Stories Archives

Story, being gives rise to Doing

Being and Doing

Sometimes you decide to take a specific challenge in life, such as a pilgrimage to a Holy Place, writing and publishing a book, or finishing a marathon. Other times, the challenges will find you, whether you welcome them or not ;): How to raise a child as a happy and independent thinker? How to overcome crisis? How to support your recovery from a serious illness?

What is common is the underlying process. You are encouraged to open up and be transformed.

When a challenge is a real one, it usually involves a search or understanding about the meaning of life. What is it all about? As a result, the purpose of the journey (writing a book, taking part in a triathlon, solving a crisis) is to discover the importance of the road. And it will take time, experience, rebellion, disasters and tragedies, successes and disappointments, as well as appreciation for simple things in life: meal and shelter or sun rays on your face.

The challenge is not about what you want to achieve or what you have or have not achieved so far.

The challenge is about whom you are becoming.

Being gives rise to Doing. This is the first important sentence in this piece of text :).

If you focus on Doing mainly (which gives rise to Having), you may push beyond limits, reach fame and glory, but stay unfulfilled and empty inside. This often happens with people who have not learned to appreciate the road but focus on the Goal. Once the Goal is reached, the thrill is gone.

The Emptiness may become overwhelming and the person feels lost. Of course, there is another goal or summit to reach, so the road will continue. But…unless you learn to enjoy the ride, moment by moment and embrace the pains, you will stay unsatisfied.

It is so easy to miss the obvious. Being is content from What-is and in What-is. With all the pitfalls, pains and problems as well as the “I love you, mum” statements, beautiful moments and joy of being alive.

The obvious is this: my life and your life exists in this moment. This very moment, thanks to continuity, gives rise to eternity.

My challenge is life is that I feel I am in hurry. There are so many things I want to learn, practise and master, but so little time! I want to understand more. Are you with me on this?

In a sense, I want more but I also know that this is impossible. Perhaps, I am now taught to be patient and do one thing at a time.

Let me share my understanding, which I keep forgetting to apply to my own life.

Being in the Moment

Skills originating from Being are transcendental. This is the second most important sentence in this piece of text.

What is means is that they transcend a single application and can easily be applied in a different context.

If you cook well, for instance, your Being knows how to integrate individual products (principles, ideas, parts) to make a result, a totality, that is thrilling to the taste. Such a Being principle is easily enhanced or re-directed to become the Being who designs well, crafts well or writes well. Why? Because there is an intrinsic grasp of relations between the individual parts, as well as ways they influence each other, that you recognise on a deep level. It is a part of whom you have become.

Of course, it may take some learning to adjust to different type of material (say words instead of food) to enhance the understanding of relations and develop intuition, but as such, it is a transferable skill.

It means once your Being enjoys cooking, or writing, or designing, for the matter, your Being is able to enjoy any other task that is based on a holistic synthesis. You only need to trust the process of re-alignment.

Now comes the final part.

Life is a story

Your Being is realised through the story you are telling yourself. This is the third most important sentence in this piece of text.

What I mean here is a narration, thoughts and images you have with yourself and about yourself. As it is a daily narration, over the years, it becomes a story.

This is an insight I have got thanks to coaching.

Everything in my life and your life is a story, a comparison in a context or a metaphor.  There is a story you keep preserving for your own sense of homeostasis.

Whatever you think about your children, marriage, the car you choose to drive, brands of products you buy, your job or friends – it is a story. It doesn’t even have to be a wordy narration, it can be a silent movie. Most of stories (comparisons, metaphors) you hear multiple times, while others are re-hashed or re-invented from the collection of experiences, or modified by your reflection.

If in any day you carefully observe your thoughts or images or listen to the voice in your head/heart, you will find out that most of the stories do not stem from what you see or based on some objective truth. Instead, they are interpretations.

This is something I clearly realised when I was listening to a story from a life-threatening experience of my two friends.

Winter climb

Some years ago, they attempted a dangerous winter climb of one super difficult summit (in winter conditions and full snow) in French Alps. It was a remote summit, with the nearby village being closed and evacuated at the time (because of too much snow, but they did not know about this). The experience was tough and transformational, because it played with their survival. They could lost their lives.

They barely made it because they seriously underestimated the severity of conditions and their insufficient preparation in terms of food supply and equipment. Instead a 15h climb up and down, it took them more than two days with hardly any help available, no helicopters possible and no mobile phone reach. Just two guys relying on each other.

I heard the individual story from them both, one day after their coming back, after 20h sleep or so. There were completely two different stories, so different that I was unsure they were telling about the same climb. Both of them remembered things differently. Each of them was the hero to help the other. So, there were two stories, to begin with.

