Michelle’s Understanding

This is the second part of a post started yesterday.
Michelle was already busy working when Alex got into the office. Knowing she was having a freakout the day before, Alex had dropped by to see how she was today. “You’re in early!”

“As you know, there is too much to do.”

“I cancelled my yoga tonight. Thank goodness this only happens once in awhile.”

“Oh, hey, I tried your trick yesterday but it drove me crazy.”

“What drove you crazy?”

“Thinking about how this cohesive whole–this potentially amazing project–got reduced to little pieces by someone’s impatience.”

“Not impatience, aggressiveness. We don’t call an early bird impatient. He just wants the worm more.”

“Yes. She was a worm and she dug us right into the ground.”

Eee. Alex isn’t sure if clarification is a good idea. “Uh… in that analogy our boss is the bird, not the worm.”

“What. Ever. Can’t I just hate her?”

“Sure. I’ll save you some time. I’ll just put some poison in a bottle with her name on it.”

Michelle eyerolls. “It did not work. My thoughts were bouncing all over the place.”

“Okay, first off that’s not what I said I did. FedEx does not load a truck to go to the West End and then the North Side and then the South Side, and then back to the North Side and then back to the South SIde”

“Okay I get it.”

“Half their day is spent between where they really need to be. I didn’t mean spend all of your time between everything. Our fluid department was compressed by time and responsibility into a gas where all the molecules now have space between them. You just find the most important molecule and handle it. Then find the next most important and handle it. But yeah, bouncing between them and never actually settling in? That feels awful when I do it.”

“Well it felt awful yesterday.”

“At least that should keep you from doing it again today.” Michelle looks at her lamely. “Sorry.”

Michelle sits back in her chair and regards her friend. It’s a statement, not a question: “So instead of bouncing between all of these worries I pick the most important one and just deal with it.”

“That’s what I do, yes.”

“And that’ll make me feel better?”

“Why wouldn’t you  feel okay if you did that?”

“Because all of that stuff still needs to be done.”

“That’s just you drifting between different responsibilities with your thoughts. That’s the thing you said you wouldn’t do.”

“That’s it?”

Alex almost feels bad. As though she’s really let Michelle down. “Yeah.”

“So these responsibilities are just… ideas, and me thinking about one, then the other, then another–that is what I’m doing that you’re not? You’re just not drifting between the gaps? You’re just staying on your molecule? And then you go molecule to molecule. None of the worrying…” Michelle started to seem buoyed by the idea. “Hmmm.”

Alex looked like she’s about to say something, but when she looked at Michelle something subtle had changed. There was now a certainty to her, as though Michelle’s posture itself is some kind of highly balanced yoga movement. Her voice sounds less uncertain and more confident the longer her realisation lasted. It seemed that she has gotten what she wanted the day before. So Alex just stepped back and grabbed her briefcase. “Have a great day Michelle.”

Michelle looked up, looking entirely unperturbed. “Thanks Alex. You too. Why don’t you come over for dinner on next week, when this haze has all blown past?”

“That sounds good Michelle. That sounds really good.”

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.

MoK: Patience as Kindness

Thank you for bearing with my late posts while I traverse a few challenging days on the family health front. Fortunately, today’s act in the March of Kindness is one that suits your willingness to wait perfectly. Patience is all too often invisible when it should be seen as the loving act of kindness that it truly is.

From letting little passive aggressive statements go by unchallenged, to taking care of something that was someone else’s duty, we all express a lot of quiet patience each day. The problem is that we often only note our behaviour when it feels beneath us, meaning you’ll notice the few times you’re impatient far more than the times you are patient.

Even knowing that everyday life requires all kinds of patience, it is nevertheless a kind and generous act, and so adding one more act of conscious patience can do nothing but good for all involved.

Today your March of Kindness assignment is simple: Keep your awareness up, and find just one opportunity today where you feel an impulse to offer a suggestion or you feel you’re going to react in an impatient way, and then divert that impulse into non-action. Let your action be stillness.

Interestingly, the time we choose to show extra patience might coincide perfectly with when a person really needed something to go well or they’d snap. We all know how good it feels when someone shows us patience when we know we didn’t act in a way that encouraged it. We might as well create more opportunities for those things to happen.

Make your own displays of patience more conscious, and find a way to add just one more act of patient kindness to today and you will have made the world better with your presence. Thank you for that. And thank you for your patience in receiving these last few posts. Enjoy your day.

