Life as dance

I am excited!

I found a new way to talk about life. It’s a lot less obscure than a Brownian motion. It allows way better expression of nuances. It’s embodied. It’s dance.

Life is a dance. A dance doesn’t aim to get somewhere but is about movement. You can dance fast or slow. You can dance wildly or precisely. You can dance on the spot or sweep a whole dance floor.

You can dance alone or with a partner. In a cliche, group or mob. You can set the pace or sway with the crowd. You can mix and match styles or be a purist.

You can dance with your whole body or have a segment dominate.

Your dance filled with rapid transitions or a slow evolution into a different form.

There is no dance without people. Without moves there is just a jumble of discord. – Without action there is no life without rest life is empty

Without connection there is no warmth. Without solitude there is no silence.

You can dance by creating your own moves, by imitating others or anywhere on the spectrum between them.

You can dance to your own drum,  merge was with the flow, rush to catch up or set the pace.

If you dance in harmony it flows wonderfully. If you are out of tune you need to use great effort to little effect.

To happiness, and beyond!

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Living as a new re-incarnation

While I walk to the University of Witwatersrand for gymnastics practise I listen to podcasts. They include The Primal Happiness, The Charge, The One you Feed. In a recent episode of primal happiness, Chris Morris said something that blew my mind. Paraphrasing it: When you were 8 years old you had a different body, your appearance and dress was different, you spoke differently, thought differently and socialised with different people. So when did that person become you? Would you agree that to all intents and purposes you re-incarnated?

This blew my mind. That reincarnation is not after death and then being reborn, but as a continuous process that happens as we grow and change. This lens can explain so much, and is to me more powerful than the standard interpretation of reincarnation. Where you draw the line between the previous you and the current you, your previous life and your current life I do not know. It could be a year, a few months, a day, differing scales depending on the amount of change or an infinitesimally small amount a la calculus.

So in each moment we act, decide and change by being reborn into a new life. And we hold the reins of change. We can decide where we are going.

This lens totally demystifies past-life regression or experiences. We just call them memories. different body parts change at different speeds. We reincarnate a stomach lining within a few weeks, 10 % of our fat cells each month, and our nerve tissue changes the slowest. So your nervous system which underpins all that you are changes the slowest and the way you eat starts changing you within days.

Each story is the story of a reincarnation. A rebirth from experience. Every time that we as individuals go through a major life event that changes us, we are reborn as a new person. So as what person will you reincarnate if you keep doing what you are doing now?

To happiness, and beyond!

 

 

Nobody Wants to Read your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield

Rating:5/5

One sentence: Write your message like a golden story.

Everybody is busy and focused on their own lives. Convey your message as a story that speaks to the universal stories within us and uses techniques from the ad, screenwriting and movie business.

Everything is a concept. Find the core idea of whatever you are trying to say and strip away all else. There is always one central idea that reframes the whole situation. If you find it you can use it  over and over in spin-off after the spin-off.

Everything has themes. Connect your message universal themes that everybody loves. Eliminate everything that does not fit with your themes and repeat them constantly.

Heroes and villains. Find the “good guy” and the “bad guy”. Epic clash, inner transformation for the good guy, good guy triumphs. Suffering pulls at every heart. The deeper the pit of pain the more satisfying the victory.

Three parts. Beginning. Middle. End. Setup, Inciting Incident, Climax, Dissolution. The hero leaves the normal world, tries to get back and finally ends in another, new normal world.

The All is Lost Moment. When the possibility of success seems impossible. The lowest low. The dark before the dawn. And then the miracle happens and the hero triumphs.

Write for a star. We all want to feel important and the star of our life. Make the story interesting. Require deep emotion from the actor. Let them be eager to add your story to their career. Let people want to say that they have helped you. Be something others wish to be associated with. Have a noble cause.

Having read this I see so many stories in a new light. Also the story of my life. I struggle to decide whether I am now on an adventure or resisting the call to one. One moment I feel that my true purpose is out there, not sitting here and drilling pointless maths. The next I accept that drilling is necessary for success and something that has to be done.  Whether the villain is school and conformist culture or my own laziness and desire to fail.

This book is great. I recommend it to everybody who has ever watched a movie, completed a project despite resistance or told a story. Everyone. Because Nobody Wants To Read Your SH*T

To happiness, and beyond!

a perspective​ on money

Making money is just helping people in a bigger way.

