most journeys begin with a why disguised as a what. an object of desire, a thing to have, to hold, to be. an opportunity too painful to forgo, too sweet to resist. before long, this what morphs into a how, a path from desire to promise. steps are taken, moves made and sidetracks averted until, at last, promise is met. satisfaction is had. and then a new what emerges. different to last, in shape and feel, yet this one seems more…true. a question arises, why makes its presence known. to tread, and if so, how far?
here is a space to explore identity as a fluid composition of one’s relationships - with self, other and wider systems. these relationships shift and evolve throughout our lives, presenting plenty of moments for chaos, reflection and deeper meaning. welcome
PresentSense executive coaching meditation
when you take one plus one and divide it by four
you’re left holding less than what you started with before
only two’s greater than one so in fact you have more
two pieces apart like dropped egg on the floor
if i take six less seven and rhyme it with nine
though odd in my palm i know this piece as mine
collecting together the shards and the slime
both bound by and agent in some tricksy design
the pieces apart no they’re not they’re together
contained in each other the wing and the feather
the sea in the drop and the drop in the sea,
each memory apart a part within me
when you take one plus one and divide it by four
you’re left holding a difference that existed before
just as earth turns to plant and plant into man
contained in all times a past not outran
a past not outran and so not forgotten
how easily dreams turn from fair to rotten
yet rot is what fertilises the soil of tomorrow
what seems to be barren is in fact fallow
loving one seed today and in the earth bury
darkness consumes it is not quite so merry
a shoot, pea green and sun bound already
to love is a choice and this choice must be steady
when you take one plus one and label them apart
that is not much good insofar as a loving start
for love is beyond a broken ideal
love breaks all and in so doing heals
love binds what was broken and breaks what was bound
it’s in love a life worth living is found
sometimes that means breaking and falling apart
to be gentle and kind in this state is the art
when you take one plus one and divide it by four
you’re holding no more nor any less than before
two’s greater than one but don’t be deluded
in one we are whole, though somewhat secluded
life can easily consist of much the same year to year
life too can easily consist of change between years
in the weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds
days in the months
weeks in the years
minutes in the hours
seconds through life
in each second potential enough
a silent wager between nothingness and hope
feeling down but standing up? you are wrong
as i comb over the soil, i feel remnants of you. rocks, dense, wet, rich, play. i go deeper, firm, cool, held. the quiet harshness of nature apparent as my fingers fumble from broken shells to the soft bodies of worms and roots. exposed and so seen, felt, known. a spade slices through and the worm writhes. everything so, and not. this is what it is to love
the difference between accountability and control is a matter of relationship between self, desire and contact. with control, one’s desire determines the contact which informs the self. with accountability, one’s self determines the contact and desire is eliminated. the difference is subtle and critical to present living
harmonise. collect. accept. accountability vs control. theses themes are a few that have made up ribbons of enquiry the past few years. there is a quality of being held in each of them. as if i were settled in a hand crafted bowl. this bowl precious not in utility but in the stories and memories that have collected about its identity. the collection of interactions that have made this vessel a suitable, trusted companion in which to house myself. i am learning to hold and to be held. to be both the contents and the vessel - a reality that has me simultaneously experience a weightlessness and urgency. i am down in devon at the moment as spring chaotically battles with the last throws of winter. light has returned. birdsong at breakfast. i am not sure if taste has returned to the air or if this new awareness is consistent with a general opening of myself to the season. british winter does not agree with me. i seem to have gathered some things that do not belong in my bowl. housekeeping is creeping its way up my agenda. see what’s what, where and maybe some time for how and why later on. pretty tired of thought lately. looking forward to the sea tomorrow morn
reflections walking freestyle across a field. slowing down makes potential possible. where i might have walked from a to b i now start at a, and at some point in time will arrive at b. unlike before, the path emerges as i tread. in that unknowing, the boundary of relationship between who i am and where i’m going dissolves. breathing deeply plays a huge part in this
behind the veil of self-importance lies a world beyond thought, a place with nowhere further to go and everywhere to explore. sometimes still, sometimes violent, always true to its necessities. a place where want is replaced with belonging
taste of mountain air, feel of mud underfoot, crisp sting of gale force winds that send cheekbones red. yes, in nature there is life. a confrontation with chaotic forces, a point of contact where what is self and other is no longer the question
