Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life Enhancing with author Thomas Sullivan

Thomas (Sully) Sullivan, is an author I really admire and for me a role model and exemplar of life enhancing. Sully's biography entry on wikipedia says:

Pulitzer Prize nominee Thomas Sullivan is the author of some eighty short stories and novels. His work involves characters in intensely psychological situations that range from thrillers (The Water Wolf) to comedy (The Phases of Harry Moon). Awards and recognitions are for literary and genre fiction.

According to Sully's website bio:

Sully is an avid swimmer, blader, cross-county skier and canoeist. Sullivan currently lives on a lake in Maple Grove, Minnesota, writing full-time and lecturing across the country.

Life Enhancing with Sully

I've been a subscriber to Sully's website newsletter for a couple of years now, and am always inspired by his lyrical thoughts, ideas and adventures. In his most recent newsletter, I was blown away by the following paragraph:

"Whatever your personal hurts and limitations, you can always find a way to live to the max. That’s because life actually takes place between the ears. Your dreams never rejected you, but you may have rejected your dreams. Surround yourself with the stuff of your fantasies, and you will rise to the level of ideals they represent. They will become real as you become real. If you live appearances, that’s what your ideals will become -- appearances."

Aligned and inspired by Sully's words, I thought it would be wonderfully life enhancing to interview him and ask him some questions about his thoughts on life enhancing. So today's blog entry contains Sully's deeply thoughtful and uplifting responses to the questions I posed to him. I hope you enjoy and are as inspired as I am by what Sully has written. Thanks Sully! We appreciate your time, energy and generosity in sharing your thoughts on life enhancing.

* What do you do to enhance your life? What is life enhancing for you?

For me it really begins with physical circumstances. I try to get outside of four walls, i.e., make the horizons my walls. Nature's horizons especially free me up and give me perspective. If I find myself locked into canyons of concrete and glass, there is always the sky -- particularly at night. Once I am drawing breaths that seem to come from the far corners of the universe, I can do the single simple thing that centers my day. I can think. Sounds too pat for an honest answer, right? But thinking deeply and actively is the Technicolor in my life. Without examining, savoring, anticipating and imagining, I would lose most of the adventure, intensity and romance that color my world.

* You seem to fill your life with magic and adventure... how do you motivate yourself to do the life enhancing activities such as midnight paddles on moon-filled lakes, and cross-country skiing across star-filled fields of snow-diamonds?

Your rich descriptions answer the question. Those settings are their own reward. But I guess what you mean is how does one overcome inertia in search of those vistas. For one thing, I think you have to have faith that they are there. And for another, you have to learn to find them as much through your insight as your eyes. The world teems with hidden miracles which often reveal themselves when you learn to connect the dots, to make deductions, and to grasp the underlying significance of things.

If you are constantly waiting for the world to act upon you, to show you what you in fact have to search out, then you are at the mercy of happenstance. You become a spectator as opposed to a participant. Spectators find meteors after they are hit in the head by them. Participants gather stars from light years away. Participation is as much analyzing horizons as it is activity. When you have observed and thought enough, you are in control of what happens to you, and you will always find magic and adventure.

* Why do you think 'life-enhancing' is important? What's important about having dreams, goals and inspiring purpose?

If you are not here to discover as much truth as possible, what are you here for? And dreams, goals and purpose are all way stations on the way to truths.

* Who are your role models for 'life-enhancing'? Are there any exemplars that live enhanced lives that you look to for inspiration in your own life?

Many. I try to find whatever is inspiring in everyone. And those few whom I have failed to discern in that fashion give me pause for thought too. What keeps them going? What self-doubt or fear is so great that they can continue to live drab lives of conformity or predictability or devoid of the slightest risk to their fragile gestalts? So I particularly admire those who break free from fear and guilt imposed by the expectations of others. To live as a prisoner of appearances rather than by one's own heart, mind and soul seems to me to be the greatest waste of life possible and an affront to creation.

* What would you put on the list of the most: Life Enhancing Devices, Life Enhancing Values, Life Enhancing Beliefs, Life Enhancing Skills/Strategies and Life Enhancing Behaviors?

Devices: anything that allows me to access nature or integrates with my body to produce transits, i.e., skis, roller skis, rollerblades, bikes, canoes, snowshoes. And, yes, I would add the computer to that list for its vast linkage of information.

Values: independence, resourcefulness, imagination, selflessness, a desire to know all things, romantic idealism, and the courage to live true to oneself without fear or guilt.

Beliefs: that to live by truth is the ideal, and that we all have the task of overcoming ourselves and the choice of making romantic idealism a reality.

Skills/Strategies/Behaviors: this would be an infinite list, but every item would reach for the positive. An assumption that all things are possible would motivate the list. The best skills/strategies/behaviors would be those that find an ingenious way to accomplish what seems hopeless or impossible to reconcile. And most of those forays against the impossible or seemingly contradictory would begin by dismantling mental walls and emotional barriers.

* Anything else that comes to mind for you on the subject of generating a wondrous life :)

A wondrous life should not be without pain or negatives. Opposites enhance each other. The key thing here -- the thing that turns the tide -- isn't whether or not you experience the negative but rather what you do with it. That is how triumph happens and magic becomes possible.


And for those interested in reading some of Sully's books:


  1. Hi Sully and Grant,

    Really enjoyed this blog.

    Sully, you are such an amazing and positive person that you inspire others to raise their bar too.

    Thanks for helping me to lead a better life!

    Best wishes, Helen

  2. Thanks Helen for your kind and thoughtful comments. I totally agree, Sully is an inspiration to us all and by playing with conversations and exploring life enhancing with role models like Sully, we can inspire ourselves to do more life enhancing in our own lives and the lives of those we care about.

    all the best,

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Helen and Grant. I believe that whenever we are “inspired” by thoughts we are affirming that those ideas are already present in ourselves at some level. We recognize them because they articulate something we know to be true. Maybe it’s just a matter of time on task to bring them into the active part of our lives. Forums like this one work both ways because they provide time on task, consciousness, and motivation to explore ourselves. So my gratitude to you for heightening my focus on enhancements.



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