One Apple A Day #644 – not so obvious

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. —Henry David Thoreau

No matter how much we study, travel, discover or see. We will never know everything there is to know. Each one of us will only understand some fragments of the world and reality. 

Nobody has full knowledge of reality as a whole because reality as a whole is unknowable.

Sure, we all walk on the same world and share the same reality. We label that reality as “objective”. And because it is objective, we assume that we all view it in the same way. 

But, as most of us as experienced, it’s not so simple. Each one of us experience that shared reality uniquely and subjectively. 

It’s understandable. Our limited mind would explode or freeze before the infinite complexity of reality without a simplified model to process it.

Problems arise when we forget about this subjectivity, and we assume that our fragment of reality is the whole of it. And we began what Dave Gray in his book “Liminal Thinking” calls “the battle for the obvious”.

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” ― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

One Apple A Day #642 – The Power of Belief

Your beliefs drive your behaviours. And your behaviours determine the outcome you achieve.

Stronger beliefs make you act smarter, better, and with greater resilience and determination. 

Beliefs are so powerful that they shape your identity and life.

When you believe in something, you just filter reality accordingly. I would say that you model your reality around your beliefs. That’s how powerful beliefs are.

When you truly believe in something or someone you overcome fear, doubts and anything that stands in the way of your action. 

Yet, you should never forget that your beliefs are not the truth.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius

You create your beliefs over the years, mostly unconsciously. They can make you incredibly powerful and effective, they can help you focus. But they can also limit you, making you blind to the infinite possibilities of the world.

I’m not sure about what I wanted to share this morning. Beliefs are a vast topic.

My reflections have been kindled by some conversations but mostly by witnessing the power of believing in something greater. And I’m wondering. Does that power come from the object of that belief or from the act of believing itself, from within?

One Apple A Day #641 – an infinite story

“Can we ever know who we really are?”

Lately, I’ve been pondering and writing a lot about identity. About the importance of knowing who I am and defining my actions from my identity to make them more powerful.

Then this morning, I opened the laptop for this little writing exercise of mine. As usual, I started by clearing the space closing the programs and documents I left open yesterday evening. And in one of them, a page with all text that I highlighted on the books I read recently, this question stood out.

“Can we ever know who we really are?”

Can I? 

I mean, I know my name, story, facts, skills and so on. For sure, I have knowledge about myself, but that’s just the surface. Maps, as I wrote a few days ago.

I’m also aware that there are also parts of me that I can’t see. My blind spots. Thanks to my relationships and conversations, I keep shading more light on them, but I don’t know how many are still there.

But even if I could cast away every shadow and illuminate every dark corner, I feel that it won’t be enough. There is more to me, and to everyone that our limited minds can grasp.

That’s what makes this journey of life so fascinating to me; it is infinite.

One Apple a Day #639 – the power within

Some people I love, they find peace and relief in visiting holy places. Others experience unity with humanity and nature only when they step into a sacred space of like-hearted people. Some have experienced the absolute freedom of their mind inherent nature, thanks to substances. Others feel powerful only when they are within a relationship.

It looks like we need some external help to step into our full potential.
I understand that. I am no different.
To unlock my potential, I need enough trust to tear down the walls I built to protect it. And that means to become vulnerable.

It is often easier to trust an external entity, being it a place, a person, a substance or a symbol, than ourselves.
But we should never forget that the real power, the energy is already there. It is within us.
Whatever external help we needed to overcome our limitations, we must always remember that it is not the source of our energy. It is just an instrument, a door opener.

You already have all the power within you.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

One Apple a Day #636 – Identity, maps and territory

The map is not the territory” is a powerful metaphor coined by Alfred Korzybski to illustrates the differences between belief and reality, between an object and a representation of that object.

Often, maybe too often, we confuse maps with territories, our idea or model of something with the thing itself.

Last weekend I was immersed in a powerful workshop about identity and change. While I was meditating and reflecting, a compelling question surfaced in my awareness.

Is identity the map or the territory?

To answer that question, I began jotting down a few characteristics of both. The map, being a representation, is finite and partial. That makes it knowable and understandable. But there also can be many maps of the same territory.

On the other side, the territory is one, infinite and whole. That means we can never know it or understand it all. All these characteristics imply that it can be known only through one or more maps. 

But a territory can be experienced and lived even if we don’t have a map.

I like to think of my identity as the territory. One, infinite and whole. 

I’m well aware that the only way to know me, it’s through a map. Some of them I draw, others are created by others. 

My writing is a sort of map of my territory. My work, my relationships, my stories. They are all maps.

We can only know someone through maps. 

But, as it happens when we travel, to really experience a territory, we must lift our eyes from the maps and look around. We must explore with all our senses, we must connect, immerse our hands in the messiness of things.

It is only when we set all the maps aside that we can really experience the true identity of someone. Even if we won’t be able to draw a map out of it.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

References:

One Apple A Day #634 – of a blank canvas, greed and awareness

I did it.

Even if I knew the consequences, I did what a very wise Vincent van Gogh recommended not to do. 

“Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.”

Seconds, minutes were ticking away, but nothing was coming out of my fingers. The white screen expanding and taking over my mind. 