Because it was such a dramatic experience, both guys were telling this story to other friends and co-workers as we were eating lunch together at work. I heard the stories every day for nearly two weeks. What surprised me, however, was that both guys, after the second or third narration, began to alter the story.

The changes were significant. For instance, some key facts were replaced by other ones, or some decisions were totally opposite to the ones I heard in the first story. Not to even mention the timing of decisions, responsibilities they took, how they used equipment and so on. The stories began to live their own life, continually evolving.

I was shocked by this and when I pointed it out to both of them, they had no clue what I was talking about. They both thought I was bringing false notes to their cherished story! They both believed that the say 5th story I heard was the truth they experienced, yet in my view, paramountly different to what I heard for the first time.

This is really amazing to realise that even false stories of experience we have not had or imagined facts, we can take as granted to have been parts of our life. If somebody keeps suggesting them long enough or you simply like to believe them, your brain may not only consider a particular experience a fact, but it will also fill any missing gap to make it into an image or story to make it feel true.

Of course, you may also suspect that it was me not remembering the details correctly especially that the stories were different to begin with. But even if this was a case, one insight was appalling. The “touch and feel” of the stories have changed significantly over the two weeks. First, it was more of a story “I was terrified, I am lucky to be alive” changing later into a story “I had courage and intelligence to hack the life circumstances”.

But also,  with the narrative over the days, the two hero stories shifted slightly into a common effort of wining.

Interesting, isn’t it?

In that sense we can be tricked. But such an experience tells us that we believe in the truth with respect to the way we interpret the experience.

***

There is a deep context to any of your experience which strongly colours what you perceive. It is called bias in science.

There are per-conceived notions,well-defined terms, either heard or preached to you over time, which direct your interpretation to keep the story coherent. This is also why advertisements work and we may prefer Coke to Pepsi, or choose a particular washing powder to another one. It is a story in which you are a believer that a particular product is better or more effective.

Repetitive experiences, preaching, imperative rules of do’s and don’ts or news headlines train our brains daily to make associations and, with time, strong patterns. So, at some point you may believe that the best coffee is dark Arabica, necessarily drank as double espresso with the Channel Island milk, the mobile phone can only be iphone, and a standard for a marriage is a partnership where both partners split their tasks and responsibilities half-half. These are examples of stories (patterns, ideas) we accept as truths.

The brain likes the information to travel the well-known paths, because the processes are efficient and fast process. The brain doesn’t like gaps and open questions, so it will fill the gap from the information or feelings it can reach to.

(This is also why creativity may be hard to spark, as in order to be creative, we need to forget what we know. We need to unlearn the known correspondences and causalities and look far beyond, down or above. Some will say that we have to keep an ignorant mind, or a child mind whose notions are not yet well established.)

What is the story you keep telling yourself?

There is a story about you, how you feel about yourself and how you perceive yourself. Do you talk to yourself to empower or dis-empower? Do you see yourself as a looser or a winner? As you know, the glass is either half empty or half full ;).

What I am saying here is not about imposing affirmations such as “I am the champion”, or “I am the best at X”, but focusing on the very process of whom you are becoming as a person. This includes drive and disappointments, sadness and joy, with appreciation how they all take part in a jigsaw of You.

Your past exists and has helped you to become who you are.

Do you appreciate your Conscious Self?

There is your Being, transcendental, to live in the moment and use all the skills whom you have already become. Just start to enjoy your Being in a different field, context or group.

Recognise your path. Know who you are.

If there is a story to tell to yourself, choose the one which inspires you to become a more fulfilled You.

***

Being authentic

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

On being authentic

My son loves to talk to strangers. He starts conversations in buses, parks or shops, on playgrounds or even when passing-by a stranger. He has always something to share, discuss or ask about. As a child, he likes to get attention. Yet, at the same time, he gives attention as well. Grown out of his curiosity.

My son is truly interested in people and the world around. He is especially curious about things or behaviors that are new to him.

He wants to know. Immediately. No waiting possible.

He is truly authentic. He has no borders, no limits and no pre-conceived expectations. It is me now and then who jumps in and establishes some rules for him to obey. For instance, I keep telling him to start a conversation in a polite way. His usual approach is pretty direct: “Hey you, what are you doing?” or “You… you… what are you carrying inside?” or “What’s your name?”

“Is it the way to condition him for life?” I wonder at times.

My son especially adores tipsy (or drunk) men and grandma-like ladies. While the later choice is perfect for me, I find tipsy men uneasy. There is something sleazy about them. Yet, the recent few encounters blew me away. I will share with two of them as the other ones are similar.

