Connections, Context & Classifications

Last month I was painfully aware that I was in a rut. A rut not entirely of my own making. Thankfully my wandering thoughts reminded me of a book. In this book a Japanese monk lists every item he owns, and how he looks after them throughout the year. It was very detailed, but short chapters – and a short book.

Then it clicked. About halfway through I realised he wasn’t really trying to point out every detail of his life.

What he was showing was that he cared deeply about every detail of his life, his possessions and his home. After all he was responsible for them, and they weren’t going to look after themselves.

And here I was – working, coming home and repeating. A little task here, a phone call there. A zoom, some music, a book. I was lyrically speaking, comfortably numb. And with the lock-down rules the ‘treats’ & ‘rewards’ & my normal ‘king of the cuppa’ or ‘gig night!’ lifestyle are well and truly DENIED! (I’m not discussing my cravings for saunas or a Jacuzzi or swimming for more than 30 minutes)

I’ve even added back a webcam, and while I find video chats exhausting, at least I’ve seen and heard a few people. I’d love to go somewhere I’ve never been, to see things I’ve never seen, to meet strangers & see the world through their eyes – even for a moment. Over time some of these strangers have become life-time friends.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Lao Tzu

Then an option to say YES, to roll the dice & doing something new arose. And it tickled something that’s increasingly bugging me the entire lock-down. The next day my single phrase scribbling self was producing whole paragraphs of thoughts

I have lots of hobbies, to relax, to learn, to improve. However I can say with candid honesty that until this year I had not been aware just how critical my time with my eclectic mix of friends & my love of experiences over possession are to me. It’s as if I’ve been running at 3/10 – and everyone just kind of tells me just to ‘put up with it’ or ‘we’re all in the same boat’

With all due respect. Shut the fuck up. We are not in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. And I hit the storm full speed, riding a financial & spiritual whirlwind from the fallout from 10 years with Herwithnoname.

Don’t we all have ‘deaths of selves’ over time as we metamorphose into a new self?

At least some people do.

How do I identify good selves in other people? And to some extent how do I identity the traits in me I like?

There’s always a lot of ‘gut instinct’ or ‘vibe’ going on – but that only really ever gets me past the threshold of hey/hellos/passing nod – so here’s a rough list…that came out of unleashing myself from my comfortable space… which will do for now. New experiences & new people are inspiring to me.. mostly. Then again even a bad example can be a great lesson.

I’m sure some people may see hints of the ‘Law of Attraction’ in here, but that’s always been too woolly and vague to resonate with me. I’m not interested in wishful thinking. I prefer to see wish fulfillment. And like the monk, I’m responsible for making it happen.

The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.

Christopher Hitchens

When I talk with this person do I feel elevated? Do they ask personal thought-provoking questions that move the discussion forward in some way? Maybe they don’t resort to generic front-page topics, maybe it feels like you’re off the record with a journalist that actually cares about me? Am I in a dialogue of ideas or a tit-for-tat chest thumping status test?

Are they showing any self-reflection? Have they done the pre-work of gaining insights on themselves, are they not victimized by their emotional state, by what frustrates or angers them? Do they have some self control? Do they see whats playful and whats not? Do they weigh up long term consequences versus short term satiation?

Do they grasp fair play or openness? Are you exploring a mental or physical space together? If they do not get personal over disagreements & they know debates are a battleground for ideas only – I’m always always in for the ride! However, if pushed to the edge, buckle up – because I would guess, like m,e they will eviscerate their opponent in spectacular fashion. I’d probably still smile and not raise my voice. 15 years of dealing with drunks drills that deep in your soul.

Do they know their audience and never talk down to people? Intelligent people do not patronize others, even for a quick laugh. (Until of course they are no longer a stranger!) Will they scratch and claw their way to common ground with anyone? Powerful friendships are not birthed out of proximity, only meaningful connection.

Is this person results-oriented? Can they own their failures and move on? – Not dwelling in the past or fixating on issues that can only be solved with a time machine. Is “Onwards and Upwards” part of their creed? Do they have something greater than intelligence? Do they have some resilience in the face of a chaotic reality?

We all want connections, but the context and how I classify those connections is key. Time to stop this and see what succeeds today.

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