Until I felt as if Vincent himself slapped me in the face telling me to wake up. 

So, here I am. Jotting words on the keyboard, hoping that in the end, they will fit together and make sense. 

Greed.

Yes, greed is the first word popping up.

I try to stay away as much as I can from the news. It is a way to protect my energy. But it’s impossible to ignore all the awful things going on in the world. I can’t understand how some human beings can be so cruel. Then I see small things happening around me. Good people, with good intentions making choices that hurt others.

And the word greed keeps coming back. 

But time is almost running out.

And I don’t want to close this post with negative thoughts. 

So, I balance greed with the word awareness.

In the end, it all goes back to expanding our awareness.

One Apple A Day #619 – The Golden Rule

Do you know about the “golden rule“? 

I didn’t. Or better, I’ve been taught this rule since I was a kid, but I didn’t know it has a name.

Using Wikipedia words, “the Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated“.

It’s a rule taught in many religions and cultures. You surely have heard it in one of its many forms:

  • Treat others as you would like others to treat you
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated 
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself

Being raised a Catholic, I’ve learned it as a Jesus teaching; “Love your neighbour as yourself“. And when Jesus was asked “who is my neighbour?”, he said that “your neighbour is anyone in need“. 

I’ll be back to this in a second. Before, let me jump to an ancient Mesoamerican civilisation.

“In Lak’ ech Ala K’in” is a famous phrase in the Mayan tradition. In the traditional Mayan interpretation it means “I am you, and you are me“. A modern-day version is “I am another yourself“.

Whatever the meaning you prefer, it is a statement that recognises the oneness in human beings. It is a way of greeting someone else honouring the oneness and connection. 

It’s the recognition that we are one.

Funny enough, I found this word in the comment to a song on youtube. And searching for info about it, I discover that what I’ve been told as a kid is a “Golden Rule”.

Back to my upbringing. I grew up thinking that this rule was all about reciprocity. If I behave well with others, then others will do the same with me. But there is a profound difference between setting rules for our behaviours and expanding our consciousness, so no rules are needed.

Rules, like the golden one, are useful as long as they help us raise in consciousness. Extending the concept, forms are effective when they help to grow and expand our energy. If we put all our focus on the form, the energy dries out, and we will be left with an empty shell. Maybe a golden one, but still empty.

Loving others as yourself, it’s a not a rule, not even a golden one. It is an exercise to train your humanity and expand your consciousness.

One Apple A Day #617 – Turning adversaries into partners

Yesterday I began reading a new book, “Conversation Intelligence” by Judith E. Glaser

Only a few pages into it and I’ve already found a small gem; a sentence that stood out and got me thinking.

“Turning adversaries into partners.”

Just four words, so simple yet so powerful. Reading the news, I feel I am surrounded by conflicts. Everyone is against something or someone else.

It’s all a big competition to stay on top. 

We’ve been so good at convincing ourselves that being first is the goal that we are all competing for that small place above. So, we grow jealous and protective of what we have and what we know. Yeah, we may collaborate or use the others, but in the end, the race to the top it’s a solitary race. 

Does it really have to be like this?

What if we stop seeing others as competitors?

What if we transform the idea “we all want the same” from a reason to compete into a reason to connect?

I am aware that I can’t change my world without some kind of corresponding change to my self. 

So, where do I start?

Judith Glaser suggestion is to start by changing our words. 

It seems an excellent starting for me.

What words do you need to change to turn your adversaries into your partners?

One Apple A Day #615 – out of the clay

Last Sunday, I joined an extraordinary group of men in a one day workshop. It never ceases to amaze me the magic that can bloom from a circle of men showing up with authenticity and willing to explore their vulnerability.

One of the activities we did during the day involved the use of clay.
At the end of this practice, we all were entirely covered with clay.
No wonder that people were stopping by to admire us.
A circle of man, standing still on the shore, covered in white clay head to toe. Like a group of statues from some ancient Greek temple.
We were beautiful.
Really.
At least, this is how I felt.
Beautiful.
The clay hiding all my imperfections.
So, I was standing there.
Still.
The sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, the slight chill of the breeze.
And the clay was drying out.

The more the thick layer of clay was drying up, the harder it became to move. At some point, even opening my eyes was a struggle.
I was still feeling beautiful but, at the same time, I started feeling trapped.
And then I couldn’t feel the sun anymore. Nor the breeze.

Then we finally moved, the skin itching while the clay crumbled.
We entered the sea and quickly the clay dissolved into the salty water.
It was again me, welcoming back all my imperfections and all my freedom.

It was a fascinating experience.
Going through life, we add layers and layers of beliefs and stories around ourselves. And little by little, these layers become a shell, transforming us in a beautiful statue.
But also limiting our freedom to move, transform and grow.
So, sometimes we need to break that shell, to mould so we can create freedom and make space for new stories.
Like my experience with clay, the more we wait, the harder the shell gets. Getting out of it becomes painful, at the point that someone may decide that it’s easier to learn to stand still.

P.S. Talking about synchronicity. While we were there, standing in the circle becoming statues, a small crab started walking between us on the shore. And I was reminded of the story of the lobster that I love so much.

 

Photo by Karen Maes on Unsplash