trusting the invisible visibly

 

trusting the invisible visibly

When we place our trust, is it with something or someone?

This is ‘Tilt’. Essentially you stand looking out the window on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Then the windows tilt outwards. 30 degrees. You are then suspended, lying on a glass window, ninety four floors up.

As I queued to experience this, I was noticing my need to trust someone or something.

I looked at the mechanisms. The four hydraulic pistons that lowered the side of the building outwards. The size of the bolts. The seals on the glass. The steel framework of girders. The computer the operator used. I couldn’t see it, but I wondered about the software on that computer. I know only too well that this is often the weakest point.

Then I considered the operator himself. Could he be trusted? Was he experienced? I considered the designers. Surely they knew what they were doing? This was specialist. Then I considered the people who might have granted permission for this. The safety experts. I considered those who had tested it. Were they thorough? I looked at my potential fellow ‘riders’. They looked sensible.

Then I noticed I turned to rationality. It has been here a while and must have lowered many thousands of people. The safety testing and fail safe mechanisms must be all encompassing. Like a lift, this surely is designed with so many precautions? Glass and steel are used in applications requiring more stress and pressure than this.

Then I turned to irrational logic. Those kids are doing it. If they can, surely I can. Hang on though, those two people in front are overweight, and I’m going on with seven other adults. That’s more weight, what if it’s too much?  I ‘reasoned’ it couldn’t have failed, because I would have read about the eight people falling to their deaths.

By now my waiting time had been consumed by my trust exploration and I was up next.

I loved it.

So who or what was I needing to trust? I couldn’t tell if the mechanisms were sound as I’m not an expert. I would never meet the people involved in designing, testing or installing this.

Maybe I just needed to trust myself? Like I do every day I cross the road, or choose what I eat? Like I do when I choose everything I do and who I do it with?

The need to trust, is tangible in us. Yet trust itself, so intangible.

destination unknown, journey blind…

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When I join a motorway, board a train, get on a bus, I don’t notice where it ends, where it terminates. I merely check if it’s going to my stop. Perhaps you do the same?

Some days, I get a bus from the train station in London to work. I know which buses go there. I have made this journey for several years. I pay scant attention to where the bus is headed though, beyond my disembarking point. It trundles off, my use of it complete. My journey is bounded by what I know. By start and end. By familiarity.

Earlier this week I was working elsewhere for a few days and discovered the same bus went there; I just needed to stay on it for another twenty minutes.

Now my normal journey has more context  I can imagine the onward journey in my mind. I still don’t know where the final destination of my bus is, but more is known to me and so strangely the bus has more life, more character, more relevance. I am somehow more connected.

Life is like that.

We know where our next port of call is. We become familiar with the small repeat journeys we make. But we find it hard to see beyond; to see the context of the whole journey, to see where we are headed. To know a destination.

I am travelling abroad now for seven weeks. I have a planned route and know where I will end up. Yet I don’t know where I’m going still; in that the terrain is all new, the environment totally strange to me, everything is to be discovered on route. Nothing is familiar. Nothing on repeat.

Sometimes life is like that too.

growing down

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Mostly we go through life growing up.

We get older. We learn from experience. We generally therefore get wiser. We get more aware, more tolerant, more reasoned.  We have knowledge, wisdom and experience on our side. So we can make better decisions, better choices. We can be balanced, measured, sage.

Maybe?

A A Milne’s book “Now we are six” is a wonderful collection of children’s poems that ends with this verse…

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever

A child’s logic. A child’s wisdom.

The problem is we don’t stay six, now and forever. We become, seven, fifteen, twenty six, fifty one, seventy three. At each stage of ‘growing’ we take on more rigidity, more stuckness, more ‘one way’ thinking. Life experience actually binds us. We learn rules, habits, behaviours, beliefs which constrain our potential.

Take a challenge you face today. Maybe it’s about money, time, work, relationships?

How would a six year old face this? What creative, unbounded, imaginative solutions come from the naive, inexperienced, free mind of a child?

Anything is possible. Maybe adults should start growing down? Going back to the free, unencumbered wisdom of childhood.

Maybe we all need to stay six forever?

 

is there a hole in my bucket list?

The bucket list idea has been around for a few years now, popularised by the film of that name from 2007.

Essentially the notion of a list of the life experiences to have, or life achievements to attain, before you die. Before you ‘kick the bucket’.  For example, ‘making this trip ticks one thing off my bucket list’.

You can even download suggested bucket lists – with places you should visit and experiences you should have whilst you still can.  Someone else’s idea of what you should do, to live a rich and fulfilled life.  Interesting concept.

Often these lists contain far flung places to visit or high octane adrenaline fueled experiences. Many cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Visit Machu Pichu. Skydive. Swim with dolphins. Run a marathon.

What if we lived for the moment instead?  What if we identified the day to day things that bring pleasure, happiness, joy to our lives and just do more of them?

Drink tea with a biscuit to dunk. Sit in the garden. Have a bath. Walk in the woods. Bake brownies. Buy those orange shoes we covet. Listen to a thunderstorm. Hold hands. Laugh.

Too few people notice the little things they enjoy and then set out to do more of them.

