1.4 ~ The Chart of You ∆

Wherein we contemplate a ‘zoomed out’ view of our life.

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Righto—thus far we have taken a rather qualitative approach to self-knowledge. We’ve played with surfacing our narrative(s)—and have even questioned the veracity of our narrative, glimpsing the possibility of enjoying a non-narrative approach to life (with narrative). Now, we switch tact—from The Book of You, to The Chart of You.

The intent of this activity is for you to continue your search for patterns amidst the otherwise intermittently-continuous nebulosity of your ‘self’. It’s like sifting for gold—except instead of gold it’s ~ i n s i g h t ~.

This approach might not work for you. It’s a vector that works wondrously for some—but the inherent morbidity of contemplating your life as a finite thing can be confronting. And yet still, I would suggest that there is merit in the attempt. And if it doesn’t quite work for you—sit with it for a while. There’s a ‘memento mori’-like quality to this activity that can offer surprising levels of perspicacity—if we are open to it.

Here are a couple of links for you to peruse—the original inspiration for this. 
» waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/life-weeks.html
» waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html

But perhaps the best example I have encountered is at busterbenson.com/me (it’s worth having a thorough read of his whole site; Buster is a paragon of a person). My friend Kevin McGillivray has put together a magical code template for this (if you too would like a template for Your Life in Weeks).

Finally, an important reminder from the Prince of Caveats:—I do so love to play the role of a fox-like trickster. It is entirely natural to feel vexed on occasion—it would be disappointing if you weren’t. For, to quote the poet Wendell Berry:—

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Bafflement beckons curiosity. And because we are exploring self-knowledge here, it’s good to be mindful that we don’t prematurely adhere to familiar narratives. And now, the lesson (as it were).

The Chart of You will help make things more ‘tangible’ and ‘objective’ for us. We’ll surface a truer sense of where and how we spend our time in our lives.

Often, there is a startling lack of frequency for the things we find most meaningful and fulfilling. Here is a chance to notice and acknowledge the mismatch in our stories, with reality. In a sobering way.

You’ll notice that there is a degree of ambiguity baked into every activity. This is somewhat deliberate, as the purpose of each lesson is to provide provocation and perspective to help you see your ‘selves’ in new ways. Because the self is a rather persistent illusion, sometimes we need to approach it surreptitiously—each lesson provides a new angle/vector. The Chart of You, in particular, attempts to provide ‘distance’—to view the significant moments, stages and phases of your life with a semblance of ‘objectivity’. In this way, we might see the patterns of our ‘self’ more clearly. Or not! ~(˘▾˘~)

To contemplate…

What moments in your life stand out as particularly salient or character building? Can you discern potential ‘chapters’ in your life thus far? What chapter would you say you are currently within? Is there any mismatch between the things you say you value and do and what you actually do? What is evoked within you when you contemplate the limited time you have left in this life? What’s important to you?

Remember: we’re all going to die. (◕‿◕✿) But before we do, perhaps we can learn more of ourselves—and then, somehow use that knowledge to live into meaning and relevance. Perhaps! Next up we decipher any patterns of incongruence—the mismatch between what we think, feel and do.


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This a work-in-progress ‘virtual book’, meta-blog and online programme by Dr Fox. Illustrations by dangerlam. (CC BY-NC-SA)