Why have we designed our lives to be filled with so much mind numbing routine?

I am pretty sure that no one enjoys it. Though I can see how people get comfort from it. Having a routine creates the illusion that you know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. But it’s this banality that stifles any real human progress.

Jason Silva described it as egonic adaptation in his signature shots of awe video called Awe. “We have eyes that see not. Ears that hear not.” We live in those pathways that are already mapped in our brains and don’t actually live in the real world at all.

I can feel it every day that I come to work. I drop my daughter at daycare, then I drive to work, travelling all of the same roads every morning. I listen to the same radio station. Come to my desk and take off my jacket and boots. Put my lunch in the fridge and then go get my medium double double from the cafe. Finally I come back to my desk and start to work. Or often become disinterested in my work and write something like this post.

But even this writing exercise is starting to feel routine.

I actually don’t understand how everybody else doesn’t feel the same way. Everyone pluggin’ away in their cubicles, headphones on, staring at their monitors, completing some excel spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation. Doesn’t anyone else feel imprisoned by all of this? I mean no ones forcing me to do this but I have been on this path for so long…

I long for everyday to be original.

I want to do something creative.

I want to fully appreciate my surroundings.

I want off of this assembly line way of living!

As each day passes I feel closer and closer to making big changes in my life but I am still frightened by the possibility. Without this revenue stream we would definitely have to sell our house. I would have to find some other way of making money but I don’t even know what I want to do. I would be impacting my families life without any kind of plan.

I do have ideas that pop into my head from time to time like:

  • There’s an outline of an epic novel that I want to write though with limited writing experience I am not sure I could ever adequately recreate what I am envisioning.
  • There’s an idea about redesigning the art of brainstorming using my knowledge of spirituality to help everyone access their true creative side.
  • I had an idea about using data from social networking sites to map spiritual trends around the world.

But for now I just continue to practice my spirituality and my patience. Perhaps if I am completely silent my next steps will be revealed to me. Or maybe not, or maybe they already have…

Donald Sterling And Rising Above Racism

The hot topic of the last few days has been the racist comments made by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Most everyone has heard the comments but in case you haven’t I will paraphrase. He basically is heard asking his girlfriend not to advertise that she hangs out with black people, or at least not to bring them to clippers games.

These comments hold self evident the fact that Mr. Sterling has deemed certain life unworthy due to the colour of their skin. It is a terrible shame that such limited views of the world still exist. I can never dream to imagine the amount of pain that resurfaces in those that have been discriminated against when such comments are made, especially by people like Donald, with such prominent positions.

Not surprisingly there is a huge public outcry. People want action and want Donald Sterling held accountable for his words. People that have spoken up include Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Lebron James. Through all of the progress that has been made there is obviously still a gaping wound in America when it comes to racism.

I am not sure what the NBA will do at their press conference this afternoon, and I’m not even sure what they can do. They will certainly publicly denounce the comments, they may fine him, they may even revoke his ability to manage an NBA franchise. The NBA could manage the Clippers themselves until a new owner is found (like the NHL did with the Phoenix Coyotes).

But what would be the best response? And what is the ultimate goal of that response?

I believe defining the goal is the easier of those two questions to answer. The primary goal is quite simply for the existence of a racist free society. While we might find Mr Sterlings comments despicable, none of the disciplinary actions above will change his racist views. However unlikely, in the coming days you may even see him read a public apology on television in an attempt to keep his NBA franchise. But would such a thing be genuine? Does it mean anything? The answer is obviously no.

The common misconception in our world is that by controlling how a person accesses money, you can control how they think. You see it in how people are fined for comments made all throughout professional sports, especially those that disparage the entity that employs them. In reality this does nothing to change their opinion, it just shuts them up.

In fact, resistance to someones opinion often reinforces it. Especially if they are heavily identified with it.

Another unfortunate practice is a the public ridiculing of individuals who hold these extreme views. I saw this first hand yesterday on The Talk as Sharon Osbourne made repeated insinuations of how ugly Donald Sterling was and that she would want loads of cash too if she had to sleep with him, referring to his young beautiful girlfriend who was likely not in this relationship just for her health. I can understand this reaction but it also disturbed me greatly. It is another incident one person devaluing another persons worth. You may think well listen to what he said he deserved it!

But is it a question of deserving?

If we are going to make any progress, or even survive, as a species we need to take a hard look at who we want to be. How can we ask Mr Sterling to see the equality in all people when we are so quick to devalue his life?

So where does that leave us? How do we promote a change in someone with such a discriminating point of view. I believe an answer can be found from Gandhi. It is quite simply to be the change you want to see in the world.

Or perhaps Martin Luther King said it best “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

When the darkness of racism presents itself, how will you shine light on it?

Is Creativity An Active Or Passive Exercise?

