A Life Unlived

When my father got sick we almost lost the house. I was just getting out of high school and I had never seen my parents to stressed. They’d never fought, now they were fighting all the time. I was too young to understand the tension of a mortgage back then, but with my brothers and sisters already moved out and living in different cities, it was up to me to help.

Unfortunately the only thing I knew that could make me money fast was to work with my brother’s friends. They dealt drugs and wasted it all on fancy cars and stupid stuff. I paid my Dad’s medical bills and my parents kept their house. Still, the money solved my problem but that’s not who my parents raised me to be and I always worried about the people buying the stuff, so to get away from that stress I took night school and eventually I got an engineering degree.

My eventual engineering job replaced the money I was making and we got my parent’s house paid off. Now I was free, but I didn’t know what to do. I’d been trained to be afraid that there’d never be enough money, or there’d always be too much work and that was was bad training for what would come next. That’s when I started talking to Scot and he pointed out that I’d always been responsible–in a whatever way that made sense at the time. That made me feel a bit better.

I had this invention. No big thing, but it was a good idea that could easily replace a good wage. I’d been laid off, so I had the time to develop it, but being laid off had a weird effect. My parent’s situation had taught me to be paranoid about money, so despite having a lot of savings I still worried about money all the time because no more was coming in. It wasn’t a healthy mental situation. And it was ironically keeping me from developing the idea.

Scott had been explaining to me how I’d been accidentally taught to process the world. I saw it as a place that was lacking, that was short, that my life needed work to come from others before it could be secure. I learned to over-process my fears and under-process my dreams. I spent far more time thinking about what could go wrong than what could go right.

Keep in mind during all of this that Scott kept pointing out that I’d done very well in school, and that even my ability to save for meaningful things was businesslike, and that the idea I’d developed was not only good, but the tons of research I’d done on it was not only excellent and thorough, but it represented more proof than most good ideas had to support them when they proceeded. He kept asking me what it was that was holding me back.

For a long time I listed what I thought was holding me back. What if it didn’t work? What if I made some fatal judgment error and ruined a good idea? What if there was a hidden pitfall I couldn’t predict? And what about all of the mistakes in life I’d already made? I had a huge list of fears but Scott just kept reminding me that they were all made of my own thinking. I thought he got what I meant until one day I had a huge revelation.

I was out walking. Okay, I was out procrastinating. If I wasn’t walking then I’d have to work on my idea, and if I did that then I was getting closer to a thing that scared me, so it did make a kind of sense that I was avoiding it. But avoiding it to do what? And that’s when it hit me.

It was so subtle I hope it even comes across now but, I realised that I was avoiding the pursuit of the idea so that I could instead think the fears that might possibly relate to the idea. For the first time I saw my thinking as an action–as what I was doing with my life. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was using my fears about being responsible to keep me from my responsibility to live.

My idea was good. The world would benefit from it. So who was I to keep it from the world because I was busy thinking thoughts that were irrelevant to everyone else? And why would I use the energy from my life to think those destructive thoughts when I could be using the same life energy to build that business?

The fact is, all of this worrying has been me failing. Even if I built the business and it bombed, I would have been done by now and I would have had the advantage of the experience and I would have felt like I accomplished more. Suddenly thinking appeared to me as the opposite of living.

Don’t be like me. Don’t avoid life. Because now that I can see through my thinking, I realise that like the walk, it’s a form of procrastination too. And it requires me to see myself as weak and ineffectual, as though I can’t pull this off. There’s no evidence I can’t do it. Just my fears. And those are no where but my consciousness. So now I hear myself think them and I get why they’re there, but they don’t stop me anymore.

I’ve come alive. I’ve stopped thinking about a timid life and I’ve started living a bold one and it turns out that boldness feels a lot calmer and more peaceful than all that worrying ever did. Listen to Scott. Trade your thinking for living. It makes all the difference in the world.

Sincerely, C

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.

The Friday Dose #121: In Other Words

973 FD Relax and Succeed - 6 duendeA lot of different perspectives created a lot of different cultures. They ate different foods, they sang different songs, they faced different weather, terrain, seas and they all had different temperaments. Languages grew out of various groups and the words those cultures needed suited the way they saw the world.

I’m not sure what you’ll each feel about each word but it’s interesting that these are often the only cultures that will have this word, and in some cases they can be the only people in the world who even have a basis to discuss certain subjects. It really shows us that even right in front of us there are big differences. Someone speaking another language will live in a different reality because while you might not be, for them the entire world in front of them could be either masculine or feminine.

I’m a big fan of Marija Tiurina’s work, and I would encourage you visit her site and see how her style has evolved from the ones presented below. Art is subjective but most of you will be very impressed by what you’ll see. As as an expression of the differences that can exist in language, here’s a few of Marija’s wonderful examples. Enjoy.

