Thursday Thought #68: The Mystery of Life

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There is a great sense of mystery as we go about living life. Even though we seek stability in home, relationships and even in things as banal as the weather, there always remains a veil of mystery as to what unexpected elements will find themselves on our path. Life is the ultimate mystery and the brain the ultimate unpuzzler. And the spirit lives for this mystery: the ultimate transformer looking to take the ineffable and make it ordered, tangible. And is the greatest game that human collossus will ever concern itself with. The irony of this mystery of life is that we’re always seeking to solve it with certainty. And yet, we simultaneous seek to revel in the novelty of obfuscation. I’ve already heard that story — the tell tale sign that we’ve lost that magical element of mystery that brings out the bright curiosity in all of us. I’ve never been of the belief that the mystery of life will be fully unraveled. We can map out the electron moving about in its orbital, but as soon as we’ve puzzled it all out and go to confirm our groundbreaking observation’s, the spritely spirit moves and smiles at us to go back to work and keep the game going. Our longest standing assumptions and titanic theories are ever crumbling under the enveloping of mystery. Even work is mystery. As we continue to give concerted effort into a particular endeavor, we have no certainty as to what abilities will come to us with time or even when there will be fruits for our labor — if there are to be fruits at all.  And so it goes in this continued ebb and flow of discovery and concealment. Passed on from generation to generation to welcome the unexpected and puzzle through the gripping…

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Thursday Thought #67: Breaking and Mending

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“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” — Hemingway They say that optimism and joie-de-vivre toward the world is an affectation of youth. That those who remain soft will give way to the breaking forces of the harsh world. Those who maintain the vibrant glows of belief into old age are oft written off as naive or out of touch. But the fact of the world the world is that it has smooth corners, but also many jagged edges. And eventually, we will collide with one of these jagged edges. And we will be hurt. There is no possibility. There is only inevitability. No interpretation. This truth is one of the commonalities that forges the linking thread of the human spirit. I can’t count how many times I’ve been enveloped by the heavy darkness, that incumbent weight on Atlas’s back waiting to break him at a moment’s notice. A loved one parting from the world. A separation. A devastation. Or even that nebulous sense of human longing that at times overcomes the spirit to fill it with an essence it can never capture. But in that heaviness is often the lightness. The capacity to reforge something as forcefully as it was torn asunder. I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese art of kintsugi. When a ceramic object — often a bowl — is broken, it is not discarded. Instead, it is remade with gold. And those striking scars within the bowl or object make it vibrantly beautiful — and singularly unique — never to be remade again. For when something has suffered damage and has a history. Instead of trying to hide defects and cracks, these are accentuated and celebrated, as they have now become the strongest part of the piece. Softness it not…

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Thursday Thought #66: Our Inner Critic

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The inner critic is always there. A homunculus hanging out in the hardest to reach caverns of our mind constantly trumpeting the siren song of inadequacy. Reminding us that someone else can do it better, someone else can get there faster, someone else can be it easier. The homunculus is born from the indoctrination of the belief that the tallest blade of grass always gets cut down: that if we stand out, we risk the danger of envy or isolation. So if someone else does not cut us down, we serves the scythe ourselves. But is this true? If it is, why do we so often look longingly at the blades shining brightly in piercing sun — getting a view of the world we so desperately wish for ourselves? Why do we wish to silence the negative voice? Quieting the homunculus is not about going to battle with it. It’s about acknowledgement. It’s about a acknowledging the fact that it’s there for a reason: often doing its faithful job to protect us from pain or anguish. For it’s often not fear itself that arrests us, but rather the pain — or potential pain — of shame. Shame is the greatest saboteur of creativity. Unlike anger or sadness, it cannot be transposed. It is simply immobilizing. So overcoming shame means removing the conditions for its arrival. This requires trust. It requires a trust in ourselves in knowing that we only have to reveal as much of ourselves or our work as we are willing to. If we trust in ourselves to consciously expand that willingness incrementally — just one extra inch, or one extra micrometer — then those micro meters accumulate into miles and those miles converge into a bridge to a braver self. But this is some of the hardest,…

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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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