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The Druid Way

It’s Trying that Counts – Not the Result: Tea with a Druid 23

May 14th, 2018

Every year The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids gives a scholarship for original research into Druidry and related subjects. This year’s recipient of the Mount Haemus Award is Dr Dana Driscoll, whose contribution can be read here. In this evening’s ‘Tea with a Druid’ I focus on one of her key findings – that the Order’s promotion of creative expression, through Eisteddfodau, differs significantly from the traditional approach where the stress is on the final ‘product’ – the performance and its excellence. Instead we focus on the joys and benefits of ‘trying’ rather than ‘accomplishing’: on the process rather than the product.
This idea can be applied to many other areas of life: by removing the competitive, perfectionist impulse, we can encourage creative expression within each of us, and revel in the ‘Now’ rather than the ‘Maybe in the Future’.
This reminds me of the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicot who proposed the idea of the ‘Good Enough Parent’. By accepting that we can be ‘good enough’ rather than trying to be ‘the best’ or ‘perfect’, we become more contented, more human as opposed to driven, and perhaps even better parents. What if we apply this idea to our spiritual lives? Let’s have a ‘Good Enough Meditation’, in which we accept whatever we are experiencing, instead of wishing it was better!

9 Responses to “It’s Trying that Counts – Not the Result: Tea with a Druid 23”

  1. -An interesting view of process; I have always followed a process led approach in my creative endeavours and so rarely finished anything or settled anywhere inwardly, I have valued journey.
    If we live in our heads our Ideas can take over while our hearts whisper quietly…

    Rich abundance is discovered in the detail of “The Now” where our spirits may find rest, I have been looking at David Hockney’s Spring paintings where I think he has expressed this so beautifully.
    Thank you, I appreciate your thoughts over a cup of tea.xx

  2. Hiya P! Good points here. Natch, knowing me, you’ll know I have some quibbles ;-)…. Just to background, don’t know if I ever told you?? I did a lot of work in this area years ago – in my psychotherapy practice and in workshops I taught, focussing on process not product. So my first quibble is with your use of the term ‘try’ – it still references a product, or some thing or way that one attempts: an ideal outside of oneself. Whereas a true focus on process avoids trying, striving, attempting any possible thing, and instead concentrates on an in-the-moment awareness of what’s actually being experienced in the art-making process – the feel of the clay, the vibration of one’s voice, the purity of colour, the resonance of sound, the flowering of thought. No end product at all, not even an imperfect one.

    This leads to quib 2: the expression ‘good enough’ STILL embodies comparison, competition, evaluation, measurement – because absolutely implicit in it is the idea of an ideal, a perfect product that OK, this once, you’ll let yourself not live up to. But it’s still there in the very heart of ‘good enough.’ Good enough for … what?

    A final point. Many of us accept the notion, or at least take as a good working hypothesis, that we are immortal-ish spiritual beings who ‘incarnate’ multiple times. A practical corollary of this is that any given life we happen to be experiencing (“the particular congruence of spacetime that I called my life” as Chimera Obscura says in The Book of Luce) isn’t the whole shebang. In any one life, we’re just ‘meant to’ do THAT life as well as we can, learn THOSE lessons, be THAT person, make THOSE mistakes, heal THOSE wounds, etc. This recognition helps to narrow the scope, as it were, and give some useful perspective. Not, how can I be perfect? but How can I be most me?

    • Wonderful quibbles LR! I agree but perhaps Step One involves the ‘only trying’ and ‘good enough’ ideas, then once taken on board one can go further into process/experience only. The phenomenologist shrink’s suggestion (and Sophrology). But to quibble with your first quibble: “concentrates on an in-the-moment awareness of what’s actually being experienced in the art-making process” But to get there you have to try – ie make an effort. Otherwise you’re a vegetable or even that – heaven forbid! – a pudding! Some effort is required, some trying, to raise pen or brush… And great final point, though a quibble here too: “the particular congruence of spacetime that I called my life” – is it not more accurately: ““the experience I am having within a particular congruence of spacetime that I called my life” rather than simply the congruence itself?” And in finishing with the injunction to be ‘most me’ is one not invoking ideas of trying to be more, with the suggestion that I may fail and be only half myself, and therefore must strive for the most, which becomes another ideal like perfection?

    • haha! Metaphysical hair splitting, I love it. I would say the it’s an illusion to think that ‘I’ am separate from a time/space nexus – this implies what we know to be impossible: observation without observer. Being most me is intended to suggest an inward rather than an outward direction, to orient oneself towards one’s own, inner-derived notions of who and what to be/do. One can never not be oneself. I’m saying most me, not best me!

  3. Do you mean being the wo/man human being as isness contextually extant is the immeasurable gift and measuring the human doing outcome subtly shaves just past the point of perceiving the state which generated the measurable result…sort of thing?

  4. When I explore areas of spirituality on my own, I feel more compelled to focus on an end result. I think it’s because there are no guarantees my efforts will be fruitful. While all experiences are valuable, they are not necessarily of equal value – even if they’re just not of equal value to every person.

    It was part of the beauty of joining OBOD, and having faith that this path has been tested and proven over decades. It allows me to appreciate the moment in that Druid experience without being distracted with worrying about where it will end up. When I look into spirituality in other Pagan paths, I find myself wishing they had an organization like OBOD that I trust to have its priorities in the right order.

It's great to read your comments!