One Apple A Day #648 – space to wander

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I love aphorisms. They carry so much meaning and power in just a few words. 

This one from Antoine de Saint-Exupery is probably my favourite one.

I have a tendency to fill up my life. To fall into the collecting mindset.

Once it was with things. 

I remember a period in my life when I was going around with my wallet full of old receipts and bills. It was so thick I couldn’t carry it in my pocket. Obviously, for no reason at all. Some of them were so old that they were faded entirely away.

And it was the same with all sorts of stuff.

Until I throw everything away and I started living with just what I need.

What a liberation it has been.

But the collecting mindset is still there. Not as strong as before, but sometimes it shows up. In this case, with ideas and projects. Something less visible but that can quickly fill up life.

This morning I couldn’t find an idea for my writing. The clock was ticking, and I was ready to give up this morning apple. I have so many things to do that I can spend too much time seeking an idea. 

I started reading some quotes seeking inspiration.

Then this one by Antoine de Saint-Exupery called me, from the bottom of an email I sent. And I realise that I’ve been filling up my life with ideas an projects and there is little space left to wander there where ideas grow.

 

Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to what I say yes to. 

Awakening creativity is a subtraction process.

One Apple A Day #647 – words and periphery

“It is this way with all of us concerning language: we believe that we know something about the feelings themselves when we speak of trees, colours, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things – metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.” — Nietzsche 

Sitting in silence, my mind was wandering among memories, fragments of conversations, words. There are days where I know what I want to share. I don’t have to reflect or dig within in search of ideas. It’s already there, right in front of me, perfectly on focus.

Other days I just wander until something captures my attention. It usually happens at the periphery of my attention, where things don’t have a well-defined shape. It’s more like a movement, something that my senses register, but my mind can’t fully recognise.

And this morning that fragment was something about words and names.

A flash from my childhood and my hobbies of giving fantasy names to everything. A fuzzy memory of a dear friend telling me that we should create a new job title, the “name creators”. People who go around and give names to things, so they become real.

And finally, that quote from Niche appeared. Or better, I couldn’t remember anything about it, not even the author. It was only a thin thread, waving at the very end of my perception. I slowly shift my attention towards that thread until I found all the connections and the quote appears.

And I knew I wanted to share it and write about it. I wanted to write about an experience I had a few weeks ago when I learned the importance of giving a name to emotions. So we can recognise them and take care of them.

I wanted to do all of that, but then the time run out.

And what I’m left with is the feeling that I should explore more often the periphery of my perception.

One Apple A Day #643 – the wellspring inside

“Coming up from a wellspring inside.”

I didn’t pick the card this morning. It felt on the floor while I was shuffling the deck.
For a while now, I have been thinking about the potential the lies within us. I’ve been pondering on the need for external help to express that potential as if we don’t trust enough our own potential.

And then, this morning, I picked this drawing, these colours and these words and I sat to meditate. And I struggled. I wasn’t able to focus, my greedy mind was all over the place mixing past, present and future.

I realised that the sturdier walls holding back my extraordinary potential are within me. In my case, it’s my overactive mind and its need to prove its capabilities. Whenever I try to access my other intelligences, to connect with that wellspring inside, my mind gets excited and creates resistance.

That is why we need, or at least I need, help from the outside. Something or someone I trust enough to let go of my inner resistance so I can connect with the wellspring of creativity and beauty I hold inside.

I honestly think that we all need that kind of support. The good news is that there is plenty available around us, we just need to reach out.


The BeTheChange cards are such a creativity opener for me. They help me confront my inner walls from their more fragile side, the outside one. So that I can source my inspiration from my wellspring inside.

One Apple A Day #630 – Being Kidful

A lot of colours and the word “kidfulness” shine on my BeTheChange card this morning.
This card is one of my favourites, so I sat down to meditate on it.

By the way, kidfulness is not even a proper word.
It’s not in the dictionary. And maybe this is why I love it even more.
The word itself is an act of kidfulness.

When I was a kid, and my vocabulary was limited, it was common to create new words and names to reference the things for which I didn’t have one.

Anyway, I picked this card. And I love it so much that I wanted to write something meaningful and exciting.

So, I thought it was a good idea to start from my childhood. I spent some time retrieving memories, but nothing exciting emerged from that exploration.
A dead end.

Then I thought that “kidfulness” is a kind of superpower. I set out to explore this direction, thinking of what would be the characteristics of a superhero with such incredible power; kidfulness.
Another dead end.

Time was running out, and I had nothing valuable to share.
Just some failed experiments.

And then it hit me. Isn’t that being kidful?
Experimenting with things.
Because for a kid, everything is new, and nothing makes sense, yet.
Everything is experience and experiments and play.

