Archive for the ‘Philosophising’ Category

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

December 18, 2018

Delivered tonight in comic form from Abstruse Goose… all about looking good, avoiding looking bad, and the constructs that surround and trap us:

(Want more dancing?  Follow here…)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

December 11, 2018

There is great power in learning to “have” various states rather than “being” them.

Much in the same vein as the distinction between sadness and suffering, when we can be with and have our (often intense*)  feelings, emotions, and even thoughts, rather than automatically thinking that they are “me” and thus automatically being them, new spaces open up:

Having fear rather than being afraid.

Having uncertainty rather than being paralyzed.

Having nervousness and butterflies and tingly legs rather than being anxious and spooked.**

Having annoyance and frustration rather than being angry and enraged.

Having guilt rather than being shameful.

Having envy rather than being hopeless.

It isn’t a matter of resisting or pretending they’re not there; again, much like the distinction between sadness and suffering, it’s a matter of taking ownership and honouring them and being with them.  We are human, after all, and we humans have all those kind of things.  And they can be downright useful things to have.

To have; not to be controlled by.  Let them be, and peace of mind emerges.  Choice rises.  Everything steers away from suffering.

Let them be, and the authentic self can step to the fore, guiding things forward as we want them to be.

 

* …but even more powerful when we can notice and be with and own and have our subtle and background feelings, emotions, and especially thoughts (which are almost born from our calculating rather than authentic self) without immediately becoming them.

** I am very familiar with this before I go up on stage.  So intense!  Being with it all and essentially embracing it, as in, “I knew this was going to come, so hey, here it is!” is what gets me ready to go up and perform my heart out.  (And, depending on where I am, I’ve also at times done strings of jump kicks and other drills to burn off the nervous energy…)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

December 4, 2018

“When we try to pick out anything by itself,

we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

— John Muir

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

November 27, 2018

Competition. Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their friends! Ace that test, make the cheerleading team, win the championship, land that big contract, bankrupt your peers, make the most money, get the most awards, and look the best on Facebook! Winning, yeah, competition is all about singular winning, with everyone else worthy of scorn and ridicule. Get yours or get nothing.

At least, right from the get-go, that’s how competition is presented to us.

Thing is, that wasn’t really the original meaning for the word. The Latin root from which we get compete, competere, instead means “strive in common; strive after something in company with or together.”

To compete does not require turning everything into a zero-sum equation.

As William McDonough put it: “It means the way Olympic athletes train with each other. They get fit together, and then they compete. The Williams sisters compete – one wins Wimbledon. So we’ve been looking at the idea of competition as a way of cooperating in order to get fit together.”

Inside this broader view of competition, we leave less destruction in our wake. We begin to truly play games – games that enliven us without all the extra layers of significance we’ve piled on. We empower ourselves and those around us, leading to even better games and better conclusions. We get to be supported and grow together. And we gain freedom from unnecessary stress, consternation, and mental duress*.

Best of all, we get to have way more fun.

 

* Which, amusingly, all work to hinder our performance in the game. We feel worse, do worse, and suffer more under the outcome!

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

November 20, 2018

“From time to time we receive letters from readers who wonder why there’s so much moralizing in our mags. They take great pains to point out that comics are supposed to be escapist reading and nothing more. But somehow, I can’t see it that way. It seems to me that a story without a message, however subliminal, is like a man without a soul. In fact, even the most escapist literature of all – old time fairy tales and heroic legends – contained moral and philosophical points of view. At every college campus where I may speak, there’s as much discussion of war and peace, civil rights, and the so-called youth rebellion as there is of our Marvel mags per se. None of us lives in a vacuum – none of us is untouched by the everyday events around us – events which shape our stories just as they shape our lives. Sure our tales can be called escapist – but just because something’s for fun, doesn’t mean we have to blanket our brains as we read it!

Excelsior!”