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 Meaning of Life

379 Relax and Succeed - It is time to clear our minds



Dear Everyone,

Can you see that every question I am asked here is about the Management of your Existence? That you’re asking me how to get your ego from this struggle to that little oasis of peace? That like a traveller on a trail you want to know how far the next rest stop is—how long it will take to get there, and what the most effective and efficient route is? But you’re all insane. You’re all trapped in a cloud of thought. You’re all asleep, and it is time to wake you up.

379 Relax and Succeed - To study the wayI have spent much of my life quite confused by human beings. With precious few exceptions you all have looked entirely crazy to me, and I’ve been fully aware that many people believe the same of me. I am aware that I look crazy when I sell a successful business at a young age to attempt a long-shot career in an unlikely industry that seems to have no connection to the rest of my life. That I take strange trips to unusual places and while I’m there I invest myself in seemingly meaningless activities. That like a child I am mesmerized by nearly nothing, and that I don’t care at all about nurturing your opinion of me.

Anyone who knows me well and is honest will know it is routine for people who’ve known me 10 years or 10 minutes to conclude that there is something strange about me and about my life. That whether people judge me generously or harshly there is this nagging sensation that there is something different guiding my life. That moments fall from me like water and that despite all of the opinions about my life, that I live mine in a oddly deep—and some might even say beautiful— way. That I can love even in the face of hate. That I can be free.

But I am nothing. That is my gift. I am merely a key. And today I offer myself to you. I offer to open a door. I offer to wake you up. I don’t offer you a pleasant existence, I offer you everything. There is an answer. Your dream of something better is founded in a universal truth that is so strong, so powerful and so meaningful that it can penetrate down into the recesses of even the darkest, coldest, most judgmental ego. How long you stay alone is up to you. How long you suffer is your choice.

379 Relax and Succeed - Love is the master keyThe door is open. You only need to walk through the entrance and your life will be transformed. We won’t fix your problems, you will join with God. You will realize the universe within yourself. You will feel the stardust from which you are made. You are never outside of this truth. You are never separate or lost or lacking. You merely use your thinking to tell yourself that story. So today I am shaking you awake. Today you stop becoming. Today you have the opportunity to realize that you are one with everything.

I have lead a privileged life. I awoke to a nurse at five years old as she worriedly clasped the crucifix around her neck and, without knowing it, she set me free: “They said you was dead. Where was you?” That was when I lost the rest of you. That was when I returned to a childlike view and rejoined with everything. That is when I reconnected with the truth. Because I knew that I could die, I lived. But because you are afraid of death, you cannot. It is time to stop clinging. It is time to stop holding on to cherished beliefs. It is time to be free.

You cannot see another perspective and so you cannot comprehend other views, other judgments, other ways of shutting out the glory of existence with beliefs. And so I lived not knowing that while I was alive, others were merely existing. I remember so clearly in elementary school a teacher presuming a fear of death. I remember being startled beyond belief. Was she insane? Why would she say something so ridiculous? A fear of death? Who would waste their glorious time Being to instead tell themselves a story about time, about ending, about limits? It’s all so incredibly small.

379 Relax and Succeed - The real questionI have travelled. I have met with glorious spirits on trains on buses on footpaths. I’ve floated with them on ferries, and jostled with them in lineups for subways. I have met them in boardrooms and hostels and on airplanes, and at schools and funerals and hospitals. I have dove to the bottom of oceans and held wine bottles from another century. I have seen skulls and femurs and flood and war. I have held babies and comforted the dying. I have raced cars and flown planes and played instruments and sang. I have been happy and angry and sad and alone. And throughout it all I have been home. I have never been lost in that way and neither have you. There is no outside. There is no separateness. There is only Being.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing some remarkable human beings. Many have been famous or fabulously Earth-shatteringly wealthy. I have met people who have been to the bottom of the deepest mines and others who have seen our planet from space. I have said yes many times. And yet there was one thing I had no knowledge of. I did not know existence. I did not know the plodding responsibility of managing an existence. That is what 99.9% of lives are. The Management of Existence.

Roughly seven years ago someone did something that impacted my life far more than they could ever have known. This action was dark and ugly and mean and cruel and it’s entire reason for being was to bring about suffering. Like a gift in the ugliest wrapping paper ever, it offered me the chance to experience the Management of Existence. It taught me how to suffer in the way that egos suffer. It was a theft, and it literally stole my life and replaced it with379 Relax and Succeed - Serendipity finding something good existence. And like a frog who does not leap from water that is slowly brought to a boil, I lost perspective and my life became a memory and not a verb. And the responsibilities and the obligations and the requirements of existence blinded me to the absence of life.

