thomas moore's: a life at work

March 04, 2008 Candace Morris 2 Comments

Last night, three souls went to see Thomas Moore at Elliot Bay Books in the lovely Pioneer Square district of Seattle. Precursed by oysters, four beers, two glasses of wine, and a manhattan, the three casually sauntered into the wooden store, walked down the steps to the café, and waited in eager anticipation for the illustrious “Thomas Moore” to arrive.

At first, we were surprised and embarrassed at the lack of attendance. However, slowly and ever so surely in their infamous way, (their non makeup, over 50, intellectual way). Seattleites turned out and filled the basement with warmth and light.

He exceeded our expectations. He is the picture of graciousness and openness, while still vehemently passionate about his principals (at one point expressing his frustration with people finding salvation in authors). The following are from my note-taking tirade:

• Our life work, our opus, is constructed of a lot of dead ends. It’s impossible to follow one path in life – we must embrace the winding path that is our “opus.” This relates here to our vocation, but more to integrating our job into our life – so everything (sports, passions, social life, work life, family life) becomes more fluid and holistic.
• Opus is the Latin for work. Therefore, our opus is our life work – the path, the compositie of prima materia, of massa confusa, which makes our life unique and ours.
• Often the soul is a taskmaster, a dictator of your opus. Often you cannot BUT do what your opus dictates (ever seen Kelly Clark after midnight? You will see what I mean when I say that the soul will not leave you to rest – you must obey your motivations and ideas).
• Families are oversimplified when understood only as biological – there is a deep soul mixing that occurs; the carrying of opus to opus. As we are born into a family, we are not only to look and care for our personal story, but we benefit from realizing that we were born into someone else’s opus – the generational story to which we contribute.
• Often, obedience to the soul (Moore’s basic premise) will lead to oddities and abnormal behaviors. He described Emily Dickinson and how she is often dismissed with some psychological disturbance; he argued that she was perhaps only just obeying her soul – easily handling her paradoxes and giving herself plenty of room for contradictions and oddities.
• We need to deliteralize the notion of community. Community is religion with out boundaries – without dogma to separate and judge. Community is the vast scope of the entire human race. History has reached out and changed our present life through literature and art – as we often feel intimately connected to those long dead through their works. This is community, the understanding of that which has come before, is with us now sharing the planet, and will be with us to the end of the human race.
• Hearing your own soul speak REQUIRES clear and honest conversations with friends and intimates. Once you can be honest and comfortable enough to stop filtering yourself, you will hear your soul speaking to these loved ones. We leave too much unspoken, and if we could instead say things almost absurdly clearly, it would give people the chance to deal with the real you instead of the fabricated you.
• We take ourselves entirely too seriously – and therefore disappointments become great disillusionments and disorientations. If we instead see setbacks as just another curve in our opus, we can more readily embrace the twists and transitions.

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