The other day I was walking in a park surrounded by the sound of thousands of cicadas. A typical soundtrack in the Italian summer.
But this time, a friend showed me all their abandoned skins on the side of the trees.
I’m fascinated by these transformation processes in nature, so I had to learn more.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
The female cicada deposit her eggs within slits in the bark of a tree. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground, dig and hide into the soil.
The nymphs live underground for most of their lives. They have strong front legs for digging. They create their home close to roots, and they feed on their sap.
At some point, when they are ready to transform in their final nymphal state, they create an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge into the light. The find a tree and start climbing. During the climb, they shed their skin – a process called moult – for the last time. The new adult cicada emerges, the one we can hear in summer. The abandoned skins still clinging to the bark of the trees.
I find the whole process magical. When the cicada is ready to move into the adult life, it leaves behind the old skin so the new self can emerge to bring its magic to the world.
What do you have to shed and leave behind to bring your magic into the world?
Change is inevitable. Change is constant. -Benjamin Disraeli
Yep, it’s again that day of the year.
An opportunity to look back with gratitude and acknowledge all the changes I’ve been through.
The ones I choose and the ones that I tried to avoid.
The delightful ones and the painful ones.
The ones that I embraced and the ones I resisted.
And also the ones that didn’t happen or I didn’t remember at all.
They all contribute to getting me where I am and making me who I am.
In this morning card, my friend Vanessa wrote, “if nothing else, you can rely on change“.
I want to use this birthday’s apple to celebrate “change”.
So, here’s to changes and to life.
When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin
Imagine that you have a field full of crops, and they need water to grow. Luckily for you, there is a big lake close by that can provide all the water that you need. To carry the water where you need it, you build a pipe from the lake to your field.
Because there is quite a distance to cover, the pipe is formed by a few segments. Unfortunately, the terrain is uneven, and the parts do not align correctly. As a result, a lot of water goes wasted while flowing from the source to the field, your crops struggle and they don’t produce all the fruits they could.
Sometimes, I feel like that pipe struggling to get enough water to the crops.
The lake is the infinite source of my human potential, and the field is the manifestation of that potential in the real world.
Only when all the parts of me are aligned, that energy flows freely and fully into my actions. Those parts are my soul, my mind, my heart and my body.
When they are not fully aligned, part of my energy goes wasted, and I can’t express my full potential.
But when they all aligned, oh dear, I can feel the energy flowing through me like a forceful river.
That is the feeling of “flow” or “being in the zone” to me.
Yesterday a friend caught me off guard during a conversation.
She just asked me what my yearning is.
I had no answers ready. I tried to find something in the hidden corners of my mind, but nothing.
I’ve been thinking about that question since then without finding a definitive answer.
To yearn means to have an earnest or strong desire for something or someone.
Sure there are things that I desire, people that I love.
But I can’t point my focus on one thing.
That one “thing” that I desire with such intensity to fill up my mind, my heart and my soul.
Then in another conversation, I was reminded that sometimes thinking about something can get in the way of getting it. It’s one of the fascinating paradox of our mind.
“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and results come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity.” — Aldous Huxley
So, I’ve decided that if I really want to discover what I yearn for, the only way is to stay open and allow for the answer to emerge.
“What would you jump into or out of if you were guaranteed success?”
With this question in mind, I’m writing today.
As soon as I read the question, I thought that it would be easy to answer.
Who doesn’t have a dream? Something we are not chasing because it’s too bold, or too risky.
So, I started seeking an answer only to find myself stuck.
Really, my mind is paralysed. I’ve been staring at the screen for a good five minutes, and nothing came up.
And then I felt it.
The fear of succeeding.
The fear of recognising that there is an incredible potential within that I’m not expressing. Did I waste it?
All these fears have created a cage of limiting beliefs. And I spent so much time in it that I got comfortable.
So now I struggle to imagine the world beyond.
But I know it’s possible. I had glimpses of that world. The world of possibilities.
It’s time to open the door and step out, into the light. It may burn at the beginning, but as soon as my eyes adjust, I know more wonder will manifest.
It’s so easy to get used to speed.
I experienced it with my motorbikes.
The first one was an entry bike, as they call them.
Not too overpowering, even if it had the same acceleration as an expensive sports car.
