The only way is through

Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Have to go through it.

There is no going back. As humans we cannot go back to being foragers. As individuals we cannot go back to being kids or teenagers or our twenties. When times were good. When we didn't have pressures. The time of nostalgia.

The only way is through whatever situation we have created, creating something better as we go, hopeful that we, our communities, and our planet will be better once we get to the other side.

Stories we tell

How important is it to get to the truth? Is it even possible when thinking about memories and events that happened in the past? Do I need to ensure that people who I feel have wronged me accept my side of the story, my truth?

I see that this is mostly a useless exercise. We all believe what we want to believe. We all make what we will of our own memories. We all tell ourselves stories that we can live with. Most of the time this means not confronting the truth about ourselves, giving ourselves something palatable to digest.

While it pricks my sense of justice when I get a hint that I am being played out as a villain in a story I'm pretty sure I was the victim, it does not seem to do much good 'controlling the message' or making sure my point of view is heard.

For one thing, I am probably doing the same thing, or have done the same thing. For another, I think that consequences tend to take care of themselves. No need for me to enforce them for others.

Much better I spend that time thinking about the stories I am telling myself, both the usefulness and the honesty of them. I will speak up and tell my story. But I cannot control what other people do with it.

The trouble with internally evaluated success

I want the success of my life to be determined by me. By how well I have lived according to my personal quest: connection; conversation; consciousness; wellbeing; context awareness; creation; contribution; curation.

According to these measures it is really only me who can decide if I am tracking to this or not. I like the idea of this. I want to live this way.

I run into trouble when I simultaneously want others to recognise that I am successful as well, and when I start to want the things that will show people that I am really making it now. Things like clothes, cars, houses, being well known, excess money.

I want to have it both ways, to be successful in my quest, and the have others envious of me because of the external trappings of that success. This is particularly true when I think about those I believe have slighted me: I will show them, I tell myself.

The truth that is sinking in, of course, is that in following my quest and being successful in it, it may not look like success to anybody around me. In fact, it may look like failure. Like I have no money, no external ornaments, not being all that well known.

This can be hard to swallow. I want to be adored and follow my quest. And perhaps I will. But more likely I think, I will be joyfully invisible.

Luxuries spawn obligations

One of history's few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.  -- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I am loving every page of Sapiens, and this is one quote among many that ring true.

It challenges me to live with less, because I will actually have more freedom and less obligations the less I am able to live with.

Harari talks about our foraging ancestors, and how they would work for about four hours per day and then spend the rest of the time with their tribe. That feels about right to me. I want to work for four hours a day, and then spend the rest of the time with those I love most, or reading a book, or taking care of myself.

While this will mean I have less luxury items in my life, it will bring me closer to who I naturally am and the life I want to live.

My Mantra

I have come up with a mantra that I tell myself each morning. It goes like this:

I am here to explore the mystery and wonder of existence.

I do this through connection and conversation.

I do this through consciousness and wellbeing.

I do this through creation, contribution, and curation.

I think I am falling in love

I am reading two amazing books at the moment. Sapiens and Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs 

As I read them something is happening inside me that I don't quite understand. It feels important, like I am about to comprehend something brand new. 

This new thing seems to be about understanding at a deeper level the context within which I live. The context of my planet in space; of my species in the evolution of life; of my context in the grand scheme of time.  

And what seems to be flowing from this understanding is a new sense of purpose, and of love for the life I have, the life that is all around me, and the universe that holds it all in place. 

I have wondered recently if I truely love; if I can love again. Somehow through reading books of science I am becoming more spiritual, more loving.  

Public Speaking

Today I have my first public speaking gig in quite some time. It is something I have been wanting to get back into, and this is a fairly soft introduction as I am part of a panel.

I enjoy being on stage when I feel I have something valuable to say, but I am still so nervous about it.

I wonder where this opportunity will take me.

The bane of keeping time

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." Matsuo Basho

Sometimes I wonder if most of the problems I have with my kids come from trying to get them to do a certain thing at a certain time.

Sometimes I wonder if at certain times I would be better of doing nothing, no work, no action, no word, than doing anything.

It seems that creating an artificial deadline is helpful in getting things done. It is also helpful in stressing people out, and perhaps doing without thinking.