It strikes me the bucket list idea has a hole in it.  If we’re focused on our death and on large scale, time costly, expensive big events, then life is leaking out of the hole every day.

 

inside out sensory bounty


We’ve been sitting in the garden all day today. Under a parasol, around a garden table. Family. Breakfast, lunch and (soon) tea will have been consumed al fresco.

Wildlife has shared the experience with us. Goldfinches sipping water from a water butt. Various unidentified bugs crawling across hands and legs, occasionally swatted away. Bees buzzing around the nearby passion fruit climber. A wood pigeon interrupting the silence with its clapping wings as it launches into a tree from the lawn. The gentle rustle of trees whispering in the breeze.

Human noise has broken our silence too. There is a local festival on a couple of miles away and we can hear live music. Earlier, a succession of light aircraft came over – maybe fifteen in total – each headed in a similar direction, presumably off to a fair, or returning from one?  Neighbours are starting up a barbecue and the noise of their preparations is joined by the drifting aroma of the smokey food.

All day the climate has been still.  Light gentle wind, warming sunshine. It seems today we have lived inside out, and it has been good.

Being in the outdoors with all its sensory bounty.

unsticking stuck

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There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.

Franklin D Roosevelt

We notice stuck. When we experience it, stuck draws our attention. We can’t see past it. We feel it pinning us down. Stuck consumes us.

When we’re stuck we become blind to possibilities. Ways to move forward. Advancement. Growth. Movement. All seem out of reach when stuck grasps us.

Yet there are always more ways of moving forwards.

the start of a trip around the sun

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I celebrated a birthday recently.

As age envelops me, I become increasingly cognisant of its consequences. My body less responsive than I would like; for example, simply sitting on the floor ultimately concludes with the stiffly stretching movements, punctuated by oohs and aahs, returning me to an erect position. My eyes demand assistance if they are to focus on things held close to me. I forget why I’ve entered a room or where I’ve put my keys. Characterful wrinkles, a testimony to my life of smiling, grimacing, speaking and being. My hair greyed. We have aging parents.

My daughter gave me a birthday card, and in it penned…

A birthday is just the first day of another 365 day trip around the sun.

Enjoy the trip

The thought of the adventure lifted me. What a journey to contemplate.

Age won’t prevent me from setting off, enjoying the trip, the experiences, the learning, the views, the feelings, the thrill. Bring it on.

Age doesn’t change your outlook, your perspective… unless you let it.

I’m off to dance with a giraffe

separation

  
Watching Motorsport at Donington Park today.

I’m sitting on a hill in the infield looking at the old hairpin. Cars are weaving down the Craner Curves, jostling for track position into this all important corner.

Meanwhile, I’m listening to the race commentary on the circuit app on my phone. The commentary covers the action elsewhere on the circuit. So I can listen to the incident at Redgate where two cars have entered the gravel trap.

When we go racing we take a camping stove and I’m tucking in to a freshly made egg and bacon roll. The soft yoke has just exploded across my fingers. The smell and taste a sensory delight.

The sun is warming my right ear.

I’m struck by my ability to separate my senses. To see one set of action, hear another, feel the sun and direct my olfactory and gustatory senses to a stomach welcoming culinary classic.

Maybe separating our senses is easier than focusing them all on the same experience? We do it every day.  I do wonder what I’m losing as a result though?

the distortion of reality

distort, generalise, delete
Earlier this week, I wrote here about wasps and my propensity to engage them in an imaginary karate-like self defence of mime. Our creation of our reality through the process of deletion, distortion and generalisation.

In my example I am deleting, distorting and generalising the experience as well as the possible outcomes.  My language can reveal which process I am using.  For example I might say “I’m scared of wasps”, but what specifically am I scared about? What is deleted in that sentence? The buzz? The pain of the sting? The swelling and itching?… I’m behaving as if all buzzing equals a wasp threat; but that is a generalisation, revealed by the ‘all’.  Equally I’m generalising that all wasps are out to get me; generalising a wasp’s presence will always lead to a sting.  I’m distorting the risk; creating a perceived significant risk of a sting, despite lack of evidence as I haven’t been stung for decades.

Yet it’s my version of reality in that moment, so I thrash, I dance in an embarrassing battle with my aggressor, miming attack, defence, bravery, fear, victory, defeat.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) refers to this human truth through its presupposition ‘the map is not the territory’. Essentially what we believe to be true, our interpretations of events past, present and future. These are only OUR truth. Not THE truth. Everyone creates their own truth, their own map. We do this in these three interconnected ways, and in one sense this process of individualised deletion, generalisation and distortion creates our own unique interpretation, our version of truth. Just as with the colleague passing us without saying hello. All of which might suggest there isn’t one version, one truth, one territory; no reality in fact, just our reality.

Our deepest memories are coloured by this process. Twisted. Enhanced and also reduced. Yet those memories shape our behaviours, our way of being, our beliefs about what matters, what is true, today and going forward. We recall experiences and hold great store by them, but the very memory is only a partial truth, an incomplete reality.

A strange way to base current and future behaviour, don’t you think?  Human, but not always helpful perhaps?