Thursday, July 28, 2011

Transcending Pain and Running through light.

Recently I started running.  I wanted to see if I could reduce my rare chronic pain disorder through fitness.  I've poo pooed on running 95% of my life.  I used to joke, "What's the point?  You just end up where you started."  I was ignorant.

I run in a local park I can reach by foot from my house that has a few trails.  Running with cars sucks.  Running with trees, birds, water, and sky is bliss.  Last night to beat the heat, I went for a run by moon light in the park.  Mind you the heat index at 12:30 am when I left was still in the upper 80's.  It was a 3/4 moon and I got more than I requested.

The run to the park is boring.  About a mile of necessary sidewalk to reach the wooded trail.  I turned down the trail and about 100 yards in I saw joy.  The light of the street lamps now gone, I was swallowed by the fireflies.  Their numbers were staggering.  I was immersed in a blanket of blinking lights that stole my breath.  I was swimming.  I was floating.  I was gliding like a spaceship through a sea of stars going supernova.  Each one bursting with light only long enough to pick out an individual and then it was gone.  Gone forever.  I was free falling.  I put my hands up like you do on a roller coaster when you are a child.  I had no voice to scream.  It didn't make sense anyway.  Bullfrogs cheered with their deep voices like it was the most awesome fourth of July fireworks presentation.  Crickets chirped with a deafening harmonic.  And so I leaped.

I leaped up and out.  I leaped deep and in.  I leaped to thoughtlessness.  My mind was quiet.  I left my pain with the body so I had escaped it too.  I thought of nothing.  I just witnessed from within and out.  For 400 yards I was neither here nor there.  I wasn't even.  I was gone.  Then I made the left I always do and climbed up and away from the scene of the crime.  It was over.

With the fireflies gone, the bullfrogs silent and the chirps missing I slipped back into myself.  But I had the pain of the run.  So I focused on that.  I focused in a positive way.  I have chronic pain so this was nothing in comparison and I focused on it only to keep me from replaying my days.  I wanted to be someplace with out worry and the focus on the pain was helping.  The dark was playing tricks on me now.  I was in the woods and my mind was filling in the blanks my eyes failed to sense.  Figures and shapes appearing in the black.  I climbed up and up.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had arrived at my destination.  I didn't know I was going here but there I was.

I stood on the hillside peering over an unobstructed view of the park.  The fireflies were now a hundred feet below me.  Dense.  Very dense.  I was here on the hill and there in the prairie with the fireflies.  I was also touching the moon and swimming in the lake.  I stopped running.  I didn't want to move on.  I wanted to build a house right there and move in.  It was lonely, like I needed to be.

I think of the fireflies on my windshield differently now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emboding the Night Owl and Being Comfortable Alone.

Penny Smallshire
I am a Night Owl.   I am a predator of those private moments that I can only find late at night.  I have always been like this.  Now that I have a busy life with lots of commitments, it is the only time left for me.   I can't explain it.  I just need this time.  Moments to myself that are distinctly missing during the day.  So I thieve them silently in the night.  Some times I pay for it later but its worth it.  Like a dog stealing a steak from the table knowing full well he will take a beating but he thinks the steak is worth the pain.

I love to be alone.  There is a calm and confidence that I nurture when I'm alone.  I believe there are things that can only be realized and accomplished alone.  Most people are not comfortable alone.  They seek to fill their time with the presence of others.  Sometimes to a flaw.  I am at peace alone in the vast emptiness.  I poses confidence that exceeds most.  Am I too confident?  Probably but you can't know where the line is until you cross it.  I attribute much to this time spent alone while most find being alone uncomfortable.

This comfort with myself and silence gives me an advantage.  At least in the USA, it is culturally unpleasant for two or more people clustered to be silent.  In General, it is not natural for humans to allow silence in the presence of others.  We often awkwardly fill the empty space.  Sometimes giving away ourselves.  As the predator, I am looking for the pregnant pause.  Finding it, I don't touch it.  I let it ripen.  Out waiting the other person, resisting the desire to fill the empty space, puts you in the position to react rather than act.  Reaction is the position of power and strength.
"If it doesn't serve you, don't speak" - Ben Franklin
The only way to become comfortable being alone by yourself or in the presence of others can only be acquired by regularly speeding time alone. Preferably, doing nothing of value.  Sit, walk, run, meditate, write a blog no one reads, do what ever it takes to allow the multitude of voices in your head to get their thoughts off of their chests.

Benjamin Hodgetts
The owl is my totem.  I am happy I know this.  Can't imagine not knowing my totem.  I would be at a lose.

