the wisdom of the goats

GOATS

In our modern world there is much complexity. With that comes contradiction. An either or, pros and cons, do and don’t do.  We face everyday life with a heavy burden of choice. A weight of expectation, of responsibility. How to spend our time, our money, our energy? Lots of ‘what if?’ Lots of ‘if only?’.

I heard a story the other day which resonated with this world truth of contradiction and complexity.

The story teller, a young African boy at the time of the story. Living in a village in remote Nigeria.

The villagers kept goats. The goats served many purposes. They provided work, endeavour, a sense of purpose. They provided food. They provided milk. They were a currency of prosperity.

But the goats also ate things. Anything. Everything. They destroyed much of the fabric of the village.

The elders of the village met to discuss this complexity, this contradiction. In order to decide.

The young boy observed the elders meeting.  Their long discussion about the goats.

The elders sat and debated this contradiction. For days.

After a while, the young boy asked his father why they continued to discuss the goats. Why they were not deciding.

His father said, there is a wisdom in not deciding. A wisdom in living with the contradiction. And so there emerges another truth in the complexity.

Wise words.

you’re not…

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You’re not the mistake you made.
You’re not the failure of your most recent project.
You’re not the loss of your job.
You’re not that indulgence you should have resisted.
You’re not the disappointment at not having come first.
You’re not that missed deadline or average result.

You’re not your success, your fame, your glowing reputation, either.

You’re not the letters after your name, your job title, your exam results, your qualifications, your place in the organisational hierarchy.

You’re not your bank balance, your debt, your smart suit, that designer frock, your car, your house.

You’re not your ability, or your disability.
You’re not your weight, your muscles, your illness, that blemish.
You’re not your happiness, your sadness, your rage, your shame, your dream.

How could you be any of these, given that any of them are liable to change at any time?

Any of them.

These things are all a blink in the timeline of your life.

It’s a huge misunderstanding of what humans being are, and one that your inner critic can go wild upon. That voice can be demanding that you fix, or change, or hide, or be ashamed of these things.  Or that you hold on ever so tight to what you’ve got, for fear of losing it, and what it represents.

You are not your circumstance.

Perhaps there is a new kind of freedom you can find from knowing this? A new kind of acceptance of the transience of the world, and a new recognition of your own strength and constancy, a new discovery of your essence, your soul… a new kind of hope.

image by: GranitKrasniqi – deviantart.com

how little we really know

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For all we know about the world, its solar systems, its solids and gases and liquids, its states and orbits and atmospheres, its stars and planets and moons. For all we know about the Earth, its rivers and mountains and continents, its seas and oceans and lakes, its cities and people and landscapes, its cultures and societies and languages… we know nothing.

Everyone has their own world, their own reality, their own truth. Created from their own experience. Made up of patterns and meaning and connections. Motivated by values, purpose and beliefs. Driven by feelings, emotions and thoughts. Held in pictures and sounds and senses. Motivated by ego, desire and love.

Every world unique.

We struggle to understand our own personal world, let alone that of our neighbour, our colleague, our friend, our human cousin.

We know nothing.

the caveman in my passion fruit

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I have always thought of troglodytes as rather primitive cavemen.

So therefore might presume ‘troglodytes troglodytes’ to be a gang of primitive cavemen. A tribe maybe? Often in urgent combat with neighbouring gangs. Fighting to survive. Living a tough existence. Crude, hardy, simple.

Yesterday’s blog post referred to a nesting wren we have.  A sweet little bird just outside my window.

I discovered today that the scientific name for the wren is ‘troglodytes troglodytes’.

Now my understanding, my presumptions, my knowing… is blown apart. Boom.

New connections, new meaning, new awareness. Wow that’s good.

unlearning agility

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Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know; whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows, or is capable of knowing.

Albert Einstein

The world is changing at pace.

What we know today may largely be irrelevant in the future. What matters most is no longer what we know, but our ability to learn new things. To keep pace with the changing world.

I wonder if Einstein would have recognised this and modified this wisdom to emphasise ‘…is capable of knowing’ and remove ‘…what the pupil knows’?

Recent research correlates success to our learning agility – our ability to be aware of our experience, be curious, seek feedback, find meaning, learn and unlearn.

Einstein was possibly good at that?

learning blind

mylearningplan

What could you never learn?

Make a list.

It’s easy to begin with skills and knowledge – we often equate learning to what we know and what we can do. I for instance would find it hard to ski jump.  I don’t like heights, feeling out of control or physically hurting myself, which all seem to me possibilities with ski jumping.

But explore further. Maybe you could never learn to behave a certain way, or to feel certain things?  Maybe you could never learn to be calm? Or to physically strike someone for example?

Maybe you could never learn to believe something or to value something – maybe you could never learn to be envious of material wealth for example? Maybe you could never learn to love red meat?

Maybe you could never learn to be a different person in some way? Maybe being a racist is beyond your learning capability? Or to take a life?

What we are blind to learning tells us a lot.

Be curious.  What does it say about you?