Memories of a strange moment

I have a memory of a school athletics day. I would have been about 16, in year 11, at the time. I was in a 400m race, and winning as we were coming into the home straight. Winning was not uncommon for me. I was a good runner, and had won many races in my life.

With about 50 metres to go I looked across and saw a friend of mine running second to me. He was about 10 metres behind me, and in the same house as I was.

For some reason I decided to let him win the race. The thoughts I remember going through my head were, "He hasn't won a race like this, and I have won plenty. I should let him win. It would be the nice thing to do".

So I did. I slowed down and encouraged him to run past me. He finished first, and I finished second.

This memory has stayed with me to this day, vividly. There was something significant about it that I can't quite put my finger on. Something that potentially shapes how I live to this day.

While it was probably a nice thing to let somebody else win, there was also something diminishing about it. I was intentionally making myself smaller. I was not pushing myself as hard as I could. I was not doing my best. It would have been a hollow victory for my friend.

Today I am going through a process of reflecting on the ways I hold myself back and keep myself smaller than I need be. As I do, this memory keeps coming back to me.

I am yet to full unpack its significance, but have a feeling it is hiding a treasure for me.

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.

Unique, one opportunity only, creation

A friend of mine is starting a new business where she helps physicians avoid burnout. A once burnt-out physician herself she is well equipped to help others.

As she started to work on her business she found a mentor with whom she shared her ideas in order to get guidance and direction. She found somebody whom she could trust.

You can imagine her surprise when a few months later she heard that this mentor was starting her own practise in assisting burnt-out physicians, seemingly using many of the ideas that my friend had shared with her.

My friend started to wonder if it was worth continuing. Was there room enough for both of them? Had this been a breach of trust? She reached out to her friends on Facebook.

I remember writing something back to her about how it didn't actually matter what her ex-mentor was doing, or even how many other people were assisting burnt-out physicians, whether that be many or few. The thing that matter was whether this was something that had come from within her, something she cared deeply about, felt 'lit-up' by, and compelled to bring into the world. Because nobody could copy or replicate or create the same thing that she could. Nobody else is the same as her, has lived the same experiences she has.

It was quite easy to write those words to my friend at the time, and perhaps part of me knew that one day I would need them for myself, at a time when I would find them harder to write. That moment is now for me.

I sometimes feel insecure in about my podcast, protective of my patch and feel a need to keep it safe. When I hear of other similar podcasts, my heart sinks. 

But what I wrote to my friend is also true for me. It doesn't matter how many other similar podcasts there are out there. The thing that matters is that this has come from deep enquiry of myself, that it is an authentic expression, and that I feel compelled to bring it into the world. It will be different to any other podcast, because nobody is the same person as me.

And if I don't bring this into the world, it will never exist.

True Freedom

Another thought provoking pearl from Taleb in Antifragile (or at least a pearl he has written about, if not created).  

True freedom is freedom in opinion and expression of opinion. Accepting consequences in being true to yourself. It takes courage and a strong will.  

I am not sure if I have fully developed this in my own life yet. Historically when I was an employee I was explicitly told that I could not say things that I wanted to say if they could harm the business. Implicitly I knew that if I expressed my thoughts to my colleagues they could harm my career. And I have been in relationships where I felt that my opinion and self-expression could not be handled by the other person in the relationship. 

I was not free. 

Perhaps having some money helps. Perhaps not being in a relationship helps. I think this may be a comfortable sort of freedom; the kind that is not really tested.  

The true measure then is when I have something to lose from owning my freedom, from expressing my opinion. Whether it be losing money or status or a relationship. 

I hope I am courageous enough to put any future relationship to this test. I hope I am prepared to put my ethics in front of a desire for comfort and security.  


This time with with awareness

I am on the footy field. I am 15 years old and I play for Research, the perennial strugglers who never seem to win a game. 

It is the last quarter and we are are close as we have ever been to a top team - 24 points down. Something comes over me. I start firing-up my teammates. Calling them by name. Telling them that we can do this. To believe. To find that extra bit of effort that hides behind their fear.

