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Dreaming from above

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You can’t dream about the world from below. It takes climbing a hill, mountain, or riding up to the Eiffel Tower to look out and see an entire world below in your grasp.

Writes Tomas Tranströmer in “Schubertiana”:

“Outside New York, a high place where with one glance you take in the houses where eight million human beings live.”

Where your attention goes, your energy flows. From above, the mind bleeds into the world below, overturning everything you believe in.

Feeling inspired, perhaps larger than life, the elevator takes us back down to normal intensity where such closeupness suppresses exploration.

You can still collect the world from the street, but up and above is really where you understand it.

A coherent me

The story we tell ourselves works to combat the harsh reality of Monday mornings.

We buck the reassurance of controlled variables for the sake of a cloudy destiny.

Stuck and predictable. We stop beating the heart to our own drum.

Instead of chasing our dreams, we ride the coattails of others.

We become a cog that seeks to please rather than to push.

How we align our attention, to the duty or to the clusters of individual freedom, is what determines our self-worth.

The story we tell ourselves works to combat the harsh reality of Monday mornings.

We buck the reassurance of controlled variables for the sake of a cloudy destiny.

Fifteen minutes for eternity

We all want to be fifteen minutes ahead of everybody, fifteen minutes of fame, and fifteen minutes of bliss.

Not ten, not five, but fifteen.

Fifteen is just enough time to bake in an experience, to create something memorable even if we don’t deem it worthwhile.

We feel the freest when we’re most in danger, the paradox of escaping everydayness.

In search of a stimulus, the rush of blood to the head turns a moment into a milestone of excitement.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” John Milton

Once we scratch the itch, life can go on.

A fleeting fifteen minutes is sometimes all we need to keep going. It’s the clock that stops.

Distracted into interestingness

The mind never gets sidetracked. It either chews on the immediate interesting thing or gravitates to the next fascinating subject.

Needless to say, we’re never really bored. We care about everything in front of us. The levers of regard fluctuate even to the pillars of our own energy.

Moored to reality, we nonetheless flock to the imagination. We are condemned to interestingness.

Confronting reality 👀

Goal setting is like game setting. You start at level 1 and graduate into unforeseen directions.

If you’re lucky, you’ll ping-pong forward, making leaps and bounds.

But more often than not, declaring your ambitions acts as a compass, guiding you with mere suggestions on how to proceed.

The lighthouse may tease what’s ahead yet what remains murky is only cleared up when confronted in reality. 

Still, the opposition throws roadblocks, trying to flip your resiliency into a foot-dragging laggard.

On, in, or around — you’ll find a way to build a bridge or crush through the wall with a persistent hammer. Give into the resistance, and it will proudly celebrate your inaction.

The goose gets bones via experimentation, the same way an athlete strengthens their body through bicep curls or a monk jogs the brain through meditation.

Even the machine evolves to beat a chess master after learning from its own failed iterations. Wrongs accumulate until they make it right.

The choice is yours to either show-up and move or yield to imperious anticipation. It is recommended that one spend less time pausing and more time living en medias res.

Effort investigates the self and paves the road of life with a bunch of guesses. Fortunately, those assumptions appear to get more accurate with time.

3, 2, 1…action!

Looking sideways

An inner radicalism tugs away at the illusion of coherence. What we strive for often makes zero sense to others, if at all to ourselves. But we feel it.

The contrarian begs to differ if only to avoid the stuckness of traditional thought.

In all likeliness, it’s the things misheard, misquoted, misunderstood — mere accidents — that provoke innovation.

“I like hearing things incorrectly. I think that’s how I get a lot of ideas is by mishearing something.” 

Tom Waits

When we remove the obsession with absolutes, we roll the dice on what could be. Never certain in any outcome, confidently looking sideways at the cracks. Think different.

Facing opposites

face to face

We want to reduce the stress in our lives, yet we keep piling on the number of things we need to do. We travel arms wide open into a tidal wave of responsibilities.

We want to restrict the data tech companies collect from us, yet we swipe right at consent. All terms, all conditions, in favor of the Leviathan.

We want to think we’re a curious bunch, open to a world unknown, yet act like novices at the ways of seeing. What is new leads somewhere new, absent the spot.

