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.

Patience

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.

One of those Saturday nights

I thought I had done so well. I was organised: had a mate lined up; had bought tickets for a band I had been trying to see for months; and it had all fallen on the Saturday night of my week without the kids.

Saturday morning I check my Facebook messages, and another friend is inviting me to an event that night. It is something I want to go to. It is a one off. I know I will have my mind blown. I will meet some amazing new people. Do I cancel on my friend?

I decide not to cancel. I decide that the incremental growth of a friendship is more important than one night of buzz.

The day goes on. I am not at my best...it has been a week of strange news and uneven flows, and I had a late night on Friday night.

The afternoon arrives. Right when I am at the peak of my anticipation about seeing my friend and the band, he calls - can't make it. Too much work on and too stressed. I am deflated. Not only am I now unable to see him, or the band, but it is past the 10am deadline to RSVP for the other event.

I stew and brood for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. What a fuck-up.

Thankfully, despite my tendency to want to dull the pain by watching TV, I managed to go to bed at 9pm. It has not been the best day of my life, but at least I can set myself up for a good day tomorrow by getting a good night's sleep.

I sleep well, and wake feeling much better. The demons of loneliness from the night before have not completely gone, but I feel clearer and stronger, like I may be able to deal with it a little bit better.

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.

Its too repetitive

I grew up in a reasonably conservative religious household. One of the things that was taboo was any music on FM radio. Rock music, as we called it.

I kept asking my mum why we weren't allowed to listen to it; why she didn't like it. The best she could come up with, perhaps because she couldn't think of a good reason herself, was that it was too repetitive. 

Thanks to that unjustifiable reason, for years I would critique music based on this criteria alone.

I can only imagine what similar moments of cloudy insight I am imparting to my kids!

 

The Grand Final

Today is Grand Final day in Melbourne. It's not my week with the boys, and right now I am missing them. I really enjoy watching the games with them, but this year it hasn't worked out.

It seem like I have heaps of other options for watching it - pubs, parties, gatherings, solo. I even had the opportunity to attend it live.

But I have been trying to work out what I actually need today. And I have decided, and feel great about, spending the day with one of my mates, at his house, watching the game.

It's the right setting for how I feel right now. It's what I need.

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.  

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. 

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 trick to being on time...

...is 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.

Bias

I watched football with a friend last night. His team was playing. His team has been so good lately that I find myself on the side of whatever team they are playing against.

What was fascinating to observe was the bias he had for his team against the other team. This is not doubt not surprising, but funnily I am actually surprised when I see it played out so starkly. My smart, aware friend had a strong bias, a bias he seems to have chosen and enjoy.

My hypothesis is that this happens in other areas of our lives as well. That we choose to be biased towards or against something, or as Julius Caesar said 'Men (people) willingly believe what they wish'.

If this is true, I think we are doing something that is against our own interest. It will make us feel good for a period of time, like we are right and others are wrong. Like we are on the right track. But reality will eventually take hold.

Better to look at things with eyes open, without bias, trying to perceive reality as it is, no matter what discomfort it brings. Because as we do this we can make decisions based on the way things are, not the way we want them to be.

I'm not busy

I feel a sense of guilt about this: I'm not busy. I have time each day where I wonder what to do next. I am at a stage of waiting for some wheels to turn, for seasons to change, for people to make up their minds, and there is nothing I can actually do to speed up the process. Hence I am not busy. 

Given I am not earning any income at the moment this does cause me some angst. I want to speed this up. I feel impatient. I want to be busy.  

As I notice this I play a thought experiment with myself. If I knew that in three weeks time the things I have been waiting for would materialise, how would that change the way I feel in this moment? 

I think I would enjoy this luxury of not being busy, of having time to spend with those I love, to dabble in musings.

Therefore unless there is an action that makes sense to me right now, that would help bring these things into being, I will make the most and enjoy being unbusy. 

No comparison

I remember growing up thinking that I wanted to do better than others. I wanted to achieve more than my dad did.

Now that I have kids of my own, I realise there is nothing more that I want than for my kids to achieve more than me. And my idea of achievement has shifted so much that it is nothing like what I used to imaging achieving when I was a kid.

Achievement for me now means something more along the lines of the awareness to know myself and listen to myself, awareness of the reality of the context of my existence, the courage to live according to the truth I understand from this awareness, and the skills to put this courage into practise.

There is no competition. We are all on a path that is bound to the path of those around us. We are all here to help each other grow and achieve. I thank my dad for helping me the way he has. I enjoy nothing more than helping my kids on their own path.

A new baseline

I remember in the past achieving a certain level of health or fitness, and then falling away from that, and then achieving it again.

It was like I had a limit that I was aiming for, a reference to a time in my youth where I was at my peak.

