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.
What is freedom? What is choice? What is the point of all these questions?
It’s just a start jump back on-board a train of thought. A train of thought that nearly escaped me as other needs and tasks interfered with free flowing consciousness. The ‘ooh shiney’ nature of the mind, its need to find, sort, arrange and deal with reality is a distraction from the true reality all around all of us.
It’s only when I’ve been surprised, I’ve been truly aware. I’ve achieved, what recovering drug addicts refer to as, that ‘moment of clarity’ many, many times now. Some days it flows easier than others. Sometimes I just need to eat or breathe.
I would argue however, that I have to be able to allow myself to be surprised. My awareness of my environment and those around me is naturally clouded by the distractions of the day. Every day, and in many little ways.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised around 1am this morning. And now over an hour later my mind, my thoughts, my processes, are still burning like the hot dessert sun. I make no apologies.
But I have stepped outside my bounds. I’ve said yes to my own self awareness. I’m somehow temporarily managed to avoid the societal norms I was indoctrinated with. The same norms we are all socialised to work towards. The better teacher would have just admitted that we were being taught the best they knew at the time, and that there was only one freedom we could all truly possess in our lives, and that it was up to us to test, reform, and create new standards.
But no-one of us is perfect. It is only by working together with our talents and gifts that the failings and weaknesses cease to matter.
The freedom to choose the world we create through our conceptions, and not our pre-conceptions. Oh how hard that is to hang on to.
On a daily basis I keep being told “Calm down” or “You’re doing too much” or “That isn’t good for you” and I have to wonder, why am I being told this?
I don’t fear doing too much anymore. I fear not living enough. I’ve joked I’ve probably used half my allotted loops round our closest, energy giving, solar star, and that most men in my family don’t live much past 70. What goes unstated, but I feel in every utterance, is that so many people grow old, and never live at all.
I had a random discussion the other day about retirement. I don’t get the escape from life, to move into an isolated bubble, to passively exist in a world teeming with energy – and potential new interactions and creations.
I wish I could explain how I got onto this spiral of positivity. But there was no single step.
Yes, everything happens for a reason, but as an individual navigating a species wide delta of information, I will share one key component that keeps me grounded. That keeps my megalomania in some kind of check.
I am not a digital life-form, and I am always reminded of the warning symbol of technological progress that was the penny-farthing.
I am tactile. I am emotional. I am a bio-collective organism which needs sensorial feedback. I perform daily, and often hourly, mind dumps of information and ideas I generate. And it leaves my awareness free to see the now-time around me.
The native Australians hadn’t forgotten something many have missed. I don’t need to know how the universe started; I don’t need to know the answer to every question.
All I need to know is my place in the universe. To ask better questions, and to ask for help.
This is my versions of many different things condensed into 10 lines.
1 Live And Let Live
2 Be Giving Of Yourself To Others
3 Proceed Calmly
4 Consumerism Breeds Anxiety
5 Take A Family Day Every Week
6 Find Dignified Work
7 Respect & Care For The Earth
8 Stop Being Negative
9 Don’t Preach. Just Dialogue
10 Work For Peace
1. Sometimes I doubt if there’s even one thing about me even remotely interesting to anyone else on the planet.
2. I like pies. Mostly the savory ones. Mostly. And I like using the word sometimes. Maybe I should have “Sometimes” on my headstone one day.
3. My memories and thoughts are strings of words and images held together by an over-active imagination. It makes it hard for me to be myself with others as I find it hard to form connections. Yet for some reason I still have people who call me friend. And for that I am thankful.
4. Often times I’ve stopped caring about the consequences of my choices, and prefer to make a choice than to over analyze. It at least allows me to continue to move forward.
5. I’ve never stopped loving the people no longer in my life – for some it just became impossible to exist around them – for others our paths simply divided.
6. The only bad religion is the one that doesn’t question itself, or laugh at itself, or accept that it may be wrong.
7. I study and read a lot of disconnected ideas and histories, not for their superficial value of saying I know about them, but for the fact that I value exploring my innate curiousity.
8. I still enjoy staring at clouds and seeing shapes in them
9. My two regrets in life were both caused by a fear of speaking my mind and feelings
10. My greatest achievements have come from speaking my mind and feelings.
11. I will always give a direct question an honest answer.
12. Everyone should be allowed one lie a day. Or society would implode.
13. I’m a compulsive hoarder.
14. I get restless at anything in life within a couple of years if there is not continuous development. The universal constant in my life is change.
15. Sometimes I think I live in The Village. Sometimes I think I’m the village idiot. Sometimes I think the village is built for idiots, by idiots.
16. I have no favorite band, track, or piece of music. But without music I would not be who I am. The same also goes for literature, and films.
17. I don’t want all the answers to life, I simply want to be able to craft better questions to temporary situations. All life is temporary.My focus is method, form and flow. Facts, figures and whats some people refer to as truths are a matter of perspective.
18. I have no idea how I got where I am today. Nor do I know where I am going. I consider only what to do with my next few steps. I’m beginning to suspect this instability makes me an unattractive proposition to long-term relationships.
19. Gut instinct is a better guide than logical thinking when you don’t have access to all the information I’d like. I’ve never had access to all the information I would have liked in life. Sometimes I wish my mind would release me to follow the threads of opportunity
20. I spent most of my teens contemplating why I wasn’t dead, then most of my 20s doing things that probably should have killed me. I’m not sure what the next 10years will bring. Ask me again in 10 years.
21. Sometimes I wonder why people don’t ask me the question about what I can see bothering them about me. Politeness is rude, and something children don’t possess. Being an adult seems to involve losing touch with yourself.
22. I once went 78hrs without sleep. I have also done 8 days without food. Just water. On both occasion no drugs were involved. Like my life it became a question of what I was willing to do. Two years on pain-killer with insomnia is also not part of this.
23. Knowledge is pleasure. Knowledge is pain. Knowledge is no compensation for inspiration and intuition..
24. Anyone who thinks me eccentric, has no passion for the something that no-one else cares about, has no desire to communicate without the barriers of differing languages, and no ability to laugh when everyone else is unable to see the funny side – doesn’t feel humanity as I do.
25. I have a several talents and habits that those who know the real me don’t understand. And neither do I. But this is who I am. I will no longer make apologies. Life is too short.