Right now, having taken on a full-time job, it is a lot of effort to keep the rest of my activities going. Like the podcast. And even thinking about a social life makes me want to sit down.

I remind myself to be consistent. That starting a new job takes energy, but it is not going to be this energy sapping for long. It also requires the creation of new routines which also require some trial and error before they are optimised, but then they become optimised and easy.

So for this period my priority is to do the basics of looking after myself well: sleep, food, movement, meditation. My other priority is to be consistent in producing the podcast, writing this blog, and of course showing up and producing great work at my new job.

Soon I will have time and space and energy for other things. But right now it is about getting through a slightly more difficult period.

Ready, aim, hold...

The time to hold and the time to fold...or fire.

Sometimes I know the decision that needs to be made, or the action that needs to be taken, but the timing is not right. I get a sense of it in my stomach.

Holding my nerve can be one of the hardest things to do when my head is assessing all the evidence and telling me one thing, but my intuition and gut another.

As I experience this more I trust it more, so that I do not prematurely act. 


I met a guy yesterday who is a mentor in the new organisation I work for. I recognised him as soon as I saw him.

A year ago I had heard him speak, and it turns out I receive his fortnightly email newsletter, which is one of the few I read and love.

I asked him to be a guest on my podcast, and he said my description of the podcast read like his personal motto.

Since starting at this new organisation three weeks ago, linkages like this one are happening every day. Things that I was doing in isolation by myself, that I thought were completely disconnected, are all linking up together.

I don't know where it is going, but I know I am in the right place for this moment.

Remembering names

I have heard all sorts of tricks for remembering names. I think they are good, and I especially use the association technique to help me remember.

For example, if I meet somebody called Emily, I will try to associate them with another Emily that I know, through the way they look or what they are wearing or how I know them.

But this doesn't always work, and I often find myself (like most of us I presume) in an awkward position talking to somebody whom I have met before but can't recall their name. This leads to me avoiding using their name when it would be obvious and polite to do so. Or worse still I avoid talking with them at all because I feel shame that I don't remember.

What I would like to do is scrap this shame and sense of 'should' around remembering names. When I forget somebody's name, I would like to be honest and just apologise and ask them what their name is. 

This might cause a small loss of face for myself, but allow so much more upside in being able to have a genuine conversation with the person.

And if we all did this, there would be no shame, and a lot less avoided conversations.

Idea pollination

Yesterday I met 9 new people. I am spending the week with them as they have joined the organisation I work for, and we are taking them through an induction process.

I was blown away by how many new thoughts and ideas I was pollinated with after spending just a few hours with these people.

It reminded me of the benefits of changing my context on a regular basis, whether it be hanging out with a group of people for a completely different background to mine, or changing the time and way I get to work, or reading a book on a subject I would not normally read. 

Old ideas I have been sitting with for years get new life as left-field ideas come into my consciousness. New possibilities and ventures are born.

Money Supply

Debt: The first 5000 years is a book that changed they way I think about money. It is a bit of a long, tough read, and I confess to not reading all of it. But two things a percolating within me: money is a way of pretending to be exact about something we cannot be exact about: human exchanges of all kinds. Since we have created money for our own purposes, we could design it in such a way to serve all of us, for example by create and giving more of it away, or forgiving crippling debts.

The books talks about the origins of money, and what money actually is. Money did not come out of necessity to replace a barter system that was getting too ungainly. The barter system was not actually practised that widely in human societies - before money communities held a kind of mental ledger and were usually prepared to give something they had to anybody who asked or need it. They knew that soon enough the tables would be turned.

I am trying to think of a pithy take-away, but right now there is not one forthcoming. There is something about understanding that money is a tool, and that it can be created very easily for achieving specific human purposes. There is something else about the guilt we all feel about debt, and how this is also human designed and it is not a moral absolute that everyone pays their debts.

Perhaps in understanding the origins and characteristics of money I can be less attached to it, and allow it to come and go in my life to help me achieve my purposes.

Context of Eons

I am reading a fascinating book at the moment called Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. It is taken me on a journey through our universe, and I am being blown away by every page.