What I am finding is that I have learnt so much recently about what is possible for humans, for myself, that I have a new baseline.

There is no looking back any more, referencing what I used to be or how I used to feel. I feel so much better than that now. I am learning how to look after myself and to explore the wonders of existence.

And the more I learn and experience the more I see that there is so much more to explore and learn. There is no more looking back, only taking where I am now as a new baseline and platform for exploring all that I can be.

Casual Sexism

A growing awareness I have is that amount of casual sexism that exists in my language. I am not sure what prompted this, but it has come to my attention with more regularity the number of times I use a masculine word or phrase when it is not particular needed.

I think this kind of unconscious sexism is prevalent in our culture. I posted a picture on Facebook over the weekend of a pedestrian crossing that has a graphic of a walking green women instead of a walking green man. Why is it that all the graphics are men? 

These kinds of changes bring to light how tilted towards the masculine so many things are. It seems to me that there are some fantastic change being made in Australia, like the introduction of women's teams into the AFL and other sporting codes. I am sure there are many more ways that as a society we are unaware of 

Other things I ask myself include: Why are most movies dominated by male characters? Why are the children's books I read to my kids dominated by males, whether they be human or animal?

Hopefully in 20 years time when we look back these kind of things will be a source of embarrassment due to how far we have progressed.

Leaps in understanding

There are moments when my mind gets opened to a whole new quadrant of possibilities and realities. Its like I am wondering along, everything is normal, and then I stumble across something that makes something go 'pop', and the world is not quite the same any more. It has become richer, deeper and more mysterious.

I had two of these moments yesterday. One was about sexuality, it what was probably the easiest flowing podcast interview I have done, but also the most uncomfortable for me personally. I am still in two minds as to whether to actually release it to the public.

The second was about the nature of our origins, what we are actually here to do. This was an unusual conversation with my personal trainer, and had me both chuckling and speculating about how we actually evolved on this planet, about a higher calling of letting go of all jealousy, hate, control, fear, and embracing love, peace and connection.

Although both are not out of alignment with my values and the direction of exploration I have been pursuing, they took me a leap forward in my thinking to a place where I feel uncomfortable and uncertain. I like this place. My nervousness about being here in this case tells me to keep leaning in.

Of habits

Right now I am bringing a few new habits into my life. One of them is a dramatic change to the way I eat. Another is adding movement exercise back into my life.  

I have found a couple of things useful as I develop these additions and enhancements to my life.

The first, ironically, is not to think of them as new habits. For me the word habit implies that something is a chore; I am not going to have fun incorporating this into my life. It also implies that it is something I can gain, but also something I can lose.

The things I am now building into my life are not negotiables. They are my new 'MO'; the way I am going to live from this point onwards. These will then becoming building blocks for other things. They may change and grow, but they are so important that losing them as a habit is no longer an option.

The second is that I do not have to nail these new habits (or perhaps I should say practises or something else instead of habit!) right from week 1. Changing my eating means changing my shopping, how I cook, where I eat out. Learning new movements involves different coordination and new daily routines. These are not insignificant changes, and especially early on I will not be able to incorporate all the change I want to.

The important thing is that I start pointing myself in the direction I want to go. Small changes are key at this point, and all the incremental changes will be of benefit and move me closer towards the new state of being. Mistakes and failures do not mean I should give up on my 'habits'. They do not mean I am never going to make it. It means that I am in the process of learning and incorporating, and they are to be celebrated.

Deciding with mind or body

I am picking up my son from kinder. He is playing with four different wooden trucks. I walk up to him and lay down beside him.

He asks me of the four trucks, 'Which one is your favourite, Dad?'

I look at each of the trucks in turn. When I look at one of them it seems to leave me with a nicer feeling than the others. I struggle to understand why this is the case. There is nothing too different about it. I grasp for reasons. But all I am left with is an intuition that for whatever reason, this one is my favourite.

I have coffee with a friend I used to work with at a big 4 consulting firm. I am sounding him out about work opportunities. He starts describing the areas he is now working in, and most of it is around decision making and how to provide the right data for managers to make decisions, and how to understand how customers are making decisions. So much of what he talked about was about making decisions using rationality: sifting through data, weighing up pros and cons, looking at numbers.

As he talks I remember the four trucks, and  wonder if it could ever be taught in corporate circles to listen to your body when making decision.

It seems that over the past 18 months one of the big changes for me is in understanding the different ways I can make decisions. How my whole body seems to be some kind of brain, able to interpret and process information, and provide me with an answer that I don't often have words to justify.

There are times when it is best to use our rational minds for making decisions, and times when it is best to use our whole bodies, our feelings or our intuition. Trusting my body, having faith in what it is telling me even when it doesn't seem to make rational sense, is leading me in an exciting direction.