Archives For 2012

A Second in the Present

December 16, 2012 — 10 Comments

Go out for a run right now. Even though you don’t want to.

Feel the bite of the cold. Or the drag of the heat.

Stay with the struggle. Stay with it.

Run parallel to the river. Stay steady against the harsh wind of passing cars on the freeway. Or cut through the glass and steel skyscraper canyon. Roll through the hills and their dark, quiet houses.

Turn the music way up. So you can’t hear anything else. Hit the back button a few times in a row on the same song. Don’t let the mind wonder. Don’t let it think or do anything. Just be. For a second, or a minute or as long as you can.

The point is to be reminded of the immensity. Feel unprotected against the elements or forces or surroundings. Remind yourself how pointless it seems to complain about problems. You may have felt out of sync before, but now you’ve experienced flow, you’ve connected by disconnecting.

Let the feeling carry as long as you can. Then go out and do it again.

Defy and Trust

December 10, 2012 — 16 Comments

Defiance is a form of optimism.

Like this: I refuse to acknowledge that. I don’t agree with your assessment. I resist the temptation to declare this a failure.

Acceptance is equally optimistic: Well, I guess it’s on me then.

The two come together well in the following principle:

There will always be a countermove, always be an escape or a way through. And just because you can’t see it right now, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Defy and Trust. And you’ll never get stuck.

The Walk

November 20, 2012 — 25 Comments

Heading down the sidewalk of a street in New York City, you get the sense that there is something wrong with many people. Look at the way that they walk. Look at the momentary hold ups they cause. It’s a river of people creating its own eddies and backflow.

When I don’t have anywhere I need to be in a hurry, I like to take a second to watch: how they have no idea where they are going (and how hard navigating is). How unnatural it seems to be for them to walk in a straight line, or walk quickly. They veer this way and that way, or more often, drift slowly off kilter and don’t even realize it.

Two people manage to take up 6-10 feet of lateral space between them, conspiring unintentionally to block others from going around. Where on the earth is stopping abruptly when there are people behind you a common practice? They get surprised and scared because they get bumped, as if there wasn’t such thing as spatial awareness. Nobody snuck up on them, they just weren’t paying attention.

I see it as a metaphor. Here are a bunch of different people trying to go in different directions and do a bunch of different things. It’s life.

Some are deliberate and self-contained. Others are not. Is there more aggression in the former than the latter? Absolutely. But more responsibility as well. Less externalizing and disruption too.

How out of reach that all seems to be for many. These are easy things that seem to be so hard. And then we wonder why real obstacles seem to set people back in life. How we are caught off guard or easily discouraged by them.

We can’t even walk straight. Go or wait? I don’t know, what do the rules say? We see a runner bearing down in the opposite direction, left or right? There are no rules, better freeze.

A few simple traits cut through this knot of indecision and impotence: knowing where you’re going (or rather, that you are going somewhere), knowing the value of your time, appreciating the existence of other people (and treating them as they deserve), and proper carriage. That is, to carry yourself properly, directedly and under your own volition.

And to not be alarmed when you realize how much this sets you apart from the crowd.