And sometimes what kids do have no sense, apparently. Their activities lead to no results from an adult point of view.
However, they are tremendously important.
And they are not scared to share what they achieved with others.
Until we, adults, bring judgments in the picture and the idea of success and failure.
So, here I am.
After fifteen minutes I haven’t reached a point, I’m not even sure there was a point to achieve, but I’m sharing what I wrote anyway.
As a kid would do.

One Apple A Day #627 – being silly

Silly: having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.

Somewhere I read that our brain is a powerful predictive machine. It is endlessly evaluating everything within and without us, looking out for cues about what will happen. All of this to reduce uncertainty, avoid pain and, when possible, achieve success and joy.

We are always predicting what will happen in the next moment.

The problem I see is that all those predictions are based on our past experiences. We predict the outcome of something in the future based on our memories of what happened in the past. 

I can sense a high risk of repeating ourselves, trapped in some kind of pleasure loop. This predictive approach makes our brain blind to everything possible but improbable.

That’s why some silliness is desperately needed. As Steven Pressfield wrote in his book “Do The Work”; “Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.

I believe that most of the ones we celebrate as explorers, artists, pioneers, inventors, innovators are just silly people who delivered a result. But before getting there, before achieving a recognizable outcome, they were all most probably regarded as silly or foolish.

When we go for the impossible, we may find something possible but unpredictable on the way.

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” — form Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

One Apple A Day #625 – Inhale and Exhale

Inhale and exhale.

Breathing is such a simple action. So simple most of the time we don’t pay attention to it.
Yet, it is the essence of life.
Inhale; new air is pulled within your lungs, oxygen is taken all around through your blood feeding your cells.
Exhale; the stale air that has finished its job is flushed out, the carbon dioxide is released back to air.

Inhale and exhale.

It is so easy to forget to breathe. Sometimes, while I’m doing something intense, like a physical exercise, I realise that I hold my breath.

So, this morning I was sitting in my usual place, waiting for the inspiration to come so I could start writing. But nothing was emerging from the chaos of thoughts spinning in my mind.
Then I realised that I was holding my breath again.

Inhale and exhale.

I’ve been holding my creative breathing lately. Exhaling maybe, but forgetting to inhale. Flushing out a lot of ideas and words without breathing in new inspirations through experiences, reading and conversations.

Inhale and exhale.

One Apple A Day #623 – stop barking and get out

Last day of September, a foggy Monday morning outside. As usual, I pick my BeTheChange card, and it says “Integration”. What a powerful word to ponder and write on upon.

I fold in my favourite position on the sofá, I start the soft music to create the right atmosphere, I close my eyes, and I focus on my breathing. I let the word sink and move freely, so new connections can manifest and words for my morning writing emerge to the surface of my awareness.

The loud barking and snarling of my dog pull me back abruptly in the here and now. The barking spreads to the other dogs around. It looks like we are under attack. I stop the music and get up. If someone is invading us at least, I want to look them in the face.

And there they are, the scary enemies; a group of kids walking to school outside the gate. 

I don’t know if it’s common to all dogs, but mine has this funny feature. When she’s inside the garden, behind closed gates, she is incredibly alert. Anytime someone gets close to the entrance, even if they are only walking by, she goes crazy as if her kingdom is under attack.

When we take her out for a walk, she becomes just the cutest and most quiet dog. Nothing is a danger, and everything becomes something to discover. It is as if one she’s out of the boundaries of the garden, fear is replaced with curiosity.

I sit back on the couch to write this post, and this thought keeps spinning in my head. Isn’t it the same for everyone? If we close ourselves behind the gate of our own world of stories, ideas and beliefs, fear is triggered when someone approaches our gate. At least until we’re not sure they’re friends. But if we cross that threshold, if we get out, then curiosity takes over. With nothing more to protect, we open up to the infinite magic of the universe.

This small story is also a reminder that inspiration can hide in the most unexpected places, like a dog barking and disrupting your meditation.

P.S. the one in the photo is my dog.

One Apple A Day #622 – the beauty of chaos

I am a messy person in the material world. I leave things everywhere, I keep stuff scattered all around the room. My messiness is one of the reasons I’ve decided to own as little as possible. It’s easier to keep my messiness under control with fewer things to manage.

Anyway, I love chaos. And most of all, I like to make sense of chaos. When I can connect apparently disconnected things, when I can find a shape or form that allow understanding something messy, then I’m happy. 

I’ve always been like that. I think it started when I was very young. I was a shy, goofy and solitary kid. I spent a lot of time on my own reading, dreaming and trying to make sense of things. Somehow, it was my superpower, what makes me unique among all the other kids. And also not one of the most popular, but that’s another story.

