The Road Home Is Home

1307 Relax and Succeed - The road home is home

I recently heard about a scientific study that involved ‘improving sports.’ I found the desire to remove mistakes from sports refereeing to be a good example of the two sides of an issue that society currently faces in all areas of life.

Our drive for fairness is admirable and natural and is at the heart of cooperative societies, but our simultaneous discomfort with normal, progressive human fallibility can become obsessive, as it currently feels it’s becoming.

A recent study found that baseball referees made wrong calls on pitches about 10% of the time. That made sense considering what they are doing, which is to track a tiny, high speed object through a fictional piece of three-dimensional space. Missing only 10% felt very impressive to me. Refs getting calls wrong is a part of the drama of a game. But to the researcher, this was something to be fixed.

Indeed, we can attempt to ‘fix’ that with technology but the question becomes, do all of these perfections in all areas of life lead humans to develop entirely unrealistic expectations about other as yet-imperfect human systems, or even about other people or ourselves? Did we teach ourselves perfectionism by trying to perfect everything around us?

1307 Relax and Succeed - Only progress not perfection

We’re in gyms because we don’t think we’re perfect enough. We alter our diets because we don’t think we’re perfect enough. We redecorate and dress ourselves in repeated attempts to attain perfection. We even fear death because we’re so sure that one lifetime isn’t enough to make the case for our own value, because those mistakes keep bringing our value down –we think.

Technology and systems improve over time because each generation can build upon the one before it. But every generation starts off ignorant to the emotional challenges in life, and we all must face them individually. Maturing is learning, and learning involves being wrong, there is no getting around it.

The struggle through life is our life. That is what it is to mature, to grow and to partake in the rewards of living. To mistake the struggle toward perfection to be a failure to achieve perfection is to lose the value inherent in mortality.

Vampires are doomed to an eternity where they can perfect their external selves, but nothing can save them from the eternal horror of watching all of their great loves age and pass on. Only humans are granted the grace of a temporary state, and the great loves that go with the preciousness of limited time.

With all the wonderful experiences available in life, we are better not to waste that time worshipping the notion of perfection.

If we seek perfection our ‘improvements’ to ourselves and the world can ultimately do more damage to our lives than good. But that can only happen when we have failed to notice the value of limited time.

Improvements are positive, but they come to us just as much from our enjoyment of life as from our efforts to consciously improve. It is important for each of us to not get so attached to being better that we forget to simply be at all.

What you seek, you shall never find.
For when Gods made man,
They kept immortality for themselves.
Fill your belly.
Day and night make merry,
Let Days be full of joy.
Love the child that holds your hand.
Let your wife delight in your embrace.
For those alone are the concerns of man.
   – The Epic of Gilgamesh

Forget perfection. Today, just live.

peace, s

Temari Passions

1081-relax-and-succeed-who-shaped-your-temari-2
Today is an important meditation. It took shape while I was recently listening to an interview with superstar DJ Steve Aoki, and it implied that the artist himself felt his massive success was largely just an attempt to please his Benihana-founding, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dad. I love that! No wonder he’s known as the hardest working artist in EDM. And doesn’t that pose an interesting question about our own existence…?

Are you familiar with Temari? They originated in China, but today they’re primarily known as a Japanese toy that mothers make for their kids. You start by bundling up some old kimonos and then shaping them into a ball, although today people often buy rubber or plastic frames. Then you start weaving threads around them. The results can range from simple and straightforward to complex and colourful. They’re good metaphors for us.

(Keep in mind, I’m making all this up. I have no idea what Steve Aoki’s life is really like other than the fact that he dug Kraftwerk too. But for the purposes of this story he’s a metaphor for you, like the temari ball is a metaphor for our internal emptiness, so no offense to Steve. I loved his passion and he sounded genuinely interesting, awesome, happy and healthy.)

1081-relax-and-succeed-dear-musicSo let us say that Steve felt that he did not have his father’s love, although almost certainly he has/did all his life. This is an extremely common mistake for people to make. A lot of parents were taught that you’ll steal a child’s motivation if you congratulate them as though they’re done. So let us say that Steve’s perceived emptiness is like a hollow temari frame within him.

Steve sees the outline of father’s love but he is hurt and angry that his father hasn’t dedicated  more of himself to parenting him; to completing him. Left alone, Steve begins to have his own experiences, and like threads of different colours and lengths of time, those experiences begin to weave together within Steve, around the hollow frame.

As Steve develops the ball develops. As the weaves get denser some friends suggest he’s just suppressing the hollowness. Some question what he’s weaved. But others catch his attention by calling his weaves beautiful. This startles Steve. This cannot be. Steve is us, and no one thinks their lives are beautiful. They’re okay, but rarely do you find a person would call their life beautiful. (Okay, I do, but I told you this was a story.)

