finally finished with work

…that would ideally have been completed around noon. on a vacation day. Ha, “ideally”.

I’ve been fighting the urge to be snarky because it’s unbecoming, unproductive, unhelpful, undeserved (if it ever is) and really isn’t even worth it.

Right, now to complete the first draft of 2014 planning.

snippets of December

The Finisher’s Formula: more ideas that are already changing life. What fascinating things.

Less email-checking, article-reading, book reading, and even time on the computer than probably any other month this year. I’m beginning to see now how what goes into the mind remains there for a while.

Practicing design thinking at Launch! Collaborative Design Day with a few good friends, being reminded again that presentation can be as important as content.

Finally learning more of what I should’ve been at work. The boot camp sessions will continue until I know enough.

Running the 2013 Big Chill. And after, running more often, running harder, maybe even running better. Good metaphors.

Hard sparring sessions that remind me how easy of a life we have, how far there is to grow, and make me consider where the cutoff point should be set.

The woody scent of incense and the sense of solemnity it evokes when visiting a monastery from long ago.

Gifts for little cousins. Gift boxes (and gifts) for friends. White Elephant exchanges.

Catching up with not-the-usual friends. Eggnog fest with new ones. A low-budget, high-fun city adventure with soup dumplings and bubble tea galore—a great yearly tradition if I’ve ever seen one.

Even some board games, which were mostly unplanned but fun.

And we’re almost at the end of the 2013! The plot thickens and the planning continues.

Five Contemplations Before Meals

During the vegetarian lunch at our visit to Chuang Yen Monastery this past Sunday, we noticed these five items posted in the cafeteria:

  1. I contemplate how much positive potential I have accumulated in order to receive this food.
  2. I contemplate my own practice, and only if there are no defects do I deserve these offerings.
  3. I contemplate my mind, cautiously guarding it from wrongdoing, greed, and other defilements.
  4. I contemplate this food, treating it as wondrous medicine to nourish my body.
  5. I contemplate the aim of buddhahood, accepting and consuming this food, in order to accomplish it.

As mindful as I’ve been aiming to be these last few months, I realized that more often than not, when eating, I’m not entirely present—when eating, I’m usually thinking about other things. So before I began to eat that lunch, I contemplated, and as I ate, I paid attention to the food, and surprised me to really notice the food that I was eating, chewing, and really tasting.

These five contemplations were one of several items that I felt like I learned from the visit to the monastery.

A different holiday party

Shortly after leaving the eggnog holiday party this past Saturday night—regrettably early, actually, in order to catch the final buses leaving from a snow-deluged NY Port Authority—it occurred to me that that situation was quite nice and was something I’d love to be positioned to do in a few years: hosting a party at a nice, accessible apartment, where I’ve prepared tasty foods and guests are bringing more food and snacks than we can eat; enabling good friends from different circles to mingle; having a casual and energetic gathering of interesting people.

Classy, Nancy called it.

Goal identified, I thought.

sense of art

I was more interested in The Art of the Brick exhibit at Discovery Times Square than I would’ve anticipated, despite my on-and-off interest in LEGO.

What is it about Nathan Sawaya’s art that moves me more than what I feel when seeing the original art, in pieces like The Scream, The Kiss, Michelangelo’s David, Starry Night, Mona Lisa, American Gothic, ?

There’s something about art, and my reaction, and I suppose my expectation of reaction, that I don’t quite understand yet.

Distracted driving

On the way back to the office from picking up lunch, I saw a notice on the side of the road, on one of those digital-signs-with-wheels. It said, “DISTRACTED DRIVING IS DEADLY”.

That led me to wonder: what about distracted living?

Isolation

Sometimes after spending a day or so in close company with friends, I’ll get this strange sense of isolation. I wonder why it is that we can have relationships, good friendships, and yet still feel isolated and alone; perhaps a vestigial fear of being left out/alone/behind? Perhaps because we’re only in our own heads and have to practice to feel a sense of connection with something bigger?

Hmm.

Hell-bent on improvement

I can’t tell if I belabored the point or was unnecessarily dramatic, though part of that uncomfortable feeling is because I’m not terribly comfortable yet making strong assertions that have to do with myself. Perhaps I’m uncomfortable reconciling humility or modesty with confidence and “passion”. I’ve heard it said that humility is a virtue—I wonder, who wanted that to be known; what were their motivations; is it really; and what’s the purpose of virtue anyway?

Some of why

I have been failing again. I am tired of disappointing others, disappointing myself, and allowing myself to disappoint myself, until some kind of threshold gets crossed that forces me into action. Tired of alternating between great and sub-standard work. I see a recurring and insidious cycle of procrastination/self-sabotage that has kept me from reaching my achievable possible. This is the weakness I’ve sensed in myself when I think of why I do not leave my job; I’ve seen that the problem is not in the job, but in me. And so I will improve myself while at this place until I have done great things that I and others can truly be proud of. Only then will I feel worthy to work anywhere.

So it’s past time for something to happen. I’m ashamed that I had to wait until once again, someone else had to bring up an area where I was dropping the ball. But I’m thankful; thankful for his candor, and thankful that here again is a reminder from the universe that I have been ignoring its Calls to action.

I’ve been reading, though I doubt I’ll find meaning and fulfillment in words. What I want out of life, I suspect, is out in the world, where there’s no undo button, where you can’t pause the action by inserting a bookmark. And that’s fine, great, excellent, perfect; out in the world is just where I want to operate. I thought I was making headway, but I see now that whatever I’ve been doing, it’s too little, and that I’ve still been neglecting a part of me that desperately needed attention—as if my life could be free of problems if I was not.

I will no longer be the problem; I will learn to be the solution. I will no longer back away from issues I do not know how to handle; I will lean into fear and learn by doing. I will not let my fear of the unknown cloud and impede my ability to err and grow.

Growth is the imperative.