Philosophy Tuesday

It is not a matter of either/or.  It is not a matter of rational versus emotional.  For is not that one is bad and the other good.  They are not the antithesis of each other.  True, that is often how we do present them:  pitted against each other, one scorned, the other lauded.

But we are human.  Awesomeness and capability come from integration.  Not separation.  It is about being knowledge intelligent as well as emotionally intelligent.  For without the two holding hands in tandem we are all too easily led astray.

Remember – we can rationalize anything.  Our consciousness and awareness come to us already pre-filtered.  Without integration, we don’t realize when we’ve been hooked and we hoodwink ourselves into beliefs and actions that, while we are ready to viciously defend them, are unproductive and even counter to that which we profess.  Sometimes even beliefs and actions that run counter to the very logic altar at which we claim we worship.

Remember – we can feel anything.  All sorts of things.  And that emotions and feelings come and go.  And that is great.  It is a delicious part of being human.  Without them we wouldn’t feel joy, delight, wonder, gratitude, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, lust, love…  Even better, shaped by our past, in any given moment emotions also provide to us valuable signals.  They are an indicator that something’s up.  That we might want to pay attention.  It is a signal, however, that can get very intense.  Without integration, if we give them full control of the wheel, it can lead to some pretty wild driving indeed.  Fishtails, spinouts, burnouts, and crashes easily follow.

With that we can step into the practice of integration.  Intertwining.  Letting our knowledge intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and indeed all of our various intelligences speak to each other, collaborate, and operate together.  And together, in harmony, choosing the best mode to be in the moment, giving us being and actions that move us forward in the best of ways.

And to cap it off, we get to enjoy it all.

 

(I still blame Descartes…)

Philosophy Tuesday

“Resentment is a fire that burns with more light than heat.”

— Shakespeare (Well, not really, but kinda)

There is much to commend in that quote.  Resentment, animosity, bitterness, rancor, anger, malice…  these can all be powerful motivators.  As in, they can really propel us to get a lot done.  Channeling them pushes us into action and make us productive.  Sometimes even very, very, productive.

The thing is though, just as there is a difference between being efficient and being effective, there is a difference between being productive and being fruitful.  Resentment may get a lot done, but the results are often crap.  It doesn’t produce outcomes or works of weight and worthiness that we can be proud of.

So, while it may give us that burning rush, it’s all just a light show, with nothing left to actually drive the engine.  It doesn’t move us forward.  Worse, we may well, unwittingly, instead lead ourselves backwards.

It can be work to find a fuel that burns warmer than that of resentment and its ilk, but it is worth it.  It may not churn out things as fast, and it may feel less viscerally intense, but that which it produces endures… solid, authentic, beautiful, and worthy of who we truly are.

 

* For an additional take on this, here’s a video by John Green

Philosophy Tuesday

As we go through life – and this is doubly so when we are young, for it starts very early on – we hear things, see things, and learn things about the world and about living in it.  Things that we ourselves are years away from having to actually live through or to deal with.  Even in the cases where we experience some aspect(s) of it directly, like being a child of a parent, we are not on that end of it yet.  It is still some other world that lives out there in our, potential, future.

But we’re still getting ready for it.  Not deliberately… no, our minds are simply always vacuuming in all the data it can and vacuuming it in from everywhere.  Some comes from directly observing those around us, some comes from hearing what they say and describe, some comes from education, and a surprising amount comes from the stories we hear.  Just by the sheer amount and presence of media (be it books, movies, TV, etc) and, especially, due to the narrative structures they use to make it compelling, the stories we consume play a big role in what goes into our vacuum.

And like that our minds continue to pull it all in, cross-referencing, checking which ones agree with each other, bolstering those that are repeated, and all the while forming its model of the world.  A model that turns out to be invisible to us and that is, to our day-in and day-out lived experience, simply reality.  It’s how things are.

Until that one day when BAM!  In an instant we cross that bridge and are now confronted with a whole ‘new’ situation.  BAM, married.  BAM, a parent.  BAM, in the workforce.   BAM, an adult.  BAM, (fill in the blank here).  All of a sudden, we’re thrust into it.  We’ve never been there.  We’ve never done this.  We’ve never been in this position before.  There’s nothing for our prediction engine to guide us on how to behave/be/act.