In the beginning, I was very cautious. It felt very fast to mee.
But after a while, I get used to it, and I started needing something more.
The reason I told myself was that I needed more power to enjoy a long trip in two.
So, I got a bigger and more powerful one.
You get where I’m going.
From that one, I went to an even more powerful and sporty motorbike.
Speed is addictive; at least it is for me.
Then one day I decided to get a small Vespa.
Almost twenty times less potent than my motorbike at the time.
It was only meant for daily commuting. In the end, where can you go with such a small engine?
One summer, my partner and I slowly travelled for two weeks across Italy, with the bags, two sleeping bags and a tent.
All on that Vespa.
One of the most memorable experiences in our life.
This morning I was listening to this famous song by Morcheeba, “Rome wasn’t built in a day“, and it made me think.
Some things take time.
In many aspects of my life, I often get hungry for speed.
I want something, and I want it now.
Technology had almost cancelled the distance between wanting something and getting it.
One click on Amazon and the product is yours.
One click on Netflix and the movie starts.
If you want to know something, a quick search on Google and you can find everything you want to know.
The risk is to miss out on the pleasure of the journey, the creative potential of the space in-between desire and achievement, begin and end.
When I feel the urge to get something or to arrive somewhere, I go back to that slow trip with my underpowered Vespa.
And I remind myself of the beauty of slowing down.
I love to learn new things; to discover new ideas and connections.
I always thought that the only way to grow and expand my potential was through addiction. Adding more knowledge, more skills, more tools, and so on.
The idea is that the more you know, the more and better you can do.
But it doesn’t work like that, not for me at least.
Knowing what to do doesn’t automatically imply doing what I know.
More and more, I’m becoming aware that the key to unlocking my true potential is subtraction.
We are like rivers, flowing is our nature.
What we should do is to remove all obstacles, or find ways around them, so we can flow to the sea.
Some obstacles are part of the nature of things, like rocks. Others are made, by us or by others, like dams.
The more we can clean the way, the more our stream will flow freely.
Sometimes I put so much effort to make my energy flow that I get in its way. The typical sign is a sense of frustration and feeling stuck.
When I become aware of it, and I let go, then my energy starts flowing again.
Tim Gallwey summaries it perfectly in his famous formula: Performance = Potential – Interference.
“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” — Daniel Goleman, from Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Or, using different words, one mind that senses and one that makes sense of things.
We all have both minds, but not everyone develops both in the same way. Some people have highly developed sensing antennas, others are better suited for sense-making, and some have a great balance between the two.
They are both essential.
Our world favours the second because it’s the one better suited to deal with material reality, the one we perceived through our five “physical” senses. However, without the first, the ability to sense, we can’t move beyond the limits and the boundaries of the limited space defined by those five senses.
I’ve always been proud of my ability to make sense, but I’m experiencing more and more the importance of nurturing my “sensing” mind. Unfortunately, while there are plenty of tools to develop our “sense-making” abilities, there aren’t easy recipes to expand our ability to sense.
But here’s a trick.
My new 4g router isn’t working very well, so I’ve been reading online for possible solutions. Someone suggested that it may be because my device cannot get a strong enough signal. In that case, the best solution is to add an external antenna who can get the signal for my device.
It works the same way for sensing. I found out that it is immensely helpful to surround myself with people with a remarkable ability to sense. Just with their presence, they enhance my own sensing abilities.
Have you ever get to work and then realise that you don’t remember the journey?
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
This morning BeThe Change card contains an invitation to listen at a deeper level. In a society where so many people struggle to be heard, being able to listen to others can make the difference.
The soul whispers.
While I was meditating on the questions that come with the card, one stood out: “In your situation who or what really wants to be listened to?”
I immediately knew the answer; me.
My soul is asking me to be listened to.
And this where it becomes complicated.
The soul whispers, while the mind and the heart can be so noisy.
So, here’s the question I’ve been pondering this morning.
How can I listen to my soul, past the chatter of my thinking mind and the loudness of my emotions?
The soul whispers.
And then it was there. The soul doesn’t speak. My soul whispers to me when I play an instrument letting my fingers go. When I write without an agenda. When I draw and doodle, allowing my hands to follow the intuition.
To listen, I need to create a space where my soul can whisper.