There are moments when I am simply waiting. I want something to happen so badly. I want somebody to reply to my text message. I want hear that the projects I have been working on are progressing. That something is happening. I am moving towards my goals.

Tonight is one of those nights. And as I sit here, impatiently, I start to wonder what I am actually wanting. Is it simply for somebody to tell me that things are okay? That my plans are coming to pass? Or is is loneliness? That I want to feel part of something, and like somebody is listening to what I have to say?

I don't think either of those two desires are necessarily bad, and I think I am looking for both of them. I want to move steadily towards my goals. And I want to share the journey with others, and have them respond when I reach out to them.

There is something else I can be at times like this. In not hearing from them, in not getting some feedback that I am moving towards my goals, nothing in my life is actually different tonight. My goals are not going to progress. I will hear from these people in time. It is patient that I can be. It is simply being in this moment, and not doing, that I can be.

Doing nothing can be such a hard thing. Wisdom is knowing when to act, and doing it, and when to be patient, and pause.

Tonight, for me, it is time to pause.

Susceptibility to externalities

After a day of ego blows the day before, it was fascinating to reflect on my response yesterday. I gravitated towards creating things, and showing people what I had created in order to get positive feedback, and help me feel better again.

One of the things I created was a soccer goal for my kids, combining two other soccer goals that were falling apart to make one that was perfect for our purposes. The act of creating was soothing. Able to look at something I had put together from other, discarded, things was satisfying. Showing it to others gave me a buzz.

I did some similar things with a spreadsheet I had created at work: refining, revelling, showing. And with some sales I made of the breath mints.

I am taking some good and not so good points in reflecting on this. The good is that in acting despite how I feel, particularly in creating or refining something, I feel empowered and alive and taking responsibility for my plight. This is so good in helping me move through a tricky patch.

The not so good is the desire for and boost I get from external feedback. In itself there is nothing wrong with it, it can be a great way of validating that I have created something useful. However if I become dependant upon the feedback to get me out of a tricky patch, then I am simply finding the other end of the spectrum of where I was: having my feelings dictated by externalities.

Externalities can be a good guide, but I don't want them to be my driving force. This I want to come from within.

Get that one out of the way

The first time I do something I am often surprised at how badly I do it. I'm not sure if this is arrogance or ego. I assume I can be good at things first time round.  

What I have learnt is that the first time is bound to be poor. It isn't about quality. It's about learning.  

For example I took my kids to the snow yesterday. I had no idea the ordeal this would become. But we all learnt so much. We all want to come back one day. And the kids got a taste, feel and smell of something new. 

Stress and sickness as feedback, not defect

'The recognition of the role of stress in the development of illness leads to the important notion of illness as a "problem solver." Because of social and cultural conditioning, people often find it impossible to release their stresses in healthy ways, and therefore choose - consciously or unconsciously - to get sick as a way out....
'Examples of this (self-healing) phenomenon would be periods of ill health involving minor symptoms. These are normal and natural stages in the organism's process of restoring balance by interrupting our usual activities and forcing a change of pace.' --Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi in The Systems View of Life

These quotes combine a couple of things that I have been thinking about, based on the book above and Antifragile, which I have written about previously. 

The idea is that when we experience sickness, stress, temperatures, feelings of lethargy, this is our body's way of giving us feedback.

My approach in the past has been to pump in things into my body, to add more of something into the mix in order to rectify the 'problem'.

My evolving approach is to first stop and listen to the feedback, to observe it and consider what it might be trying to tell me, and then to act.

Usually it is telling me something like 'remove stress from your life', or 'you are sleep deprived', or 'put better things into your body'. Rarely is it telling me 'you need to take more Panadol or drink more coffee'.

A headache is not a defect, something to be numbed by a drug without thought. A headache is an indication that something about the way I am living is out of whack and it would probably be a good idea to rectify it.