the power over us that is evil hair

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We have a strange relationship with hair.

We coif it. We clean it. We condition it. We cut it and shave it. We brush and comb it. We put things in it to hold shape and create effect. We run our fingers through it. We twiddle it. We caress our face and lips with it. We examine its ends. We scratch it. We spend a fortune styling it. We protect it from the rain. We comment on other people’s.

Yet, find one in the bath at a friends, or on the bathroom floor at a bed and breakfast; find one in the bed at a hotel – especially a short curly one; get a strange long one caught in your toes … and we go mental.

Yuk. Human hair!

What do we imagine? What horrors are in our thoughts? What deadly harm might arise from this strand of humanity?

Funny. But real.

 

the bear, the raccoon, the duvet and the rustle

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Crisps, some hard boiled ‘sucky’ sweets for the journey. A packet of biscuits, half eaten; mini cookies actually (very nice). Some chocolate; bite size for quick application whilst driving. These were the contents I could recall were in the bag.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

That stage between sleep and wakefulness is a curious one.

I’m in a cabin in the woods. It’s the early hours of the morning. I lie still and listen.

There’s something in the kitchen of our cabin. It sounds like it’s working its way through these contents? Delicately but confidently. An animal picking through our carrier bag with food.

I lie as still as I can. What to do? Make a noise? Scare it away? What if it’s an unscarable animal? Are there such creatures? At 4am, or whatever, there most certainly are! I do the brave, manly thing and ease the duvet closer to my chin. It’s a well known fact bears don’t like their food duvet wrapped.

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

My imagination runs riot. I could take on a squirrel, I thought. But then, what if I freak it out? I’ve been in a room with a spooked bird before and it’s frantic. What does a squirrel do when it’s scared?

Rustle, rustle, rustle…

How big is a raccoon? They have them hereabouts I think? Are they quick? I’ve never seen one up close and panicked.

I can hear my breathing and the rustle. Nothing else.

It stops.

I listen intently for the animal making it’s means of escape. But nothing. I’m hoping for a clue as to the egress point. But nothing. I listen more. But nothing.

My alarm goes off. 7:15. I awake.

Our bag is how we left it. No crumbs on the floor. No torn packets. No animal droppings.

It wasn’t a dream, but… there are leaves on the ground outside my cabin window I notice. The window between me and the kitchen.

Imagination is wonderful isn’t it? At 7:30 am it is anyhow. Less so at fourish.

So hard to explain…

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpler.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Feelings are so hard to explain aren’t they?

We have these sensations that arise inside our bodies, that move, that have direction, have intensity. They’re hard to interpret, yet hard to ignore. We give them labels, because that allows us to communicate, but really the label does not do justice to the complexity and depth of the feeling, or its meaning and significance to us. We cannot rationalise them, talk them away, hold a conversation with them, like we can our thoughts. Yet our feelings are somehow more pure, more real, more now.

our very public privacy

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I invite you to imagine yourself in a large theatre, standing on a stage in front of an audience of 200 strangers. You are about to speak out, frankly, about your most private moments.

Ready to go? Happy? Begin…

No?

Oddly, public transport seems to provide a safe environment for us to do this. To share our most private moments. A train carriage, packed with 200 strangers for example.

In only the last week I have witnessed three examples whilst travelling on a train.

Maybe it’s the imagined intimacy of the one to one telephone conversation, the background hum of the train on the tracks? Maybe it’s the intensity and the emotion of the content of the exchange, taking us into ourselves?  I don’t know, but somehow these people become so absorbed by their conversation that their awareness of their audience is seemingly totally lost. They find a freedom and a frankness in front of strangers; all sense of potentially prying eyes and ears, any sense of vulnerability, of exposure, of visibility seems to desert them.

Whether it be a lady initially informing her husband she will be late and is having to stand, descending into a row about him never listening to her and a very honest view of his sister’s shortcomings; or a young woman, speaking to a (presumed) friend, recounting her night out, which culminated in her boyfriend hitting her; or a conversation face to face between two standing passengers, conducted at unnecessary volume, one initially exploring a ‘client’ emotionally falling for her (I’m sure there are ethical limits here) and culminating in a sharing of bluntly truthful views on their respective partners and their children…

Maybe we should be more cognisant of our surroundings and the words, thoughts and feelings tumbling out?

Or maybe we could benefit from such honesty, such openness, such trust in our everyday lives?

it’s intentional

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Have you ever been driving somewhere and needed to get there on time, or you’re simply in a hurry, keen to arrive?

Ahead of you on the motorway, vehicles slow. Hazard lights are pulsed to warn you of rapid deceleration. Stretching into the distance is a long line of red dots; blinking illuminations signalling stationary or slowing modes of supposed transport. A queue.

How do you respond? Maybe your mind turns to being late? Maybe to the impact of that? Maybe you feel frustrated? Maybe annoyed? Maybe you sense a loss of control, your destiny in the hands of circumstance? Maybe that creates anger? Maybe your thoughts turn to those you are driving to? Maybe you worry? Maybe you begin switching lanes in an attempt to get some advantage over your fellow car crawlers, telling yourself you are winning and outsmarting those around you? Thereby generating a somewhat false sense of progress and movement. Maybe that makes you feel good?

Once your thoughts lead to a state change. Once the thoughts and feelings are connected in dubious harmony, you have set your intent. You will be anxious. You will be frustrated. You will be angry. Whether you want to or not, it will happen. It won’t get you what you want of course. It won’t move you forward. And not just literally.

If instead you were able to think about enjoying the scenery, or listening to some stirring music, or calling a friend to catch up. If you were able to set a positive, productive, happy intent. Leading to a positive, productive, enjoyable state. How would that queue be different?

Our thinking creates our state.  Our state determines our thinking.

Setting your intent, for how you want it to be, can make it so. On the motorway and elsewhere.

Today I co-facilitated a learning session with 50 people. As facilitators, we both set our intent to learn everyone’s name … and we did.

The act of setting intent, directs our attention to where we want it. We have choice, rather than simply being at the beck and call of our thoughts and feelings. We are driving ourselves, rather than being driven. Intentionally.

just one day later…

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There was a sombre mood around yesterday. Whatever your perspective, whatever your vote, it seemed to me the nation was reflective. A realisation dawning. Not so much of the implications, because those are still unclear. Instead, a realisation that something significant has happened. Something historic. Some were sad, some shocked, some pleased, but many seemed quiet, reflective.

And so it should be. Reflection is an important human activity. It’s the process by which we recreate our experience and mull it over. We exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about our fundamental human nature, purpose and essence. We explore our emotions, our thinking, our actions, our options… and from this reflection of our experience comes deep fundamental learning. Wisdom and awareness.

Taking time to reflect is important. The learning crucial. The time to be with and assimilate our thoughts and feelings vital. The Ancient Greeks, like many wise ancient civilisations, valued reflection as a form of contemplation by which our personal truth could be found.

It disappoints me that some seek to act immediately. Seemingly unable to internalise and reflect, instead they hit out, they strike forward, they speak out their emotions and thoughts in an antagonistic, blaming manner. They rush to take sides, to point fingers, to exert power, to make claims, to advise, to draw attention to themselves.

Maybe if some of our politicians, media and activists were able to reflect, to pause, to be still, they might find their own truth, rather than live a life constrained by rhetoric, by sides, by division, by debate, by ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, by blame.

Let’s pause people.

three pounds of misbehaving matter

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Barack Obama launched BRAIN, a collaborative neuroscience project, in 2013 saying,

As humans we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter between our ears.

Today my three pounds has been misbehaving, sending me thoughts that don’t make sense yet.