Thursday Thought #65: The Power of Micro Hurts

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(note: Last week’s Thursday Though was on the micro. And this week, I look to continue to explore the shift and power of the imperceptible and seemingly insignificant). A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down. I wish we would mind the micro hurts more often. We give great attention and restorative energy to the large, heavy traumatic experiences that many of us have had. But what of the small hurts? The side comments, or rejections, or moments of being made to feel small? It’s…

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Thursday Thought #64: One Tiny Shift

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If you change the degree at which you launch an object by just one, you will shift its entire trajectory.  One change in code in DNA can disrupt the functioning of an entire organism. The one greatest threat to the domain of man is the virus. We’re so often focused on making waves or shaking the Earth. But big movements are created by seismic micro shifts. One of my favorite aspects of language is the prevalence of the misquotation of idiomatic expressions. In this case, one that is immensely applicable, and often uttered, is that “The devil is in the details.” But how the expression originally went was: “God is in the details.” The meaning got twisted in reversed somewhere in the continuous flows of  the river of time. But this feels a lot more true of the world. When we look at Fibonacci sequences or the beautifully intricate geometry of leaves, of the amazing mycological ecosystems of mushrooms that are made up of these tiny seemingly sporadic organisms, we see Mother Nature minding every tiny detail. When we think about an entire ecosystem, with tiny bees pollinating one flower at a time and steadily doing their noble work, and flowers drawing on the nutrients from above and below to in turn provide nutrients to the animals in their ecosystem, we see the mighty reduced to the minimal. And so it goes, so on and so forth. But if were to remove one simple component of that equation, the mighty bee, then the entire eco system falls apart. Something so seemingly small, so seemingly trivial on the surface, represents the lynchpin of this very powerful system. In this same way, every massive movement  machine or mammal is made up of its rather small and seemingly insignificant component parts. And so…

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Thursday Thought: Slow

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It takes the corpse flower about 17 years to bloom. Cicadas come down from their trees in about the same time period. It takes a human life about this same time to even begin the process of maturation. It took Leonardo Da Vinci nearly 17 years to complete the Mona Lisa — and he thought himself a failure the entire time. There are indeed events, flash events, that instantly change the landscape of the Earth, or our lives, or both. The hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis. But even after these events, time must take its course to recalibrate and realign to a shifted landscape. For, most of life is slowly unfolding. It is going through its half-life decay as things slowly erode and imperceptibly shift. The human life seems so short — butterflies flitting about the stolid wind for only but a day. Or maybe it’s our time that seems short, particularly when compared to the majestic mountain or the vibrant pulse of our very Earth. But our perspective seems myopically proportional to our own lifespan.  Perhaps the red giant star laments that it is only able to blaze brightly for 300 million years,  quietly envious of the humble suns able to shine for billions. A great many things happen during the human life. Flashes of an infinity of teachers who look into the eyes of youth with hope and promise, and assure them that they can become all that they dream of. And some of them do. For in the sum of our lives, as many things happen as are capable of happening for a single individual. That’s because there are many hours that go unacknowledged. Many minutes that happily sing in the background or hum melancholy hymns as they quietly pass, never invited into the arena of our…

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Thursday Thought: Identity

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Where is our sense of self? And where does it change? “Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown” — Claude Bernard I am… What is your identity?  Identities are born out of the ether of the unknown. The give us definition as contrasted and juxtaposed against the mist of the formless. But like an ethereal mist, intertwined bundle of narratives can be just as difficult to grasp. They are formed at the deepest level of our being far before we are ever conscious of them: our socioeconomic status, a reputation for athleticism, praise for being the funny one or a quick thinker. But sometimes identities can become cages. We form expectations around having to live up to a certain reputation. Or worse, we fall into a limiting belief around our identity.  “I’m just a big guy, that’s just too I am.” “I’m just impatient…have always been that way.”  “I’m just not good with people, that’s what everyone tells me.” How would you complete the following statements? “To most people I know I am the ______ one.” “To myself, I am the _______ one.” Regardless of what your statements may be, the brain relishes in these reinforcing loops. The subconscious mind loves nothing more than repetition and expectation. If we can expect to wake up day in and day out and be the awkward person or the outspoken person or the messy person, then we don’t have to brush up against the unknown. But so often we do want to change these fundamental identities in order to spark our own evolution. And yet, we’re afraid of becoming a different person who people — or maybe our self — may not recognize. “I’m afraid I’m going to look into the mirror and see a different person.” …

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On Pursuit. Control. And Surrender.

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So much of life is punctuated by the idea of pursuit: of acquiring more knowledge; accumulating more accolades; gaining a stronger grasp on this nebulous thing we call living.   No person knows why we are here, and so we greatly concern ourselves with making sense of our world. We also know that this world is a much more vast than one mind can ever understand. This is why we laud the importance of social roles. Let the scientists unearth mysteries of the physical world. Let the musicians unravel emotional experiences. Let spiritual leaders explore the realms beyond words.  This is why whenever someone makes a new discovery or achieves a new human feat, we always use the word “we.” We just discovered gravitational waves. We just unlocked a new part of the mind. We just solved a new human mystery.    This pursuit is so noble and so necessary because it helps us make sense of something that cannot be grasped. And yet, It also underscores our desire for control. If we can control our world, we don’t have to fear it. If we can control our world, nothing can sneak up on us in the dark throes of the night.   But there will always remain a part of the world that will be beyond our control and beyond our grasp. No matter how many tireless hours we spend as a collective, we will never unlock them all. And so in this way we must learn to be the opposite.   We must learn to surrender.   We don’t know why major chords make us happy and minor chords make us sad in music. We don’t know why we are arrested by the sight of a sublime sunset. We don’t know how the brain can accomplish so many complex…

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