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Scary TV and Happy focus

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There was a marathon of Forensic Files on and I couldn’t stop watching. Probably 5-6 episodes. It was around 5am when I forced myself to turn off the TV and turn over in bed to confront my brand new paranoia that someone was going to break in through the sliding door, or was hiding in the room and watching me. There was a heavy darkness that wasn’t there just hours before. I began to question if I really truly knew the psychology of friends, neighbors…the man I slept beside, and even myself.  Who can be trusted? Are we ever safe?  I began to think very darkly of the world.

But I knew it was all in my mind and I was layering dark filters over reality.

I was lying in fluffy a warm bed at a 4-star Disney resort hotel. The sun was probably coming up soon.  There was a manicured lawn outside lined with pink flowers.  I was at Disney World, mentally cowering. Why?  Nothing felt awful before I watched TV.

The mind goes places and takes me with it. It’s ok, everything is ok. Just tame it. Just calm it down, take it back down to reality, remove those dark lenses. Look at what’s here. Here’s a moment. Here’s another moment. Here’s some light peaking through the curtains, shining off the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head on the base of the lamp.

Watching scary things are an amazing example of how the mind can color our reality and steal joy from otherwise perfectly fine moments.  If these things — which we know are just contained within a screen — have the power to steer our minds so much in one direction, it’s no wonder that we are so easily influenced by things that happen to us in real life.

Someone yells at me from a car as I’m trying to cross the street, and suddenly for hours after, the world seems like it’s full of rude people and I feel dismayed.  But it’s still the same day I was having earlier, when all seemed well and right.

Put it into a beautiful practice.  Mind where I put my focus.

Just a dude making a noise in a car. Just someone passing through my day.

Just a show about stuff gone wrong.  Just a story with images.

Look at what’s in front of me, physically here.  Is there anything truly wrong at this moment?  

Nope…I’m fine.

What is good at this exact moment?

My keyboard glows a pretty purple backlit hue.  The heater is on and I am warm.  I have a bottle of water.

Breathe into the moment and feel what’s good about this second, and then the next.

Take it moment by moment and find what’s already just fine.

Everything is just passing before us.

I can’t control what will happen, but I can practice minding my focus.  Each happy moment is just a practice of focusing.  It’s making a choice of where to put my mind.  If my life’s purpose is to be happy and live in hope, that’s a clear focus to choose.

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The genius of the right way

There is no right way.

There are just ways that happened to work — for the most part — for a lot of people.   There are ways that are promoted by people who have a  large following.  There are statistics showing that a lot of people who do a certain something, obtain a particular outcome.

A lot of people may flourish in a formal education setting, but maybe formality happens to be what holds you back.

A lot of people may need around 10,000 hours to become really good at something, while with your skill-set you may need 15,000…or 500.

A lot of performers get a particular education and move to a particular city to do their craft, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same to be just as fulfilled.

A lot of addicts never manage to get their lives together, but a lot of them really do… in a huge way.

Just because 6 days a week for 4 years, plus several retreats in India worked for internet-famous yoga teachers, doesn’t mean that that’s exactly what you need to reach your desired level of fitness.

We all have things in common, but we have so many things that are NOT in common with “a lot” of people.

The world doesn’t make that much sense!  If only it made that much sense and held that much order.

We don’t even all want the same things for the same reasons, learn in the same way, act out of from the same inspiration, or live for the same goals!

We are way too complex creatures for such things.

Listening to recommended ways-that-work for a lot of people is smart.  But developing our own custom methodology and applying personalized adjustments to those paths is the genius behind it all.

 

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Probing our perception of others

Imagine if a famous director, a best-selling author, your hardest teacher, and a highly-regarded critic, got abducted by aliens wielding giant anal-probes.

The aliens strip them all naked and attach ID numbers to their rear-ends.

Then the probing begins.  They note the height, weight, and general health of each subject, and then the statistics that the probing procures.

They’re then carted away and stored in numerical order amidst a vast bio-library for future reference.

I wish I had some some witty social-political-toilet joke as a finale in here, but that’s not the point.

The point is that if you take someone out of their natural environment, they lose all context.  In another land, their accolades, titles, education, and physical embellishments mean nothing.  They’re just another curious foreign being flailing around making funny noises.

No matter what kind of prestige (or lack thereof) one might have, their words and sense of stature are not really real.  They have as much impact on us as we allow them to, and if we agree with that version of reality.

In our reality, their judgements of us could either mean the decisive voice of a demigod, or just funny noises.

It’s all in our perception.

We have a choice how deep we want to go.

What to do when there’s nothing you can do

When problems are way beyond my scale.

When I feel helpless and without control.

When there’s no obvious, effective answer:

The only way to properly pay respects to lives lost, or lives in peril, is to fully appreciate my own.  Instead of feeling guilt for having while others are lacking, instead appreciate fully.

Not the fluffy & blingy, but the essential.

The things that would immediately go missed whilst taking the last breaths of life.

That hug.  That smell. That familiar life-long voice on the phone.  My limbs and senses and the ever-changing smoggy sky.  Breakfast.  Second breakfast.  Going to work in relative peace.  Tea.  Everyday luxuries.