there’s a tension between the materialistic desire for things to be fixed/known and the knowledge/experience that everything is in a state of entropy. most of us aren’t brought up to be comfortable with being degrading bags of flesh. we’re caught in this seemingly paradoxical conversation between flexing our materialistic/socially constructed significance and defecting to the reality that we will all return one day to the soil. can’t help but think a conversation that speaks to the ‘isms’ might be one about how we grieve - both the loss of something had and lack of something not yet gained. ideology has yet to enable space enough for expression and reconciliation of grief. communists: displacement (the hurt is too great, we can not associate with our experience); capitalists: deflection/projective identification (the hurt is too great, let’s associate with things that protect us from our experience) - interesting how these ideologies push away from contactful conversation, but in different ways. one through making less of the self-experience, the other through making more. funny thing about perceptual frames is exactly that - how one looks informs what one looks at. if we're trained to look through a certain view, the world seems to make sense that way - as if any alternative view were impossible. what's quite nice/meta about trading - everyone follows their edge and with significant levels they all line up - promotion of trading to end humanity's suffering? alas, for every trade there is a counterparty - so to say trading ends humanity's suffering is to assume we can correctly price and distribute everyone's value proposition in such a way that makes lack and loss obsolete inter-personally and inter-temporally, in perpetuity or we can get over our significance and accept laughs and bruises along the way
one day this composition you call your own
will echo the relaxed surrender of clouds
the quiet violence of nature will strip delusion from bone
while time makes untrue
any resemblance of a you once known
the divergence between shape, symbol and identification, however small, results in magnitudes of scale differences across time - an answer is never the answer - a question never fully formed. a line that is straight is a deviation from the line that is not
holding onto grief is an attachment to death, an unwillingness to move - like stapling autumn leaves to branches, scorning nature. holding onto grief is lack of expression - it eats away until the once soft inside is hollow, caved out, craving fullness - mind hears this as ‘get out of me parasite’ - caving out of the soul continues until there is nothing but a shell. bids to extract the pain instead carve out ever more important parts of self until what is left bears little semblance of a life worth living
woke up this morning and lay in bed irritable. my back and neck hurt and i couldn’t get comfortable. i’ve felt like this for several weeks, maybe even months now. bad sleep and painful back/neck. i check my phone and scroll mindlessly. a post pops up on lament. i click and am taken to a video on loss of lament - how, in our modern dystopia, we are becoming ever disconnected from ability to connect with loss - increasingly feeding from a mirror image through virtual platforms and social media - enforcing a brittle ego-ideal in each interaction as justification for worth. i recognise this in my own experience - something i’ve known and turned away from in an ‘in-out’ battle over 12 years - open to being touched and closing off from deeper contact. allowing myself to feel, exposed to joy and suffering - closing off to numb myself from overstimulation. typing in ‘lament’ on youtube i find a video on gaelic lament. griogal cridhe c.1757, fhir a chinn duibh c.1650, cummha mhic criomain c.1746. a final song ‘tha mi sgith’ - tha mi sgith ’s mi leam fhim - i’m tired and i’m on my own. warm tears roll down my cheek and i’m reminded though i may be tired i am not alone. a memory of grief stirs and i’m transported back to chicago on the afternoon of 12th september 2016. my heart is broken and i am in a place i do not know awaiting return to london. walking down a road coming to what i later learn is the 4th presbyterian church, i walk inside and up these empty, expansive stairs. i open a door and find this room - beautifully spacious - a celtic pattern on the floor, glass chandelier in one corner overlooking the city - a piano just beneath. stepping through the maze on the floor, i make my way over to the piano. i open the case and place my fingers on the keys. fingers exploring each key - a conversation of what i am allowed to be, to feel in this moment - i am no pianist and i am in someone else’s space. finding a combination that make sense - these are notes of my lament. i play with the pedal - touching the keys softly, firmly - expressing where i am in a language i’ve not spoken. vibrations of these notes fills and empties the room for the next 40mins. a guard walks in and asks what i’m doing. i do not know ‘i love this room’ i reply and continue - suspended in the play between the vibrations of each note and the resonance of those before it - a rich blend in which i feel a deep belonging. he keeps at the door for longer than a few moments then leaves. i remember this time fondly. a desire to reconnect with these notes fills my body as i lie here. i get up and i go over to the piano - searching for the notes. i thought i’d written them down on a piece of paper back in chicago and i wanted to find it. i find the folded piece under the books by the piano - amused by the carelessness i’d treated this now significant gateway to a meaningful part of my life - grateful i’d kept it. b,c#,e,b - the notes sound uplifting and i am surprised. i play them some more, moving up and down the keys. there - in the space between the keys i find that sensation - that joyous humiliating release. my body relaxes and i allow myself to be touched - letting go of significance.
