A blockchain: a distributed, append-only ledger of provably signed, sequentially linked and cryptographically secured transactions replicated across a network of computer nodes with ongoing updates determined by a software-driven consensus.*
All companies die
Remember QXL? You were meant to pronounce it Quick Sell but the Silicon valley translation got lost somewhere over the pond and so in London in the late 1990’s we all said Queue Excel. It was an online auction site. One of many. In the end only AuctionBay survived, changing its name to eBay along the way.
Jennicam. Boo.com Webvan???
You could order hot muffins at MuffinTheMail or fresh lobster from one of my clients in Battersea in 1999 who ran RedLobster.com. I still have a collection of rare business cards from the dot com boom.
If you lived in London at the time it seemed that the world wide web, when it finally jumped off the information superhighway of unilateral non-hyperlinked crude text, began to take shape as a creative extension of dial-a-take-out. For yuppies. And you had to live in London Zone 6 at the outside. The supply chain system couldn’t cope with anything beyond that.
Four years earlier I was working in the ad sales team at the Tottenham Court Road offices of The Financial Times, selling ads into Financial Advisor and Pensions Management. We all had a phone and a box of A-Z index cards, pens and paper. Ninety-five. Nineteen not eighteen.
You wanted a letter typing up you hand wrote it or yelled it out from the top of your head to Kay – the department’s secretary and I mean secretary in the take a letter Miss Jones sense. 9 to 5. Dolly Parton. Lily Tomlin. Jane Fonda.
I was faxing handwritten orders to clients in Riyadh and Redhill. Kinda cool. Cutting edge. When my colleague Dan and I both bought Dancall DC1 mobile phones on Orange we’d sit with our teams in winebars on Charlotte Street and get laughed at because we had nobody to call. We could leave voicemail on landlines for our friends and family to collect in the evenings but no one else had a mobile. Pre-network effect.
Right about now I feel the need to declare that I am forty-seven not one-hundred and forty-seven.
One day a line of what looked like removal men marched through the office, each with a large square brown cardboard box over his shoulder. We were getting computers. It was still to be a good while before we got online and even then it was 56K copperline wires. No broadband for many years. That was OK because hardly anyone could type and many of my fellow workers had gotten through school and college without using MS DOS or as much as a microfiche.
Are You Ready For Windows 95? shouted the adverts all down the Northern line from Warren Street to Balham. My daily commute.
Turns out we were not.
About ten of us crowded around Emily’s desk when she clicked her mouse with the cursor on the big blue lower-case letter e that was supposed to show us what the fuss was all about. Nothing happened. e-world just sat there – a spinning globe icon full of empty promise. This was Internet Explorer. Everyone bangs on about the outrageous Bill Gates scooping up Marc Andreeson’s free-for-all (open source) Netscape Navigator only to shut it down so you had to bag a desktop (no laptops yet) with a Microsoft operating system to get a browser worthy of the name but in media in London at that time it didn’t really matter. None of us were even up to taking advantage. We didn’t even know we didn’t know.
But some of my leftfield clients knew. Financial service consultants and their investors, turned out, were quite geeky. Mainly men and wealthy men at that with money to buy PC’s and an intellectual curiosity to see what they could do, my ad sales pitches over the office landline would degenerate into my listening to some guy at least ten years my senior working a financial advisor’s desk in a mock Tudor office above a bookshop in Tonbridge or Guildford or Leatherhead, banging on about the net. I could have killed myself. I was understanding just about every other word of the junk coming out of his mouth and worst of all, when I finally got onto the internet there was nothing but text lists and code. It was like a literature version of Citizens Band radio. Even AOL newsgroups (the very first social media I came across) were years off not to mention chatrooms. ASL if you don’t mind. (age, sex, location).
Give it a year, we all thought. It’ll never last.
We tend to misread the signs of things to come and form premature negative conclusions based more on our lack of understanding than our prescience or any penchant for realising accurate predictions. We are predictably rubbish at predicting stuff. You can bank on it.
Boo.com and Webvan were not the message coming off the world wide web. They were just the signals of another wider message. We couldn’t hear it.
Similarly, Bitcoin is not the message of Bitcoin. It is a signal of a wider message. Digital cryptocurrency is not it. The Singularity – the narrative that computers take over from humans running the human world is not it. Too many Hollywood movies, huh? Too often the eponymous star of the show and its accompanying hyperbole are not messages nor are they signals. They are noise. But take a closer look.
