Simple pleasures

There’s great pleasure in the simple experiences of life, especially those involving interactions with other living creatures. I’m currently spending my holiday traveling around the country with my partner and our 2 dogs and there are so many moments that give me pleasure.

I’ll look back and see the two of them snuggling together, sleeping, the boy with his head on the girl’s back and I smile.

We go swimming with them at the beach and I call her to come into the water, but she’s nervous, not sure about the waves, but she wants to be with us so she reticently paws at the water and then jumps forwards and swims to us. That warms my heart.

In the morning as I’m waking up in bed, the boy will hear my body shifting and come to the side of the bed, jump up and put his front paws on the bed and snuggle his snout into my face and neck, tail wagging excitedly. I know that he knows it’s time for his food now, but it still makes me happy and appreciated.

Our lives are becoming more and more complex and distracting, with so many different sources of potential excitement and stimulation bombarding us and vying for our attention. Yet increasingly it’s the simple, personal interactions with other living creatures (humans included) that I’m seeking out and that bring meaning to my life.

Do we need to die?

What is the reason we still die? Is it just a technical glitch we haven’t figured out how to fix yet? We’re busy solving all the other technical glitches so we should eventually get to this one. Our religions have told us our only reason for living is to get to the glorious hereafter, but if we didn’t have to die, priests, shamans and other religious leaders would be out of a job, replaced by engineers.

Growing old would also be pointless. People would stop ageing. They would choose their optimal physical age, possibly growing older for a while for aesthetics, trying out a new look and then returning to a more youthful bloom when they got bored of it.

We wouldn’t need to have children to pass the genes on. Having kids would be more about expanding your reach, growing your empire.

There would probably be too many people in the world though. It would probably only be the rich that could afford not to die. The poor would continue along the standard path to the reaper.

Perhaps our psyches couldn’t handle living for ever? Maybe we’re not made to be able to handle that amount of information and change? But if we solved for death, we’d probably solve for that problem too.

But perhaps by staying in this existence we’re stopping ourselves from living in another parallel existence, another experience that our soul could have but that we’re now denying it.

Amortality is no longer just something dreamed up by science-fiction writers. Today some of the largest companies in the world are investing heavily in it. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime, but when it does it will no doubt be the biggest revolution in human history and it will change everything.

The next evolution

We’ve been evolving for years. Our genes have kept mutating, testing out combinations that may work better in our environment. The aim is for the organism to survive. Genes are selfish – they want the organism to survive at all costs so that they can survive and propagate.

Evolution goes a bit further. Some organisms have learnt to collaborate with others to increase the likelihood of their survival. Families band together, looking out for each other, helping to pass their genes on. Tribes work together in the same way, protecting their way of life and passing it on to their children.

But we’re now at a point where we need species-level evolution. The threats we face affect everyone on the planet, no matter your family or tribe. Sticking your head in the sand just means your arse will get burnt like everyone else’s.

We can’t afford to be selfish genes anymore.

Always take the stairs

Sit, observe. You will be the only one.

We get lost in our technology. It becomes easier to do things so we believe that the easier path is better. Progress leads us into a future full of exciting possibilities as well as stupendous inanities. The shiny glint of chrome, glass and plastic distracts and attracts us away from long-known truths about what really matters. A distracted mind is a malleable mind, ready for the planting of false dreams, wants, desires not our own, but of money-hungry peddlers of lies. Streams of ads pierce our mental fabric, infecting us, making us thirst for the new, the exciting. Anxiety-ridden, fearful of being left behind, we spiral closer to our commercial nirvana, tantalising close, but always just one model behind true enlightenment.

So I always take the stairs. There is a refreshing simplicity to it – an ancient technology, tried and tested; proven. Each step felt palpably, intentionally, physically. I’m not a passenger in a box of strangers! No, indeed! I’m the master of my own destiny. I chose my path up or down, vote with my feet, my blood pumping a little faster telling me I’m alive, I’m not following or being swayed from my path. I relish the look of disbelief from the crowds as I head off proudly into the stairwell, ready to reconnect with my individuality, proving to myself that I am indeed unique.

You have a choice. Always a choice. Look up, see the world and choose your path.

Thank you

I took one last run through the city,
One last service in the church I’d worshipped in so often.
A suitable soundtrack of lofty French organ music to set the tone.