Except, of course, for those realities, all those things about the world and living in it that, for years, our mind has dutifully been storing and crafting.  And so we immediately pull from it, and likewise immediately begin living it out.  We perpetuate it.  It becomes a self-fulfilling story.  Even if the outcome may not be great or bring us or those around us joy, freedom, love, or peace of mind, it’s how it IS… we’ve even got all this evidence for it.  How could we act or be in any other way?  It’d be like breaking the laws of physics, right?

Not at all.  No physics breaking required.  Just being present, mindful, and remembering that many of the ways we experience things and many of the ways we be in life are not intentional on our part.  We weren’t squeezed out of the womb with it.  Rather, we are just repeating a pattern that we automatically cobbled together over time.  And, most importantly, it doesn’t have to be that way, nor do we have to be that way.  It is interruptable.

And with that we instantly gain a measure of freedom and choice.  In that clearing, we can reorient ourselves towards new and glorious possibilities, possibilities that enliven us and all those around us.

Philosophy Tuesday

Someone once shared with me the story about a woman who had long been a triathlete.  She did all the things a triathlete would do:  she trained diligently every day (often in the early morning), she traveled to and entered several races every year, she tracked her progress and adjusted things as needed, read magazines, bought all the clothes, had the sticker on her car, and on and on.  It was a big part of her life.  Being a triathlete was her thing!  She WAS a triathlete!  She told people she loved it.  And through all that she indeed did quite well at it.

One day though, doing the kind of philosophical work that unconceals our barriers and blind spots, she saw for herself what had her be so ambitious and so single-minded when it came to triathlons.  Many, many years ago, through circumstances that involved her father, she had made a decision:  “I will be a triathlete, and I will crush it.”  She also remembered that soon thereafter is when she began training, and how quickly it grew to the prominent (and priority) place it now held in her life.  How all encompassing it had become.

And, no doubt, that decision gave her drive, it gave her tenacity, and it pushed her onward when things were tough, whether in training, on the field, or in other areas of her life.  It was motivation, and, well, it motivated, always moving things forward as a powerful force in her life that helped her achieve a lot of results she liked.

But it gave her no freedom.  It wasn’t a possibility, it was a position, quickly forged into her identity with all the rigidness and protection that entailed.  She wasn’t in it for herself.  It may have originated from an initial desire, yes, but it became about her father, about those circumstances, about the world, and all about something that happened in her past.  Everything she did in that area came with a big dose of “in order to”, an ulterior (albeit hidden) motive.

And so, even though she was successful, there was little fulfillment in it all.

Years later, sitting in that workshop, the memory of that decision vivid.  But in that moment of clarity and insight, she put aside her decision.  She let it go, and in so doing, a clearing was created, inside of which a choice arose:  to swim/bike/run, or not to swim/bike/run.

She chose to be a triathlete.

Now, it may seem like there’s no switch there, or that it was the easy choice, but it was so much more than that.  Because for first time she, authentically, from a place of freedom, was choosing to be a triathlete.  In a way that was totally in line with who she wanted to be.  And inside of that choice, something amazing happened.  For the first time she began to enjoy the training, the competitions, and the whole world of being a triathlete both to a level that she never knew was possible, and in a way that she hadn’t realized before how much she hadn’t been enjoying it.  The lid had been blown off on her experience, and it was awesome.

To the outside observer, it may seem that nothing had changed.  But for her, the whole world shifted.  She was expressing herself fully through the act of the triathlon.  She gained fulfilment, passion, joy, excitement, elation.  And, as a sweet, sweet bonus, her performance rocketed to new heights almost instantly.  Unbridled, she soared, in both meanings of the word.

Mindfulness, ontological digging, and transformation are wonderful for those areas of our lives where something isn’t working or isn’t working as well as we’d like to.  But the impact they can have on those areas of life that are already going great can be even more exciting and amazing.  Not to mention definitively surprising!  After all, it was already good, how much better can it be?

Bucketloads better, it turns out.

Ready to reach for the stars?  Let’s go…

Philosophy Tuesday

Our great desire and need to be known and heard and related

Often shows up to us as “attention being paid to me.”

And yet, so much of our life now is about that not happening.

Through phones interrupting interactions,

Or communication happening online,

Or through some game or thing,

There is always something mediating & hiding whether attention is being paid,

Or displacing the attention,

Or reducing it through memes and emojis and entirely common

(And thus non personal/attention giving)

Modes, means, and methods of communication.

And so we seek it, seek that attention, seek it hard.

And we desire and pursue fame,

Because we think famous people are payed attention.

