“What am I doing Now?”

“I like having even spread on both toasts.” — Some dude

I put my body trough brutal training last week and caught hay fever(or some bitch-ass variant). With personal work, learning Russian, doing rock climbing, cycling, jogging, boxing, drinking, late-night parties and driving around to pick people up and down I eroded my sanity; layer by layer.

So a few days later I dropped nearly everything and began asking myself a simple question : “What am I doing now?”. The idea is simple, I looked at myself and figured out I was spreading thin into virtually 50 things. My mind became a multi-headed hydra. Whenever I tried to slice a thought down, two thoughts leashed forward!

It was time to accept the fact that I was in deep waters and that I was going to remain there for a while if I didn’t alter my last few decisions. By asking “What am I doing now?” I put the focus on the task at hand.

  • What am I doing now? Washing the dishes. Why am I complaining about it? Is it doing any good? Wash. The. Dishes.
  • What am I doing now? Reading an article. Why is Facebook open?
  • What am I doing now? Walking to the store. Why am I rushing to the store? Because… I don’t know, I don’t like walks?
  • What am I doing now? Riding my bike. Then why is my face crisped and serious? I don’t know, because I don’t enjoy bike rides coasting the beautiful canal?

What is the point of this question and all of these answers? The following Zen dialog might have an answer for you :

“Master, how do you put enlightenment into action? How do you practice it in everyday life?”

“By eating and sleeping,” replied the master.

“But Master, everybody sleeps and everybody eats.”

“But not everybody eats when they eat, and not everybody sleeps when they sleep.”

From this comes the famous Zen saying, “When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep.”[1]

So in the coming days. I’m going to put an emphasis on restraining myself to doing one thing… with vigor and focus.

[1] Dialog from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Judging is coming to sensible solutions.

Judging is coming to sensible solutions. It’s synonymous to “common sense”. I see nothing wrong here. If people criticized your approach on this blog, maybe they should start their own blog instead of telling you how to run yours.

Equating Rush to Stress

It has lately come to my attention that I often equate rush with stress. For example, if I have a quick pace in the subway I often have thoughts of me being elsewhere than ‘here’. The same phenomenon occurs when I am riding my bike at high speeds, driving fast or whenever I start running late.

It seems to be a direct effect of societies conditioning. Whenever I do people-watching I see a clear distinction between people who would rather be elsewhere and those that enjoy their time being ‘here’. Does it mean that rushing is bad? No. I feel like rush could very well be seen as an exciting challenge. Where do we start?

Well, I’ve found that it is important to notice this behavior when it starts affecting our work. When you see people who just want to ‘get over it’ your intuition can also tell you that they are slowly forming up a bad habit. When you start treating everything like a stepping-stone to something else you never give yourself a chance to slow down and look at the step as the destination. Without the journey there is no destination. What we are really interested in is the transformative agent that happens every second, not our idea of how things will turn out to be when were done here. So, we can convince ourselves that what we are doing is slowing us down and draining away our vital energy.

I’ve struggled applying any kind of practical strategy to have moments of rush be more than just a substitute for what is. Taking deep breaths has been fundamentally simple, but effective. Delving into the sensations of my body and of the surrounding environment has also been helpful. So I invite everyone to experiment a little and see how they think and feel whenever they are put into a stressful situation. Time spent in a traffic jam or waiting in line at the supermarket are great opportunities to look at our internal state of mind.

Straight Arrow

I feel like talking about an encounter I had with what I consider a real-life elf. She was tall and slender, she was emanating a surreal sureness and her eyes would pierce and move any heart it looked upon. It is important to note that she could recognize any LoTR song and knew pretty much every detail of J.R.R’s fantasy collection.

(I met her in a live model drawing class. I can’t remember the exact reasons why I took an interest in drawing, I think it was out of sheer curiosity.)

Her presence was something else, the feeling I was getting was a mix of admiration, contemplation and something that can’t be put into words. It’s kind of like looking at a the night sky full of stars, or to stop and take a close look at a flower, to smell it’s scent. You have this realization which hints you towards a scheme that is much bigger than yourself. You feel minuscule, yet infinite.

I was compelled to look at her uncanny whole and at the way which she masterfully did her work. I was inspired and yet she hadn’t uttered a single word.

I’d like to meet more people like that. And I will add that if we pay attention to the signs everyone has that hidden potential inside himself.

Rogue Warrior and Human Potential

Richard “Dick” Marcinko

I am almost done reading Richard Marcinko’s auto-biography. It is quite a stunning read. Written in the first-person with very little censoring, you are privileged with a glimpse of how a Frogman, Navy Seal and commanding leader of Seal Team Six thinks.

In the book he describes how, at one point, he was doing his regular shifts for the army, then 5 hours at university in the evening plus drinking a few cold ones with his wife before going to bed. Richard doesn’t really talk about it being difficult to wake up in the morning or if the days felt long for him. He seemed very involved and almost programmed to live with very consistent working habits.

I’m sure it was rough at times, but it did not deter him from his main objectives. Sacrifices, enemies and little sleep were a recurrent theme in the book. Does it mean we should live our lives like he did? Of course not. We are all our own propriety. I still welcome the thought of integrating facts of him that I liked to see how that can affect my life.

Which drove me to think about my limit. It has been a few years that I have optimal living conditions: good food, good sleep and good mental/physical habits. There’s nothing to complain about, but that’s when it hit me.

I won’t know my personal limit unless I go beyond it.

So this past week I have willingly sabotaged my routine by physical and mental exertion until I reached a soft cap where I knew it was time to take a break. Do I feel good about it? Perhaps not, I am banged up and tired, but there is no strength that hasn’t crossed the path of weakness. It is in hard lessons that we can thrive and go beyond ourselves.

I will see at pushing the cap further and further as the weeks go by. If I remain aware of my actions I should still be able to see when certain things could become a detriment to my health or my relationships, but otherwise this feels like it fits my persona.

So these next few weeks I’ll be brutal with myself, I do believe this to be a game, after all. And I invite you guys to try this out, it will be fun, I promise.