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 #628 – being wise

Every day I learn new things. Information that I acquire, process, evaluate, connect to previous ones and store in my mind. Some of them stick over time, and some got lost or forgotten. 

If and when I need the ones I retain, I dig them out from my memory.

I have the feeling that my memory is not infinite, so over the years, many things got lost, and I can’t retrieve them anymore. Anyway, this is another story.

Have you ever the feeling that you know something even if you can’t find that thing among the things you know?

It is a powerful feeling when you realise that you know something in your bones, not in your mind. As if the knowledge has slowly become part of who you are. 

From something you know to something you are.

From knowing to being.

That is my idea of wisdom. 

When something you know becomes part of who you are.

The tricky thing, in my experience, is that sometimes what you know in your mind can get in the way of what you know in your cells. Your knowledge creates resistance to your wisdom.

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” ― Lao Tzu

P.S. I just realised that yesterday post was titled “Being Silly”. In my knowledge, they seem so different, yet in my body, they are fully interwoven.

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 #626 – discipline

“How are we to become a warrior? There are certain characteristics of the warrior that are nearly the same around the world. The warrior has awareness. That’s very important. We are aware that we are at war, and the war in our minds requires discipline. Not the discipline of a soldier, but the discipline of a warrior. Not the discipline from the outside to tell us what to do and what not to do, but the discipline to be ourselves, no matter what.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements.

I’ve been struggling with presence and focus since I can remember. When I was a kid, my mind was continually wandering in a world of fantasy. I was under the sea with Captain Nemo, on a boat with Harvey Cheyne, fighting with the pirates or travelling to the centre of the Earth. Anywhere but not wherever my body was.

Even growing up, I kept being a wandered of the mind. My thoughts always floating between past, present and future. Reality and fantasy.

Over the here, this rambling mind of mine has become an invaluable tool. It helped me do some of the things I love the most; find connections, dig out ideas, change often, begin many different things.

The other side of the coin is the struggle to focus on one thing, to keep the ball rolling until the work is done, to finish what I start, to close what I open. 

Through different experiences, starting from school and going through various jobs, I’ve learned that discipline is how I can teach my wandering mind to focus. So, over the years, I’ve created different structures and systems to bring discipline in my life. However, almost every time, those systems and structures failed me. I thought it was part of the game. Then the other day, while I was going through my notes in search for something I need to write a post, I found some words I highlighted many months ago from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

They’ve been working in my head for a few days.

The discipline of a warrior.

The discipline to be ourselves, no matter what.

It’s time for me to approach discipline in a whole new way.

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 #624 – whatever

The other day I was reading an article on what is the best way to exercise. There are so many disciplines, theories and methods out there that you can spend days trying to understand which is best for you. 

I got to the end of the article, still not knowing what the best way to exercise is. They all have pros and cons.

Then I remembered a short video interview of Arnold Schwarzenegger – yep, the terminator. They asked him what was better between kettlebell and dumbbell. To which he answers: “it’s the same because your muscle doesn’t know what you’re holding in your hand“.

These two moments made me think of how easy it is to get lost in the quest for the right way. It’s like waking up with the desire to go somewhere, and then spend the whole day analysing all the possible options to get there. Until the sun sets down, the day is gone, and you postpone the trip to another day.

How often did I spend all my time to understand what was the right or best thing to do and ended up doing nothing?

And how often, did I decide to start big because I wanted to make my effort worth it? I want to get fit so, let’s run for one hour three times a week. And then, the second week it’s only two times, then 30 minutes one time before giving up completely.

So, I found an easy trick that works, most of the time, for me.

The answer to “what should I do to get there” is “whatever I can consistently do long enough to make it stick“.

My rule of thumb is anything I can keep doing “every weekday for 3 months“. If it doesn’t stick, that’s not it, and I look for something else. If it holds, but I can’t see the results I want, I tweak it until it works. In any case, I’ll have learned something valuable.

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 #621 – confrontations

For the second time this week, my morning card talks about confrontations.

How do you deal with confrontations?

Honestly, I don’t like them.

Too often they trigger in me the desire to come out as the winner, to prove I’m right, no matter the topic.
As a result, I tend to run from confrontations. Sometimes I use humour and laugh to distract everyone. Other times I just ignore it, and I walk away. A few times, I jump into the confrontation to solve it as soon as possible. Not even to solve it, the real goal is to leave it behind in a way or another.

Yet, I know there is a tremendous potential in a confrontation. When different perspectives collide, and the pressure from all side opens up new cracks on the surface of things.

So, I’m learning to stay.

Just stay, at the edges of it. Within and without the confrontation at the same time. Observing how it evolves, listening to the sound of the cracks opening, feeling the itching on my own wounds awakening.
It’s not easy.

Sometimes I fail beautifully only to realise later that I’ve missed an opportunity.

But when I do, when I stay with the confrontation, then the harvest is extraordinary.

A significant help comes from reminding myself of my vision and my values. Or the shared vision and standards of the group I’m with. It helps reconcile any tension with something higher, and it gives me the strength to hold it all.

How do you deal with confrontations?

One Apple A Day #620 – good fences

They say that “good fences make good neighbours.
But is it?
Do they really make our neighbours better? If yes, how?

We build walls around us made of rules, policies and laws to feel safe. To protect what we have from others. To be sure that we can collaborate with others even if we don’t trust them fully.

But that’s the trap with walls. They close you in as much as they keep the rest of the world out. They protect your world, but at the same time, they make it smaller.

I believe that within every human being, there is this bigger extraordinary WHO longing to expand.
Like any substance, to expand it needs space.
Our bigger WHO also needs structures that can support its growth.
But it’s a delicate balance. Because if we don’t pay attention, those same structures become walls and fences that closed ourselves in. And without space to grow, we shrink.

So, that’s my challenge.
How can I make good fences that really make us good neighbours?
Fences that help all of us expand our bigger WHO instead of shrinking into our walled garden?

Searching for the source of this proverb, I found out it became common after Robert Frost used it in his poem “Mending Wall” published in 1914.