Now I don’t want to pretend that I suffered like many of you have—so many lives on this Earth are so much worse than mine. I never lost complete connection with the knowledge that came as a result of trying to answer that nurse’s question when I was five. But I came to know suffering well enough. So without knowing it I was experiencing a course in a spiritual university—I was learning how to appreciate who I had previously been. And the juxtaposition of life to existence was what brought the former into such clear focus. Because on this past weekend something happened to bracket that existence. Something happened that reminded me of life. Something woke me back up. And I could not be more grateful. Because now I know what to say to you. Now I know what existence is. And now I know how to open the door to your life.

Life is not a set of events. Life is a flow of experience. Events are placed in time, and they are relative. So when I designed and built the beautiful home I live within, my dear brother questioned my choices. I had painted my walls green. He lovingly tried to talk me out of it. “You should paint them white,” he said. “It’ll make it easier to sell.” Sell?! I was still awake then, so I knew he was bonkers-crazy. Sell? I hadn’t even moved in yet! Why was I going to make choices for some other person who would own my house in some distant time? So while my brother worried about my financial existence, I lamented his inability to appreciate his actual life. My house wasn’t a place with a value. It is and always will be a flowing movement of experiences.

379 Relax and Succeed - Can words describe the fragranceHave you heard of the Shackleton whisky? Over 100 years ago Ernest Shackleton embarked on an adventure to reach the South Pole. And among his supplies he carried bottles of scotch. Not just any scotch. Scotch that was before the world was impacted by ego. The water and grains in those bottles had never experienced the quiet rain of radioactivity that fell after each of more than 2000 nuclear tests and two offensive attacks. It had been distilled by a connoisseur who regarded the flavour of good scotch with the reverence of a priest. And the man who shares his passion today is equally religious. To an ego such a person seems crazy, but to someone clear-headed it’s easy to see that these men have glimpsed the glory of God and they are swept up by their desire to share that experience. They are true artists, and their canvass is your palate.

Whether someone designs a car, or points a telescope at the sky, or if they build a computer or a construct a math formula or blend whiskey, true artists are attempting to expose to others the remarkable, amazing truths that inform their actions. They aren’t trying to impress you with their achievements. They are attempting to share the glory of the universe with you. And so long ago such a priest placed a message in a bottle and he, with the unwitting help of Shackleton (and another modern connoisseur), sent it travelling through time to today.

He wasn’t interested in pre-nuclear water or labelling success. Like the composer of an instrumental song, he was merely attempting to join with you in a place—a spiritual location. He was attempting to convey an experience. And just as a song can be written by Mozart and played today, my friends and I were able to share in a taste experience with brave, 379 Relax and Succeed - Not only are we in the universeadventurous men from another century. Can you see it? We may have been separated by more than 10,000 miles and 100 years, but our experiences were common. Our experiences were shared.

With tremendous thanks to the gentlemen I was with, I put that glass to my lips and I tasted the glory of God and in doing so I woke up. I woke up to realize what being asleep was. Thanks to the juxtaposition of my suffering existence, and the authenticity of the spirits in that bottle, I was awakened and reminded of what my life had been prior to me being tricked into existence. And in doing so I instantly knew that I now had the final piece of a puzzle that I was unaware was even being built. I could now see the whole picture. As well-intentioned as my efforts have been, they have been partially blinded by my lack of appreciation for the subtleties of existence vs. being alive.

It’s not good enough. It’s not deep enough, profound enough or worthwhile enough. I am grabbing you by the lapels and I am screaming at you to wake up. Your life is not some desert that’s populated by the odd flower or sunset or mountaintop. Your life is a wonder each and every moment. But you cannot appreciate that if you are blinded by thoughts about Managing your Existence. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to stop thinking. It is time to Be. It is time you tasted life.

Stop thinking about defending against disaster. Stop trying to stave off death. Live instead. Accept the suffering of life as the Shackleton adventurers did, and in doing so drink deeply from reality. Because far from being locked away by the responsibilities of your existence, you are free to dive into the reality of appreciation. And I look forward to meeting you there. Because I love you.


Angry Souls

235 Relax and Succeed - Life is 10%
Here’s the deal: no matter how you live it life will absolutely have the duality of Yin and Yang. Just as every coin has two sides, hot weather means there is cold weather, light means there is dark, and if there are things we enjoy then there are things we won’t enjoy. This is the nature of existence.

The universe represents everything, and you are playing out an aspect of that infiniteness. That role will certainly take you into both sides of existence. So can you see that it’s possible to take what’s happening to you less personally? Can you see that you’re more an actor on the universe’s stage? That these aren’t your problems, they are aspects of the universe’s script and you’re merely the one playing that scene out? You simply shouldn’t take your identity or beliefs very seriously.

