Deep Engagement

"Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways.  But where it is unwilling, it will find a thousand excuses." –The Dayaks of Borneo


Visionmaking requires deep engagement – the full application of every ounce of personal power that a human being has at his or her disposal. Personal power comes from the partnership of heart, intellect and will in support of purposeful action. Anything less than a full-hearted commitment to act will fall short or miss the mark.  Half-heartedness is the enemy of Visionmaking.  It robs us of our potency and diminishes our impact.


Deep engagement comes to those that have heeded the call of the heart and have made the commitment to pursue a path of meaning.  Meaning is  deep recognition of quality and value that awakens the human spirit.  Every human being yearns for a meaningful and purposeful life. It is as instinctual to the human spirit as the journey upstream is to the salmon. Meaning is always a journey, never a destination.  A Visionmaker accepts this paradox as a locus of transformation and abandons personal ambition for the experience of full immersion in what is most meaningful– to self, family, friendship, work, and community.  When we actively pursue meaning in our lives, we become Visionmakers.


Most people live in half measures. The crushing weight of routine, boring work, and abandoned dreams tears the fabric of the human spirit allowing vitality to leak away in a steady drip.  While it's happening, we convince ourselves that everything is normal.  We tell ourselves that we are tired and have too much to do.  Our jobs are so demanding, the kids are exhausting, the times frenetic and volatile.  Drugs, alcohol and tv are used to manage depression. It isn't so bad, we say.  Isn't it what everyone feels?  Aren't we supposed to just get through the day?


Perfect conditions for half-heartedness to take root and carry us to disengagement. The America mythologist, Joseph Campbell warns us of the peril that we face when we turn away from the heart, which is the source of deep engagement:


"Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative.  Walled in boredom, hard work, or "culture," the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.  His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless...Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death; a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his Minotaur.  All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."


Deep engagement demands that our connection to purpose and meaning is far greater than the morbid gravity field of routines. Original and direct experience of living on a path of heart and meaning is never routine, hum-drum, boring or monotonous.  Such original experience is the raw material that feeds deep engagement.  It is a headlong encounter with life that demands we apply every resource, every faculty that we have at our disposal.  In this kind of encounter, we can never remain the same. Complete transformation is the demand and the result of such deep engagement with life.


A Visionmaker is insatiably hungry for life's experience–for a direct personal awareness of and engagement with the world.  To be a dynamic force in the world, especially in these times that are calling out for positive change, is a destiny worth pursuing.  Our families, organizations and communities deserve our best...and our best is only available through deep engagement.


© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.

Posted on December 5, 2008 and filed under Uncategorized.