Are you just taking what comes in life, reacting to events, and just about managing to keep all the plates spinning? Is life controlling you most of the time?
If so are you happy with that? Do you enjoy the life you have right now?
Is this what you want? Or is it more like that lyric from the classic Talking Heads Album “Fear of Music”:
Don’t look so disappointed
It isn’t what you hoped for, is it?
Lack of a Vision is Prevalent – Why?
Last week’s post on the Inner Visionary, Manager, Soldier technique attracted a lot of attention. Most folks I spoke to really lack a Vision.
Most folks have no idea WHAT they would ask for if I was their fairy godmother with a magic wand. Ok so maybe they ask for $30m, but then they don’t know their second wish.
This is very interesting. I was never a fan of behaviourism. However like most of these concepts it is useful some of the time – just not all of the time. So why do we see this behaviour as a culture?
Well the first reason I guess is that there is a strong vibe running back tens of thousands of years that we don’t have much choice. That we are a product of our environment. And of course industrial schooling (and millenia of army-isation before) do condition us to “do what we are told”. Add in primal impulses which generally lead to mating and most of the time kids. Plus a sprinkling of economic and career challenges and before you know it there is little sense of being able to take a different road, it being hard enough keeping the show on the road you are on let alone leading it onto another road.
This backdrop has been compounded by these heaven & hell telecoms devices – interwebs, mobiles etc. These really ‘arb the hell out of our dopamine system which loves novelty, the unknown and gives us tiny rewards for every click, every text that pings, every like we get. Interestingly I heard a talk recently that the dopamine satiety system is designed to work only with big hits of dopamine [such as being on a hunt and getting that Brontosaurus]. It was never developed in a world of infinite tiny hits. Which is why we keep clicking like an addicted rat until our brains are in a fuzz and we can’t recall a single thing we read in the past n hours of surfing. Very similar [er “identical”? Ed] to the way that digital images arbitrage the desire to see naked flesh. Historically a painting or two wouldn’t cause any great trouble. Even a porn magazine had few pages. However these days there is an epidemic of ED (erectile dysfunction) amongst young men as the dopamine system and its desire for novelty causes one to click on the thousandth image.
Bizarrely French postmodernist philosophers of the 60s would appear to have hit the nail on the head [quelle horreur!]. Mind you Debord’s seminal “Society of the Spectacle” (1967) starts by quoting Feuerbach 1863 (Preface to “The Essence of Christianity“):
“But for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence, . . . truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be seen as the highest degree of sacredness.”
What would Feuerbach have made of the interweb world? Probably wouldn’t have had enough libido left to think and write such thoughts due to excess ED 🙂
Reread the quote and see how true it is today (he says having spent all day on a pc – the electronic illusion was my reality) – the dude nailed the 21stC in the 19th! Wow!
Wake Up You Have a Choice…
The purpose of last week’s post was to help folks use their power of choice. Of course we are a product of nature and nurture. And right now nature and nurture seems to lead most folks far away from having a vision. And even when one lays out an article laying out how most folks’ conditioning makes them process it as just another intellectual proposition and to relate it to other, similar, intellectual propositions.
Salvation is at hand though as there is a renewed wave of “spiritual progress” and interest. Much of it is somewhat suspect and undermined by both ego and imported medieval and paternalistic attitudes. However in a way all (bona fide) “spiritual progress” aims at stripping away our “nature and nurture” conditioning. Below that we find our essence, the plenum-void-nothingness, we de-clutch from the engine of our subconscious, to the radiant ever-pregnant possibility of the moment and the unknown next moment to come and to be created.
At which point (no matter however brief at first) we not only see we have a choice but we feel we have a choice. Even as simply as we have a choice to take that post as “more mind candy” or to try and make it your own and use the concept for change.
Either that or life smacks you round the chops and you wake up that way 😀 Either way hopefully while there is still time left.
Now there is nothing “wrong” with a reactive/receptive approach to life per se. We could call it the Yin approach. We can call it the Yin choice as long as you chose it (as opposed to stumbled into it qua cul-de-sac). We nurture what is close to hand, we make the best of what we have got and we keep the whole show on the road on a receptive, reactive basis.