pain and joy exist in each other - time dispenses accordingly
a human is an experiential tube
the sky is wet
walkway obscured by concrete lakes
i am so purposeful to avoid
these pools of potential
inviting the fool to play
i am so purposeful
am i so purposeful
open to humility
and so too
i walk along the pavement on my way to the gallery. purposefully stepping with destination in mind. the ground a wet grey and the sky an opening of blue - a contradiction that intrigues. a shot of cold wetness up my leg - my right foot is soaked. fucker! I burst into a smile and thank the day for this moment
division is many things
a conflict, a dance, a necessity? perhaps
at its core, division is the space between two forces that have yet to come into contact
division is the tension of unfinished dialogue
tension that manifests across all levels of matter
from the time line of a planet as it degrades and transforms
expressing as the intense suspension between lion and springbok
to our self-identity
what we express and repress of ourselves
the beginning of a deeper conversation
Review: Digital social transformation & democracy; my-side bias; value investing 2.0 #15 How do we respond to change? Evolving the architecture through which democracy operates, the evolutionary basis for reason, musings on division, gamers safe from depression(?), Louise Glück: crossroads
if not now, when?
i’m fearful of making immoral choices. a step out of line. a step that houses a thousand consequences
my home feels wide open, exposed and undefined. things come and accrue in pockets of neglect - small things, important things. it takes me time to figure out what they are and how they take up space. some things take up too much, others not enough. some things i'd have been better not to leave in the shadows. but here they are. here i am with them. part of my fabric - both of us transforming. it’s not the physicality of these things, the symbols, which suffocate, but the space which is taken up. the space i refuse to challenge in myself. they take up space within my home, and yet i do not know their name
how can i talk if i do not know the space of my own home? i can’t tread honestly with knowledge of things inside myself left unexplored. what use is language when what it symbolises is a perceptual frame? a frame that is undefined
asking questions i've no right to ask
what is the conversation I fear? having an open house, with all doors open? where things can come and go as they like? some come in and i greet them. but they stay too long, and others cause pain. or rather, they take up space. i feel like i need a guard at the door, though i’ve tried (and failed) this route with intellect. cognitive deflections only increase my sense of self importance, myopic control and delusions of simplicity. intellect only silences screams for a moment. and it's not true silence. being silenced is like closing a valve on a squealing pressure chamber. the noise stops for a bit, but volatility is likely to expand more violently down the line. i'm tired of silencing myself
controlling, intense, fearful
i’m fearful of missing the conversation that needs to happen. fear is one lens. on the one side, i’m defensive, aggressive, protective. i’m fascinated, obsessed with unconscious desires and seek to keep them at bay (engaging super-ego). fear defines the border facing the external world (not in physicality, but psychically). care defines the border facing the internal world (that which has been accepted of self, initially, too, by self)
i’m fearful that, in not knowing all that constitutes self, i won’t be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with myself, and so will remain detached from a life of real connection with all there is to experience; deep connection with others, stories and self. i feel a simultaneous sadness and raw drive to see and be seen
i want to lead a life of spaciousness. to hold myself with the care and intention i do others. i’m learning to trust in space, in the potency of expansive simplicity beneath the surface of my thoughts. glimmers here and there. i’m learning to notice times where i feel spaciousness inside. breathing into the raw, whipping sea spray of the cornish coast, swimming in the sea early in the morning, engaged in honest, confrontational, at-the-edge conversation with self/another
in this way, exploring the boundaries of my own ‘house’, aware and accepting of pockets of space within is my frontier; my conversation
i'm just going for a walk
to do nothing more than walk
i'm going to walk
to spend time in conversation with my steps
i'm going for a walk
for no other reason than to walk
momentum in each stride
weight of me held by earth
transferring from foot to foot
i am walker
now to put on my shoes
Review: Realism; empathic listening; creative practices; race & identity; empathy based guilt #14 How do we respond to change? Knotty topics including empathy based guilt; race and identity; 'I am' by John Clare; creating pockets of time for ourselves to be present and attentive to our selves.