***

In the first scenario we were walking on a street and there was a tipsy man at a distance. My son was staring into the eyes of this stranger. With total attention. It has taken us good 10 seconds or more before we approached him. The man was clearly disturbed by my son’s interest. He couldn’t stand this silent attention and asked my boy reproachfully “Why are you looking at me, you, little boy?”, “Why do you dare so?”. My son answered “Because I really like you.”

The man got flabbergasted. He couldn’t say a word for a while.

In another scenario, my son picked up a stranger and chose a nearby seat. He started a conversation about my hometown, travels, toys, lego, building, playgrounds and so on. The man happily joined in. My son asked the guy “Are you a good man? You know …  because my mum doesn’t like me to take up with bad men.” The guy nodded approvingly. 😉

The conversation seemed to please both of them. At some point the man asked my son, “Why are you talking to me?”. And my son answered: “Because I know you are a nice man. I really like you.”

The man was moved. He couldn’t say a word for a while.

***

Both men got shocked.  The words they spoke after a silence were: “It has been years for me since I heard somebody telling me to like me. Just like you.”

They got tears in their eyes. Their defenses melted away and they both stood before us as real humans.

Open. Vulnerable. Liberated.

I was surprised by such responses. I followed with little conversations. The men told me how much their kids stopped paying respect to them. How bad their lives were. How little hope they had. Yet, … at the same time, I saw a spark in their eyes. A little light that shines from acknowledgement and appreciation. It was beautiful.

I have been touched myself by these (and a few more) encounters. As a result, I’ve stopped interfering and conditioning my son on how to lead conversations. I just keep remembering that being authentic is transformational. The power of a real, unadulterated connection with another human is priceless.

It is touching the Core. It is liberating the Spirit. It is changing Life.

***

The next time when you make yourself or your child to conform to the norms, just pause and let things be the natural way. Perhaps a real transformation is behind the corner….

***

speed matters Photo courtesy Tea, Two Sugars,  available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Speed matters

In the last few weeks my son was learning to ride a bike. Although he previously refused to use a balance bike, he suddenly got super interested in riding a chunky and heavy bike. He made a fast progress with stabilizers as he was willing to practice no matter the weather.

First, the stabilizers were perfectly aligned on both sides. After two days, they were moved upwards. As a result, riding became a wobbly experience for him, nevertheless enjoyable. I could see it from the happy face of my son. The support given by the stabilizers was pretty weak.

After a couple of days my son insisted to take the stabilizers off. I still made him practise a few more days and I saw that he was ready.

The day came when the stabilizers were removed.  My son sat on the saddle with a huge confidence. Totally, convinced that riding was going to be a smooth experience.

It wasn’t.

He attempted to take off. Yet, he fell off just a second later. He tried again and fell again. And again. And again. Many more times.

He got perplexed. He was crying in desperation. Nothing worked.

I decided to give him support. In the initial stage, I hold  the bike at the back in a balanced position. Then I run with him riding, while balancing the bike. He was OK, when I was behind him. Yet, the moment I left him on his own, he was again back on the pavement. Falling over and over again.

I gave him lots of encouragement. No matter my praise, however, he was falling.

I kept applauding his attempts. All in vain.

At the end, he stopped, totally devastated. Frustrated, angry and defeated. He decided to ride his scooter instead.

***

The following few days brought nothing new. He had refused to ride a bike for a couple of days. Then he asked for his stabilizers back.

I did so.

Stabilizers brought his comfort again. He felt at home again and easy at riding. This time however, his experience was richer. He knew how it was to ride with and without stabilizers.

While practicing with stabilizers,  I explained to my son that in order to succeed he had to ride fast. The bike was heavy for his age and when a certain speed was gained, balancing become easier. Otherwise, slow riding, made it nearly impossible.

In addition, to help with the initial momentum, we practiced fast rides on a small downhill road. Then, I removed the stabilizers. Now, he knew he had to ride fast. He had the experience and understanding.

We started from a downhill, and … voila… he was riding a bike. Not ideally, at first, but without falling. Two more attempts, and he was perfectly fine.

A major accomplishment.

What is the moral of the story?

Speed matters.

The story is a good metaphor for all the situations when we want to induce a change. Be it to introduce a new habit, move a house, re-formulate a company strategy, learn a skill, or change a carrier.

The moment in which we want to start a transformation, the speed of implementation really matters. This speed, in analogy to bike riding, is important to gain the momentum. It is important to overcome the initial inertia and get things going. The speed of implementation is meant to push things forward. There is no time to dwell in fears or insecurities.

The speed forces you to stay focused. And the focus and dedication will help you to find the right way, the middle way, while balancing the in-s and out’s of the situation.

