But life is ample, of course, for men who keep themselves detached from involvement. None of their time is transferred to others, none is frittered away in this diretion and that, none is committed to Fortune, none perishes of neglect, none is squandered in lavishness, none is idle: All of it, so to speak, produces income. A very little is therefore amply sufficient, and hence, when his last day comes, the philosopher goes to meet his death with a steady step.~Seneca
The most prominent quality of this state of presence is the quiet that comes over the outside world. You can still hear the city noise and traffic, but the loudest thing has gone silent, which is your normal mental commentary.~ David Cain, from https://www.raptitude.com/2014/03/how-to-stop-your-mind-from-talking-so-much/
Sometimes I manage to bring myself to the present moment.
Sometimes a feeling of serenity appears.
Sometimes I notice I’m staring at the horizon with a benevolent feeling suffusing my existence.
It happens too rarely.
Each time it does, in the subsequent moments—as I’m dragged down from that brief enlightenment by my personal zombie horde of thoughts—I’m left only with a echo…
Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors. I say this a lot and always will. Your life is one long unbroken experience, and you’re the only one who’s there the whole time. Visitors will come in and out of your experience. Most of them are short-term and you won’t notice when they’ve made their last appearance.
~ David Cain
I’ve had this idea myself. That I won’t notice when this instance—this experience right here, right now, with this person—is going to be the last experience with this “visitor.”
You might think, as I once did, that this state of uncertainty must always be the situation. Because, how would you know for sure if this moment right here was the last moment with this visitor?
Have you, perhaps, figured out that answer?
(Part 27 of 37 in series, Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)
Have you noticed: Once you know something, you see it everywhere?
Reading this section, I’m reminded of Joe Erhmann’s ideas from the book “InsideOUT Coaching,” and of Steven Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Both of which also counsel beginning with what’s inside; Beginning by taking a step back and noticing — perhaps _learning_ to notice is the first step — the broader context.
Over a decade ago, the previous-me was entirely focused inward, on myself, on the small picture. That previous-me molted as I managed to become self aware and began learning empathy. With empathy came the ability to listen and, most recently, the ability to communicate, “How can I help?”
And yet I still regularly find myself stressed out.
…grows, and the things I appreciate– the things I have now which I have worked so vary hard for to this point– …well, I’ve grown accustomed to them and while I still internally appreciate them I’ve stopped showing that appreciation externally.
I need to shift my goals.
I need to move the goal posts.
I need to set milestones at smaller intervals.
When you make some new connection, one then suddenly sees it everywhere.
On a recent Saturday — a day I usually jam full of goals — I accidentally set so few goals for the day, that by 4pm I was completely done. Normally, I set my goals at “do all the things” [meme image omitted :], and at some point each day I surrender with a fatalistic, “that’s enough for today!” It took me a long time to get comfortable knowing I’m organized and motivated enough that I will make progress towards my long-term goals. But every day is either a day “off” with rest and relaxation with minimal work towards goals, or a day “on” where everything is ordered– flexible, adjustable, prioritized sure, but ordered none the less.
On this particular Saturday, at 4pm…
It was surreal. It was just a nice feeling, like, “Okay, what do I want to do?” I wandered around in this daze of, “Gee, the weather is nice,” “Wow, the feel of the concrete under my bare feet is nice,” “I’d forgotten to notice how comfortable this chair is,” and “Wow, this food is particularly yummy.”
What was different? Nothing.
I still had — still have! — an enormously-complex, personal productivity system which holds all the things I’m working on. That’s not bad; That’s good. It helps me greatly by remembering everything for me, so I can use my brain for having ideas and doing things. I still have a house with a sort of strange spot on one of the ceilings that I think means the roof might be leaking. I still have a leak in the shower that I haven’t figured out. There’s still some firewood to be split.
…but for one evening — a Saturday from about 4pm until I went to sleep around 9:30 — for one evening, I clearly forgot to put in one (or both!) of the ingredients that make up the recipe for being stressed out.
Paring down one’s possessions and schedule are go-to ways to seek simplicity because they are outward, accessible, concrete actions that produce fairly immediate results. Their weakness, when practiced as their own ends, however, is that they lack a set of overarching criteria for how they should be carried out, as well as intrinsic motivation for following them through.
Practicing outward moves towards simplification, without this set of criteria, is like placing spokes in a wheel, without connecting them to a hub.
Simplicity needs a heart, and its center must be this: having a clear purpose.
~ Brett McKay
Throughout 2017 I’ve been slowly paring down. Fewer physical things sure, but also changing out some things and hobbies and projects and people. Can I eliminate one? Can I replace two of something with a simpler one?
I’m a “systems” person. I get things done via the observe, orient, decide, and act loop. For 2018 I’ve no delusions of rewiring my brain and kicking all my systems and processes to the curb.
I’ve realized, (far too recently,) that I need to take more time to “zoom out” and to take the time to consider how the really big things in my life fit together. Do they fit together? What if some really big component of who I am — even if it’s a great, fine thing — doesn’t fit with the rest of everything? What should I change; everything else, or that one great, fine thing?
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do love to spend the indoor, chilly, winter season thinking about the big picture — and now, perhaps a bit more of the really big picture.
Goodbye 2017! I will look back on you fondly.
At the Picasso Museum today– a photograph of Picasso “contemplating death”… some days I push myself physically, some days mentally.