I have decided to view money in a way that vastly simplifies it. As a reward for helping people. Interpreting this I realise that it does not have to be hard to make more than I would ever have a need for. I can also enjoy the process immensely as I have so many options available.

I know how to help people. In many small ways, I have done it in my life. I have washed dishes, made food, given hugs, explained my understanding of a concept to a classmate, written books reviews, given prep talks, organized hikes, drawn pictures, told stories, swept floors, shared trivia, told jokes, laughed at other people’s jokes, whistled a tune, navigated to a destination, played soccer, hide and seek, touchers, chess, charades, Monopoly, Go and many other games both physical and mental. I have recently passed my learner’s licence so I am authorised to drive a car(with another driver next to me).

I am sure that I could think of many more ways that I have helped people – by making them feel good. And most of these activities made me feel good as well. I mostly had no struggle in gaining the skills needed to perform these tasks. Most of them I learned by following instructions or trying and then learning from my mistakes.

In doing these things I never assumed that I would do only it for all eternity. Or that because I had done that I could not do anything else. If I wanted to do something else I just did it. At no point in time did the current activity bind forever. Yet how many people never change their careers even if they hate it? For complex skills, I went through periods of learning before I had sufficient mastery to help in those ways.

Just because you have a certain career does not mean that is the full extent of the helping you can do. It is merely a commitment to help in a certain capacity for a defined part of your day. You are always free to start helping people in different ways and change  where you allocate most of your time.

I have the belief that all things in life are ultimately figure-out-able. I will be able to figure it out. In my lifetime humanity went from floppy discs to smartphones and soon driverless cars. Forget the future! We are already living in science fiction. All because people figured it out.

It is possible to view money with a mindset of competition and scarcity, but this is less true every day. Murder is at an all-time low and there is less war than any other time in written history. Many formerly impoverished countries are quickly catching up and growing large middle classes. Green technology is advancing by leaps and bounds so soon we will not even need to pollute animals’ habitats to live awesome lives.

I will figure out complex skills that allow me to massively improve many people’s lives. For the moment all my basic needs and then some are taken care of so I can just focus on learning enjoyable skills. Life really is a lot of fun.

To happiness, and beyond!

Being present

Another perspective on being present.

Your brain works by forming patterns of neurons that fire together in predictable ways to create meaning. The patterns are like paths trod into the veld, like tiny rivers that flow through the spongy mush of your brain. With many repetitions, they erode it away until they become deep gullies, almost impossible to escape from. If you just let your mind go and pay no conscious attention then the water of daily stimulation just runs down familiar paths and etch them still deeper.

To be present is to deliberately choose where the water flows. You can direct it onto new paths and form new connections with new perspectives.  If you are not present you take the road of least resistance. You follow the patterns already done a million times. Like a wheel spinning without touching the ground, you run very fast and get nowhere. By activating old, familiar patterns you stay mostly the same and live in the past.

Not being present is a lot easier. You do not have to learn or change. Your subconscious baby loves this. It can predict what is going to happen and knows how to handle it.  There is no fresh pain, no fresh disappointment. Just comfortable homoeostasis. There are no unknowns.

If you are present you might notice that your mental models are completely wrong. Then you have to build a new mental model or even more than one. This is a lot of work, so your brain avoids it. It has worked so far, right? If you continue on this path of no change then the only way you will grow is if you fail. Only when absolutely forced to do so will you change. To paraphrase the fantasy author Terry Pratchett: “It’s time to drag you kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.”

If you continue on this path of no change then the only way you will grow is if you fail. Only when absolutely forced to do so will you change. As the fantasy author, Terry Pratchett said: “It’s time to drag you kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.”

Or you can stay ahead of the curve. You can seek to find flaws in your models before they lead to catastrophes. You can welcome change and enjoy having new experiences. You can play with life and grow with joy instead of to avoid pain. So wake up, activate your prefrontal cortex and start living!

To happiness, and beyond!

 

The University of Success by Og Mandingo

Rating:5/5

One sentence: A great book densely packed on how to be successful and enjoy your success.

Another book liberated from storage, it looked interesting and proved well worth the time. The book is made up of 50 sections from personal development celebrities and authors. Each section is a few pages and has an introduction from Og Mandingo.

Some sections were pure gold and deserve to be read many more times. Others were meh and did not really offer anything new. still others were verbiage – after reading them I did not feel as if anything had been said. The section on how to dress I did not find useful at all. This book was printed in 1982 so not only is the advice out of date, it is also extremely conservative. That might be a good route to success but I do not think that new success should come from the blind imitation of old success’s clothing.

