One Apple A Dy #701 – You reap what you sow and take care of

I was quite a lazy student. But luckily for me, the way school worked was a good fit for my inclinations, and that convinced my younger self that he was a smart guy.

It was my second year at university, and I was still sure I could carve my way out of almost every exam just by being smart. I was sitting before my physics professor for the second part of the exam; the oral test.

Physics was not one of my favourite subjects, but the professor taught very well, and I managed to score a good result in the written test without studying much.

I thought I was doing quite well when he came up with a question that left me speechless. I had only a vague idea of what he was talking about, so I started talking hoping that, if I keep putting words out there, I could find a connection that works.

After a few minutes, he smiled and stopped me.

You don’t know the answer, right?

Before I could say something, he continues “You remember me when I was your age. You think you’re smart, and that that is enough to carve your way through anything. But let me tell you, at some point, you’ll have to put in some work. Better sooner than later.

At that time, I paid attention only to the first part, and I took it as a compliment.

Later I realised that it was a wake-up call.

Having a gift is not enough. 

We need to do the work to make that gift grow.

They say that you reap what you sow. 

But that’s half of the story.

If you don’t water the seeds and take care of the plants every day, you won’t have anything to harvest.

You reap what you sow and take care of.

One Apple A Day #686 – focus on the process

Most of the environments in which we grow, we live, and we work are result-oriented. We are incredibly focused on who wins, who gains, who gets on the top, who gets the best numbers, the promotion and so on.
It’s not a bad thing per se. Being ambitious pushes us to become better, and having our gaze set on a goal gives as drive and direction.
However, there is a risk.

When all our attention is on the result, we overlooked the process. We forget to pay attention to what we are doing to achieve what we aim for.
I observed this behaviour on myself and others at an archery experience. We were entirely focused on hitting the target, and we ignored what we were doing. As a result, we didn’t know what to change to improve our performance. We kept going on trying and trying, hoping to find a way to hit the target.

It is even worst if, by chance, you hit the target. At that point, you just try to replicate your movements without any idea on why they worked. You can imagine the results.

When we shifted our focus on what we were doing, instead, we began to understand. We became more and more aware of our body, sensations and feelings. And things improved.

Plus, when the focus is all on the results, it’s easy to get disappointed. And after a while, to lose motivation. But when we shift the attention on our selves, we can notice and appreciate all the little improvements. The whole experience becomes way more enjoyable.
And in the end, the results come.

One Apple A Day #684 – write first

Here’s a new little story of mine.

This morning I sat for my writing practice. Yes, the one that created this post that you’re reading right now.

I was there at my desk and, as it often happens, I had no ideas whatsoever to start with.

So, I closed my eyes, played some relaxing music and breathed. 

I allowed my mind to wander freely among memories from the days before, fragments of conversations, words from books or articles, anything that may become a seed from which I can grow my daily apple.

Eventually, one idea came up. More than one, to be honest, but only one spark my desire to explore more.

It’s something that emerged in a conversation just two days. We were talking about the need to define something, a collaboration in that case, and two questions arose. Questions that looked a perfect starting point for a morning writing session. In the end, nothing is better than a question to begin a journey of exploration.

Do we have to define something to fully experience it? Does something exist even if we can’t describe it or give it a proper form?

To be honest, when I decided I was ready to begin writing, those questions weren’t fully formed yet. The idea was still blurred in my mind, but still, it looked good enough to start writing.  

So, I opened my laptop, created an empty document and began thinking of what would be the best opening point before I started the timer.

I remembered a quote from Nietzsche I read a while ago.

“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, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things – metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.

I felt I needed something more to start, and then it’s when I made a big mistake. I opened the browser and search something more about that quote. I ended up on this long article on one of my favourite website. Only halfway through the reading, I realised I was consuming all the time for my morning practice without doing what this practice is all about; writing.

As a result, my time is over, and I haven’t really worked on those questions. At least, I can share with you a small piece of advice; write first, search second. In particular, if you have limited time for writing.

One Apple A Day #681 – to quiet the mind

“So, how is the mind to be quiet? […]The moment you put that question to yourself vitally, actually, what is the state of your mind? Is it not quiet? It is no longer chattering, analysing, judging; it is watching, observing, because you do not know. The very state of not-knowing is the beginning of quietness.”

Krishnamurti, Ojai, California 1952, Talk 10

Every morning, when I meditate, something weird happens. My mind becomes hyperactive. Like a kid in a playground with too many games, my mind jumps from one thought to another. Sometimes, it happens so fast I can’t even realise how I did it, how I went from there to here.

But that’s precisely the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. Yes, I can feel my body relaxing, releasing the tensions in my muscles. But the main goal is to quiet the mind. 

How do I get there?

In my search to answer this question, I found this talk by J. Krishnamurti. And it opens up a world.

My mind is quiet when I’m learning. 

When I’m fully engaged in something.

When I don’t know what’s behind the next turn. 

When I have to find answers.

Not knowing is the beginning of quietness.

I can feel a new journey opening before me.

One Apple A Day #741 – not perfect

I took a short break from this practice.
Not from the writing, only from the publishing.
Last week I kept writing every morning without posting on this blog.
And it makes all the difference in the world.
Without the self-imposed pressure of posting immediately whatever I wrote in fifteen minutes, I easily get lost in research.
Knowing that my time is limited and then I have to put something out there, pushes me to focus on what I already have.

Another valuable lesson is to avoid the trap of chasing perfection. After fifteen minutes, I post what I have. That’s it. I don’t have the time to rewrite, refine and polish. So, I’ve learned to be content with the words that I found. Some days the post is inspired, some days not so much.
But it’s ok.
Knowing that I have to write and post in fifteen minutes frees me from the need to be perfect. As a result, my writing is more authentic. Maybe less chiselled and refined, but indeed more real.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Leonardo da Vinci