The Kid in the Basement

1342 Relax and Succeed - We make more sense than we think we do

I had been doing classes for many years before I got a call from a parent hoping to dislodge one of their children from their home. Now I get them regularly. (It’s okay, the kids end up doing fine.)

These were never unloving calls. Far from kicking the kid out in anger or disappointment, the parent was concerned that they had somehow failed to help the child discover an inspiring life.

On top of that the parents were very naturally starting to feel resentful about being taken advantage of by another adult, and they did not want that feeling to grow with a child they loved.

That really is loving on the part of the parent because the issue is not really their fault. It’s actually no one’s ‘fault,’ it’s just a step in some people’s journey.

No one eats for us, no one sleeps for us, no one spiritually awakens for us, and we are the only ones that can find our calling. Our problem is that we often mistake a ‘dream job’ for ‘a calling.’ The former is about superficial success with largely no effort, but the latter is about how we can mysteriously work our butts off on things that matter to us. (Check out the video of the Japanese toymaker here for an example.)

In truth, ‘our calling’ will evolve throughout life, and even when we believe we are ‘off target,’ the perspective of age exposes that even our mistakes end up being key parts of our journey through life. We make more sense than we think we do.

Even those that feel they know what they want to do and are highly motivated are rarely actually picking a career –although that is more likely in the professions. More often we are only possibly choosing a field of work, because as we learn about any job we will tend to find things out about it that we like and don’t like, and that is likely to change the course of what we do.

Too many people want to start off inspired when it works the other way around –we find inspiration by doing. For that reason, in the end it may be that viewing any job unrealistically is really a blessing. They need to look shiny and exciting for us to pursue them, because they will all be hard in some way –hence the pay. But work is interestingly a spiritual aspect of our lives in a roundabout modern way.

1342 Relax and Succeed - Even bad choices inevitably move us forward

Work is good for us for one simple reason: it’s the verb of us contributing to those around us. In hunter-gatherer times, we shared the food we picked or caught. Today we all have jobs and there’s a big system, but it’s really the same thing, just scaled to almost 8 billion people. Not contributing to that can eat someone up from the inside because it’s unnatural for us.

This represents the most dangerous downside for the person lodged in the figurative basement: the longer they stay there they more they will begin to ruminate on why they are not creating value within their life. And rumination is ego and that soon will turn ugly.

Creating is natural, so denying our drive to contribute places pressure on us to create an excuse. And that excuse –framed as self-talk with our ego– is either that society isn’t worth it, or we aren’t. Neither idea is healthy to dwell on.

Every ‘basement dweller’ I’ve worked with was a person with folded wings. They weren’t broken, sick, incapable or fearful. They were simply so interior –so wrapped up in their own thoughts– that they couldn’t see the world. And if we can’t see the world, we can’t find our way in. Our thoughts can prevent us from spotting our inspiration.

Whether it’s our families, our jobs, or in nature, when we’re clear-headed the world  appears to us like an amazing party, filled with people we are fascinated in. Our problem shouldn’t be finding excitement within us, it should be trying to decide which spectacular thing to pursue.

Kids don’t get jobs and leave basements because they are guilted out, or angered out. Those things eventually lead to being kicked out and that’s a hard route for all parties involved. But people will happily leave their parent’s basements when they see themselves more clearly. Rumination keeps us trapped. Inspiration spreads our wings.

No one eats for us, no one sleeps for us, no one spiritually awakens for us, and we are the only ones that can find our calling.

Once people see themselves and the world without their habitual cloud of thought, they dislike the idea that they would waste their precious, limited time on Earth being static. Wasting their creativity and enthusiasm simply seems wrong to them in a profound way. And as any mature person knows, it doesn’t really matter where any person starts, it’s the starting itself that is the life skill.

I once worked with a secret musician who was living uninspired. By feeling better about herself, she felt more self respect and ended up getting a starter job on a car lot. And despite learning a lot and liking the people, the downsides of that job highly motivated her to work harder on her music.

