the past can only be remembered now

Reflecting on your day, hundreds, or thousands, of things happen. In fact each day of your life this is so. This moment, Now, is therefore only one of many, many moments.

Yet this moment, Now, is as it is. Indeed, it cannot be otherwise.

Moments of the past are merely as we recall them. Moments of the future are dreams, creations of thought. The division of moments, the division of our lives, into past, present and future is mind-made and ultimately illusory. The past can only be remembered, now. The future only imagined, now. So in essence all there is that is real, is Now.

When your attention moves into the Now, there is space, clarity, simplicity, peace. There is also an alertness.
Many people confuse Now, with what happens in the Now. But the Now is deeper than what happens in it. It is the very space in which it happens.

This moment, Now, is the one constant truth. No matter what happens, no matter what changes, one thing is certain … it is always Now.

Makes you wonder why we dwell on the past and worry for the future, doesn’t it? Wasting Now.

Don’t waste it, embrace it. Now.

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time to turn around from a scene not seen?

Lincoln's address

Ten years ago, it would have seen a very different picture.

People congregating to admire perhaps the greatest President – the saviour of the Union. Or, maybe they would be amassing merely to gaze upon the art; the fine alabaster sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, cosseted in a columnar temple looking out to Capitol Hill.

Except now, more than half of these people are facing the wrong way. At least, facing the wrong way to look directly at the statue.

For now, unlike a decade ago, the adopted mode of recording your presence is the ‘selfie’. And so, half of the people are looking away, beaming at their mobile, posing, pointing, pulling all manner of faces. Alone, or with companions peering over an appropriately framed shoulder.

It’s an odd sight. Half looking towards, half looking away.

Maybe the ‘selfie’ posture accurately reflects the passing of time? The past appropriately behind us, looking back. As if looking in a mirror at what has gone before, whilst our bodies, and eyes, face out to the future?

There was a time we recorded photographically the thing, the place, the view. However, it seems to me that instead, in this ‘selfie’ age, what matters most is the subject in the foreground. The self. Me. I. The grinning, posing photograph taker. I am, in this moment, more significant than the history that preceded me. More relevant than the beautiful scenery behind me. More important that the place, the environment, the location.

We share these pictures to showcase first and foremost our expressions, our poses, our facial creativity, our friends, not to show off the backdrop.

I wonder what metaphor this is, for our future? Not observing the wonder around us. Instead, the preoccupation with looking at ourselves. Not deeply. Not into our soul, or our very being. But looking at our superficial, surface selves. Sharing these with others. Competing with others. Even now, we photoshop them with filters. To remove reality. To remove blemishes.

Maybe we need to face reality again? Maybe we should turn around more?

Maybe that would be a decision on the scale of those Abraham Lincoln once took?

once upon a time…

illuminateddandelion.com

We love stories.

Not just stories told in books, or on film, or in conversation. We love our stories about ourselves.

We don’t speak them out loud often. We don’t act them out on stage or on screen. We don’t share them with the world, in our workplace or at home. Rather we tell them to ourselves. Quietly. So quietly they are merely whispers. To those around us, these stories have no discernible words, no beautifully drawn pictures to admire, no compelling narrative to hook our attention, no plot, no beginning or end.

Instead the stories play out in our thinking, in how we behave, in how we are in the world. They show up in what is possible and what limits us. They control us. They become a self fulfilling prophecy. We become the actor, the main character in our pastiche of ourselves.

And we run our stories over and over. Day in day out. Week in week out. Inside.

Your past is just a story…
and once you realise this, it has no power over you

Chuck Palahniuk

What we need is freedom from the story of our past.
Freedom to write a new story of our future.

the graduates of today…

image

I’ve spent some time today with some new graduates joining the organisation.  It’s day two for them.

Driving to the venue I reflected on being one of them…  thirty years ago.

I was now standing in front of them, much as key leaders had been marched out in front of me all that time ago. Then, the leaders were booted and suited. Ties, business suits and highly polished brogues. Today I am in an open neck checked shirt and chinos. Over or under dressed?

I sat on a panel as groups presented their thinking around a business priority. We questioned them, then they questioned us. They seem more worldy wise than I recall being in my time. Great questions about society, change and cultural diversity. A colleague on the panel suggested our pension was in safe hands.

My session with them explored self, authenticity and learning agility. And it seems that although the graduates of today are more connected, more aware, more socially responsible and possibly smarter, they still suffer everyday human frailties. They were still worried about how they came across, still wanting to be reassured, encouraged. They still wanted to be heard, accepted, understood. They discussed self awareness and being themselves, yet they still had limiting beliefs about what was possible, albeit fuelled by a hunger to achieve and succeed.