— Stan Lee

 

Storytelling is one of the, if not the, thing that makes us human.  It is one of our greatest gifts.  A good story can excite us, can move us, can inspire us, can make us feel all manner of feels.  Stories can touch us deeply.  And, most importantly, it is through stories, both heard and our own, that we come to know ourselves and our world.  Our very identity and relation to the world is codified through story.  This conflux of narratives is what gives us our experience of life.

Storytelling is something that is to be honoured, cherished, nurtured, supported.  The stories we tell are just as important as the equations and knowledge and skills we teach.  Entertainment is fabulous!  And entertainment is never in opposition to great and intentful storytelling.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

November 13, 2018

If you want to draw water,

You do not dig six one-foot wells.

You dig one six-foot well.

Variations on this phrase have been attributed to many great philosophers and thinkers over the years (be it Sufi or Buddha or some other), but no matter its origin (which I’d wager is more likely to be pedestrian rather than profound), it remains a lovely little didactic parable that nicely encapsulates a number of philosophical hooks to leap from.

For one, it can be taken as a tale of intention and perseverance: “To flit about and abandon things quickly may not always yield that which will slake your thirst.”

It may also be taken as a tale of collaboration and unity: “When we dig only for ourselves, we come up short; when we dig together, we can reach rewards of superabundance.”

And for me, the most profound comes when I take it this way: “Remember that there are many valid paths, and everyone ends up drinking from the same water.  We don’t need to divide ourselves based on the specific well.  The important part is that we are digging our well, that our well aims true, and that we dig deep enough to reach the water of spirit and enlightenment.”

In both martial and philosophical arts, I have found that any “style” or “method” or “philosophy” developed to a high level begins to sound the same.  They start talking about the same things.  They have to.  Because we are all the same human body, and the same human being.  They may talk about things differently, or have different conceptual frameworks, but ultimately they are all pointing to the same thing.  The same water.

Search to find a good spot for a well.  Set yourself down.  And start digging.

When you find another drinking from a different well, revel in the water below.  Look down their well to see what new things might reflect back for you.   Share the experiences of the waters you have reached.

When we cease our flitting, begin our digging, work together to bore downward, and support each other in our well building efforts, we can all reach and revel in that sweet, cool, water below.

h1

Gaming Thursday: Conveying the Rules

November 8, 2018

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve had fun trying out many new game systems.  From role playing to pure tactical, from the crunchy to the more narrative, they’ve run the gamut.  Through this all I’ve been reminded of two very big things:

  • Crafting a smooth, engaging, fun, and enabling game system is an art.
  • Conveying those rules with clarity and structure is an entirely separate art.

Neither of these are revelatory, of course.  But while most of these new systems I’ve come to enjoy and find quite well done, almost all of them suffer greatly in the second department.  Often, horribly so.

It’s a strange phenomenon to me, this consistency to which rulesets these days (in my experience, at any rate) are both poorly explained, with awkward, ambiguous, and poorly worded statements, and poorly laid out, with the most egregious (and, again, common) being interlocking rules elements that are strangely separated in the book by whole chapters and further compounded by meagre, or worse, no index so you can’t readily find things mid-game.  It is one reason I’ve been making so many cheat sheets – designing them allows me to see and learn how the game rules actually fit together*, with the in-play for quick reference being almost a bonus feature.

This may be starting to sound a bit like a rant, and truly I don’t mean it to be.  Instead, these two things have been great reminders for me of the importance of finding and trusting good editors and, even more importantly, being aware of what we’re good at, and what we’re not.  We may be brilliant at designing rules, but we may stink at writing them down (or vice versa).  Hiring people to aid us in those roles where we are weak can be the best thing for us and the game.

It is also a reminder that when I do find a game that excellently handles both bits, celebrate both the rules but even more so the authors/team who wrote them and laid out the book with such elegance.  For it is most certainly not a given.

 

* To which really allows one to see just how strange the organization can be by noting how many times, forty or sixty pages later in the book, you need to go back and add something to a part of the cheat sheet you thought you were done with.