23 March 2011

Chance vs Cost

Have you ever had a glimpse of what your life would have been like if you had taken a different turning at some particular crossroads in your past? I had, and it made me believe in the existence of parallel universes. The vision of me following that other route that I didn’t take was so tangible that it actually continued a particular life of its own. Its purpose, I am guessing, is to ring a warning sign in my unconscious mind.

Let me give you an example of something that happened a few weeks ago. A simple story: I met a guy, I liked him, he liked me, we went out a few times. But, there was something that disturbed this simplicity – a faint foreboding which like a whiff of draught snaked across my skin whenever I thought about him. I took notice but still refused to give too much competence to such involuntary sensation.

A slight digression: this is all taking place after I told a good friend of mine that if there was anything I would want to see invented, it would be an in-built mechanism that could warn us about whether things and people were good or bad for us. She said to always watch for the body sensations! These are important because they are NOT easily manipulated by our conscious/rational mind and so might reveal something that we know only intuitively. There are other ways in which this voice talks to us.

It turned out quite quickly that my foreboding was well grounded: the man was hiding a rather important fact about himself, which is that he was married but pretended otherwise. At one of our dates, as we sat in a cosy Italian restaurant, I took a photo of him. I forgot about this photo and rediscovered it the other day when I was cleaning up my memory card. I looked at his deep brown eyes, little wrinkles giving away a flirtatious smile and I felt a twitch of sadness. Too bad it didn’t work out, I really liked the guy, I thought to myself. Then, I looked closer: in the blurry background of the photo, there was a green sign FIRE EXIT. It was placed in a really funny way, almost hanging above his head with a slight shadow cast over the word ‘fire’. So all I could see was this loud warning: EXIT.

And exit I did. Well on time this time. Could it really be that I was unconsciously giving myself a hint about which turning to take?

That EXIT sign made a complete believer in the power of the unconscious mind out of me. It also resonated with a quote from the Matrix Trilogy that I couldn’t understand until just now. The Merovingian said: ‘When some see coincidence, I see consequence. When others see chance, I see cost. And so I follow myself in the parallel universe in which I do end up with the brown-eyed lover, and I wonder how much that would have cost me. I know the EXIT sign was no coincidence.

15 March 2011

Whatever it takes

Last time I was dealing with an overwhelming issue, I was told that the change would come only if and when I commit to do ‘whatever it takes’ to confront it. I took this powerful approach very seriously and since then have solved many demanding situations. So far, it has worked unmistakingly. So far I knew exactly what that whatever was that would get the ball rolling.

But for the last few months – ever since I finished my PhD – I have been suffering from a rather annoying little illness: a lack of purpose. I faced the problem with the whatever it takes formula. I applied for jobs, investigated options of creating yet unexisting jobs, I joined the gym, pumped the iron, started going out, started (socially) drinking and basically ruined my neat but boring daily routine. All to no avail! The result: I pedalled so fast that I dug myself even deeper into the ground.

What if now the whatever variable is to abort all action? What if whatever it takes means accepting that achieving whatever goals is not what actually makes me happy but that happiness, on the other hand, might produce some rather interesting achievements? What if the whatever it takes is to BE happy NOW as if I am already whatever I am trying to be in the future?

There is so much talk about relaxing, deep breathing, reconnecting with the body, letting go and just stop resisting. All these words are quite meaningless without the actual experience of what they are describing. And as aggravated and irritated with the present moment as I am right now, I am the first to shirk away from these so called simple truths – heck, I will even make fun of them. Actually, if I hear another ‘guru’ telling me to relax and just let go, I will probably lose that sweet and na├»ve baby-face momentarily and recall some of my Aikido moves.

What I can’t stand now is relaxing and letting go. Not doing is my worst enemy now. After producing 98,550 words of doctoral content, I can’t cope with not having any content. I dread silence, I fear void. Don’t tell me to calm down!

So I pedal and pedal in my little hamster wheel. Whatever it takes to avoid stillness. This is because I have wrongfully connected stillness with dullness, dullness with emptiness, emptiness with nothingness, nothingness with senselessness… you know the spiral. Actually, the other day I spent hours talking on the phone with my guru who told me to breath deeply and calm down: the answers are coming, he said. Luckily he added this bit about the answers.

He said that presence is not some abstract tasteless void. Quite the contrary, he said. It is most of all intelligence. Intelligence means information, information means direction, direction means knowledge, knowledge means action, action means purpose… you know the spiral? So I just shut the f**k up and the answers are coming? He nodded affirmatively. Crude – but in crude times, we need crude approaches.

So this is it. I am relaaaaaaaxingggg noooooowwww. I shall do nothing at all. Hopefully I will soon have some answers to share with you.