However, growing up this burning desire to make sense, to understand everything that happens, became a weight holding me back. I was spending all my energy trying to understand life instead of living it. I thought that if I could make sense of things, then I would find happiness. And in doing that, I wasn’t really living. 

I was observing chaos from the threshold without stepping in.

Then, a few years ago, the chaos hit me like a surge. 

My life went upside down. 

Nothing made sense anymore. I’ve been pulled into the messiness of life and forced to live it.

At that time, I felt lost and hurt. But I’ve also learned the beauty of experiencing life as it is, without the need to make sense but just allowing for the magic to emerge from chaos.

“Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and galaxies come into being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms.” — from Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

One Apple A Day #616 – repeat and create

I’m not a proper musician, but I play a bit.
Not much lately to be honest.
When I was younger, I used to play my guitar a lot more.
But I’ve never been a good musician, my technique was enough to give me pleasure and entertain some friends. That’s it.
Even with my limited skills, I really enjoyed improvising, alone or with hours. Once I got into some loop, I could go on for hours.

When there were a few of us playing, the starting point was to find a base loop. We began by setting a rhythm and then a chord progression. We kept playing that same pattern together until everyone was in synch.
Only then, we were able to start improvising, adding variations and melodies here and there. One of us, though, had to keep always the base loop. This way, the others were free to create different patterns without breaking the harmony of the composition.

I believe that the key to making those jam sessions a rewarding practice for everyone was that first boring part, where we repeat the base loop over and over until it became familiar to everyone.

That’s what repetition does. It creates familiarity, a common thread on which everyone feels safe to paint its own music.

That is the power of discipline.

It creates a familiar and safe base rhythm in our life so we can feel safe and unleash our creativity.

 

 

Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash

Grow into your vision

I just watched this powerful video by Simon Sinek. I admire the way he can give words to ideas and concepts that are hard to grasp. Being able to make invisible things visible – through images, words, sounds – is a unique talent.

This video, though, baffled me and I don’t know why. So I took some time to ponder on it. In my reflections, I found something I wrote more than two years ago that became the basis for this post.

The video is about passion and vision. Things that are usually referred to as something we should have or find to live a fulfilling life.
As Simon beautifully said, “passion is an output, not in input”. It is the outcome of doing something that has a meaning for us. That gives sense to our lives. Something we care about.

“The reason that people do things, especially heroic or major things, things that take a lot of effort, is because they care.” — Dave Gray

So, doing something meaningful, something you believe in, chasing a vision is what transform your experience into passion instead of stress.

This leads to the following question in Simon’s video; “how do I find what I believe in?
Or, worded differently, “how do I find my vision?“.

This question is what unsettles me a bit.
Vision is often painted as that one big truth hiding somewhere and that we have to find to give meaning to our life. Whispering in the air, planted deep within us, written in our destiny or on the stars. With that picture in mind, some travel far from home to find their vision. Some spend years digging deep inside to uncover it under their fears. Some look for some visionary to follow. Some just wait.

What if there is no such thing as “the vision”? What if we accept that life is more complex than that? Life would become a journey of open, continuous and curious exploration rather than a search for definitive answers. When we become too focused on the quest for the vision, we got trapped in what psychologist Omer Simsek calls the need for absolute truth.

I am also more and more convinced that the verb “finding” is deceiving. It keeps up hanging in our quest while distracting us from doing the real thing; to experience life.
What if the goal shifts from “finding your vision” to “growing into your vision“?
Then it’d be less critical to have full clarity – mind – about the vision and more important to feel – heart and guts – that you are living it.

So, passion is not only the outcome, but it also becomes your compass. If you feel stressed, what you’re doing is not align with your vision. But when you feel passionate and energised by what you’re doing, then you’re most probably living your vision even if you can’t verbalise it.

There are other two ideas in the video that capture my attention.

The first is the one about the value of being a follower instead of a visionary. The moment I get in touch with that vision, I feel called by it, and I embrace it, then it becomes my own vision too.

I believe that visionaries are not a creator, they are channels between the infinite knowledge of the universe and the material world. They channel the universal wisdom and make it available to everyone else. Their visions aren’t theirs. They are of everyone. So, we are all visionaries and followers at the same time.

And that leads me to the second point. I believe we all have the potential to be creative and be visionary. But that potential is often covered and hold back by our fears, beliefs and conditioning. The more we become aware, the more we can awake that potential.

All my work is based on the unshakable belief that every human being is extraordinary.

Read more:

  1. The Need for Absolute Truth and Self-Rumination as Basic Suppressors in the Relationship Between Private Self-Consciousness and Mental Health” by Ömer Faruk Şimşek, Aylin Ecem Ceylandağ &Gizem Akcan – link
  2. Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World” by Tasha Eurich – link
  3. Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think” by Dave Gray – link