She still has a straight job that she likes better than the car lot, but music would never would have become a part of her income if she hadn’t first recognized its value by comparing it to something worse. And music is where she met her fiance.

Therein lies the weird beneficial paradox of health. Over time and in looking back, we come to learn that even when we believe we’ve made bad choices, they inevitably take us forward.

peace, s

The Four Ways To Choose an Occupation

1232 Relax and Succeed - My philosophy isDid you choose your work, or did your work choose you? People often approach selecting their occupation in one of four ways:

  1. Early life experiences can lead people to choose an occupation by thinking about what might bring either status or the money that people try to use to buy status. Really these are efforts to belong and they are why many aren’t happy with their work. It’s not really done for them, it’s done for others, and so they often don’t work out and people end up in the sorts of unintentional jobs that no one plans to be in. These jobs can sometimes feature excitement or proximity to status or money, or prestige, or respect. These are the main motivations that most of us use, and yes, these are linked to our unhealthy egos and our desire to prove ourselves.
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  2. Early life experiences can point people toward seeking and planning for security and dependability in their work. These are those often dull jobs that many wonder why others do them, and yet they have a plodding regularity with a continuous team that can form a healthy rhythm. But they’ll get stifling if there isn’t excitement elsewhere in life. This is like my oldest brother, who was born right after WWII, and so it’s no surprise he would seek something secure and so he worked for the government, in a union, in a trade. Secure, secure, secure.
    1232 Relax and Succeed - You will never be admired
  3. Many people were not raised to plan much of their life, so they largely go with the flow, having the momentum and direction of their professional life dictated by their initial work experiences. If we’re not driven, this is the easiest least ego driven route, and it we’re paying attention, we’ll still find our way. My second oldest brother just loved cars, so he worked at a gas station where he pumped gas for a car salesman who gave him a job, which lead to a management job, and eventually him owning his own car dealerships and sponsoring his own race car. A lot of it was entirely accidental, but because he always tipped towards his nature it ended up fine.
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  4. The people everyone wants to be are the driven ones simply because the choice itself is so easy. Maybe they’re famous too, like an athlete or artist, but whether it’s that or they toil in obscurity, they’re obsessed, or passionate or even single minded. They don’t care about the price, they care about this other thing outside themselves; finding that scientific answer, creating that song, telling that story, engineering that amazing thing. These are often the most expensive lives, but they’re also often thrilling. This is like me going into film–storytelling really. As a matured I found that the form of storytelling wasn’t as important as the medium, but the desire to connect with others through stories has always had a strong pull in me, almost like I’m responding to me own person Force.

Group One is created by the human ego. It has the most thinking involved and is therefor the most agonizing. Just be yourself. If security makes you comfortable, then make other areas of your life exciting. The brother I have that lives the safe life has also travelled around the world and seen some of its most profound and exciting sites.

Or just pick anything and wait for your interest to reveal itself, as my brother with the car dealerships did. He was just following his interest in cars and now he has a very nice life.

And if you have a passion, then you’ll know because you’ll be paying the prices to pursue it, however crazy they look to others. Maybe that’s being in movies, or maybe that’s leaving everything behind for the sea.

It’s called an occupation. Don’t think about how other people will think about. You’re being occupied by it, not them. So make sure, however it looks to others, that it suits who you feel you really are.

Above is a very meditative video–it’s even in 4k if you’re looking at this on a good enough screen. It might help explain why seamen take what other people assume is often a boring or even dangerous job. It isn’t hard to see that it’s the sort of thing that could really attract a soul seeking peace. See if you can use it to slow your mind down. Breathe deeply. Enjoy.

peace. s

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

Working for a Living

If you’re a young person what will you future look like? If you’re a parent how do you prepare your child for an unknown future? Things are changing fast and yet in many ways they’re staying exactly the same.

767 Relax and Succeed - If you are working on something excitingThere are programs being set up to ensure that kids learn computer coding in school. The CEO of Google recently spoke about the need for school systems to ”train the knowledge workers of the future.” He said nice things about how those are the people who get the jobs and there was a suggestion that the people in those jobs are the ones who are capable of taking greater control, which is both true and misleading.

