a different perspective

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If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Mary Engelbreit

Life sometimes throws up simple things which frustrate us, or annoy us, or frighten us.

Like having to wait in a queue when we want to get somewhere, or getting caught in the rain without a coat or umbrella.

We can allow these things to grasp us, to own us if you will. The displeasure, discomfort or disquiet with the situation becomes more than it warrants. Whereas we have choice. We could see that rain shower as a wonderful chance to connect with nature, that queue as a chance to be with our own thoughts or to meet someone new.

Changing the way we think about it, changes how we feel. Thoughts lead to feelings.

So think differently. Feel differently.

the personality of language, with added chocolate chips

illuminateddandelion.com

“How are you today?” seems to be the standard opening gambit here in the USA. Whether it be the local shopkeeper, Alvin at Starbucks, or the unnamed lady in magenta trying to sell me tour tickets.

I have already learned the expected response. It is, “I’m good thank you, how are you?” The ‘good’ in “I’m good…” is presumably a veiled message to Father Christmas, should he be hiding in the bushes? An overly keen attempt to get on to the right list; the list that provides a full stocking, not a sparsely filled alternative in just a few months time?

I, of course, have much to learn colloquially. I have made the apparent mistake of responding, “Cheers!” when given my purchases. I did it to the lady who served me cinnamon scone for breakfast and she looked a little bewildered. I’m told that “cheers” isn’t used in that way here.

Some words have raised importance. Some reduced. I hadn’t expected, for example, my ‘Peachy Pistachio Greek Yogurt’ to contain chocolate chips. But it does. More chocolate chips in fact than peachiness. Sure enough though, a browse of the ingredient list confirms their right to be. Odd not to mention them?

Thankfully, I am yet to be offered a “have a nice day…” as a departing command. Surely, after all, it’s my choice if I wish my day to be nice or not?

I don’t wish to knock America. Merely to point out how language use is very local. The patterns and rituals of language are different. The same words mean different things. Some words are common, some important, some tossed away like chocolate chips at a yogurt factory.

This isn’t just about geography though. Each of us has our own dialect. Favourite words or phrases for us. Words and phrases which cause a shudder, or recoil, when used freely by someone else. Or, words which draw us in, because they resonate with our own sense making and thereby connect us.

Language has personality. It takes on the persona of unique individuals. The persona of family histories. The persona of local dialects. The persona of nation states. The persona of tribes, of cultures, of religions.

We speak who we are.

trapped in a void, with a pending yogurt imperative

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Our office has access control. We carry cards which we touch against pads to open doors from corridors, stairwells and lifts. Public areas in effect. Mostly we carry these cards on lanyards around our necks.

This morning I was in early to do a ‘breakfast briefing’ – you know, describing what a sausage is. 😄 Language makes me laugh sometimes. Anyhow, I digress.

My porridge instruction was to be on one floor, my office on another. I carried some materials, a cup of tea and various facilitation aids up to the room my croissant warming was to take place in.  I left everything on a table and set off back to the office to print something.

On the stairs, a realisation dawned. My lanyard and access card were on the table. I was trapped in the stairwell. A humanless void between the areas of work. I was alone. Caught in the connecting arteries of office life.

I knocked on a door and peered helplessly through the narrow glass slit on one side. It was early though. Few people were around. My tapping went unanswered. Suddenly I heard the ping of the lift arriving two floors up. In sad desperation I bounded up the stairs hoping to meet someone I could beg to grant me escape from the void. I arrived just in time to hear the click of the door, closing, as they had already entered the human space, leaving me in the soulless vacuum. I trudged back down to my tapping door.

I smiled at my ridiculous situation and my preposterous attempts to escape the void. Why is there nobody around to save me? How will my willing breakfast briefers ever discover good yogurt to fruit compote ratios?

The lift on a floor above pinged again.  I turned and took several steps before ruling out another fruitless jaunt upstairs. Peering through my tapping door once more I finally saw my rescuer. An internal passer-by responded and freed me from my humanless void.

