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SECTION I: First Principles of Growth

“Time is the substance I am made of.  Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.” (Jorge Luis Borges)


We travel this world though a house of mirrors that connects our planet – A dizzying array of disappointing departure monitors, pulsing micro-phones, and the comfort of the quiet but dangerous Net. Consenting participants in the mesmerizing carnival of the mega-community, we are as much seers as we are seen – both voyeur and voyager. Our inter-face is pervasive and the transfer of what is within us and without us becomes indistinguishable thanks to the rat-a-tat-tat of the endless and all knowing signal. Yet, the technology sworn to free our being has returned the prodigal sons and daughters to the house of their forefathers where the village idiot is unavoidable and the oversexed ingénue just sent all the forlorn a personal invitation via email. It is easy to imagine these halcyon days of modernity as a Bacchanalian festival of personal expression or the public execution of general civility. Despite the motivational whoosh of smarmy raconteurs and the prophets of complaint, these are neither the best nor worst of times. They are merely a reflection of all that we have come to be from the glorious to the grotesque. There is no way around the fun house of the human condition. From antiquity to ubiquity, all progress through vision, courage and freedom.

We are the map makers, navigators and captains of our fate.  Many travel with us. Through the transformative magic of our creativity and energy, and little luck, we get to help the young take flight and the old and infirmed land softly. We guide our beloved institutions to be made anew or wander slowly into their confused demise. Yet, we seldom observe the most basic and fundamental dynamics of the animate world moving all around us though we see its vast and generative power every day, everywhere. Instead, we deconstruct our own lives into an overwhelming array of microtasks that when all checked somehow reconstruct into our great work. Or, we desire a transformation so complete that it owns a block of prime real estate in our psyche with a posh address like wealth or happiness or love. We would rather toss our affirmations like pennies into the wishing well of the eternal ocean than buy the craft to traverse the time and space around us where we do most of our living.

These first principles of growth are not about how to be a creative genius, build a blockbuster start-up company or save the world from its impending demise if it doesn’t immediately subscribe to some infomercial “you too can have it all” list of implausible feats of derring-do. Nor does it promise healing or obtaining esoteric spiritual wisdom. These principles provide a basic understanding of how the creative sources of the universe come together to help us transform our potential into our destiny; how we come together to create and recreate a life – our own. All that is promised here is a deeper understanding of the underlying structure and dynamics of creativity and growth, and the possibilities they present to us.

What we want and what we do to get it is built on the foundation of what we believe to be the purpose of our life. We seek different things: Everlasting glory, perpetual youth, spontaneous enlightenment and even salvation. Yet, under closer examination, there are some common patterns to how we seek them. While we are infinitely diverse in our character and desires, our strategies and methods for achieving them are remarkably similar. Of course we may be better or worse at implementing our plan, and there are always mitigating factors like culture, language and liquor; we share some inescapable beliefs about how our world functions. Our interpretation and experience of the world is personal but their origins are collective. That which we believe to be most unique to ourselves is that which we inevitably share most with others.

Jeff DeGraff

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