It seems that whilst much has changed in thirty years, much is the same.

Their very humanity, their vulnerability, their humanness, no different to ours all that time ago.

Maybe that’s a sign of how we need to develop our education, our learning about being human? Maybe the focus on learning ‘stuff’ is strangling our ability to learn about the nature of being human?

going…

image

We spend a lot of time going.

Going places.

On a bus the other day, gazing backwards out of the rear of the vehicle as it trundled up Park Lane, I noticed this. All around me were cars, buses, bikes, vans, lorries. All the occupants, driver or passenger, going. Where wasn’t clear, but they were all going. As was I. Glancing to the side there were pedestrians and cyclists on the path. Also going. An inline skater eased between these goers, also going? Peering skywards, an aeroplane could be made out, high in the clouds, going. Going further perhaps, but nonetheless going.

We are not often still.

When we’re not physically going, we’re mentally or emotionally going.

Going from here to there. There to here. Going forward, going backwards. Sometimes going sideways. Going round and around. Sometimes going, in order to go. Going to familiar places and to new places. Going to be with, going to be away from.

Or maybe we’re coming?

What’s the difference?

Are these people around me going or coming? Coming or going?

However they might describe their orientation of travel, of movement, one thing is clear. They are not still. They are not simply being. They are not just in the present. They are going, or coming, from or to. Past or future. Was, will be. Then, when.

Not… now.

 

 

the growth of the fad

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering including video gaming in the 2020 Olympics.

My first reaction was, that’s ridiculous. Almost as daft as cream cracker eating as a competitive sport. But then I reflected.

When is change about growth, modernisation and progression, recognising the demands of a changing world, and when is it a retrograde step, challenging history and values from a time gone by? Every change it could be argued comes with an upside and a downside. Every change from the invention of the wheel, through the Industrial Revolution right up to the advent of social media.

When is change almost for change’s sake? Because changing shows that we’re doing something? We’re active. Moving.

In organisations we move the deckchairs constantly. New teams, new roles, changed reporting, changed priorities, redundancies. All intended to respond to the market, to customer needs or to the call of efficiency. Yet often these changes hark back to methods or structures discarded at a previous evolution. Growth in organisations and in society it seems is more of a spiral, moving forward, yes, but circling back over old ground at the same time.

It seems change, growth, movement are a deeply intrinsic human need. We seem incapable of just standing still.  But where and how we grow seems more and more to be less considered, less thoughtful, as the modern world evolves. The capacity and capability for change, seems to be driven increasingly from the need for change itself, rather than from a considered view of how and where to evolve to a markedly better place. We seem addicted to the idea that things just have to be different. It’s the movement that counts more than the destination. This in turn seems to raise the profile of temporary.  Places that exist just as staging posts from one change to the next. Temporary, transitional states. Fads.

I wonder if the consideration of rows of professional e-sport players, sitting at terminals, playing each other at a computer game, watched by crowds, is more a response of this modern need to change, than a true enhancement of the sporting ideals conceived by the Olympic founders?

It seems to me that, if it gets the go ahead, it would be merely a temporary nod to a changing world, probably gone and forgotten within one or two games, replaced perhaps by insect eating or another up and coming fad.

I wonder what happens to us should we ever be unable to change? If we become stuck? When growth stops being possible because only one company runs everything and it is all optimised to meet every human need?

Then, we probably wear virtual reality headsets which create imaginary change so that our intrinsic need for growth is met. And that will be the only Olympic event.

 

yesterday’s traditions today

mayday

It’s Bank Holiday weekend.

Strange how we hold on to these relics of a time gone by. These customs. These traditions. Long beyond their time in a sense.

Bank Holidays have been around in current form since the late 1800s and were all associated with important religious festivals and agricultural holidays before they were enacted into law by the Victorians.  So many go back even further. May Day only became an official bank holiday in 1971, but its roots as a holiday stretch back to pre-Christian pagan festivals, and the familiar rituals of crowning of the May Queen and dancing around the Maypole made it a popular seasonal celebration in medieval England.

So why do we keep traditions?

Sure we enjoy the day off, but we don’t bring the holiday into the present context; rather, we hang on to a relevance long gone.

It is like that too with our lives more broadly.  We hold on to behaviour and thinking rituals which often served us well as children.  No longer useful as adults, we keep them still; almost shackled to the tradition.

We do this with learning too. Learning skills and ways of being which suit one role, but still practicing them in others, such as later careers we may undertake, or even in parenting, or other life roles.

Strange our love of the past.