Not everybody truly lives

Reflecting on recent conversations with close friends, I suddenly felt like Santiago in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

What is it that I feel called — called away? — to experience?
What am I trying to prove to myself? What must I know?

Why does it feel so important to chase the edge?

What does it mean to lean into fear? And why does it matter so much?

Why do I feel I have to brave pain to grow? Fear and pain and discomfort in the face of uncertainty, at the brink of change.

What does my heart know that my brain is working to articulate? How do I put it into words — or better yet, into emotion+feeling that can be conveyed to those who matter?

What do I fear?

Why is what I have not enough?

All I know is that this tension is the good kind, the tough but ultimately necessary conflict that our heroes must face each and every time they reach the limits of their achievable possibilities.

Stretch, love. Stretch and let the shards of our former world crumble forgotten around us as we rise to the heights we were born to explore, until we touch that brittle sky and break through anew.

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If I am what I share

If I am what I share

I’m growth. I’m connection, warmth and love. I’m higher standards, focus, organization, strategy, adventure, good feelings, permission, independence, initiative, confidence.

Relaxation, because I’ve drawn my lines in the sand.
Community, because people fly higher when they feel like they belong.

I’m responsibility for my actions and the world around me.
I’m balance, except when it comes to the most important things in life.

Abundance over scarcity.
Curiosity over ignorance.
Education over schooling.
Discomfort over stagnation.

Inspiration, ambition, decision.

Deep appreciation for our brief, limited time and for the beauty visible everywhere.
Value: which we all have but don’t all realize, which is ours to own and ours to grow, and which is ours to share if we wish.

The decisions to care and make a difference.

This year

“I hope this this year doesn’t turn you into an asshole.” –N

My internal dialogue:
A: Probably won’t, but no worthwhile endeavor is risk-free.
B: So what if it does? F@(k ’em; how else can you truly practice not giving a damn?
C: Whatever happens, it’s gonna be AWESOME>

Hahaha

4-hour Networking

I’m back from my first official business trip and I’ve decided that I like flying.

It’s not just the travel itself that I mean here, but specifically flying, because it’s such an interesting way to meet different people that you wouldn’t otherwise!

You’re forced to sit next to a probably random person or two for a long period of time. You’re both in the aircraft for a very specific reason. You have so many potential conversation starting points. It’s a great chance to meet interesting people and learn more about how they see the world.

The other big benefit I see to flying is that in case you don’t feel like getting to know the people around you, or said neighbors are grouchy/tired/angry, you get time to focus on anything you want to.

You could read that book you’ve been meaning to start/finish. You could draft out those plans for world/universe domination that you’ve been too “busy” to start. Meditate. Dive into Magic: The Gathering strategy. Whatever you want to do, with most regular distractions minimized.

What a fun situation!

On excellence somewhere else

There’s some part of me that wants to go somewhere that enables me to be more excellent.

But like peace, doesn’t excellence first start within?

And in pursuing excellence, where’s the line between the role of conscious exclusion (focus)–deciding which things NOT to pursue, quitting strategically–versus quitting due to lack of discipline, character, quitting that doesn’t help?

Or in simpler terms: am I considering quitting out of strength or out of weakness? Is this kind of quitting the kind that enables necessary growth or is it just fleeing from hard work?

Today’s plan for discontent

Ever had that feeling that something had to change?

It’s persistent, insistent. It doesn’t go away if you ignore it, and the more you ignore it the more it tugs at you.

Is there ever any good from ignoring something your very body/mind/spirit has realized and is trying to tell you? Maybe, but not in the long run. If you can’t bother to find out why you’re discontent, who else will?

The road to fulfillment is like you’d expect: full of unexpected challenges, but all which lead to something good–a Better You–if you can make your way through them. When something scares you, bothers you, makes you uncomfortable, it’s a signpost pointing the way towards where you need to go, in mind if not in body. The obstacle is the way, after all.

Today, off to nature to think+do.

Unexpected catalysts

I find that I value being unsettled nowadays because it means that something important wants to be recognized.

This time it’s a reminder of an underlying craving for something I can’t yet define: emotional? Intellectual? Social?

Memories of an absent richness of experience, maybe.

This time I’m reminded of what I really value, of what I think I’ve been looking for since I started to care. Reminded that to not grow, to not push upwards and onwards, is to settle for second best by default. And that the most important choices–what I do, who I’m with, and how I see the world–are always mine to make.

when a book isn’t the same as you remember

I reread Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on a whim this weekend and discovered a richer experience than I’d remembered from previous re-readings. More significance to how the characters communicated with each other, to the choices they made and to their identities, to whom and how they loved. 

Of course it wasn’t the book that changed.

Is that idea at the base of anything we return to or repeatedly do? That it’s probably not those things or tasks that have changed, but that we have.

Edges of the Better You

The quotation from Jony Ive in Seth Godin’s recent post Not even one note describes so, so well why I don’t usually feel great about much work I do:

We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure. —Jony Ive

Not just seeing the heights to which others have raised their work, but getting a glimpse of how much better I could do, at the edge of my achievable possible…failing to reach that is what frustrates me.

snippets of February

Declining invitations, regrettably, to fun things not planned in advance, because in the choice between being busy and being remarkable I’m not in a position where I can let myself just be busy anymore. Busy or remarkable? Fit in or stand out? Being able to live a rich or even a good life certainly won’t happen by itself. So I thank my friends gratefully for thinking of me, and trust that all will be reconciled after I feel comfortable enough with my situation to make time for catching up.

Running to prepare for upcoming races; running, because we can; and running some more until it gets hard to breathe, reminding myself that growth comes only at the edge of resistance.

Doing the P90X3 workout routine with a few others: partly for fun, partly to test its effects, and partly to make up for not having weekly Krav Maga workouts. So far The Challenge—with continuous reps of pull-ups and push-ups—has been the toughest single workout for me.

Renewing the meditation habit, bringing myself from restless mind back to practiced focus.

Helping provide a mock interview for a friend, and as a result becoming more cognizant of the importance of having a well-organized and thoroughly-rehearsed narrative.

Refocusing over President’s Day weekend and making actual headway on priority research.

Starting to learn, think and practice copywriting. I’m enjoying seeing the connections among some excellent books: Art of Explanation, Made To Stick, Copywriter’s Handbook and POP!

Watched first-ever Superbowl and understood more than I expected thanks to my Rutgers University education.

Following a February gratitude challenge and sending daily emails to future 2014 of the many things for which I’m thankful.

Performed Lion and Dragon Dances with the temporarily reunited BCS team, complete with familiar performance preparations and familiar routines. Sometime during the day, between observing our team and later watching CCCNJ’s performance at the OCA dinner, I realized that our team had stopped growing, perhaps a while ago. I don’t feel good thinking about it. But it’s not surprising either. How could we continue to improve our craft if we never (no longer?) review our performances, if we’d settled for “good enough” a long time ago to be able to perform as we did over the last decade, and most importantly if most of us are no longer even regularly involved? Maybe I will take up Sifu on his offer to teach the new kids for a day, if only to do what little I can to start them on a path of improvement.