In despair we often find our most honest voices and our wellsprings of motivation. In despair we can neither hide nor deceive ourselves about what makes us feel things deeply. In despair we are forced to try and change what we must change, because to live but a single additional day similarly burdened would be untenable, unthinkable. Despair propels our creative engines to make our own pain more bearable.
You exist. We'll get nowhere if we don't presume agreement about that. Existence is being.
Knowing is harder. Knowing simultaneously concerns an accumulation of information and experience, as much as it's about internalizing those things to achieve depth of understanding. Some things we know superficially -- like the rules of scoring an "out" in baseball. Some things we know deeply, like a pro player knowing where to throw the ball in the middle of a forced play with runners on first and third. Knowing is an ratio of information learned against depth of understanding. It always has room to grow, and it always has the potential to change. It even has the potential to be wrong.
Doing is where it counts. Doing means converting information into action to fit the needs or desires of circumstance. Where being confers need, and knowing describes skill, doing is the manifestation of life.
It's simple, right?
It can be, even when it's complicated.
Whether you're a creative person in the traditionally artistic sense, or you're a creative person in your law office coming up with inventive ways to settle intellectual property disputes, this simple triangle defines all solutions. Each facet presents challenges; each presents opportunities.
It's possible to change your state of being. Not always, but often. For many people there are circumstances that offer limited opportunity to change states of being. Wage slaves in third world factories cannot easily alter their daily lot. But the metaphor matters here, as even subtle ways of reorienting our thinking can sometimes unlock opportunity.
Knowing has to do with how stiff your skin may be. It takes courage to open yourself to the world, to take in new ideas, to become soft enough to absorb. Knowing is like moving water with your hand: the action must be intentional-- not so fast to cause water to become a wall, not so slow that you hand hardly moves any water at all.
Doing is about engagement. Doing is about being willing to turn the autopilot off, to grab the controls, to make something that did not exist a moment ago. People often mistake action for doing. They're similar, but they're not the same. When we go through our routine labors every day--our commutes, our same old disputes with our spouses, our weekly reports for bosses, our water bills--we're acting, but we're not doing. The real measure of doing is about being intentional, about converting being and knowing into something that radiates its own light. That light means we're making something new. That light means we're involved with something that's growing, alive, real.
Being, knowing, doing. Sometimes things that sound simple most clearly limn the parts of life about which we should aspire. And sometimes those simple sounding things actually aren't that hard to put into practice after all.