I let my feet carry me along familiar paths,
Taking me up, down, around and all again,
Reliving the same flux of memories they brought.

I passed places I’d set my hat down and made home –
Stopped briefly, nodded in grateful acknowledgement
Of the role each had played.

As I ran, I wove together the passed years
from the myriad cues around me
And saw their meaning take clearer form.

I felt my Mothers embrace and warm smile
As she sent a hundred pigeons Into the blue,
And I laughed and I thanked her.

“Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.”

Let’s start again

I haven’t truly written anything for a long time. I have spent so much time consuming content that I forgot how important it is to create content. In fact I’m sitting here right now trying to think what I should write next. It’s really not that easy if you haven’t done it for a long time. You really need to practice this skill. It’s the same as playing piano-if you don’t do it for a while, your fingers don’t move the way they used to. Believe me, I know. I recently started playing the piano again after almost a 2 decade hiatus. I found myself struggling to drum out even the most basic exercises that I used to be able to rattle off without even thinking.

What I have found lately is that I’m so caught up with reading and learning and discovering knowledge, that I don’t give myself the time to properly process that knowledge and output it in my own unique voice. Yes, I’m extremely good at trafficking that knowledge and passing it on to my social media followers and in itself, this is an important form of expression which should not be discounted. However, it only shows the types of knowledge I’m interested in, not what my thoughts are on that knowledge. If I had to look back on my twitter feed, I would say that it’s more of a Pinterest for interesting articles, rather than a unique collection of my own thoughts and expressions. I would say that it’s a rather 2D version of who I am, when what I really want to express is the full 3D version of me.

What also hinders me is that I think I need to say something unique and original, and this thought creates an inertia that makes it really difficult to start writing anything at all. I guess it’s that inner critic that we all have – some people are simply better than others at muzzling this critical imposter.

However, I always seem to remember that it’s the stream of consciousness that we should embrace and simply write down whatever comes to mind. This is what I’m trying to do at the moment. I’m also speaking this out aloud while I write it down, which I’m finding surprisingly effective. It brings a new dimension to my writing; I can now lead my writing from my voice. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for my music creation; my best instrument is the one I’ve had all my life and the one that I can use without even thinking. But again, I can only feel comfortable doing this in a private place where no one can hear me. As I type that, I realize just how strange it sounds; I’m talking about my voice ad my best instrument, but I too self -conscious to use it in front of people! I guess that’s one of the continuous struggles in my life.

This resurgent need to express myself as been fueled by an assessment I recently completed, called StrengthFinders. It gave me a lot to think about, as well as some clear and practical ways how I can capitalize on my strengths. I feel that I’ve been neglecting these parts of me for too long now and need to bring them back out into the light. This is the first step towards that goal.

I hope you’ll enjoy the trip with me. If you don’t, that’s fine too.

Take a step up

I watched a very interesting TED video yesterday – A monkey economy as irrational as ours by Laurie Santos. Laurie, along with a team of students from Yale performed a series of experiments to try understand why the human species makes the same illogical blunders over and over again. Their focus was on the financial mistakes that we’ve seen over the course of humankind’s history. She initially posits that perhaps we put too many clever systems in place and then can’t keep track of them or can’t manage them because they’re too complex for us to manage. Her other supposition is that perhaps we make these mistakes over and over again because we’re hardwired that way. They experiments she performs end up proving the latter.

I can’t help feeling a little down by this result. These problems are hardwired into our very DNA from at least 35 million years ago. Trying to change habits we develop during the course of our own lifetime are difficult enough to change; what about a habit rooted in our very essence for the last 35 million years? That’s certainly going to take more than an Alan Karr seminar or two! But deep down I feel that these shackles we’re born with are there for the singular reason of allowing us to overcome them in order to advance along the next evolutionary step. Up until now, evolution has been governed by the selfish gene – the self-preservation instinct of the individual. We see this in every interaction we have with our environment, the other members of our species and indeed other species too. What if the next step in evolution is to step beyond the preservation of self and instead rise to the preservation of the species? Understanding the system we are a part of and making the necessary changes and individual sacrifices in order to keep the species alive? That would be the first step. Understanding the complex subtle interplays involved in the world around us and balancing the survival of our species with the survival of all others around us would be the next.

Noble thoughts, but possible? I think so. Now it’s just a case of convincing the rest of you.