by Antonio Dias
processearly 14c., “fact of being carried on” (e.g. in process), from O.Fr. proces “journey” (13c.), from L. processus “process, advance, progress,” from pp. stem of procedere “go forward” (see proceed). Meaning “course or method of action” is from mid-14c.; sense of “continuous…
As with so many words, we rarely look at where they came from, what they have meant, can mean. Stuck in current usage, we cannot see how a bit of programming, of conditioning, controls how we think and how we expect to communicate. From there, things spiral out to entrap every aspect of how we act.
When we hear process, what do we, well, hear?
My guess, the way I’ve caught myself considering the word, it is tangled-up in technology. We rush past journey right to progress, and from there to our current state religion. We see it as a task, a recipe. Beyond that, as an allegiance to an expectation that things will always just get better. Not because of what we do. Just because time has passed. Sometimes, we fall into this attitude’s doppelganger. We expect everything to come to a dramatic and final end. In either case we squirm to avoid the reality of process.
Process ties in with how we look at journeys. In the Latin languages there is a term – in Portuguese it’s – Passeio. It derives from foot. It connotes a series of footsteps. The root cognate is passage, but it might best translate into English as an amble.
We don’t look at journeys that way today. Girded by obligation and a desperate need to strive, we see our journeys in another light. As Marches. Even forced marches. Hardly ever as ambles.
When we consider process in relation to creativity this expectation hobbles us at the outset. We can say process all we want, but if we mean March! Then, we miss the point entirely.
Our predicament. Something I’ve touched on repeatedly. The spur for much of what’s been presented here. Has illuminated the need to view our lives creatively. The alternatives expounded by contemporary society – with contemporary seen in the extremely long-term! – continue to present themselves as colossal failures.
Viewing our lives creatively. What may have begun as a response, even merely a lowly reaction to, our predicament; has illuminated the obvious truth that no matter what our circumstances. What other way could there be to live?
It is precisely in the way our conditioning leads us to march instead of amble that its destructive tendencies have reached such an ascendancy.
This presents the root of the futility of striving “after good.” Marching about. Everyone thinks they are doing good! Ask Curtis LeMay? Ask Mao Zedong? Pick your favorite villain. “Sure I’m tough! But It’s for their own good!”
Discipline. This word also has conflicted meanings. Those boys listed above, think it means bending to authority. The more I look into it, the more it appears to mean opening one’s self to a radical responsibility.
Yet another word conflicted. We tend to equate responsibility with obligation. Conveniently this leads us back into familiar, if deadly, territory.
What if responsibility, and discipline, led us to resist falling back into the ruts we know are futile? What if we they point to a process? A process unlike what we’ve come to expect the word to mean.
All of this revolves around how we can look at life with a radical seriousness alongside, infused by, a lightness of being. What if we are responsible to, well, to everything? And, what if the fulfillment of that responsibility lay in appreciating what is involved in a creative process? And, what it does not entail.
These concerns hover about all of the attempts at connection I find. The ones I see. The ones I’m involved with.
The recent silence here has had to do with the need to let things rest. Anything done the same way for too long reaches diminishing returns. Reality moves on. And, the rut of repetition, of habit ingrained, blinds us to this discontinuity. Soon, striving takes over. We double-down.
This connects with the sense we have of a need to do everything twice. Our organism blossoms forth. Insight, fluency, arise within us. Unsatisfied with this gift, we seek to “do it again.” This time under firm control. We hide the violence at the heart of this demand. From our selves, from each other. In a conspiracy of complicity. We reach for anger and disappointment to act as salves on our guilty conscience, “It’s their fault!” It doesn’t matter who they are. It can be us. It can be me, for that matter. Anger and disappointment at our selves works just fine. Eliminating the middleman, keeping our attention squarely where our disintegrated Ego wants it.
What if we don’t do it twice? Well, at first it may feel as though we’re not doing anything at all. Conditioned expectations leave us unsatisfied unless we carry on with our obsessions. Without realizing the value of our gift. Without acting on this radical responsibility. We lack the discipline to break the habit and recognize what process really means.
I’m learning that the direction, “Do less!” is unplayable. We cannot embody a performance, a way of acting, without arriving at a vibrant and lively connection with it. Creativity does not take orders. Thank God!
Do less. It’s not untrue. It is only that we each need to find ways to embody the kernel behind the statement.
We are entangled in the devaluation of our language, “Value the process!”
Yes. But how can we if we are only mouthing the words?
Value: Draw on what that means to us. Dig into it. Find it. Without grasping.
Process: Amble. It is not a march. There is no recipe, really!