And we desire and pursue the likes, hearts, reblogs, etc,

Because, gosh, wouldn’t that be grand.

So much attention!

Of course, and unfortunately,

It still wouldn’t be the attention of the type we seek.

We’d be left still wanting,

With a whole host of other, new, barriers and pitfalls.

As the saying goes,

“There’s no cheese down that tunnel.”

Fame, likes, and similar are all and the only the tools we see,

But they’re not the tools that will work.

There are other, more fruitful, ways to spend our energies,

To create the bonds and relations we want.

A chance to leave behind straitjacket systems & tools & their trap of currency,

And simply be present, pay attention, listen, and connect.

Philosophy Tuesday

I mean, it’s not like it’s unclear why we hate being or feeling wrong…  because, in many ways, it makes sense.  Out on the savanna, being right equaled being alive.  A right prediction, a right memory, a right deduction, eating the right food, it all meant we survived for another day.  A wrong prediction, a wrong snack, a wrong turn, all could lead us to being eaten or otherwise not surviving for another day.

No wonder we were given such a potent euphoric reward for being right!

The thing is, though, we don’t live in the savanna anymore.  Not everything is insta-kill or be killed.  Not everything needs to be run through that filter.  And when we let our system of “being right” run amok on autopilot, we often lead ourselves down unhelpful, unhealthy, and even, ironically, down paths that are downright dangerous.  We can become so attached to being right over everything else that we accidentally screw ourselves, along with our friends, family, communities, and humanity.  We hoodwink ourselves into being miserable, into sabotage, and away from the clear and present mind that is necessary for making actual, proper, and lucid, choices.

That is the paradox.  Being attached to being right will often lead us instead to the opposite.  Which, doubly ironically, also means that being attached to being right lowers our chances of that euphoric reward from being right that we crave so much in the first place.  Oops.

When we let go of the savanna attachment and allow ourselves to be present, it gives us all the freedom to shine.  We can walk down the middle path, wending our way forever forward towards the sunny uplands of connectedness, fortune, and the more perfect futures we all crave.

Philosophy Tuesday

“The thing is, meaning is not absolute.  It does not reside inside the artwork to be unlocked or decoded and revealed.  Meaning is something that happens between you and the work.  It’s different for you than it is for anyone else, and it’s always shifting, changing, depending on who you are and where you are, and what’s happening around you.

The artist does not own the meaning.  And neither do the experts or authorities who present it to you.  They are voices in the room, often very good and compelling ones, but ultimately you determine the meaning for yourself and only for yourself. “

Sarah Urist Green from The Art Assignment

 

(Love love love this quote, so much great stuff is buried within!  For starters its a great reminder on how we interact with art and that we are, indeed, interacting with it.  It may seem, at first, like we’re only passive observers but it is quite the opposite — there is a lot going on.  It is almost an ongoing dialogue, and the meaning we create is very much our own that may both include and be irrespective of that of the artist’s.

Even greater however is that we can replace “art,” “artist,” and “artwork” with “events,” “the world,” or “our life” in order to delve into the quote even deeper and explore its implications, inspirations, and liberations in whole new ways.  What layers can we uncover in doing so?  What dialogues that we thought we had long ago settled upon can we re-engage with?  What new futures might we write?

So much to unpack, both in the quote and inside of our created meanings.  Very well said.)

Philosophy Tuesday

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a threat against your body and a threat against your identity.

To your brain, and your calculating self, they are the same, and it will fight back equally hard against either of them.

Thing is, only one of them is actually fatal.

The other is a chance for a glorious transformation, stepping forward into a new light that you, and your authentic self, will love much more.

Philosophy Tuesday

It is always good to remember that apologies

(True, authentic apologies)

Are not automatic means to an end.

*

We cannot simply put a quarter

Into the “apology/forgiveness machine

And expect that all is forgotten,

And we go back to doing whatever it is

We want to do.

*

Real apologies take courage,

They take vulnerability,

And they come from a place

Of ownership and responsibility.

*

We are OFFERING an apology,

That may or may not be ACCEPTED.

And even if it IS

That doesn’t mean

That there won’t be any CONSEQUENCES.

*

To truly apologize

We offer the apology,

And then take

(Yes, take!)

WHATEVER WE GET.

*

We acknowledge the impact

That our actions have had,

Whether intentional or not,

And we make no demands.

*

We ask for forgiveness.

And we take what we get.