The owl is a predatory, silent, fast, agile and his huge forward facing eyes allow him to see in stereo with little light.  Little know, their eyes are fixed in their head and it is the flexibility of their necks that allow them to survey their world.  These fixed eyes allow them to really focus on one thing in a way that humans can not.  They can see in low light.  They can see into the soul and the secrets within.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Seeing past the bug juice and projecting myself forward in the night

I'm driving.  It's late.  Real late.  I'm making my way across country.  Happy for the time we are making while the kids are asleep.  Driving any distance with kids is impossible, unless they are asleep.  I love to drive.  I love an open road.  Wife is asleep now.  No radio just the drone of the car on the road.  This stretch has a wonderful hum with it's newly applied grooves.  It's not lolling me to sleep as I am the night owl.  A predator for these moments that only happen at this hour and these rare events.  Absolutely meditation.  I am happily split into two separate beings.  I am conscious and aware that the second self is neither conscious nor aware.  It is this second unaware state that I am now culturing.  Like a proud parent on a park bench, I watch the second traipse in and out of concepts.  The conscious self is setting traps carefully to capture sparks of creativity flying off as the second plays.  These sparks are what I seek.  Things that can only be made by the ignorant playful self.

The speed is adding to the effect.  The straightness of the the road.  And the forced gaze into the oncoming lights.  Now I divide again.  I'm projected forward out of the car just beyond the windshield.  I am the car.  I'm delighted with my new third self who gets to be the car.  Even if it is a mini-van.  The cars existence is simple, drive.  And with my decades of driving experience I have a trained mind that does not need the frontal lobe to operate.  It just happens, thoughtlessly.  I am three now; the car, the ignorant and the conscious creator sliding back and forth between two children making sure each has their needs.  I don't find this difficult or exhausting but like I said a meditation.  It's relaxing and nurturing.

Technically we are doing 85miles/hr. but all three of us are standing still in the quiet of the night.  Each existing blissfully.  Two of which are only aware of themselves.  Me as the car, is totally focused on the repetitive task, rapped in a mantra of following the line.  The other runs free in fields and streams of thoughts past and present.  Creating collages of my mind.  It is these collages that are ugly, some beautiful and some are births of new concepts that the conscious self quietly records as a voyeur of true creativity.

And now it is gone!  I am dramatically and unpleasantly reunified.  I am conscious and my other selves have gone.  It's 2am in the morning.  I'm driving 85/hr and I am kept from my illusion that I am a blissful ignorant by the newest juice to be produced on the windshield, a lightening bug.  Tail still blinking, I turn on the wipers and the windshield becomes a huge smear of grease.   The road kill that I was able to focus beyond before now drives me deeper back into the car as I can no longer see efficiently.  I am once again a single being.

Slightly annoyed and depressed about the lose of my second and third self, I check my minds pockets.  And there mostly intact, are the new creative concepts left behind for me by me.  I spend the next few minutes rutting them in so as not to lose them.  Everyone is awake now.  The opportunity is gone.  I will miss myselves but am thankful for these new original thoughts.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Editing as a means to Increasing True Self

The process of editing to most, feels like cheating, especially when we put it in the context of seeking the Truth.  To most, Truth is only constructed honestly by including all parts.  This is often played out in the media when we are shown snippets of video only later to learn that the context was lost or distorted.  But the Truth can be diluted by the minutia.

An important part of my photographic art training was accepting editing.  Editing plays a huge role in photographic art.  Without it the gems would be diluted by a sea of accidents.  It was this proper editing that actually made the valuable pieces, just that, valuable.  The importance of absolute editing became clear when other students would pull my edited images from the trash and use them in their collages or other pieces.  This was a violation of my editing process.  Absolute editing meant the complete secrecy and ultimate destruction of all accidents.  Sadly, trust no one with accidents or they could be used in ways you never intended or worse don't believe to be true.

The Photographer does not feel dishonest by showing only their very best work.  In fact, they feel it is the editing that illuminates the Truth.  For them, Truth is not everything they capture but a mere fragment.  They must eliminate, in my case the bulk of the shots, to get at the Truth they was seeking.

As you know I have been weeding much this year, and this is too is editing.  I do it in pursuit of a garden that is direct and honest in its own presentation.  It has been sculpted.  My hand is ever present, everywhere you look.  And yet I hope it feels natural, effortless and beautiful (True).