You think this is a complex, deep, foreign idea but it’s not. You do it all the time. Whether you choose to attempt to remember them or not, everyone dreams because that’s how your brain builds the ideas it uses to navigate the world. If you didn’t dream you ultimately wouldn’t learn anything because you couldn’t stitch it into the other things you know. In your dreams you are totally okay with being disappointed, or scared, or hurt because you wake up and write the feelings off as a dream. Well why don’t you do that with the same feelings when you’re awake? You’ve already proven to yourself that you can.

235 Relax and Succeed - If you are thinking
The difference will be that you believe you were just dreaming, whereas you call the other experiences you have: reality. But the border between those two is permeable. That’s why ideas that are too far removed from your belief system simply get called crazy. These are other people’s reality-dreams that are too far removed from your own. For instance, there were many people who looked at the world and thought it certainly appeared flat so they thought the people who said it was round were crazy. That’s how belief works, whether you’re awake or asleep.

There are two primary ways to navigate moving through this universe. The first is to self-reinforce your own beliefs and rigidly call them reality. From that perspective you will be disappointed or angry or upset by anyone who chooses not to share your beliefs regarding your priorities.

These people are easy to spot—they’re always angry or upset about something. They’ve got hundreds of ways for other people to be wrong, or immoral, or lacking in character. If they’re divorced, rather than their ex’s being good people that they couldn’t make it work with, they’ll be idiots or bitches or jerks or losers. In essence, these people’s rigidness about what constitutes proper behaviour is what keeps them perpetually tense and angry and it’s why they can’t form the sort of strong bonds that real unconditional love creates.

235 Relax and Succeed - 7 Billion people experienceAnother way to be is; open and flexible regarding what you feel reality is. Then very little is outside of the boundaries of acceptability to you. If a dog barks and wakes you up, you accept that dogs bark, you accept that not everyone was raised to learn to teach their dog not to bark very early in the morning, and you accept that the event has already happened. With a healthy perspective, the person can then wake up and go about their day under the assumption that something good will happen—and maybe even because they’re up earlier than they planned. They will find that good thing simply because they are looking for it. The duality is always there, it’s simply a matter of which side of the coin you choose to look at.

That other person is angry about the dog. The dog shouldn’t bark. That person should have taught it differently. Therefore the dog is pissing the person off, and the owner is labelled an idiot. Meanwhile the healthy person is up having a tea or coffee, enjoying the day because that’s their mindset.

Without all of those rules and lines in their head, they are free to take in and absorb the magnificence of creation because that is what they are looking to find, just as the angry person was looking for reasons to think the thoughts that will dose them with the chemistry for their addictions: disappointment, frustration and anger. That’s also why the angry person will still be talking or thinking angrily about being woken up by the dog even hours or days later.

Learn from angry people. Watch how much they are puppeted around by events in their lives. If it rains on their camping weekend it rained on them. If someone runs a red light, then they hit them. It’s as though the person who did the hitting was literally waiting for a specific driver to run into. If they have a terrible new boss, then the boss is being a jerk to them rather than just being someone who is impacting everyone as they learn their new job . Their ex’s are all terrible people, and any ex-friend too. And they will have a lot of ex-friends, because with all of those rules and lines about what is acceptable and unacceptable it’s virtually impossible for them not to be let down.

235 Relax and Succeed - To all the people

Essentially, an angry person thinks every unmet expectation is a failure of the world’s, whereas a healthy person sees an unmet expectation as a mistake on the part of themselves, the thinker. Had they never used their power of thought to build that expectation then they couldn’t possibly be let down by it not happening.

Angry people are teachers. Far from bothering you, you should watch them intently. Try to understand how they come into so much conflict and anger. Why are they always frustrated and disappointed ? (Except in those cases where things are, by fluke, going exactly the way they want.) Witness the connection between their ugly feelings and their rigid expectations.

Know yourself by knowing them. Because in the end, you’re using the same tool to build your reality, and you’re only marginally better because you by chance got healthier programming. But you’re just as blind to enlightenment as they are, so use their extreme qualities to help you see exactly how they come into such a remarkable amount of conflict both inside and out.

Stop being bothered by angry or sad people. Instead learn from them. As the Dalai Lama has said many times, they are our very best teachers and we should be grateful for the lessons they so painfully deliver to us at such a high cost to themselves.
Now go enjoy your day and do it by choice. 😉

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.