Nobody starved. Breakfast briefing was restored.

My moments alone though, trapped in contactless oblivion were curious. My panic, my irrational behaviour, my helplessness, my sense of isolation.

 

whose embarrassment?


This morning, two guys standing on the train were sniffing. Each drawing bodily fluid up into their sinuses through the medium of sucked in air. Both sniffing independently. Both once every ten seconds or so. Slightly different rates and slightly different resonance. Together almost musical.

I wanted to hand out tissues.

They were seemingly oblivious to their mildly melodic disruption of my thinking time.

The man next to me produced a silent smell.

It left me pondering what embarrasses us; the actions of others or our own? And who does the embarrassment belong to? Are we embarrassed for ourselves or for others having to judge us?

Why are some of us embarrassed by falling over, having a wardrobe malfunction, nose picking, spot squeezing, breaking wind, going red, messy hair, sneezing … and some of us not?

What is that about? Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve? And whose is it?

the wisdom of the credits…

ericandernie

How is it that the sun makes us feel good?

I’m ignorant here but I’m sure there are physiological reasons; warmth, light, vitamin creation etc., but also psychological and emotional reasons.

I’ve just been looking out the window at a sun drenched plaza.  People are sitting on steps, eating, drinking, standing, chatting, walking purposefully. The trees are showing their first signs of bud. The colours on the brick built cathedral stunning. The shadows evocative. The light glorious. The mood inviting.

I’m inside.  I can’t feel the warmth; the sunlight isn’t landing on me directly and the sun isn’t being overly energetic with any chemical in my body… and yet just gazing at the scene makes me feel good.  Bring me sunshine…

Eric and Ernie were right.

how foolish we feel

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This morning I tricked my wife.

Her car has been away for a repair and is due back this evening. At 7:15 this morning I woke her to tell her the car had just pulled up outside. She cursed and hauled herself to the window to peep out. She scanned left and right. No car. The smiling husband proclaims, “April Fool!”

It felt oddly satisfying to have duped her. I was pleased with myself. I remember saying to myself, be alert, don’t get caught out, you’ve won.

Only an hour later, my wife tapped on the bathroom door. I opened it, half dried from my shower. She was holding the phone. “It’s your Dad,” she said. “He wants to know where you put the spare kettle.” (Two weeks ago we thought his kettle had broken and bought a replacement, only to discover it was still working). I grabbed the phone. “Hi,” I said, “Dad? Dad?”

Suddenly it dawned. I too had been had. April Fool.

The feelings we experience when we have been clever, or won, or outsmarted someone, are quite different to those we feel when we are caught out, tricked, beaten or made to feel small.

We would do well to recall how the other person might feel in all our interactions with each other. Not just the fun ones on April 1st.

what is the value of a thought?

deep in thought

What purpose does a thought serve?

They seem sometimes merely to generate new thoughts, which in turn father more and yet more.

They seem to occupy us. Keep us busy. Deflect us from our experience in the moment.

They seem to be our ticket to our claim of species superiority. World domination. Although recent world events and the erosion of the planet’s resources might argue otherwise.

They seem to be the root of judgement.  Judgement of others. Judgement of ourselves.

They seem to be the foundation of our communication. The exchange of ideas and knowledge with fellow thinkers. Yet two things seem to be true here; firstly, whilst we exchange thoughts we are often distracted from, and dismissive of, our own feelings. The thoughts, and their exchange with other thoughts from other thinkers, perhaps a distraction from an unspoken truth about how we feel. Secondly, our thinking stops us listening.  We are so busy marshalling our own thoughts we don’t really hear the thoughts of those we are supposedly communicating with.

Yet, thoughts seem to be the catalyst for our learning. Generating new awareness, new understanding, new skills.

So I wonder… is the value of a thought always clear?
Is the value worth the cost?
It seems to me… sometimes, but equally sometimes not.

image by: Lisette Wennström