To ignore and trivialize these things would be to miss the point of terror.
Where I am and as who I am… I can only do so much as far as truly “fighting” back.
But not allowing that terror to invade my own life, until it physically may, is my own personal little war against it.

I have no control over the world.  But I have full control over my world.
To realize the moments, the minutes…to recognize that every second that I have is one that someone else no longer has, is tragedy.  Yet to use that as a cause for despair within my personal, otherwise unmarred life would be even more tragic.

The point is to use my grief as a starkly star-lit realization of the things I’ve always known but never wanted to face.
We are mortal.  Shit happens out of nowhere.  Life is chaos and doesn’t adhere to reason or fairness.

BUT.
This brings me back to reality.  What really matters.
Using tragedy as awareness and appreciation and getting lost in the bittersweet-savory-salty-picante-delicious present reality… regardless… is the true, good, fight.

And whatever may come will find me spending my unknowing last moments in appreciation and joy and questionably appropriate humor.
And I could die at peace.

So until then…

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Building the Monastery

Sacred:

  • reverently dedicated to a purpose.
  • regarded with reverence.

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Sometime recently this blog turned 3.  And I’ve been MIA this whole month.

But I’ve been more present than ever in Life.

I’ve been building things, creating beauty for myself from things regarded as worthless.

It’s not about money.  It’s not about possessions.  It’s not about impressions.

These things do matter…but only as far as they do to myself.

How does my money, possessions, surroundings, feel to me?  Myself?

Do I like the impression that I give MYSELF?

I was wrong by trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations.  Doing it their way, for them, in thinking that I will get what I want out of it. It’s manipulative.

I want my surroundings to be for me.

I used to decorate with other people’s perceptions in mind.  I’ve gone through party-scene, romantic, wannabe-elegant, artsy-lofty….  They each provided a piece of the feeling I was going for, but never fully fulfilling what I needed for myself.

The purpose now is for my space to offer me peace, happiness, and ultimately a place to flourish and grow and create.  A cocoon.  A safe place of free flowing thought and aesthetic.

Do not underestimate your cocoon, your pupation station, your sacred spot dedicated to your own personal purpose.

Build it with attention to detail for what works for you, not impressions to the world.

4 months ago I was beginning to fancy goals such as Balenciaga purses and Range Rovers.

They are beautiful, but for what?  If they were invisible to the rest of the world would I still honestly want them as much?

Same with everything I keep in my space.

I’m aiming to impress myself.  Just me.

What would that look like?

 

 

 

Constant Reminders & Imperfect Circles

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I am always intrigued by tattoos with a philosophy — something that a person has chosen to embed permanently upon themselves as a constant reminder of what they strive towards.

Epicurus taught that although we may know what we believe in, it’s easy to forget and lose sight of our true priorities amidst the pressures and chaos of life.  His remedy for this was having constant reminders.  A dedicated follower one famously etched Epicurus’ teachings onto a wall in the middle of a plaza as a giant red reminder that true happiness is found within us, not in material wealth.

A similar modern practice is placing symbols around the home as unavoidable reminders of one’s religious devotion… or who one should root for on game day.

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I don’t have any tattoos, and at this point in my life I doubt I ever will.  I just can’t commit, and while I love them on other people I quite like my raw canvas of blank skin.

Instead I’ve always found ways to non-invasively remind myself of a particular philosophy I was eager to practice.

As a teenager I strung a tiny snowflake charm around my neck to remind me of Iceland (I was enamored with Bjork’s unique creative philosophy).  I’ve kept tiny notebooks as little bibles full of quotes & pictures that I would refer to throughout the day to inspire me and get my focus back on track.  Music playlists were also extremely helpful.

My recent interest has been in imperfect circles.

They show how much beauty there is in the unexpected, the incomplete, the naturally occurring.  The raw Enso circle in Zen philosophy represents the moment the mind is free to let the body create.

Plus they often magically appear under frequented cups of caffeine or wine… pretty coool.IMG_1709

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Mad Max Mentality

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When you’re dead set on your purpose, you don’t allow in anything other than what supports you.

Despite the deplorable conditions of the Mad Max realm, the most charismatic inhabitants are fiery and awe-inspiring in how much they give themselves to their survival.

They know they’re going to have to suffer big-time.  They know the world is out to get them.   They don’t know what easy is.  But they do it because they believe it’s worth it.  They don’t have a choice.

In the post-apocalypse no one has time to say “this shouldn’t be happening to me”.  Life is happening, and when you’re fully invested in your purpose it’s supposed to hurt.   It’s supposed to be a struggle.  You bleed and face a million obstacles, but it’s wonderful because you’re fighting for what you truly believe in.

This is how I want to live, fighting like a brute –albeit a slightly more refined and less lethal brute– for my true interests, my true self, my true beliefs and worthiness.

The kamikaze-like war boys of Mad Max live brainwashed and deprived, but I don’t need to be in order to tap into that mental drive and crazed intention.

All the excitement, suspense, tragedy and glory of the high-definition thriller happen to each and every one of us, although we tend to write off their momentousness because we perceive them as mundane annoyances.

When everything around me seems to be going wrong, it can still be a lovely day.  Because the struggle is worth what I believe in.

Combat skills can only go as far as the mental skills that drives it.   The only real thing that will keep us going when it feels like our world is imploding is how we choose to think about it.