Editing feels wrong and unnatural at first, you must learn to forgive and forget.  Allow yourself to believe that accidents, all though created, need to be uncreated.  Forgiveness is huge in seeking Truth (self).  You are not your past.  And as part of forgiveness you must let go as if it never happened.  Yes, that's right, Truth is partially found by editing and forgetting certain things.  For Truth is not a solid but a liquid that flows for each of us.  Truth is not something we can share with others but only find for ourselves.  Truth is, you naked, standing in front of a mirror surrounded by your best qualities and none of the bad.  The bad have been forgiven and forgotten.  Move on, you are someone new.  This is the most difficult part, Forgiving yourself.  Once you do that, it is already forgotten, for they are a coupled pair.

Your Truth is not the sum of all your experiences.  You experiences help influence who you are but your essence (Truth), right now at this very moment, does not have to bare the weight of all your accidents or all your successes.  Live in the now (no matter how much you may want not to) as the past grows distorted and cloudier by the second.  In this very moment and all moments, you are only all your best qualities, you are poor potential.  You are just born and pure.  You are True and Beautiful.  Believe this and you can live a multitude of lives always being who ever you want to be at that moment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Living and working amongst the wolves: Diffusing the Aggression

I'm an open-source developer and advocate.  I have been for a long time.  The business model is a Labor and Expertise model as all knowledge is free.  This is a wonderful way to work.  People helping people.  98% of the time, it is all warm fuzzies.  I would have it no other way.

But the wolves are out there.  Spreading anger and snapping at everyone.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the vast community of developers communicate through Instant message, email, blogs, and forums.  They lack face to face interactions and this leaves them less sensitive.  They displace their anger and attack the innocent.  They are aggressive and passive-aggressive.  I have seen ugly fights break out on twitter, IRC and blog posts.  It's not pretty.  The wolves think they are fighting with an individual(s) or ideal.  The are fighting online in front of the whole community and for the world to see.

The damage the wolves do is not just contained to their victims.  Those poor newbies who stumble on this behavior may believe this is standard fair in open source development.  This absolutely causes negative growth in developer numbers.  One rant will take an enormous number of pats on the back to overcome.

For the newbie who just got their head handed to them:

I'm sincerely sorry that happened to you.  Most developers are not like this.  Really!  Most of the time when people yell it is because they don't feel heard.  Like anyone, developers appreciate a show of effort.  I challenge you; instead of shrinking away, go do your homework and come back with a stronger more detailed explanation of your issue.  Spit the minutia.  This alone usually diffuses the situation.  Wolves appreciate those that are willing to fight for what they need and having all the facts so they can efficiently help you.  Wolves hate long conversations.  Think about the Wolf and what they need to help you when you are writing your question.
"Google before you Twitter" - unknown source

For the Wolves (That's you!  There is a Wolf in all of us.):

You have to learn to ignore the un-researched questions. Your time is precious, spend it helping those that have shown effort.  Sticks don't work with newbies.  Before you send that rant, ask yourself, "Am I going to feel better about myself after sending this?"  A post is permanent and lives on in many forms even after the source is deleted.  Don't forget, you need the pack (community) to be most effective.  Don't isolate yourself.  Send it to a friend first and see what they think.  Send it to me.  Basically, slow down and breathe.  Fighting is not Rolling Down Hill.

Andy Glass

Or better yet, engage the newbie.  You are so deep in it, you can never know what is like to start from the beginning ever again.  Talking to the newbie to figure out where the failure is happening may be very illuminating.  It might turn out it was actually your fault because your README.txt is not so readable.
"Think before you submit."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2 Methods to Success, Persistence and Procrastination

Procrastination - Success being, the problem solves itself.
I'm a procrastinator.  I'm procrastinating right now.  I should be doing something else.  But I have found that in enough cases procrastination pays off.  It doesn't work for everything.  But with a honed intuition you can learn which things to procrastinate on.

Procrastination works well when someone asks a silly question, one they should already know or could find on their own.  Neglect and Procrastination are powerful people management techniques.  If you help them too much, they will just ask you all the time.  Being unavailable to a degree, forces them to take risks and make decisions on their own.  This works best when they are explicitly empowered to make decisions, basically do their job independently.

I am a natural procrastinator, not everyone is.  Procrastination comes from an ability to detach yourself (to a point) from the task that needs to be done.  No guilt or worry to stop me from procrastinating.

Don't get me wrong, while procrastinating, I am working on the solution; building modules in my head, imagining all the potential scenarios, and generally plotting.   This is probably the most dismissed part of successful procrastination.  I am actually working on it in my head.   When the time has run out and I must execute, I am efficient as I have already done all the thinking.