Review: Sexual personae; cultural trauma; designer ethics; non-thinking #13 How do we respond to change? Designer ethics and universal morality; impact of cultural trauma on collective; developing being mind; Camille Paglia on sexuality and dialogue; Rodrigo - Fantasía para un gentilhombre.
Review: Transparency; deep forgiveness; narcissism & humility; empathic listening #12 How do we respond to change? Deepfakes: seeing is not believing; transcending echo chambers with empathic listening; practices for self-compassion; Oh De Laval's expression; Bashō: cry of the cicadas.
Review: Division; fudoshin; nationalistic identity; acceptance; just enough booze #11 How do we respond to change? As nationalistic sensationalisation spreads, Amin Maalouf explores constituents of identity, and the dangers of associating with just one aspect of self. National Ambassadors recommend culturally sensitive reading; practice of Zazen.
Review: Value alignment in AI development; morality; meditating on strong emotions; sleep #10 How do we respond to change? The King Midas problem in developing values in AI/ML; evolutionary roots of morality; meditating on strong emotions; sleep tips.
Review: Lacan on jouissance; intuition & subconscious mind; eye massage; the weighing; critical open-mindedness #9 How do we respond to change? Lacan on drive; free writing practice for developmental enquiry; critical open-mindedness and how to practice; tension release; poem by Jane Hirshfield and a provocative dance production.
Review: Behavioural reactions to stimuli; -40$ oil; anti-fragile; connection in adversity; space to breathe #8 How do we respond to change? Why do we fail to prepare well for disasters? Oil price crushed and the future of oil producing nations. Nassim Taleb on Antifragility. Austin Powers on the importance of perspective shifting. Trust and community in physical isolation. Humility and the lung meridian.
Review: Group complexity; sitting with fear; zen for sanity; from "I" to "It" and back; toward systems thinking #7 How do we respond to change? Species-wide disruption revealing our systemic nature; Thich Nhat Hanh on daily practices for groundedness; bringing awareness back to body; David Kessler on grief; compassionate yoga and David Whyte - start close in.
Review: Shadow work; home; finding firm ground; traders on uncertainty #6 How do we respond to change? Fear: biological, psychological? Something in between... Mark Douglas on how traders face uncertainty. Finding ground and compassion in chaos. Leaning into fear and the shadow. Gaston Bachelard on poetics of space.
Review: Non-violent communication' gestalt cycle of experience; fake smiles; the happiness curve #5 How do we respond to change? The universal happiness curve. Making sense of subtle signs and observations. Authenticity vs radical honesty. Fake smiles and integrity. How do founders choose which advice to listen to?
Review: Safe & unsafe certainty; supply chains under threat; equality; authentic communication #4 How do we respond to change? Safe and unsafe certainty in a world of uncertainty. The markets respond to COVID-19. What do we mean by equality? Getting good sleep. The importance of authentic communication in leadership and some stretches for back pain.
Review: Future of work; somatic memory; boundaries; joy in darkness; old school poetry #3 How do we respond to change? Pwc outlook on workforce of 2030, David Rooke and William Torbert on leadership; how the body holds onto trauma with Bessel Van Der Kolk. Why the darkness is nothing to fear. Boundaries: what they are and how to develop them.
Review: Diaphragmatic breathing; Ray Dalio economic outlook; death and endings; surveillance tech #2 How do we respond to change? Ray Dalio on the next paradigm shift. Thoughts on endings and continuity from other cultures. Explore the moral implication of compassion vs rational benevolence. Learning to breath well.
Review: Development; Kolb learning cycle; brain lateralisation; being and doing #1How do we respond to change? Esko Kilpi writes on human development in the 21st Century. We explore a conversation between Iain McGilchrist and Jonathon Rowson on brain lateralisation and 'trueness' of perception. Mary Oliver reads Wild Geese for us.