In order to do that, your initial preparations and strategy are essential, similarly as practicing with my son was. Deciding what you want and knowing what needs to be done to achieve that is the preparation. Then you just dive in and implement it as fast as you can.

Next time, when you are about to make a change in your life, choose to implement your strategy fast. No procrastination. Take one step after another. Until you reach your destination.

Speed of implementation matters, indeed, if you want to succeed.

 

 

ugly_ducking

Photo credit Ulrik S.Christensen on Flickr

 

“I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the ugly duckling.”
–Hans Christian Andersen

The ugly duckling

Do you remember the story of Ugly Duckling?

The ugly duckling was told to be ugly by his Mother Duck, siblings and even the hens on the farmyard. The Mother Duck was shocked by how big and ugly he was. The other ducks were teasing and pecking him. They were making fun of him until one day the ugly ducking flew away. He believed he was the ugliest bird under the sun. He wanted to die.

He wandered around looking for a place where he belonged. Yet, he was an outcast in everywhere. He was clearly different. And even though he was intimidated, he chose to respond with kindness.

In the spring, he saw graceful swans on a lake and felt an urge to join them.  When he was approaching them, he suddenly noticed his own reflection in the water. And he was taken back by what he saw. He looked alike. He was a swan, not a ducking. What a surprise! All other swans welcomed him warmly and appreciated him. And suddenly … they found him to be beautiful.
Even the kids playing around the lake complimented on the majestic look of the new swan.

How happy was he!

The metaphor

This little story is a metaphor how we feel when we are different from those around us. Even though these are lonely and painful times, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us.

Being different is about being an individual. And even though we long for confirmation and acceptance, our difference makes us special. It allows us to explore our unique traits and talents.

When we are different, we will likely not be understood, or appreciated. Perhaps we may even be intimidated or laughed at.

When we accept and embrace our difference with courage, we can better focus on seeing the value we bring in. It is a difference, not the norm, that sparks creativity and leads to progress.

When we find we are different than the people around, let us remember that there will come a time when we will find our flock. All the loneliness we have felt will help us appreciate the acceptance when we find it.

And in meantime, let us bring this difference into the world!

***

How can I appreciate the ways I am different from others today?

***

let_it_go

This year is perhaps seeing a comeback of a powerful vocal duo – JazzyFatnastees. Two Ladies with incredible voices. Voices that penetrate and crush the hardened hearts.

I saw them live, many years back, and they made a huge impression on me. They were humble and infamous, yet their performance was one of the best.

They had a chance to sing on a huge Jazz Festival, just as one of the many adds-on. 

The conditions were unfavorable, to say at least. Imagine a corridor with a very low ceiling. Disgustingly hot, close to fainting. Stuffy. Bland. Uninteresting. The space was dense, filled with cigarete’s smoke (yes, you could smoke there at that time). And, now, the Duo was to make their gig in one of the corners. 

They made it!

They filled the space with depth and structure. They made it interesting. The vibration in the air was thick, nearly touchable. The spiraling energy was there, the one that inspires for action.

I had no idea how they could sing when even breathing was uneasy.  

Yet…

The Ladies were there.
Focused. Centered. Energetic. Joyful.
 Prepared to touch people’s hearts. 

They radiated a unity of thought and action.
There was a harmony. 
There was trust and understanding.
There was an invitation to join them.
 
So, we did it.

From such a trust, creativity sparks in joy and laughter. We could experience that, the flow of creative energy. The contagious power of inspiration. 

Let it go

I like JazzyFatnastees for their amazing vocals and the harmony between their souls. 
If you need a powerful kick, they are the ones to listen to

They are ambitious. They write good lyrics.
Hopefully, they will create more music after 11 years of silence.

***

Appreciate the lyrics. Listen to these amazing voices:

 

 

Let it go

Crying, tortured,
Wishing for some four leaf clover
To free you from the chains that bind you
Fleeing from yourself,

In time you’ll figure out
We search a whole life
To seek what’s inside
You run but can’t hide

Begging strangers to try
To shield us from pain,
Hoping we’ll change
Nothing stay the same…

Why do you defeat you?
Let the past mistreat you
You don’t wanna let it go…
Let it go, let it go…

No one else can help you
Only you can free you
But you gotta let it go
You gotta let it go…

This’s your circle
frozen by the fears that lurk
You’ll wind up in the place you run to
Find you’ve lost your way

But in time you’ll figure out
We search a whole life
To seek what’s inside
You run but can’t hide

begging strangers to try
To shield us from pain,
Hoping we’ll change…
But we remain in the hame…

Why do you defeat you?
Let the past mistreat you
You don’t wanna let it go…
No-o…

No one else can help you
Only you can free you
But you gotta let it go
Let it go…

  

 ***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***
 

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