When reading this book I had a 7-day chain of success in my skill I was measuring. That combined with this book and a few shifts in perception have left me in a really good place. I feel happy and feel confident that I will be able to maintain and expand on this upwards cycle.

I do not have to feel bad to do good. I function better when I feel good so I have decided to use positivity as my motivation. More than half of the time I was not doing what I really wanted to because I felt bad.

The lesson where they discussed The Will To Fail was really relevant for me. A little known theory of Freud, that we contain the will towards death. The Will To Fail is the opposite of the will to live that allows people to keep striving in spite of all the odds. The Will to Fail is when we act so that we will fail despite all odds.

I was definitely creating failure. One reason is that if I failed I could give up responsibility and just blame external circumstances. This is false because we are always responsible for our own lives and choices. The other reason was that I thought if I tried to get matric and failed then I could fulfil my own prediction and finally follow my dream of doing parkour professionally. This was pure cowardice. I was the only one standing in my way.

I was the only one standing in my way. Realising that I did not have to fail at someone else’s dream to have permission to follow my own. I did not have to destroy my living for other people before I could live for myself. I want a matric and I want to learn maths. I want to be able to study further if I so desired and I also want the math skills needed to understand complex problems. Nobody is forcing me, I am choosing it.

Many of the lessons talked about gratefulness. This lesson I had learnt and then forgotten. I am very grateful to have learned it again.

Many talked about how your thoughts create your reality, how you can have everything you work for, how it is up to you to make your dreams come true. The way that you do this is by giving more than you get. If you persistently put more into your work, your relationships, your attitude then you are marked for success. Most of us want the same things. Recognition. Love. Support. Purpose. The way that you receive these is by giving them to the other person.

To the degree that you help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.

From Benjamin Franklin and others, I learned that criticism is not useful and is actively harmful. This is a big change that I will eventually make. I am appalled by the damage I have done through all my criticism. I can only be grateful for everybody that put up with my insecure lashing out. Because non-acceptance of other people stemmed from not accepting myself. That has also improved.

Great book well worth the 500 pages to read. Applying the principles in this book will give you more material to work with than you need in one lifetime, with some left over. It helped me start moving forward again.

To happiness, and beyond!

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Patton

Rating: 5/5

One sentence: A great book about the political and economic divides that have to a large extent defined the history of South Africa

As a result of our move to Johannesburg, many of our books have come to light and are now on our bookshelves that were previously just stored out of sight in the garage. Out of boredom I have gone through the books that were previously visible many times and had read all those that seemed interesting. The effect is very similar to suddenly buying a lot of books.

This book is famous and like many others, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was not disappointed and surprised to find how much of this book is still highly relevant today.

The story is of a black rural pastor that goes to the big city of Johannesburg to find his sister and son who went there searching for work and have stopped sending letters. He is amazed and totally overwhelmed by his first contact with busy streets, bright lights and hordes of people.

Almost directly after arrival a misfortune befalls him and it is only the start of his story.He finds his sister and is appalled to learn that she works as a prostitute in a bad neighbourhood and neglects her son. Searching for his son he hears reports that he had fallen into bad ways and that his son was probably a thief.

A murder that is typical of the high crime prevalent then (and now) befalls one of the prime supporters of repressed black people whose previous way of life had been destroyed by the mining industry without creating any cultural framework to replace the moral code that they had lost.

This story accurately portrays the inner thoughts and emotions of people caught up in an unjust social order with rising tensions moving towards conflict. It tells of people caught up in circumstances beyond their control and amidst the pain and fear how people can find redemption and forgiveness.

It is poetically written with phrases such as

“But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.”

Or:

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

He speaks of the interplay between justice and being just when the laws of a land are corrupt.

“The Judge does not make the law. It is people that make the law. Therefore if a law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the law, that is justice, even if it is not just.”

Some things have changed since this book was written. That is not surprising. What is surprising is how much has stayed the same. Despite a new constitution. Despite 20 years of democracy and full political representation. 50 years after being written, I can read it and it feels like a story that happened yesterday, or could happen tomorrow.

This book taught me more about my country than any other. I taught much about the human condition. Some parts I knew but could not express and others I have not encountered in my sheltered upbringing. I cried reading this book. I cried for a country that is moving forward slowly if it is moving forward at all.

To happiness, and beyond!