Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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Jim Ley

I always have my camera ready while hiking.

I was prepared when twelve wild turkeys strutted
their stuff under the hot early afternoon July sun.
I had seen a wild turkey before, but not hens and pouts together. I became very focused!

So, when a distraction presented itself I marginalized it.

I was not truly prepared for the unexpected. If I had been, I would have shifted my focus to the distraction. The distraction ultimately became the object of much confusion.

According to a seasoned Yosemite Park Ranger, I had photographed an adolescent mountain lion. An orthopedic surgeon concurred. A university biology professor and a county biologist were
certain I had photographed a bobcat.

If I had been prepared, the confusion would have been avoided. I would have focused on the cat.

David Armano

Today I thought I would write a follow up to the Loyola post, but Ben Franklin had other plans.

The beauty of having a form of expression which allows you to meander is just that—you can wander because you don't have someone breathing down your neck telling you to "stay on track".

Maybe this is why side projects can be so rewarding...

Roger von Oech

Jim: Great story. BTW, I recommend all readers to check out your site. [Click on Jim's link and you'll see a lot of turkeys.]

David: Maybe you'll do a post this week on the new tax laws. Now, that would be some "meandering" on your part. But you're right about getting way-laid: blogging is a great medium for that.

David Anderson

another excellent thought piece, Roger....

but I have to qualify the "expect the unexpected or you won't find it" bit to this extent:
if you SEEK the unexpected, you won't find it either... meaning if you are over-focused on catching the unexpected, it is unlikely to appear, and will stay hidden in the bushes.

so the approach is more: know that the unexpected often appears and be alert for such an appearance... without seeking.

I had a similar saying presented to me as an insight about synchronicity.... that if I look for synchronicity, it won't happen... but if I am alert that synchronicity may appear... well... it often does and to a startling degree, even.

We might consider that in this regard, what is "unexpected", but relevant, is, actually, a synchronicity.

that is to say: a lot of things are connected in some mysterious way at normally unperceived levels.... and those connections are often not straight-line, linear, apparent cause and effect kinds of connections, yet they do surface ... they do emerge, especially if we are willing to allow them and encourage them by taking note.... by paying with our attention.

ps: I very much relate-to and like your attention to the anomalous things... certainly these "exceptions to the rule" are indeed doorways, which if explored may be revelatory and at the least suggest there is something wrong or incomplete about the current rule.

I have never understood why most-often science ignores anomalies and "impossibilities" instead of targeting such for research.... in my thinking these are precisely where much research ought to be open-mindedly applied.

Actually in re-reading what I just wrote, I see that I do understand why anomalies are generally ignored or explained away as "supernatural intervention"..... an anomaly demonstrates a discontiunity of the existing reality model (whatever that model may be).... so unless one is psychologically prepared to venture out of certainty into uncertainty, well... better leave those anomalies alone or beat them away with a large dogmatic stick.

Roger von Oech

David: What a juicy comment! I especially like the way you have expressed the following about the "unexpected." Indeed, it's worth repeating:

"If you SEEK the unexpected, you won't find it either... meaning if you are over-focused on catching the unexpected, it is unlikely to appear, and will stay hidden in the bushes. So the approach is more: know that the unexpected often appears and be alert for such an appearance... without seeking."

You can't be too eager to grasp it, or it won't show its head. Thanks for taking time to write.

Judy of the woods

I came across a line somewhere 'Hold tight with loose hands' which also works metaphorically with thoughts. Also, the famous line from the Star War film 'Let the force be with you' is about allowing things to happen and being open to receive them, be they ideas, actions or opportunities. A concept one can only intuit, but a powerful one when allowed to work.

Valeria Maltoni


This ties into the thought that often we discard our own ideas when they seem too obvious and do not take the time to look at them from even a slightly different angle.

I often try to see the words through someone else's lens. What if I were DA, for example, what would I think? If CK said this, what would it sound like?

Your stepping stones to something else is also something I do... as I connect the dots behind me.

I would suggest to David Anderson that a great way to be prepared to greet what comes, his "anomaly", is to dip yourself fully in the present. That will allow you to forget what you set out to see and expect and be receptive to what shows up instead.

David Anderson

I have heard of the present.
But where is it? is it here or did it just fly past? or is it over there? a moment ago? (I am only partially kidding. Despite all the talk of "now" and "present", I'm thinking that no one can understand it, really, until one has been there for oneself... which I don't think I have.... and also, most likely, should one have this experience personally, it is likely that it cannot actually be communicated to someone who has not… precisely because it is a quite different mind-state.)

There is a saying popular recently in The Circles Of The Younger --- at least that is what a radio broadcast said --- "That's so 5 minutes ago". I find this saying revealing and provocative despite it was used to illustrate how The Younger now expect near-instant gratification and have very short, cyber-induced, attention spans.

so, apparently, it is all about where we place our attention, for how long, and how fixedly, isn't it?

Robert Hruzek

Roger, this is a dangerous wonderful principle! In fact, it prompted me to write about an incident that happened when I was a child. On my way toward one thing, I was distracted by another, and it literally changed my life!

That guy Heraclitus - he was pretty smart, wasn't he? :-)

Roger von Oech

Judy o'the Woods: Thanks for the references (hope I'm not holding loose with tight hands).

Valeria: If you were thinking like DA, you'd be saying to yourself, "How can I turn this obvious thing into a blog post." Per your suggestion to David Anderson on "Dipping yourself into the present": I often fail to to do this because I'm looking where I'm going.

David: Nice riff on talking about time. You and St. Augustine would be good buddies. I think you've distilled it into a nice sentence: "it is all about where we place our attention, for how long, and how fixedly, isn't it?"

Robert: Thanks for sharing that story. I encourage readers to check it out on the link in his comment that leads to his site. It's one of those "sperm hits the egg" moments."

Dr. K-Orthopedic Surgeon

Great post!

Sometimes the accidental discovery of something new is as thrilling as the first time you ride your bicycle.

It is when we decide to do something new in hopes to find something is where it all starts and just when we think that we know it all, once again we will be proven wrong along the way.

Hope something like this will happen to me before my life ends.

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