What I would like draw your attention to however is the CEO’s assumption about education: as though it could only be for job training. In fact, I’ll bet many people reading this are thinking–but it is! Not historically. We’ve been so brainwashed to think we need to buy things and then work to pay for them that we can’t even remember that people used to just live through cooperation and that they learned for learning’s sake.

Remember being a kid? Being alive for joy instead of profit? I know the two are sold as being the same thing but they most certainly are not. One very often prevents the other.

767 Relax and Succeed - The work you do while you procrastinateI support the idea of teaching coding. As someone who’s worked as a teacher, I joined many other fine instructors in their concerns. It was not difficult to detect the shift. The students are just as capable, but there has clearly been a steady decline in their reasoning skills. When I asked students about it virtually all of them admitted they felt it too–as though other people understood things more completely. That sense of uncertainty lead to them feeling less confident.

There are always exceptions but we are all a product of our environments. Modern students often give up very easily and seemed to be primarily preoccupied with the grades and not the subject itself. They wanted the answer that would save them from punishment and earn them praise, rather than the answer that vigourous and thoughtful debate would reveal.

They’re very good at looking things up and amalgamating other people’s ideas together (intellectual mash-ups, video editing, DJing etc.), but they are increasingly poor at concluding or deducing or otherwise reasoning forward using themselves as the source rather than the culture around them. They all have great smarts, but they are only able to get them half way out of their head.

767 Relax and Succeed - Success is not the key to happinessCoding is a form of logic and it has a form of grammar, which is a separate thing from the language itself. So by seeing the separation between the language and the grammar in that setting it becomes easier for a student to see it in English or whichever traditional languages they’re studying. Despite the concerns about education being viewed as job training, the simple fact is that in the ego-created outer world, the logic aspect will also help a great deal with students problem-solving skills.

I’ve never met a truly stupid person. I’ve met very ignorant people who have been exposed to very few ideas and often by very dominating and rigid personalities. Everyone I taught excited me with their potential. And I am fascinated to see what world they will live in and what world they will build.

What will be fascinating is when we reach the point where the robots can run the whole place themselves. This really isn’t that far away. They’ll be able to mine the metals, build the structures, install and maintain the workings, they will be able to act as the arms and legs of someone paralyzed or maybe we’ll just grow a new spine for the person who injured theirs, and then we’ll have it put in perfectly by a robot surgeon.

767 Relax and Succeed - There's no way I was just bornWe’re going nano, where they’re floating submarines through race horse’s veins and we’re building little DNA dumptrucks that can deliver cancer drugs right to individual cells and then harmlessly dissolve into your body. AI is now programming itself and the levels of sophistication regarding touch and the other senses are getting truly remarkable. Soon you won’t even know if your nurse is real or if she’s a robot that gives amazing back rubs. But either way, something will have to change because there will be no more work.

Are you trained for the future? Because if the robots are driving the cars and picking the stocks and cleaning rooms and mowing lawns and flying the planes and rockets and monitoring babies and writing music and even creating scientific theories and ways to test them (as was done for the very first time just recently), then what are you going to do? If it keeps going the direction it’s headed the future should leave you with no job. So what will your identity be then? Who would you be if you didn’t describe yourself through your work?

Imagine the robot world complete. You have all of the free time in the world and if you want a nicer houses you just have a robot build you one. What’s your day look like? And really think about it. Because if you say masturbate or play video games or text, you know full well you’ll get bored after a while.. Too much of anything is unpleasant. But with the time you’re not using for those things, what are you using it for? This is a question that cuts to the core of who you are.

Whatever future you unfold, and in whatever context–just be aware. You are a genius by birth. Your only true job in life is to realize your own genius and then live that reality boldly for as long as possible. You belong. The suffering you experience is not failure. It is training you to be able to actively lead your own life. Enjoy.

Namaste. s

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