“The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way in which we use them.” – Adriana Doyle
Yesterday I had an enlighting conversation with my dear friend Umberto. We were talking about how tough times can be unique sources of learning and growth, or heavy stones dragging us down.
It is up to us to decide what to do with our pitfalls.
I was also sharing how things that I experienced as massive failures when they happened years ago are now events that I cherish as part of my growth.
Yet, to put failures and tough times in the right perspective when you’re living them, it’s definitely hard.
As usual, Umberto shared a fascinating metaphor to explain this.
“It’s a matter of volume occupied. The more space something takes within your life, the heavier you perceive it. When you widen your space, that same thing becomes smaller and smaller, until it’s almost irrelevant.”
Quite obvious, no? If you put any object right in front of your face, it looks huge, but as soon as you put some space between you and the object, it becomes smaller until it almost disappears.
But how do you do that? It looks like time would be the only thing needed to gain a wider perspective on things. However, it’s not. How many people do you know who are still chained to their past failures and can’t see beyond them?
I believe the key is to practice the art of detachment. Your not your failures, and you’re not your successes. Only when you learn to detach from the outcome of what you do, you can walk away from it. And gain the perspective needed to transform failures in learning.
Some times my mind reminds me of a chihuahua.
A friend has one of those tiny cute dogs, and I’ve done the dog-sitter a few times. It’s incredible how much energy it’s squeeze in such a small being.
There were moments in which there was no way to keep him still. He was running all around full speed, jumping from the char to the sofa, on the table. No matter how much I tried to calm him down, to pet him or to offer him some rewards. He just kept spinning around like crazy until he was exhausted. Over the months, I’ve learned to let go. There was no point in trying to control him. So, I gave him the space for his crazy running until he was ready to interact with me.
Some times my mind does the same, and it goes all over the place. It spins around, bouncing from memories to ideas, going from one place to another, from one thought to something else completely unrelated — all of this without any apparent logic or purpose.
In the beginning, it was upsetting. In particular, when it happens when I’d like to focus on something, or I am meditating. Like before writing my morning post. I was disappointed by my inability to keep my mind where I wanted. But then I realised that trying to control my thoughts is pointless. I had to let them run wild and free until peace comes. The beautiful thing is that very often with peace also come the answers. And a previously invisible pattern emerged from what were unrelated thoughts a moment before.
I love frameworks and schemas. I love finding them and, some times, creating them. And the simpler they are, the better.
I get the chills anytime I find a frame that helps me read the reality at a glance. A useful framework is like a treasure map. It provides me with guidance to move through reality and find what I’m looking for.
Frameworks and structures create also order. They draw lines dividing and connecting things, so I can make sense of what I experience.
At the same time, I cherish chaos and the shapeless space outside and between frames and structures.
Lately, I’ve realised how much energy I spent trying to fit into some frames or boxes while at the same time, I was evading or escaping them. It is as if a side of me wants to belong to something while the other side craves the freedom of nothing.
Not sure what this post is about. There are morning when I wake up with such clarity that my fingers write on their own. Other mornings are foggier. I have glimpses of something, an image, a word or a feeling. Those days, writing is like walking in the dark. My steps are hesitant, not knowing where I will end up. If I ever get somewhere.
This morning is one of them. And weird enough, when it’s too dark to see, maps become useless. So, maybe this what this post is all about. Reminding me that maps are useful, but when it’s dark, my only guidance is my senses and my inner compass.
I read somewhere that being angry with someone is like drinking poison, hoping to hurt them. It won’t affect the people you hate, but it will surely and slowly kill you.
It happens many times in my life. I allowed negative emotions and thoughts to grow within me until they became toxic and poisoned my soul.
The irony is that while I was getting sick from my own doing, nothing was changing with the situations or the people that sparked my anger.
A few weeks ago, it happened again.
On a Saturday, someone did something that really hurt me. Knowing that there wasn’t much I could do to change the situation, I tried to convince myself that I could let go and enjoy my weekend as planned.
On Sunday morning, my partner and I went visiting some friends. We went exploring a lovely Christmas market to find some inspiration for gifts.
All the time, my mind and my heart were somewhere else.
Pain became a disappointment.
Disappointment became anger.
I was poisoning my own soul.
On the way back home in the afternoon, I realised that I was wasting my energy and my time. For nothing.
When I got home, I immediately went talking with the people who hurt me. From a practical point of view, that conversation was pointless, and it didn’t solve anything. The wound and the pain are still there.
But it helped me pushing the toxic thoughts out of my system, replacing anger with compassion.
Can you remember when you were a child, and everything was a discovery? You knew nothing, so you had to be creative and figure out everything on your own.
Before we know.
I woke up with these three words in my mind.
Sometimes I have the feeling that knowledge is narrowing my possibilities. Because I know how to do something, I’m not challenged to search for other ways. Maybe there are no different ways, but I’ll never know because I’ll automatically go with what I know.
“Reality is out there.”
I remember reading this quote in an article about native americans. Still, I may be wrong, and it’s just a false memory.
Anyway, to me, this simple sentence always spoke about wonder and innocence. I am aware that we see the world not as it is, but as we are. We always filter reality through the lens of our beliefs, so the reality as we experience it is, at least in part, an internal construction based on our knowledge.
When we don’t know, we can’t make assumptions, and we experience reality for what it is. Like when we travel to new places, or we meet new people.