“Many people – and not a few companies – like to think that they can somehow stretch the cognitive limits of their minds, that doings lots of Sudoku or using programs like Brain Trainer will somehow enlarge their capacity. They’re out of luck. The only exercise that seems to nurture, or at least protect our brains is aerobic exercise. Yoga, toning and stretching may make you feel good but, in fMRI scans, only aerobic exercise seemed to have a visibly positive impact on the brain.”
~ Margaret Heffernan – Wilful Blindness
One thing I didn’t realize until I reached my 40’s is that no one has it all figured out.
Everyone’s is pretty much making it up as they go.
No one has it all figured out
WHEN YOU BECOME A FATHER
Now you’ll understand what real love is, son. You’ll realize how much you love her, but real love is something you’ll feel for this little thing over there. I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. I’m just a corpse, I’m not a fortune teller.
Have fun. It’s a great thing. Time is gonna fly now, so make sure you’ll be around. Never miss a moment, they never come back. Change diapers, bathe the baby, be a role model to this child. I think you have what it takes to be an amazing father, just like me.
From a story about a father who dies young and leaves his eight and a half old son a series of letters to open at life events.
Whilst the story reads like a true story, it’s actually fiction.
Acknowledging death graces us with a sense of perspective: it reminds us that we only have a finite number of breaths; it makes us ask ourselves ‘How will I feel when I get to the end of my life having done/without having done this?’
— Anne Karpf – How to Age
How good is it when the moon is amazing and you can’t even photograph it because when you try with your phone camera the glorious miracle that is the moon looks like it could be a dirty street light or something, and there’s nobody you can tell and you just have to look at the moon and think “it’s just me and you kid, and you’re blowing my mind”.
And you know that lots of people, all around the world, are looking at the same moon and you know their lives are full of different things and some of them are sad things and some of them are happy things and some of them are old faces peering up and some of them are young faces peering up and you might one day meet some of those faces. In fact they might even change your life forever, but it’s statistically unlikely that you will ever know even the smallest percentage of them, and if you ever do, you’ll never know. But maybe your phone camera is better than mine.
~ Lorin Clarke – The Big Issue #542
Lorin is fast becoming my favourite columnist.
We can all agree investing in our futures, through education or managed funds for example, is good, but we often don’t invest enough in our state of mind.
Here’s four investments I think you should make for your current self:
- Invest in candles – your home will smell nice and there’s something great about having a tea or dinner and a conversation by candlelight
- Invest in flowers – buying a bunch of flowers every second week makes your home lovely and welcoming. Flowers don’t need to be expensive – there are plenty you can find for $5-$10 a bunch (if you’re really stretched for money you can pick some from your garden or find some)
- Invest in a magazine subscription – having a magazine regularly delivered to your door full of thought provoking articles is a reminder about the benefits of reading and eduction. I’d recommend The Big Issue and The New Philosopher magazines which are both available as subscriptions.
- Invest in a nice fragrance: having a nice cologne/fragrance that I can wear immediately uplifts me. I stick to the one brand I know won’t give me headaches though.
How do you invest in your current self?
“You’re supposed to read this cartoon, and, being a sophisticated person, say, “Ah! What does this fish know? You know, nothing is possible in this fishbowl.” Impoverished imagination, a myopic view of the world — and that’s the way I read it at first. The more I thought about it, however, the more I came to the view that this fish knows something. Because the truth of the matter is that if you shatter the fishbowl so that everything is possible, you don’t have freedom. You have paralysis. If you shatter this fishbowl so that everything is possible, you decrease satisfaction. You increase paralysis, and you decrease satisfaction.
Everybody needs a fishbowl. This one is almost certainly too limited — perhaps even for the fish, certainly for us. But the absence of some metaphorical fishbowl is a recipe for misery, and, I suspect, disaster.”
~ The closing to Barry Schwartz’s TED talk on the paradox of choice
I get paralysed by endless choice.
