silence

Why-Silence-is-So-Good-For-Your-Brain

A friend of mine, recently reminded me…

Silence isn’t empty;
If it were, we wouldn’t hear it so loudly

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the search for lost things

I’ve lost my job.

I’ve looked in all the usual places … gone through my trouser pockets, scanned the mantelpiece, looked under the car seat, been through the ‘man drawer’, checked the bedside table, looked on the kitchen shelf where the important stuff resides.  I’ve methodically been through my jackets, looked down the back of the sofa, searched behind the fridge where things have a habit of falling. I’ve shaken some boxes at the back of the garage. I’ve asked my wife to go through her handbag, I’ve re-traced my steps around the house, drive and garden, I’ve looked on the table in the hall and felt the lining of my coat.

No joy.

Strange we say we’ve ‘lost a job’. Like we’ve lost a pen, or our car keys or our favourite sunglasses.

Actually I haven’t lost my job at all. It wasn’t ever mine really.  Not mine to lose.

The reality is that my employer decided to reorganise the work which constituted the role I was paid to do.  Some work was stopped, some new work added and the way in which my former employer set out to carry out that work no longer included a package of work previously called ‘my job’.  I haven’t lost it, the organisation has removed it.

Time to find another path, another ‘thing’ to occupy my time, feed my interests and my family.

So where do I look? Not under the car seat seemingly. Not in my coat lining. More a case of looking inside? Under my skin, in my gut or in my heart perhaps?  Searching there is not as straightforward though as looking behind the fridge or in the loft.

A search more rewarding perhaps?

So, it turns out, the removal of my job isn’t a loss, it’s a gift. An opportunity. A chance to reconnect with what matters to me. A chance to get closer to myself. A chance to be more me.

Maybe having a job all this time has been masking the true loss – the (temporary) loss of my connection to self? A temporary blindness to what drives me and why I am here.

Well I’ve found that again now, so all is good.

which side are you on?


We place fences everywhere.

Fences between our houses. Fences delineating our gardens. Fences alongside railway lines. Fences around yards, car parks and compounds. Fences to keep the animals in, fences to keep them out. Fences around parks and ponds. Fences marking out the route the country pathway takes. Fences shaping fields and grazing land. High fences around prisons. Low fences around vegetable plots. Fences between thrusting motorway carriageways and their speeding contents. Fences on bridges. Fences at the stadium. Fences at the racetrack. Fences at the top, or bottom, of the stairs. 

Some keep us out, some keep us in. Some are to indicate the way. Some to stop us meandering off the way. Some show possession.   Some deny access. Some deny exit. Some are aesthetic, some very functional.

Which side are you on?

And what about the fences of your mind?

The fences that determine choice. The fences that set out appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. The fences that inform us we can’t or we shouldn’t. The fences that motivate and drive action or tell us inappropriate or unachievable action. The internal fences that keep us safe. The internal fences that restrict our growth and learning. The fences that allow us to see potential, the fences that blind us to reality.

Invisible fences, but often just as effective.

Which side are you on?

which three fifths do you choose?

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Having visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the second new learning which stayed with me was this…

In 1787, after independence, the three fifths clause of the United States Constitution was enacted. “Three-fifths of the number of slaves in any particular state would be added to the total number of free white persons, including bond servants, but not Indians, to the estimated number of congressmen each state would send to the House of Representatives.”

Effectively each black man or woman was worth three fifths of a white man or woman, when it came to ‘democratic’ representation. It seems shocking; indeed a few people audibly gasped when the video at the museum shared this.

How do you fraction a human being? Why three fifths? And which three fifths?

And I wonder on reflection, do we still do this today? Unconsciously? Do we value certain people more, or less? Is it just that we no longer write it down, make it law?

And do we hide parts of ourselves too? Only present to the world the part(s) we feel comfortable with? Do we show up, not as our whole self, but as the fraction we believe is acceptable to those around us, in our context, in our environment, now at this time?

If you could offer a fraction of yourself and discount the remainder, which fraction would you choose?

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.

“oh I’m nobody…” she said


Looking to validate the time slot for our tickets to the ‘Journey behind the falls’ in Niagara, we approached the ticket desk. Two ladies were busy with customers. We wandered around the large circular installation, meandering through the maze of unecesssary, queue guiding, crowd controlling barriers. We passed a couple of unmanned service points, to a lady perched on a stool, in front of a screen.

“Hello.” she greeted us. Lovely big smile. We responded likewise, and made our request.

“Oh I’m nothing.” she said. “You need to wait, or go upstairs.” She gesticulated, with a noncholent wave of a hand.

I enquired as to her dismissal of herself, of her role, of her existence, of her identity, of her right to be. Not in those words, although it struck me she was doing just that.

Turns out she was ‘guest services’. There to help with anything general rather than provide a specific service.

That seemed like something. More than something. To me at least.

We smiled and departed.

What a shame she didn’t value herself. We should all value ourselves.

the misnomer of diversity

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We speak of diversity in reference to gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, ethnic or religious background…

The problem with this is the labelling it creates and the notion that we need to take special steps for this labelled cohort. Diversity, and sister terms like ‘inclusion’, suggest acknowledging groups, often minority groups. But the very grouping, the very labelling of the group, is itself creating a boundary. An us and them.

In reality, we’re talking about difference, and we’re all different. All individually diverse. All totally unique.

The more we pay attention to who we are and how we come to the world, the more curious and open hearted we are; recognising that everyone around us does that differently… the better we will be. Everyone comes as their unique self. Everyone has a place.

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best