The Tao of Pooh

Here I am deliberating, no, that should be stressing over my research question, whilst my niece is giving birth to her first child, and an unknown soul is risking their life to make a six mile sea crossing  to Lesbos.

Is it possible that such a task, essentially trivial in the scheme of life, can be so challenging.

I am taking lessons from Pooh and Piglet in Benjamin Hoff’s simple and ingenious introduction to Taoism, The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet.  ‘Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition.  … One of the convenient things about this Sensitivity to Circumstances is that you don’t have to make so many difficult decisions.  Instead, you can let them make themselves.’

Can I rely on this?  Am I as intuitive as I think?  I clutch at straws and take the Myers-Briggs test.  INFJ, scoring highest for intuition, creative yet organised.  So why have I not achieved clarity?

I return to Angela’s feedback, ‘engage with imagery, memory and emotion in a non-strategic way..’  I mind map around Tension, Intention and non-strategic thinking.

I had assumed that ‘non-strategic’ meant without pre-planning, open to all eventualities, but Google had other ideas.  According to Keelin & Arnold, 2002, ‘Five Habits of Highly Strategic Thinkers’, non-strategic thinking is ‘Concrete with no engagement of the imagination…Embraces neither alternatives nor uncertainties’, whilst strategic thinking takes the ‘Abstract with powerful engagement of the imagination’.  Could this be relevant?  My last role in IT was as a strategist, part of my uniqueness.  Could my research question be ‘What is the role of strategic thinking for the artist?’

Further attempts to link strategic thinking with known artists draw a blank.  Is this because thinking strategically is inherent in being an artist, so why talk about it?  Or is it because strategic thinking is inherently a business concept, and artists don’t like to consider what they do as a business?  This feels like a dead end or a very steep climb with regard to researching possible artists.

To allow time for the idea to develop or fall by the wayside, I try a different avenue, creative brainstorming cards.  I shuffle and blind select the ‘Shadow’ card.

This card asks ‘What am I afraid to see?’  It challenges me to think hard about my associations with shadow, (scared of my own shadow), mirrors, (I have an aversion to mirrors and preening), and masks (confusion, who am I?).  Am I hiding in the shadows, afraid to face up to the truth?  What truth?  Mark McElroy in his accompanying book summarises ‘We like to see ourselves in the best possible light, which often means avoiding the caves and caverns where our darker selves lurk.  We dare not turn a blind eye to the truth, because digging deep is often the only way to uncover buried treasure.’

My previous blog on this subject was called ‘Digging Deeper’.  The ‘Shadow’ card is part of the section labelled ‘Forces and Influences’.  I wasn’t expecting this!  It was only supposed to be a stalling tactic.

Keep on digging… there be treasure in them shadows.


Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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