Two things have already happened:
- With a market value of over $160B, Bitcoin has never been hacked. It has no firewalls or security mechanisms plugged into it. Everyone has tried. It wasn’t born yesterday it is ten years old already.
- Last year £1.5B was raised in a matter of weeks for this platform’s wave of start-ups without any venture capitalist firms, angel investors or investment banks having been courted or pitched. No band of cool new silicon kids went cap in hand to the men in suits.
It has not been hacked because there is nothing to hack. There is no central depository of value anywhere. A secondary point is that the thief, in successfully breaching, would devalue the loot they pocketed. But it is secondary.
The way Bitcoin’s successors raise money to get a slice of the action is in itself a massive signal containing a message of what potential lay ahead. These are called ICO’s or Initial Coin Offerings. No more on ICO’s here. Suffice to say that in entirely bypassing the gatekeepers of the investment community (VC’s, equity firms, friends & family and angels) and signalling up ahead to stockmarkets of their forthcoming obsolescence when the need to scale-up arises, to even get funding to play while first movers were desperately trying to persuade the wider public of the magic of Bitcoin and failing majestically, unbeknown to them their very own behaviour, their body languages – if you like – were delivering the best advertisement for the thing in question. Poetry in motion.
The signal was never Bitcoin. The signal is the blockchain. The core message is decentralised verified records with no human control and no central computer leadership. Incentivised consensus. Torrents of bits. No nations. No centre. No manifest identifiable infrastructure. No thing. So nothing to attack. Append-only, so no rewriting history. Global replication so unanimous transparent bookkeeping devoid of human agendas. Replace fibre with quantum entanglement and replication won’t even be just speed-of-light fast. It will be simultaneous. Everything will happen all at once. Literally. The alleged weakness of the internet is that it can be turned off, built as it was on a military-based circuit of connections. But what happens when blockchain runs internet-free on quanta? Try turning that off, Einstein.
The cryptography is something else. Think Alan Turing and the German Enigma code. The code scrambling is a method of ensuring transactional security while protecting personal identity but it is much more than that. In the blockchain, cracking codes is also a method of mining the currencies that incentivises the miners to behave well. It is known as proof of work and ensures protocol obedience. You can kinda tell that crypto rebels or cypherpunks ran blockchain from the off because every solution to every infrastructural or baseline conceptual problem involves cracking a code. I think this bamboozles tourists.
Bitcoin, it is estimated, will finish mining from its blockchain in the year 2140**. Ethereum mines its currency Ether and Tezos mines the Tez but already these models of incentivizing computers to record the truth and organise without humans and without a leading computer at the head of the project is being updated so fast as to make bit mining per se look – well – not so much obsolete but at least a little puriticanal and naive in terms of the grand design total solution. Ethereum encourages decentralised apps (Dapps) and smart contracts whose veracity is underwritten by the blockchain to drive commercial behaviour on top of the ledger but not inside it, bypassing time restrictions and money taxes that feed off limited block memory.
Bit mining and blocks and dapps and ether? I’m not high. I sound like a web geek in the late nineties. My earlier point still stands. Don’t let the noise of the terminology let you lose sight of the signal harbingers.
Ethereum is a blockchain of blockchains and the Ether being mined may be getting bought in Bitcoin and dollars and pounds, but the essence of Ethereum is that the tokens and the mined currency are not for spending anywhere – in contrast to the eponymous bell-weather cryptocurrency – but rather are coded uniquely for the Dapps stakeholders on any given project – making it more likely that we can incentivise good things that currently are not happening. ***Read on.
The native global reserve currencies – US Dollars, gold, British Sterling and the Euro may never be replaced. But that was never the boast or the hope or the message of Bitcoin. It never had or has this goal. It is finding its way in the dark, fully aware that the first guys through the door always get shot. It is getting shot but the door is now open.
Bitcoin is just Jennicam for the blockchain gang
Security, cutting out the middleman (banks, agents, stock and commodity exchanges, parents, registrars, governments, lawyers, auditors, clubs, utility providers) and delivering a closer record of the truth than any human bookkeeper or accountant ever did or ever could. Privacy – currently pseudonymity but working toward anonymity. Transactional freedom.