973 FDb Relax and Succeed - torschhluss
973 FDc Relax and Succeed - Cafune

973 FDd Relax and Succeed - palegg

973 FDe Relax and Succeed - schlimazl

973 FDf Relax and Succeed - gufra

973 FDg Relax and Succeed - age-otori

973 FDh Relax and Succeed - tingo

973 FDi Relax and Succeed - baku-shan

973 FDj Relax and Succeed - luftmensch

973 FDk Relax and Succeed - kyoikimama

973 FDl Relax and Succeed - tretar

973 FDm Relax and Succeed - schadenfreude

Again, her name is Marija Tiurina.

Slow your mind down, slow your life down, pay more attention to art. Breathe. And have a wonderful weekend.

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.

Time Warp

916 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is more preciousHow come you guys never noticed this before? It’s interesting to me that in all of the time I have been writing not one person had ever called or written to me to ask a question about Time. This is in part undoubtedly because I’ve rarely (if ever), written about it. It’s a very large and curious omission on my part. I’m fascinated by the fact that I never noticed it at all.

To be honest I thought I would have more substantial insights to present you–and maybe these are substantial from your perspectives. But I’m surprised at how slippery this concept is for me. In the strong suspicion that it will be very beneficial to you, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about time so far.

I’m pretty sure I know why I had this realization. I was helping a client with some training in how to build a calmer work life and one of the challenges was scheduling. He would see how much work I got done and feel terrible in comparison. The comparison wasn’t helpful or useful, so I just explained how things could be structured differently.

916 Relax and Succeed - People don't realizeWe set up a highly structured calendar with alarms as each section shifted. I built one for myself in an effort toward solidarity. It always helps when you’re trying something new and scary if someone will do it with you. I’ve never minded a schedule really, so I set one up that structured the work I was already doing and a couple things I’d realized I’d missed.

Without realizing, I was teaching someone who, on a continuum, was probably the closest person to me I had ever met. The nature of being a writer on a project means you tend to be extremely busy due to working very long hours, but those hours can be worked whenever you have the most energy. This means I haven’t had to have a steady schedule since I worked in an office with others, over 10 years ago–right around the same time I had that unusual experience in Budapest.

It turned out that by using the internal corporate structure I was moving around within the framework of a calendar and clock all week long. This allowed the framework of time to extend past Now in my mind. I still knew it was a fiction, but it was often a useful one. At some point over the next couple years I literally decoupled from the artificial idea of a calendar and largely even a clock.

916 Relax and Succeed - To be in timeThis went entirely unnoticed until my brain spent about four weeks switching back and forth on a regular schedule, all thanks to the artificial calendar I built to support the client. Slowly my brain was reintegrating this idea back into my life. Then that one day I looked at my computer after feeling a bit strange, and when I saw my calendar it literally unfolded like a Jacob’s Ladder of computer monitors in each direction, adding progressively dimmer weeks on each end. It was like a part of my brain had just turned about 5 years old.

I figured out Time was artificial by about 12 years old just by using my daily meditations to understand where things came from. It just never occurred to me that I could lose touch with it if I didn’t voluntarily subscribe to it to a fairly regular degree. And then I remembered: that’s what I teach you guys all the time; if you don’t do a thing your brain won’t be very good at doing it. And yes, this definitely applies to Time.

So Time isn’t a thing it’s a measuring device you place over… space-time (let’s save that for another time). So it’s like you’re a flashlight and you’re pointed down at a giant measuring tape. This tape goes on forever. A busy-minded person has their light a long way from the tape, and so they’re always taking a lot of time into account, and that’s what makes them sad or angry or anxious.

I am someone who lives very close to Now. So my light is so close to the measuring tape that it doesn’t even really see that thing in front of me as a measuring tape. I’m close enough to be able to see the thing it’s measuring: moment by moment life. So I’m not looking at the tape, I’m taking in life. This is called presence.

916 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be draggedAnxious people are a long way from experiencing direct reality through presence. They tilt their light toward a future they unhelpfully illuminate. They tell themselves stories about what might happen, about what could happen, or even should happen. Meanwhile depressed people tilt their light backwards on the measuring tape, always reassessing what has already taken place in time. By focusing the light of their consciousness on the past, they hope to somehow create a different past would lead to a different them in different circumstances. That act of perpetual wishing steals most of their own strength in an innocent but meaningless attempt to fix something that has already happened.

I still do have to figure out how to live a little bit deeper in Time than I’m currently able, and I’m working on exercises to help with that. At the same time, I’m here to help you realize more mental, emotional and spiritual health, and so it would do you a lot of good to become a lot more like me and focus on Now, rather than all of these other past or potential times.

Look at your own life and get more conscious about where your mind is really at. Because your body and your eyeballs being somewhere means little if you’re mind is somewhere or somewhen else. Now might be presenting a few challenges for me, but I’m very confident they’re not as difficult and unpleasant as those that are generated by living too deeply within the very limiting construct of Time. 

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.