These two questions do it for me every time

A contemplative ‘omm’—and the ‘awe’ that follows

Semaphores are a sign

I was contemplating what, exactly, to write about in the testing of this post.

It does not behoove me to resurrect old posts1—even for the purposes of testing out the wondrous marginalia in this online temple-home my druid friend has woven together for me.

And so, when at a loss to write, I ask myself the following question: what’s on my mind? This is the ‘OMM’ question2—it helps me rally my thoughts.

The power of this question was first made salient to me by my friend Michael Bungay Stanier’s phenomenal book The Coaching Habit. I love it in that it’s not so much a question to focus attention in a narrow way, but rather: to allow for it. Or well, perhaps it is a focussing of attention—but in a broadening and generative manner.

Hmm, this is probably maddening. But then again: the best wisdoms are found within paradox. Usually, the OMM question is enough to get me going—but if I find myself stalled or stuck—wandering without wondering (?)—I will ask myself Michael’s second prescribed question: and what else?

Michael Bungay Stanier aptly dubbed this the ‘AWE’ question.3 Ask it of yourself repeatedly—you’ll be amazed at what might emerge for you (beyond your initial/surface/default thoughts).

Of course: this is just a means to get thoughts flowing—it doesn’t help stop the flow of thoughts at all. Nor slow them down. Nor synthesise or make sense of them.

And this is where we find ourselves in a predicament—how to ‘end’ a post when our thoughts themselves have no end? How to conclude that which is otherwise infinite?

Heck: I don’t know. Some sort of meta-wit, perhaps? The tepid/flippant deployment of irony?

Hmmm: if it begins with ‘OMM’, then maybe this is the ‘UMM’ question? Umm, yeah. That’ll do.


  1. My necromantic powers are limited to hipster nostalgia. Rekindling old memories and meanings to life in this globalised postindustrial world we otherwise find ourselves within. 

  2. Which I can’t help but think of as a kind of ‘Om’ (the First Word, the sound of Creation, the essence of Ultimate Reality and Consciousness, no big deal). 

  3. For insight on actual (non acronymal awe, see this wondrous post by David Chapman