CC Scribe

We stop off the highway for gas at a rest stop. A man with white hair and piercing blue eyes DC - 4approaches us and asks us if he can pet Max. Something about the way this man carries himself communicates a deep longing for connection. He goes to the ground to try to engage Max, and Max tentatively lets the man extend his hand to caress Max’s head. We tell him we are on a road trip, and he begins to tell us of all the places he has lived--- California, Wisconsin, New England, Virginia.

March 25, 2016 - No Comments!

CC on Tour: Baltimore, MD

By Jacob Sapon, CC Storyteller

Baltimore - 2Kāli’s cousin Julie greets us joyously, and asks me to lead her family in a Shabbat dinner. We turn our cell phones off, and I lead a meditation focusing on the beauty of creation and what it feels like to emerge from a very narrow mental space. We then eat what Julie’s four-year-old son Silas declares “The Best Pizza Ever!”

It tastes amazing, somehow even better in the atmosphere of the canBaltimore - 3dles, bread, wine and loving family. Silas dances the Mambo from Dora the Explorer for us, and Sydney, Julie’s seven-year-old daughter, tells us   about a series of incredibly intricate dreams she has had. She then tells us that when she’s upset, she goes to her room and then either yells into her pillow or talks to God. I ask her what she means by God; this leads to Sydney explaining that when she leaves Church, she feels like a different person than she was when she went entered. Julie brings in a birthday cake, and we sing a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” to Kāli’s book, “I am Compassionate Creativity.”

March 24, 2016 - No Comments!

CC On Tour: Philadelphia

By Jake, CC Storyteller

 

Philadelphia - 5

Kāli and I begin together by embarking on a silent walk, walking from Love Park down Market St. to 30th St. Station. We stop expressing and begin listening. Max (link to picture), who Kāli later remarks is always on a silent walk of sorts, begins making friends for us.

A man calls out to us, “What’s his name?”Philadelphia - 1

We continue in silence, but turn to face the man and smile.

He nods approvingly. “A mild mannered dog for mild mannered people.”

“His name is Max,” says Kāli.

“He doesn’t seem like a Max to me,” says the man.

“What does he seem like to you?”

“Humble. His name is humble.”

We gasp and look at each other. Our last conversation before entering silence had been about humility.

Philadelphia - 4We stay in silence, not conversing, but also not not-conversing.

“I’ve found strength in Jesus Christ,” he says.

We smile. I notice he has a bible, and I remember that today is Easter. We tell him our names, and he tells us his.

“Where do you go to Church?” he asks, curiously.

We exchange a glance, and Kāli says, “I wrote a book about Creativity and Compassion. We’re taking it on tour on a 10,000 mile trip around the country.”

His face lights up. “I see! You are bringing the church with you!”

“May I say a traveler prayer for you?,” he asks. We nod in agreement. The three of us clasp hands and close our eyes. “Oh Lord,” he begins, “keep these travelers safe.” Perhaps there are people staring. It doesn’t seem to matter.

He hugs each of us, and we continue on in silence. I can’t stop smiling, and shaking my head in wonder and delight.

...

A man with a backpack approaches the van outside 30th st. station, looking to make friends with Max. He comments on our bumper—Providence to Buffalo by way of California--- and tells us that he himself is a traveler too. He hops trains to get around. We share our names with each other. Before leaving, I give him two clementine and a piece of chocolate. It’s the day after Purim, so I’m thinking about the mitzvah of giving gifts of food (Shalach Manot) that traditionally accompanies the holiday. I’m also thinking about a value we shared at last night’s gathering at the house of our host, Claire,--- giving random gifts to random people.

“I wish I had something to give you in return,” the man says. Before we leave, he runs up to the car. I roll down the window.

“What religion would you say you are?” He asks.Philadelphia - 3

“Jewish,” I say, surprised.

“You can listen to books on tape, right? Check this out. I think you’ll like this. It’s called The Tao of Pooh. It’s the telling of Taoism through Winnie the Pooh.”

“I have something for you too,” Kāli says. She hands him a copy of “I am Compassionate Creativity.” “I don’t know if this will be too big for you to carry around, but…”

“Not at all!” he says. He thanks us repeatedly. As we drive away, we can see him reading the first few pages.