Persistence - Success being, the problem is solved threw effort.
Persistence is also another method I use to succeed.  Persistence boils down to focus and will power.  These are for the hardest of tasks.  Tasks where the path is not clear.  Many trips down different paths may be required.  Again this requires a level of detachment.  You must push out all emotion and intuition.  This is a scientific endeavor.  The sooner you realize you are on the wrong path and abandon it, the more time is available to try another path.

I am a classically trained oil painter.  I have a Bachelors of Fine Art.  People often tell me they could never paint.  And they are right if they lack detached persistence.  If I don't like what the painting looks like I just added more paint.  Eventually, I will become satisfied with the work.  And the detachment helps me admit the vision of the work and the final product will never be the same.  Being detached is important.  It allows you to find things you didn't know you where looking for.  When painting don't look for something, just look.  If it looks good, your done.  

Procrastination can exist within Persistence.
It takes bravery, confidence and intuition to procrastinate and succeed.  It takes focus, drive and detached brutal self analysis to persist to the point of success.  They are not opposites.  They are not even separate choices.  They are two methods to success that may be used simultaneously.  Remember, you are a multitude and can maintain multiple world views.  You have at least two brains, left and right.  I believe you can have more.   I have at least 8 right now and this is truly OK.   My brain is working properly.

"The difference between Bravery and Stupidity is Success." - unknown origin

"Hard work often pays off after time but laziness always pays of now." - unknown origin

Friday, June 10, 2011

Honing my intuition by admitting I am a multitude.

I've wasted countless hours racking my brain on decisions when I usually go with my first intuitive choice in the end.  Why can't I trust my intuition from the start?  I must learn to "Roll Down Hill".  Consulting with a mentor has value but even mentors are occasionally wrong.  The more voices I seek the more complicated it gets and the farther the decision becomes.  Sometimes the numerous voices in my head speak out of turn, argue and out right lie to me.  I need to find The Voice in the sea of voices and do what he says without thought.

There is much scientific evidence that intuition is more accurate then random.  Intuition is the irrational sense of just knowing, without evidence, with out thinking, without research or consultation.  Most people do believe that intuition is a real sensory organ that can be honed over time.  But most of us don't trust it.  We intuitively know we have a tool (intuition) but believe it is too complicated to use, especially with out the help of a manual.

Maximizing your utilization of your own intuition is tied to believing your brain works well.  This doubt in our own intuition is rooted in our unresolved conflicts in our personal world view, lack of confidence, lack of practice and lack of external positive reinforcement when it does work.  We have been taught to doubt ourselves and embrace skepticism.  Get it right or else!  I'm here to tell you, mistakes teach me more than getting it right the first time.

In order to trust my inner voice(s) I must change the way I think my brain works.  I am actively going to marginalize all those things that are in my way of trusting myself no matter what.  So here is how I view my brain now that I have thrown out those blockades:
There is no single consciousness.  We are a collective of voices who can, when organized, sing a siren's song.  I am by design schizophrenic and identity dissociative but not to the point of disfunction.  This is what allows me to be so adaptive and change my environment to meet my needs.  I can change who I am at any moment.
In the case where I want to be intuitive,  I have decided to listen only to the voice that speaks first.  All the other voices are noise that don't deserve my attention.  I will trust this voice with absolute faith.  This will be difficult and I will have to find some ear plugs for all the doubting voices as I'm sure this is going to piss them off.  But over time I hope to become intuitive.

What makes each human unique is the conflicts in their world view that they happily live with and don't try to resolve.  It is the inner discrepancies that define us and that we sometimes call character.  I am a character.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seeing bumps like a child, Thrilling!

A child traveling, thinks bumps in the road are a thrilling part of the trip.  Most adults traveling think bumps are to be avoided and when they do hit a bump are not thrilled.  If too many bumps are encountered we become frustrated, annoyed, intolerant and eventually just mad at the road.  And anyone on it.

I seem to have a lot of bumps, it feels like more than average.  They are exhausting me and have beaten me down.  I'm frustrated and annoyed.  I'm mad and quick to attack.  I want to give up but then I think of my family and how much they need me to be happy.

So now, at this moment, I am posting a missing child poster for my inner child who thinks bumps are thrilling.  I'm printing hundreds of flyers, tacking them to poles, showing them to strangers and posting them to the web.  I have new resolve (way to ruin that word Pres. Bush) to find him some how for my family's sake.  He can't be gone or it's hopeless.

If I could locate him, I know I would be that much closer to happiness.  With this many bumps and the right child-like attitude my life could be thrilling, more thrilling than average.  Where did he go?  How did I lose him?   When exactly was the moment I changed my view on bumps in the road?