We meditate to detach the mind from surfeit consciousness when simply going for a walk, doing the dishes, or shooting hoops produces the same relaxing effect. With little effort, the neuronal spike trains intensify in voltage.

Opposite to everything, without opposition to anything. Whatever one says is true, the opposite is equally true.

Inside the head

gif by Jason Clarke
  • Mute/unmute
  • Blind to our blindness
  • Freedom within the cube

Our sensory perception tells us how we should interpret the world, which is often a series of paradoxes. It’s the bits in the brain that make the world a reality, not the external stimuli itself.

“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”

David Eagleman, neuroscientist

Like breathing in air, we take the information we need and spit it back out. A cycle of gases, presence is a gif loop stuck on belief.

The running conversation in your head

The mind is perpetually stuck in the future, worried about tomorrow instead of tomorrow’s yesterday.

It’s as if we’re running toward an elusive finish line, lured by the temptation of retirement.

Hold up…why do we move so fast?

Skimming and skipping produce a race to the bottom. We expect the algorithms and Google shortcuts to provide the answers and solve a lack of intelligence.

Learning, of patience, through experience, stokes pure wildness. It is how we evolve.

Insecurity is life. In the attempt to lock it into place, we forfeit the musicality of motion.

Putting down the irreality of our screens, foregoing speedy impressions, we finally realize our potential.

This pace is the place to be. 

gif via Toby Cooke

Open to detours

Open to detours, fixated on the wrath of curiosity. The single-minded goal-setter scrounges for practice.

In theory, doggedness is the least path of resistance. Like a magnet, we’re drawn to specialized learning.

But we can’t afford to put the right brain to sleep. Quiescent, it too begs to act.

The creative compulsion knows no boundaries. It explodes in those non-cash working hours, when you’re raging with inspiration.

Like making music, the notion of work and play intertwine.

“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by its analogy to music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”

Alan Watts

We’re programmed to be ourselves, following the siren song of our vocation. Fight our calling, and we’ll lose. There will be no such luck.

When sharing is not so self-caring

Social media is a world where everyone tries to out self-promote each other and in doing so, stretch their lives further from reality.

Even the destinations — whether it be a restaurant, hotel resort, or kayaking trip — want to make their experiences more Instagrammable.

Sharing has commoditized life, turning us into an avalanche of rotating ads, blurring the lines between paid and organic. Every post is an ad in some way, shape, or form. Like TV, we start to develop an imaginary relationship with those on screen, doubtful we’d ever met in real life.

The blizzard of images droughts perception with seeing. We feel envious of those in our feed before we know why we may feel so. The contagion of jealousy spreads like a virus. The upshot is a homogenization of lives and content.

We all want what we don’t have. Social media generates a false narrative of unnecessary desire. Instagrams are just pictures on a wall, temporarily surfing over the hopes and fears in our genes. It feels good lying stuck in the ludic loop.

But irreality is ephemeral. The long-term narrative eventually wakes us up to the fact that we’re barking up the wrong tree. Life is here and now, attracting itself and trying to love you back.

Less fixedly

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Assumptions provide fence-sitting answers. They give the impression of solving issues but they’re really just band-aids that make us feel safer. Half-truths also hinder inquisitiveness.

“We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it.” — Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Rather, like a dog with a bone, we should be running off for a half hour and then coming back. The external stimulus has to be interesting enough that even we get bored of it, we revisit it later.

The last thing we want to do is externalize the whimsical nature of life to the certitude of a photo. Life goes on beyond the screen. Memory hinges on context and keeps developing each time the story gets told.

Confidence basks in the chase of uncertainty if only to ensure that the truth remains unfixed.

One small change

gif by @val421

Sometimes it is one small change that makes all the difference. And seeking it makes our aspirations feel alive.

The alternative is adopting other people’s anxiety, locked into a cohesive occupied mind like a flock of sheep.

When you go for it, you should expect to fail but learn a lot too. Escaping the treadmill of everyday life is so much more exciting.

As they say, the best things disrupt your life. It is much better being wide awake chasing ideals than enduring a life oblivious to us.