what is pain but expression left unshared
baby in the quiet carriage
context: several people working quietly in quiet carriage - me reading book titled ‘pathological altruism’. all carriages have plenty of space. two people take seat behind me and begin talking. within 10 seconds, person opposite me turns and informs them it’s a quiet zone. they are quiet for rest of journey. 30 mins in, a person with baby enters quiet carriage. the baby makes shrieking noises. the parent plays with baby. the carriage grows tense. no words are spoken to parent. below are reflections on the remaining 2hrs 40mins of my time on this journey
why, as a social contract in context of ‘quiet carriage’, is baby allowed to make noise when friends conversing are not? why is the piercing shriek of a baby more allowable than the soft murmur of unaware adults? in labelling the carriage ‘quiet’, the variable under question is decibels - not number of people, not smelliness of food, not wealth - decibels. If carriage is to respect the social contract of ‘quiet’, surely it makes sense for constituents of carriage to hone in on the greatest outlier(s) of social contract?
but what is the social contract? respect designated area unless capacity/extreme circumstances dictate otherwise? uphold the needs of child rearing parent above those of ‘average person’? what about of ‘average people’? at what point is the need of parent outweighed by that of group and vice versa? does context matter? what part does culture play? where does burden of responsibility lie? mind begins to clutter and persists
strictly speaking it is not baby, but parent of baby who breaches social contract in context of ‘quiet zone’. with plenty of space in other carriages, i label parent first as ignorant and then as obnoxious. i remain in this state of judgemental paralysis for 25mins or so - wanting to get up, not getting up and building in anxiety. what is this anxiety? guilt? i feel anxious around the appropriateness of response to their imposition on quiet. quiet is important to me - disruption gives rise to righteousness in me and i don’t want to go overboard. i feel guilty for not speaking up about my needs. i feel guilty for not standing up for what i perceive as a collective desire for quiet. i feel guilty about hiding behind my desire to protect them from my desire for them to be quiet. i feel guilty for wanting them to be other than they are. i feel more and more anxious the more conflicting thoughts i try to solve in a reductive way. mind continues to clutter, becoming increasingly rigid and inflexible
conflicting thoughts intensify and i become further attached to ‘my right for silence in the quiet zone’. does it bother me? why does it bother me? self absorbed parent. self absorbed me. a desire for quiet turns to a binary want for silence. i remain seated. anger simmering. ’silence that fucking thing’ i think. i look over at person across walkway. they wince with each shriek and shake their head - face darkening with anger. seeing their anger manifest physically is the mirror i need to catch myself. my face softens and i laugh internally - had by my self-importance. sitting in stillness for the next hour as righteous anger leaves my body with each breath. clutter dissolving
judgemental thoughts reduced - mind clearer. baby still shrieking. can it be as simple as ‘this is a quiet zone - you are not quiet - please be quiet or leave’. yes, it could be, but i get a feeling that’s not ‘it’. i’m still attaching to a want for things to be other than they are
i’m reminded of the contextual labelling of space as ‘quiet zone’ - and my subsequent attachment to ‘quiet’ in this context. my attention turns inward. what is this ‘quiet zone’? mind begins to mull. to attach to label of ’quiet zone’ is to seek validation of an internal need (my need for quiet) from an external source (a zone outside of self). buddhism teaches this only leads to further suffering - it’s also my experience. there is no such thing as ‘quiet zone’ other than with oneself. falling victim to desire for control of external is therefore an admittance in denial of one’s own chaos. surely that’s where to focus one’s attention
breathing in, i find stillness in my abdomen. breathing out, tension released. this practice takes me through to my destination
reflecting on journey: there is a soft unspoken way of relating in this world that requires self-ownership, mutual cooperation and respect to function - some people get this, others less so. one thing i revisited today: we don’t desire/despise what we’ve accepted in ourselves
now i'm just following a line
a thought i thought was mine
the quality of water
when wind blows over lake, or ocean, the water’s surface descends into a boiling mass of disturbance. ripples, waves, commotion. and in this moment, disruption appears to be the intrinsic quality of water
yet soon the storm passes, and with it ripples fade, waves reducing in magnitude. soon the tempestuous writhing mass returns to a sheet of crystal, reflecting the sky, trees and surrounding environment. soon, chaos turns to clarity
the sea and lake are like this in perpetuity. calm, violent. still, momentous. yet their intrinsic quality remains the same throughout - the depths of both remain unchanged come wind, rain, sun or storm
mind is like this
when untrained, all small things seem relevant as they skitter across the surface, and if we give them attention, so our mind will mirror their chaos. when we pay attention to deeper more subtle sensations, we see more clearly - connecting with a place of inner stillness