The ball is launched into the air by the umpire, our ruckman taps it in my direction. I gather, arch my back as I evade the lunging hand of the opposition, sprint away and launch a massive kick into our forward line. I feel elated and expressive and that I am being who I am, totally unencumbered, living in the moment.

I am in a meeting room. I am 22 years old, and I work at PWC, the consulting firm who only employ the best of the best and who win at everything.

The project is not going well, but the client doesn't know it. I know there is something to be said. I know that it will not be popular. It will be better for the client, and in the end better for PWC. And certainly better for myself. I know we can work together to make it happen. But I don't talk. I sit and nod. I comply with my manager.

I return to my desk slowly. I have a strange sad feeling about me. I feel constrained, repressed and like I am living within myself. I look around at my team mates. They look drained. Unhealthy. Well-paid and unhappy.

I am in my home. I am 38. I sit at my desk to type of blog post about what is going on for me in this moment. It is not always pretty or coherent. It is not earning me the big bucks. I feel energised and awake and liberated.

It has taken me 16 years; I am now doing with consciousness what I was, as a 15 year old, doing spontaneously.

Limited love language

I am aware that what I am about to write could be a cop out....I hope it is something more than that.

I have been talking with a friend recently about the word love. He has a podcast called 'I Love You Man', which explores ideas about male vulnerability, the feminine side of being a man, and of men expressing their non-sexual love for their male and female friends.

I actually find the idea of telling another male friend that I love him to be confronting and difficult. In spite of this there are a few men who I have told that I love them, and they have returned the phrase to me. 

I find the idea of telling a female friend that I love her with that same kind of love to be currently beyond my capability. The English word does not actually seem to allow for the simple expression of connection without the connotation of something more.

As I ponder this I start to wonder if at least part of the problem is to do with the fact we only have one word for love in our language. Many people would be aware that the ancient Greeks, for example, had six words for love, all with very specific meanings, conveying many of the different elements contained in our single word:

  • Sexual love (eros)
  • Deep friendship (philia)
  • Playful love (ludus)
  • Love for all (agape)
  • Longstanding love (pragma)
  • Self-love (philautia)

The words I want to use to express the love I feel towards my male and female friends are Philia and Pragma love - long-standing, deep friendship love.

If I had more specific words for the feelings I wanted to convey, would I be more willing to tell those I loved that I loved them; to let them know the kind of love I had for them?

Writing Fling #3: Sentimental Shadow

Part 3 of last year's free writing experiment.


Sentimentalism. The Brady Bunch. Why do we need to pretend that things are prefect? They never will be, never are. I feel angry. My heart sinks at sentimentalisms. Let's be real. Let's get real. Feel. Talk. No more bullshit. STOP PRETENDING!

Yes, my life is not what you want. Kind of not what I want either, although that is changing. But there is still good in my life, and there is bad in yours. The shadow is everywhere - one for each thing. Let's not dress it up in creepy circus clothes, covering it with cheap make-up and cheaper costumes.

I want to be free! There is a pain in my side that represents all I am not free of. I know I am holding onto something, but what? How do I work it out? 'In time', I hear my teacher say. The body knows, and will reveal its secrets in time. My job is to acknowledge what is there, what exists, without judgement or denial. 

It is there for a reason. There because I put it there. I has served me a purpose, and perhaps it sill is. It will reveal itself at the right time.

In the mean time what do I do? I continue in what I have learnt to date. The daily practises. The ongoing learning. The movement towards others, towards my depth.

I feel my humour coming back or perhaps I am expressing it for the first time. Part of me does not feel sorrow. Part of me has moved on. Maybe even humour is learnt: Through life experiences; through effort; through letting go; through responding to each moment as it is rather than drawing upon a pre-prepared laugh, line or lunge.

It is a risk, living moment by moment. It requires trust in oneself. Trust that I am enough. That I have lived. That I have wits. That I am smart and sassy. 

And I am.