If you are creating from your mind it is most definitely an active, exhausting exercise. It requires a lot of work, and focus, and self criticism of the product as it is developing. Satisfaction comes from the final product but the process is not enjoyable.

If you are creating from your heart it is a passive, observational exercise. It requires a letting go of any preconceptions of what it should look like. It is inward activity. The deeper your connection with your inner self the more easily the creation flows through you. It is a very enjoyable exercise and requires little effort.

Unfortunately most of my creative efforts are active exercises. Perhaps a line or two comes to me naturally, but then my mind takes over as I build around it.

Occasionally, my writing is just a brain dump. If I am angry or frustrated and just need to get it out of me I will just sit down at a keyboard and start writing. I edit nothing and just let the anger flow. It is a cathartic exercise but does not contain much beauty.

Last week was somewhat of a bad week for me. A couple of things happened to me that left my feeling quite stressed and very isolated. With nowhere to turn outwardly I almost automatically turned inward and found momentary peace. It was while I was in this state that I decided to pick up my guitar. As I started to play Brown Eyed Girl for my daughter I could feel that my creative side was active. I was pretty much putting no thought or effort into the song but the words were coming out flawlessly and I was more on key than was normal. It felt strange. There was a connection there. I felt for the first time that I had tapped into the true source of creativity. It didn’t last but it’s like new world has opened. I can’t wait for the next time!

This Is Your Soul

Please, shed yourself of this polluted skin
And be not of your circumstance
Not a single mystery is worth solving
Nor a spoken word that improves upon silence
This world sparkles and screams
But such is the work of the sleeping masses

Does a lions heart dwell in there?
Have the courage to drop your names
And place trust in your path
Fear is not pushed, but pulled into existence
Bad days will unlock your deepest secrets
Reverse your gaze and dwell

A shoebox of thoughts
An inherited assumption of need
Each arising pain is a cleansing
Standing on the edge of awakening
Listen as your heart speaks to you
This is your soul and there is but one path to freedom

How To Live, How To Live

There’s isolation in this darkened hallway
Room only for single file
Each truth comes draped in riddles
Ripened fruits hide unwanted ironies
Footsteps of insanity echo behind me
Trying to know what can’t be known
Misunderstood and labelled
This body is his window
A dazzling show of all creation
These clothes give me warmth
But to be naked and thoughtless
How to live, how to live

You Have Nothing To Fear But … No, That’s Enough

If there is one predominant lesson that being alive has taught me is that I need to be afraid. We are bombarded every day with a million things that we need to fear. Things we need to be cognizant of so they don’t sneak up on us and author our demise.

We need to fear the flu season, dropping real estate prices, climate change, a higher dollar, a lower dollar, an oil shortage, losing our job, cellphone radiation, Ebola, and even the 100 days of happy challenge!?

In many cases it appears that fear is the currency used in attempt to promote support. Support for change that is in line with the beliefs of whomever is promoting the fear.

For instance with climate change, environmentalists will often speak as if we are on the edge of a cliff, if not already falling, when talking of how much we have already negatively affected the environment around us. On the other hand the senior economists will tell us how many jobs will be lost if we spend money on clean energy and implement carbon taxes.

In other cases it seems that fear is primarily used to gain attention, as it is with the evening news. A news story with potentially much more dire consequences will obviously gain more viewership than a good news story.

There is implied urgency with fear based information. It keeps us on our toes, promotes anxiety, keeps us perpetually in a state of flight or fight. Fear is very effective at gaining attention, and EVERYBODY knows it. That’s the problem.

Our fears are constantly tugged in every direction as people chase our money, or our vote, to support their cause. The progress of change is thus driven by fear.

As we evolve technologically, exponentially increasing amounts of information are available to anyone with a wi-fi connection, and thus our society becomes more and more burdened with a directly proportional amount of fear.

Taking a moment to look inwards, I have from my own experiences learned that fear is one of the primary sources of any suffering that I have gone through. It has created anger, misperceptions, anxiety, stress, and depression. It is an emotion built to address immediate and real danger, but has been tapped into as a tool of manipulation due to its extreme effectiveness.

Fear emerges from an idea of what may happen, not what is happening. It is a concept that carry’s no actual danger. It is an illusion infused into reality through our own reactions. Any action based on fear, is thus based on an illusion. 

The wonderful takeaway from all of this is that you can actually choose not to be afraid. More accurately, once you realize that fear isn’t real, you begin to create a world in which fear doesn’t exist. I can feel the change happening within myself now. I have also become much more aware of how often I create fear with my own thoughts, and they are losing their influence dramatically. I write this post as a call for the abandoment of fear. To dissolve the illusion of ever present immediate danger. To realize that if you truly want to change the world you must first exist in it.