We’re upgrading our car at the moment, out of necessity, and limiting ourselves to wagon models meant there were a lot less choices (since everything is SUV) which made it easier to choose.
Same goes for renting a house. We’re satisfied as renting provides both financial and physical constraints to what we can spend and do to our place. We can’t spend more on the house than our rent, and we can’t do anything we want to the house, there are limits, and we like those constraints: we feel free.
Ash is scared to walk out those doors. Rehab is one thing, but the real world is full of triggers.
There are loads in the house where he’ll be living, where there are still holes in the walls from his fists.
“But now every hole I’m patching up, it’s patching up an old scar.”
He believes in AA’s 12 steps.
“I’m not one to believe in too many things, but these steps have actually given me a pathway. Instead of going right, I’m going straight. Before it was just like a figure eight, I just kept going around and I always kept coming back to the same point, which was daunting.
“I’d seen psychiatrists, psychologists and all that, but until I came in here and saw things clearly, it was very scary, very scary. I was only in survival mode, I was just getting by. I wasn’t living week by week, I was living day by day.”
Now, too, sobriety will be a daily proposition.
“I don’t think I’ve felt like this for a long, long time. I’m happy but scared at the same time, but I know we’ve got a brighter future. I’ve just got to keep the faith, as my nan would say. I’m doing it for my kids just as much as I’m doing it for myself.”
A well written insight into alcoholism and rehab for addicts; well worth reading.
This is a talk I delivered at my local toastmasters club on Monday 17th July, 2017.
In the first four and a half months of this year I visited 10 cities in 4 countries, mostly for work, some for leisure.
In early May, in the midst of this whirlwind of movement, I visited my local library, as I often do, and I was drawn to this book: The Art of Stillness: adventures in going nowhere. I'm not sure why I was so drawn to the book but it ended up in a pile of books that I borrowed that day.
Continue reading hard times; easy choices
“One of the strange laws of the contemplative life, is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until somehow they solve themselves. Or until life solves them for you”
Thomas Merton, via The Art of Stillness by Pico Lyer
I love using walking in natures as a method to contemplate problems – and it works.
A colleague recently posted his frequently used Slack emoji which reminded me that I posted my frequently used emoji last August.
I thought it would be a good time to compare my current set of frequently used with those from almost 12 months ago to see what person I’ve become…
July 2017 (present):
Remarkably the 🌵 emoji has dropped out of the game – probably because 🌵 have become so darn popular.
A new entrant is the 💯 emoji which is probably my favourite discovery for 2017 (and suitably overused)
The 🍆 remains strong which makes me feel a bit 😳 (a new entrant)
It also seems like I have poultry on my mind although I have been cooking a mean red 🦆 curry lately (and boasting about it!)
Even though I’ve 🤔 about it a lot, I still don’t know what 🙃 means so I just use it sporadically for kicks.
But that’s enough emoji analysis for now; I need to get some 💤
One thing I've struggled with as the father of three children of different ages is teaching our boys the difference between equal and fair.
For example, only one our boys has homework to do each night from school so the amount of homework the boys each do is not equal; is that fair?
Sometimes the kids get different treats or different time spent with them depending on various factors including their needs and ages. This isn't equal; is it fair?
This also applies to non-parenting things: kitty and I share a small bag of chips: even though she is much smaller than me, do I split the bag of chips equally between us: is this fair?
Only recently did I truly understand that equal often seems fair but is often not fair. Just like unequal can seem unfair, but it's often fair.
For example, some organisations allow their employees to fly premium economy on long-haul flights only if they're over 190cm tall – is this equal? Definitely not. Fair? Probably – since if you're that tall regular economy seats on long haul flights are pretty painful for your legs.
I recently used the diagram from the Interaction Institute for Social Change Artist Angus Maguir to explain this to our oldest child:
The diagram uses the terms equality vs equity but I prefer equality vs fairness as I find it easier to use equal and fair, vs equal and equitable – especially with young children. I have found by simply looking at a situation and asking separate questions of whether it's equal and whether it's fair means it's easier to separate the two.