I will continue to look for him but until he shows up I'm going to practice happiness by bluffing it.

From this moment forward I am actively choosing to find bumps in my road Thrilling!  I will scream out load, throw up my hands and then roll with laughter at being caught off guard.  I will turn the wheel, jerking back and forth making sure not to miss a potential bump/thrill.

So for all of you, (Family, friends, and even others who happen to be traveling on the same road) buckle up and hang-on because I am sick of being frustrated by bumps to the point of avoiding them.  I'm going to drive like a mad man drunk on the thrill of the bumps in my road hitting every single one.  Bring on the bumps.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pulling Weeds and Clearing out space in my mind

I have begone working at home again.  Working for my self appears to be the path of least resistance right now.  I have been fighting that.  It is time to give up and give in!  I work for myself as a consultant (writing this to convince myself).  Something may present itself that changes my path in the future but I need to stop searching and focus on being a good consultant.  Like the saying, "You find true love when you stop looking".

But the transition is difficult.   Being productive with out all the buzz of the office stimulation is hard.  Without that, my mind wanders and then wanders again.  Allowing stream of consciousness is good for the soul but this does not fill contracts which ultimately pay the bills.  So I am actively, creating ritual in my day to help me.  Get up, get dress, work at desk not on the coach with the TV on, ....  I also believe that a key to being productive is giving yourself regular small breaks to relieve yourself of what ever is slowing or blocking your progress.  So for breaks lately, I have been pulling weeds.

I could pull weeds/garden all day.  So I want to limit myself to a certain amount of time.  I have settled on 20 minutes for now.  But I also want to clear my mind of everything except the task at hand.  Basically a task based mantra meditation.  So on my way out the door I set an alarm on my phone and put it in my pocket.  This way I don't have to think about the time and if I am taking too long.  Second the phone in my pocket allows me to be reachable as I am still on the job.

I have planted a new patch of native prairie.  This is my second patch.  The first patch is rocking!!!  But the new patch is flushing with weeds.  I expected this and even looked forward to pulling those weeds when they did come.  They are primarily of just 3 types right now.  I am purposely focusing on only one type.  This allows me to only have one search image (less processing (thinking)).  And this allows me to work efficiently.

Letting the timer tell me when I am finished allows me to let go of this perfectionist mentality that drives me to be complete and finish weeding the entire bed or even yard.  Weeding is never finish.  Meditation is never finished.

Photo by Tatsuro Kiuchi
My weeding philosophy is rooted in the roots.  Meaning if you don't get the root you have done more harm then good.  With out the root the weed usually returns with more branching stronger than before.  When weeding focus on the following: 
  • one species at a time
  • get the root
  • you don't have to finish
I am finding myself much happier and productive with just two 20 minute sessions of weeding a day.  Like I said earlier, I could garden all day so I have to find that balance between time spent gardening and  being productive, filling my contracts.  If I listen closely enough to myself I will naturally find this balance.  But right now my mind is busy (driving 85 in a 65 speed zone) so some self imposed traditions or rituals, I hate the word rule, will help me slow down.

Get out side!  Even if just for a few minutes.  The vitamin D will make you feel better and more productive.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happiness through not choosing.

I have forgotten two things that I once knew:
  1. Rolling Down Hill - This is a Taoist idea that choosing the easiest path is always the right path.

    This does not mean that you become a sloth.  If your goal is to climb a mountain, that is a good goal, but choose the easiest way up.

    Also, key to this belief is that when a path is in front of you walk.  Don't waste time waiting/creating another path.

    A big part of rolling down hill is trusting gravity and that it will take you where you need to go.  Worrying after choosing a path destroys all the gains of rolling down hill in the first place.

    The idea is not to choose but just roll.  Don't look back, just roll.  Don't fight yourself, just roll.  Rolling down hill is passive and not a choice at all.

    Case in point

    I have more work than I can do but for some dumb reason I keep looking, accepting or entertaining more work.  This makes no sense.  I need to stop doing and just roll.

  2. Being in the Now - I first learned of this idea from a book my wife had called, "Be here Now".  The take home for me was to become a sponge, forget everything and soak up all the energy around me.

    Right now I am thinking of all the happiness I did not soak up because I was mentally somewhere else.

    Recently I have been unhappy, lonely, depressed and in pain.  I feel deeply that this comes from thinking about things.  Being present in the moment is not about thinking.  It is the absence of thought.

    I find meditation through gardening.  It is my religion.  My connection back to Pacha Mama and all the energy that flows.  I'm going to spend more time in the yard not thinking.