One Apple A Day #653 – being me

“When I shifted my attention from the change I wanted back to my identity, the change I was seeking just happened.”

This is a powerful insight that a dear friend gave me yesterday. 

In the past, when I wanted to change something in my life, I put all my energy and focus on the change I wanted to make.

Too many times, however, I’ve lost myself in the changes I was seeking. I was so focused on changing something in my world that I forgot who I was in that world. When that happened, I find my self lost and disconnected within the same changes I was longing for.

It is only when I shift my focus inward, that I can root my life in who I am and navigate through changes without losing my centre. 

While changes can depend on many factors. I’m the only one in the whole universe, who can be me.

“Know who you are because no one is better at being you than you are.” — David Droga

One Apple A Day #652 – the universe is my teacher

There is something to learn in everything.

In pain and joy.
In failure and success.
In fear and love.
In friends and foes.
In peace and conflicts.
In the present and in the past.
In my stories and in the stories of others.

Because for the soul, heart, mind and body of a student, everything and everyone is a teacher.

It doesn’t mean that we have to reflect on everything we go through in life to extract a lesson. That would be exhausting.

But we must nurture the learner’s attitude in our mind, heart, body and soul.

Sometimes the learning is manifest, sometimes is subtle, and other times it is apparently invisible.
However, if we keep the learner’s attitude, the learning will manifest itself at some point, in its own way.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

One Apple a Day #637 – integrate and expand

I had a few experiences so powerful that they cracked the surface of my life. Some were tough and painful, others exciting and blissful.
All of them gave me the possibility to glimpse at my infinite potential opening up slits through the layers I’ve built around my essence.

However, those layers that I’ve built are not rigid and sturdy, like walls. Oh no, instead they are made of thick, viscous and sticky material.

So, creating an opening is not enough. Once the energy that opened the gap is released, those layers immediately begin to close on it. They slowly back to the old and well-known form. And the light gleaming from within begin to fade until it is all gone, and I am back where I started.

This is why what we do after a transformative experience is as vital as the experience itself.
The first days we must focus on integration. Using the strength pouring out from the newly opened gap, we must integrate into our lives what we’ve learned and discovered. We must take the time to reconnect with that energy and expand it from day one.
So the layers won’t go back to the old form, and maybe a crack, even if a tiny one, will remain on the surface.
And crack by crack, gap by gap we will be able to liberate our infinite potential.

 

Photo by Ben Klea on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #632 – outgrow your systems

I am a big fan of structures and systems. 

Maybe because willpower is not high on my list of strengths, I learned that they are vital to reaching any goal.

But there’s a caveat. 

They, systems and structures, should never become the goal.

If you want to reach a particular outcome, you can just rely on defining goals. No matter how S.M.A.R.T. your goals are, they are not enough to move you forward.

In the past, before I understood the importance of systems, I use to think that I wasn’t achieving success because my goals weren’t high, bold or smart enough.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” — James Clear

Goals are the starting point to set the direction. But it’s only when you design a system around those goals that you make real progress.

Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in love with the systems we create. In particular when they work, obviously. 

Systems and structures are very sexy for the rational mind. They are made of shapes and forms. That means that, no matter how flexible they are, they still have boundaries and limitations.

When the system becomes the goal, then we are limiting our potential to grow within the boundaries of the system itself.

The best system is one designed to support and sustain our growth, as individuals, teams or organisations. 

The ultimate purpose of a system is to become obsolete.

So, when we outgrow it, we can mould into an evolved version of ourselves.

 

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #615 – out of the clay

Last Sunday, I joined an extraordinary group of men in a one day workshop. It never ceases to amaze me the magic that can bloom from a circle of men showing up with authenticity and willing to explore their vulnerability.

One of the activities we did during the day involved the use of clay.
At the end of this practice, we all were entirely covered with clay.
No wonder that people were stopping by to admire us.
A circle of man, standing still on the shore, covered in white clay head to toe. Like a group of statues from some ancient Greek temple.
We were beautiful.
Really.
At least, this is how I felt.
Beautiful.
The clay hiding all my imperfections.
So, I was standing there.
Still.
The sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, the slight chill of the breeze.
And the clay was drying out.

The more the thick layer of clay was drying up, the harder it became to move. At some point, even opening my eyes was a struggle.
I was still feeling beautiful but, at the same time, I started feeling trapped.
And then I couldn’t feel the sun anymore. Nor the breeze.

Then we finally moved, the skin itching while the clay crumbled.
We entered the sea and quickly the clay dissolved into the salty water.
It was again me, welcoming back all my imperfections and all my freedom.

It was a fascinating experience.
Going through life, we add layers and layers of beliefs and stories around ourselves. And little by little, these layers become a shell, transforming us in a beautiful statue.
But also limiting our freedom to move, transform and grow.
So, sometimes we need to break that shell, to mould so we can create freedom and make space for new stories.
Like my experience with clay, the more we wait, the harder the shell gets. Getting out of it becomes painful, at the point that someone may decide that it’s easier to learn to stand still.

P.S. Talking about synchronicity. While we were there, standing in the circle becoming statues, a small crab started walking between us on the shore. And I was reminded of the story of the lobster that I love so much.

 

Photo by Karen Maes on Unsplash