Calling it Yin raises the question of why there aren’t more Yang folks around. Well partly it’s as above, partly it’s an age thing – most of my respondents being older, less testosterone, more beaten-up by the system, drank too many female hormones in their tap-water.
However importantly in this model you just aren’t sitting down enough being/doing the Visionary thing.
The Yin approach in a rushing world means you can feel like you are on a runaway train.
You take what you get whether it’s jobs or relationships.
You run round like that guy on stage trying to keep too many plates balanced on too many sticks.
Grab the Steering Wheel Before It’s Too Late
Yeh I know trains don’t have steering wheel lol. But you need to live out of the right brain dudes to find your Visions 🙂 .. the right brain thinks in mixed metaphors. 🙂
What would a Yang approach be like? Well directed, focused, a hunt for a start.
You decide what you want and go out there and get it.
In cricketing rather than Chinese terms, most of us most of the time are playing life off the back foot, sometimes (or all too often) just about stabbing in a late cut before the ball hits the wicket.
But what would your life be like if you took the bowler on? What would it be like to try and take control of the bowling? To play life off the front foot?
To create and own a vision of what you DO want from life before life is over and it’s too late?
Which produces problem number one – fairy godmother turns up but you don’t even know what you want. Well the simplest suggestion if you don’t have a vision is to leave a nice blank sheet of paper lying around (I use A3 quality art paper) with the word Vision written at the top and see what comes to mind and scribble it down. Having put the question in your mind, your mind will start working on it and stuff will emerge.
Or put the question in your mind just as you are falling asleep at night and see what you dream or what comes to mind immediately upon waking.
Or … well there are a thousand and one possibilities all the way up to, if you are tough enough, going on a Vision Quest. Personally I am a chicken so the whole idea of Vision Quest really motivates me to work that blank sheer of paper 😀
So now you have a vision. And you may well have problem number two – you feel powerless, no energy to get out of the deep rut where you lie near-motionless.
OK so then you pass to your Inner Manager “How do we get more empowered?”. But a Visionary dreams – dreams, by definition should not be hindered by practicalities.
Or Let Go of the Steering Wheel Before It’s Too Late
It occurs to me – just in time before I finish this article 🙂 – that there are folks I know who are, overall, “too Yang”. Ironically they are mostly women. I am not generalising about society here – just thinking of the 0.0000001% of humanity that I know well personally (I should get out more 😀 ).
Being too yang you are always trying to control everything. Gripping that steering wheel for dear life. Holding onto your identity rigidly.
That’s, if anything, a more dangerous route than being “too yin”. Something too rigid is brittle. It breaks not bends when the winds are too strong. I’ve seen that happens to friends.
Now “excess Yang”, excess gripping of the steering wheel (as opposed to being too Yin and not holding the steering wheel of your life) can be due to three things:
1. an absent Visionary. Your Inner Manager or Soldier don’t have a direction so they cling desperately to what they know.
2. a poor Visionary – one who isn’t really dreaming, envisioning. One with a poverty of imagination. I recall a decade or so ago lending a Tolle DVD (when he wasn’t so famous) to a buddy. Said buddy (male in passing) said he stopped the DVD at the point where Tolle was talking about identity not being fixed. My chum said that was scary – he couldn’t imagine what life would be like if he wasn’t a Finance Director. Needless to say life proceeded to smack him upside the head – and he never was an FD ever again!
3. or your Visionary is fine but your Manager is a control-freak. I’ll write about Manager issues next week but for the moment we need to be clear that having a Vision is not the same as trying to control everything all the time in life. It’s simply your desired direction over the medium term. Do you want to end up having gone North, South, East or West? You are old enough to know that the tides and winds will send you in any direction on a given day – it’s only the neurotic/control freak that would try and fight for, say, “North” every day.
What About Your Life Right Now?
Where are you right now? “Too Yin”? Or “Too Yang?”
Are you where you want to be in life and relationships?
Are you in motion going where you want?
Or are you in “Brownian motion”? Scurrying here and there tiring yourself out but actually not going anywhere very far at all?
Let your Visionary dream. Life is short my friends. Too short not to at least try to do your thing, go your way and have the trip, the life and experiences you desire.