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

One Apple A Day #569 – Mess things up

Have you ever get to work and then realise that you don’t remember the journey?
I did.
It’s a weird feeling to park the car and realise that I don’t remember driving there.
It also a proof of the incredible ability of our mind and body to create efficiency. Our mind creates patterns or habits to process things automatically and filter out the noise.
Our lives are full of habits, of a lot of them we may not be even aware.
But they are vital.
Without these patterns and filters, we would be overwhelmed by the amount of input flooding our senses and, in the end, stuck.

It is the upside of habits; we can do things without thinking.
But there’s a risk.
You get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention.
Efficiency can get in the way of growth and creativity.

That’s why we should mess things up every now and then.
When we feel stuck, it may be because of our patterns and filters making us see and do things the same way we always did.
Messing things up and creating some chaos forces our mind to reassess reality, to find new meanings and to discover new connections.

And once you’ve created mess and chaos, make them matter.

Make my messes matter.
Make this chaos count.
Let every little fracture in me
Shatter out loud.
— from Jupiter by Sleeping At Last

One Apple A Day #564 – pain

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” — Kahlil Gibran

When I read this quote from Gibran, a word stands out; “pain”.
I can’t really say why, but I feel a deep connection with that word.
Maybe because nowadays everyone seems to focus mostly on happiness, considering pain a momentary condition to overcome as soon as possible.

Or maybe it is because it is “pain” that taught me the most powerful lessons in my life.

I’m well aware of the inspiring power of wonder or the energy created by joy. But we should never underestimate the creative potential of pain.

Pain is part of life.  When we feel pain, we can do everything we can to get rid of it. Or we can explore it to find the lesson it carries.

I believe that to awaken the artist within, we must be willing to delve into pain and sadness, to explore our shadows, to face our dragons.

“Our fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

One Apple A Day #551 – untitled

“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.”

Vincent van Gogh wrote this passionate advice to his brother Theo. As I shared yesterday, I have the same experience when I stare at the blank document on my screen before writing anything. This is why I spend a few minutes to find a starting point before opening the laptop. Some mornings I look back at the experiences or the conversations I had the day before, other mornings, I use the BeTheChange cards, or I can start from something I’ve read.
I believe inspiration is within us, it is a state of the being. All those sources of inspiration are just triggers that allow for something, a story that is already in me to find its way out.

So, this morning I did the same process. But nothing came out. To be honest, I had many ideas, but no one stuck. I find myself staring at the black canvas within. It soon becomes paralyzing.
At that moment, when I felt lost before the void in my mind, I remembered that quote from Van Gogh.

How often in life, we feel stuck staring at a blank canvas? That canvas take may many forms: the story we want to tell, the love we want to share, the journey we want to start, the future we want to paint. And we stand there, without an idea on how to begin while the void of that blank canvas grows into us.
I know the feeling, I’ve been there. And I don’t have an easy trick to get out of it. In the end, the only way to begin something is to do it.
I know, this doesn’t make it any easier.

Though, maybe the first step can be to acknowledge that we are stuck. That we have no idea on how to begin our craft.
Who knows, maybe in accepting our humanness we may create the space for an unexpected story to emerge.
An untitled one.