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.

nesting values

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We have a wren nesting right outside our living room window. It’s a bay window and there is a climber running up the side of it – a passion fruit, glorious in flower. The nest is in the climber. We can watch the wren, from barely 18 inches away, entering and emerging, singing as it goes. Oblivious and care free.

I think the wren is my favourite bird. Discreet, unobtrusive, inconspicuous. Busy in its own life, flitting, industrious, always moving. Its perky little tail its only nod to ‘look at me’, here I am’.

Maybe these are qualities I value in other human beings? Maybe I value them in myself? Maybe these are things I aspire to, or respect, or admire?

How do we decide these things and why do they matter so? Who knows? Something to be curious about though? Maybe a little birdie can tell you?

Thank you little wren.

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?

buildings wear hats now

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There are many new buildings being erected nearby.  It’s interesting to see the construction and in particular one common feature I have noticed. They all have an ‘add on’ on the roof, to house, I presume, the heating and ventilation equipment.

I guess many years ago, such ‘hats’ on our buildings weren’t required?

It’s possible to see the pipe work and cabling in the guts of the building, criss crossing the currently naked ceilings. An infrastructure to support the future comforts, efficiency and effectiveness of the eventual inhabitants. Of course once they take up their positions, this wiring and plumbing will remain invisible and only the fruits of its work will be in evidence to the people interacting and achieving inside this house of work.

Many of the things which enable us to work as individual human beings are equally set up thus.

Much, created as we were being built. Now invisible. Sometimes keeping us comfortable and enabling us to be at our best. Sometimes having the reverse effect, limiting us and making us in some way uncomfortable.

We don’t have the luxury of simply removing the ceiling tiles and being able to maintain or improve this infrastructure. Well, not easily. In truth much remains hidden to us.

Maybe time to check under your hat?

 

is the SatNav of life working?

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Driving a car is purposeful. It would seem strange not to have a destination.

Maybe it is home, work, friends, relatives or a visit to somewhere new? Wherever we are going, we normally know the end point before we set out. Indeed we may plan a route. Maps, Sat Nav or simply a route in our heads, recalled from previous journeys perhaps? Or maybe we simply know the key roads and towns and follow the strategically positioned, helpful road signs?

Along the journey, we speed up, slow down, to match the traffic and conditions around us. We indicate turns so that others on different and similar journeys know our intention. We illuminate the way ahead at dusk when we need to see the road to our destination. We may pause en route to resource and replenish ourselves before setting out again to our destination.

Life isn’t like this.

In one, somewhat morbid, sense we know our destination. But in another we don’t. At birth we don’t know our purpose. We don’t know where we’re going. We have no idea of the route our life will take, or of the turns or stops along the way. We can even be half way, or three quarters of the way through our life journey and still not know where we are headed. Sadly some complete the trip and still never knew.

The drive of our lives doesn’t come with maps in the glove box or a Sat Nav on the dashboard. Sometimes we will swerve without indicating, avoiding collisions or steering away from, or towards something. Sometimes we will slow down, or stop, without brake lights for those around us. Life temporarily on hold, or simply crawling in traffic. Sometimes we will make up the route along the way. Sometimes we will turn back. Sometimes we will find a detour. And what if we pause, but don’t like the place we have stopped? What if our way becomes dimly lit, how will we shine a light on the way ahead? What if our vehicle breaks down and we cannot travel to where we wish to be, in the manner or time frame we would want? What if we don’t have the resources, the capabilities, the fuel to reach our destination? Fill up?

We take journeys and driving for granted. Route, provisions, stopovers, movement, fellow travellers, destination.

We have one life journey, yet many of us meander through it.

No aim. No plan. No route. Accepting places we don’t like. Being and doing something, because we don’t know any different, other than to accept it’s just where we are at the moment, on this somewhat aimless journey. Reacting. Swerving. Braking. Turning. Accelerating.

You wouldn’t drive aimlessly. Don’t drive your life that way.

Pay attention to who you are, where you are going, why you are going there and why that matters. Be authentically you. Be purposeful. Be sure when you get to the end, you haven’t gone the wrong way. Relish the journey. Appreciate the views. Value the experience. Enjoy those you meet along the way.

Time to program your SatNav?

 

just what is unacceptable?

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Spitting shells of nuts out on a packed train?
Breaking wind in a lift?
Stealing food so you can eat?
Wishing ill of someone?
Swearing in a public place?
Eating with your mouth open?
Undertaking on a motorway?
Borrowing a book and not returning it?
Sex in a public place?
Judging someone’s dress sense?
Judging someone’s accent?
Drinking too much?
Dressing your dog in clothes?
Not being able to spell?
Wearing double denim?
Getting into debt?
Certain tattoos?
Not sharing a gift of chocolates?
Talking about someone behind their back?
Not visiting your old, lonely relative?
Speeding?
Wearing the same socks twice?
Claiming expenses you aren’t owed?
Not washing your hands in the bathroom?
Rude fruit and vegetables?
Cleaning your ear and then eating the wax?
Not sending Christmas cards?
Not showering in the morning?
Taking the last malteser?
Not letting the wine breathe?
Not looking both ways before crossing the road?
Thinking you’re better than someone?
Wishing you had a better life?
Blaming others that you don’t?
Accepting your lot?
Not knowing who you are?
Not caring?
Giving up?
Judging the woman spitting shells of nuts out on a packed train?

the things we provide to keep us safe…

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Much in our world is provided to keep us safe.

Black and white stripes on a road just one mechanism to make crossing a road safer. “Beware of the dog”. Safety shoes to prevent damaged toes. Safety glasses to prevent damaged eyes. Policies to ensure we don’t get sued, laws to allow us to sue. Use by dates to alert us to the dangers of eating food that might harm us. Bans on games of conkers to avoid bruised hands or worse. Maximum dose eight tablets in 24 hours. Road signs warning of adverse camber, liability of freezing, low bridge or simply to ‘give way’. “Don’t run”. “Slippery when wet”. Barriers at the end of footpaths to ensure we don’t inadvertently run out into the road. Safety belts. Medical screening for illness and disease. No standing upstairs on the bus. ‘Safety’ matches. Fire extinguishers, expensive sprinkler systems and fire drills. Warnings for children on who to talk to and who not to. Fire guards, safety catches, automatic cut-offs. “Eat five a day”. Jabs for our holidays. Pinhole glasses for solar eclipses. Masks to filter our breathing. Catalytic converters to trap pollutants. Helmets for bike riders and sportsmen. “Contains 20% of daily saturated fat”. Life jackets. “Smoking kills”. The list is endless.

Yet when we engage with the world as a human being, put ourselves at emotional and psychological risk. When we show ourselves. When we face judgement. When we risk belonging. When we make mistakes. When we face fear. When we feel lonely. When we show vulnerability …

… then we are on our own.

We have to work it out for ourselves. Try things. Get hurt. Learn quickly. We have to look after our own wellbeing. We work out our own policies and rules. We build our own safety mechanisms. Tell ourselves what is acceptable and what isn’t. Build our own beliefs, values and behaviours to act as barriers to keep us safe. Talk to ourselves, reassure ourselves, beat ourselves up.

Where is the support really needed? I wonder if we have the right balance, the right focus?