1081-relax-and-succeed-life-is-what-happened-to-youAs Steve weaves through his life he pays more attention. He notices that the frame has shaped what he created, but it also supported his creation and, more importantly, it hasn’t really limited it. In fact, the frame gave his chaotic ball of experiences some direction; some shape and some meaning. Some threads were bright and colourful and some dull or ugly, but all of them had combined to be the art of Steve’s life. It turned out that Steve’s reason for being was Steve’s own life!

Okay, so today’s meditation is a big one: what’s your frame? What are you trying to solve? Who do you want to say what? What do you want explained? What’s supposed to happen, or whatever else? What are you busying trying to accomplish while you’re actually actively weaving your own life? Who left you with your frame and what shape is it?

There is no way to divorce or move away from your frame. You just need to stop paying attention to the hollow and realise that it was never supposed to be full. You weren’t supposed to get rid of the sand, you were supposed to make a pearl. Find out what frame you have and who built it and then love that person. Because the passions in your life are in fact built around that misunderstood love.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #127: The Ex

A lot of people will direct themselves toward very negative thoughts about their former relationships as an expression of their suffering. Spiritually loving someone is a beautiful connection. Having the ego believe that bond is broken creates suffering and there’s often a natural desire to defer responsibility for that suffering.

People will talk about people changing, or people not changing but in the end we are all who we are and others either accept us or don’t. When our relationships end our friendships don’t disappear. Other people continue to see our value, what’s missing is the acceptance of our partner. They no longer approve of us, so when someone’s mad that you let them down what they really mean is that they had inappropriate beliefs about you that didn’t align with who you actually are.

Just as your friends do, there are romantic partners who can accept you. The more acceptable you are to yourself the more people you’ll find yourself acceptable to because that’s otherwise known as confidence. But always remember: there is no succeeding or failing in a relationship, there is only the dropping of expectations or the demand that expectations be met. One brings people closer, the other divides them but no matter what, it’s all done with thought.

Here’s the brilliantly insightful Tony De Mello discussing the same subject. It’s worth a listen.

If you’re in Canada, have a wonderful long weekend everyone, and if you’re not in Canada have a wonderful weekend nevertheless.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Freedom From Judgment

Why is it that so many of my clients would prefer to work at a distance? Why is it that they feel more comfortable talking to me over the phone than they would in talking in person to a psychologist in their own city? There’s reasons for that and in the end they’re pretty logical.

758 Relax and Succeed - The best gift you are ever going to giveWhat many people want to do before they embark on getting healthier is to clear their head. If they’re religious maybe they’ll formally confess to a priest, but for the secular world people like me are the non-judgmental representations of the God-perspective. They want to say who they really are out loud and not get clobbered for it.

I don’t even have clocks on my sessions let alone judgments. I can let people know where their thinking is generating pain or confusion but I have no judgment about who they’ve become with that thinking. They’re welcome to learn, leave and entirely ignore what I showed them. Once people realize I’m serious about that and they open up, which is necessary to them changing.

You’re correct about the fact that there are likely several people in your life who would not accept the real you. But that’s exactly the tension that must ultimately be removed. I’m just the first safety strap. The desire to not to disappoint others is just an extension of our insecure idea of our Selves.

758 Relax and Succeed - The greatest illusionWe have insecure thoughts which lead to insecure feelings which cause us to feel separate to the point where we all dedicate our lives to try to reconnect that separateness. But you don’t need to make connections to others–you are connected to others inextricably.

Just like the acid from your stomach could destroy other parts of your body not designed to contain it, separate parts of one whole can be individually incompatible and yet still be cooperatively part of an effective, happy and complete life experience. In short, you can have some people really not like you and you can still be leading a worthwhile and soulful life.

Can you see the paradox that is established? You’re seeking acceptance, and so you call me to confess your sins. I accept you despite whatever you say and you get the notion that it might be possible for you to be you and still be loved. From there we alter your understanding to the point where you will feel so profoundly connected to others by your shared pursuit of a good life that you will ultimately be able to meet an aspect of the universe that doesn’t like you and you’ll still be fine. You will have accepted yourself!

758 Relax and Succeed - I think I fall in loveYou will learn you can be cared for despite your history. That opens you up so much and your connections to others are so profound that by accepting the people who don’t like you, you paradoxically get to find love by accepting hate. That’s the Yin and Yang of it. You just can’t get one without the other.

It makes sense that you don’t want to present your true self to just anyone. Losing people in your lives would be painful. I’m not in your life so losing me costs almost nothing. And so with no personal price to pay you can be free. But that freedom will at first seem so foreign, so strange and so distant that it might just seem that they only way to reach it would be by phone. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.