One of the things that is striking me most is the spans of time it talks about - in particular, how long our species has been on the planet, as compared to how long a species like the dinosaurs survived for.

The author casually makes the remark that it is highly unlikely that our species will survive as long as the dinosaurs did. Which got me thinking, if there are other species that in time will take over ours, what are we actually here for? The idea of legacy seems quite delusional.

What I am starting to think about is that I am here to explore the nature of existence. The time of my species and of me is now. It may be that my species becomes extinct by self-creating means. It may be that another, more conscious, more eco-centre species evolves over the coming millions of years that this planet will exist. A species that would probably shake its head at the way humans handled their time on this planet.

I am a steward of this time and place. I want to do my best to understand myself, my context, and contribute a small piece to helping all beings explore the mystery of where we are.

The stress of mornings

From the moment of my waking up to arriving at my desk: this seems to be the most stressful part of my day. There is so much to fit in, and two little people who just don't seem to get the concept of time or being late.

It has got me thinking about my mornings and how I can make them less stressful. And the answer is simple. Work from home or a cafe those mornings that I also have to get the kids to school. Do not even attempt to get into the office at the same time everybody else is trying to get to the office. Do the opposite of what everybody else is doing.

The answer to my stressful mornings maybe as simple as not trying to meet an arbitrary arrival deadline. I will experiment with this over the next two weeks.

Working hours

In my head I know how ridiculous it is to think that the most important thing about my work is that I am sitting at my desk at certain hours for a certain amount of time. But I am finding it hard to challenge and shake that sense of guilt when I am not at my desk when I feel I am suppose to be there.

It is a legacy of being a consultant for so long, billing the client by the hour and having the feeling of being watched.

I am encouraged by those I work around that they don't have this assumption. They encourage me, implicitly more than explicitly, to where when and where suits me. Results are paramount over location.

Today I tried to do it all...find the fastest way into school, workout in the morning, and get into work before 9. It was a failure on most accounts...but it lead me to this new way of thinking.

So tomorrow morning after dropping my kids at school I will be doing some work from home before heading into the office. I will avoid the peak hour rush. I will be more effective and less stressed when I do work.

When encountering a new culture

I am tempted to offer all sorts of suggestions at my new place of work. Things are different here. There are different assumptions; different constraints; different rituals. My immediate reaction is to want to do things that way I am used to doing them. 

I am parking this urge for the time being. While I will offer a few suggestions, my focus is on asking questions and understanding the way things work here first.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that this organisation is functioning, and functioning well. Therefore any reactive suggestions from me may not actually be that useful. It may be adding unnecessary process, or not aligned with the values of the organisation. I want to understand how and why it works first, and then bring my experience into the picture if I think it could help.

The second reason is that I want to unlearn some of my unhelpful habits and assumptions, and the best way to do this is to observe how somebody else does it.

I think that through this approach both the organisation and I will benefit.

Favourite shape

When I was a kid my favourite shape was a circle. There was a TV show called Play School and during one segment they always started by picking one of three windows. If the circle was not chosen, tears on my behalf would ensue. 

Back working in the CBD and an office this week, it is apparent that the favourite shape of the workplace are the rectangle and square.

Desks, monitors, meeting rooms, offices, partitions, doors, streets, windows, corridors. So may rectangles and squares, everywhere I move and everywhere I look.

I have not done any research about this, but I reckon the shapes we surround ourself with influence the way we interact and out ability to create. Straight lines are easy to build and put together, but I think they limit our ability to think about the connectedness of things, the blurring together of spaces and ideas.

In our natural habitat there is barely a straight line to be seen, let alone a corner. Coast lines, paths winding through forests, tree limbs, even the outline of our own bodies.

I would like to see different shapes brought into the places we move through and pause in. Shapes inspired by the world around us and what is inspiring for us, rather than efficiencies of building and construction.

A simple way to start is to bring the complex and fluid shapes of plants into our indoor environments.

The trick to being on time... to be early.

It's as simple as that.

What a joy it is to be early. It is less stressful. The journey can be enjoyed. When arriving at the destination there is time to read, to stop and think.

And if things go pear-shaped along the way, at worst it probably means arriving a couple of minutes late.