Land deed titles. Births. Deaths. Marriages. Passports. Sales without a central processor. Imagine selling the power from your solar panels to your neighbour without having to first sell it to EON or Iberdrola (Scottish Power) for them to slice off their fee. Imagine transacting without VISA and AMEX fees and commissions. Imagine truthful media. Accommodating refugees without gangs stealing their food coupons. How about food supply chain systems without TESCO. Undistorted crime figures where domestic violence incidence, child safety and drug use per locality are not politically swayed pre-publication to massage estate land values. Minus Scotland yard.
An education system without everyone scoring A’s just so the staff and politicians grab performance bonuses. Minus centralised curricular and examination boards. Real education without the corrupt government bottleneck. You know, not free training for wealthy corporate employers disguised as education so, just as my parents ran from their excuse of a school in the 1950’s to the factory chorus of sewing machines and cotton bobbins like good little Lemmings, it’s 2019 and hoards of college grads “learn” web coding so they can be good little php programmers for some entrepreneurial guy who can afford to feed his or her family. Education does not mean training up the working classes for white slavery “careers” at the behest of the upper middles. Education is an end in itself and as such has been stolen entirely from generations of pre-programmed children and young adults for at least thirty years in the UK. Like banks, law, media, politics and the corporate free market, education is trashed. Let’s go get it back then.
How about medicines for rare diseases for a small population that doesn’t seem commercially viable to sink R&D funds into?
All companies die
Filecoin raised $252M at a crowd-sale in August 2017. Filecoins incentivise all of us to contribute our computer’s unused hard drives to the Interplanetary File System or IPFS. Thus, decentralising the world wide web and emasculating the server farm kings. I personally see this as a white paper or test run before we decentralise cloud computing. How glorious! Pulling the rug from under The Gaffer (GAFA – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) by simply changing the game. All companies die. But with the blockchain, I’d wager that some will die faster than others.
And my favourite to date, which is still very Bitcoin-informed and probably says something about my inability to fully grasp the magnitude of the new trust medium: working immigrants sending remissions home to their families. Here in Manchester, England that means all of my lovely Polish, Portuguese, Nigerian, Italian, Pakistani, Iranian, Syrian, Baltic, Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian, South African, US and German friends catching a break. One global currency with no central bank means people get a leg up. For once. Blockchain is for the people precisely because it is not by the people. It re-localises and changes shape so you can’t catch it.
Imagine just beyond your own generation-bound constricted imagination. Just out of personal reach, perhaps. A glimpse of a future that will always pan out different to how we foresee it now. Imagine that.
Get a life
Personal data. Money. Food. Oil. Water. Knowledge. Many other such means of communication. All are centralised and the gatekeepers run your life. Entertainment. Travel. Bodily consumption. Many other such means of chilling out and being leisurely. (think petrol, alcohol and your TV license). Even such recreational things are licensed and the licensor runs your life.
You are just points on a social graph. A little ball of energy to be objectified, commoditised and monetised. For now….
Blockchain is currently mining
Here comes the truth machine. The lawyers, the bankers, the FBI, all government agencies the planet over, all guardians of the nation-state model and holders of centralised power: all such robber-baron gang leaders are quaking in their boots. But blockchain is currently mining and it cannot be stopped because nobody, computer or human, is in charge, it is not run from any central servers, it cannot be place-located and it replicates faster than the web-spun lies of power-drunk human beings.
Q What is blockchain? A I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Fifty years on, let’s finally get this net thing started. The world wide web and apps are schoolboy errors.
Blockchain. Coming to a spaceport town near you. Move along. Move along. These really ARE the droids we’re looking for.
Thanks for reading.
We are one
*The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and The Future of Everything by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna
** The ten-minute pay-outs to miners has halved, denominationally, every four years since Bitcoin’s inception. It is the exponential calculation of this pattern which predicts mine closure in the year 2140. Yet this does not guarantee the 2140 date.
***Off-chain incentives supporting the blockchain truth machine include SAFT’s or Special Agreements for Future Tokens. Firms raise cash by selling behavioural and missionary promissory contracts and then use the funds raised to carry such promises out. Buyers have to be accredited investors, thereby warding off SEC regulations which activate when investors originate from public, not exclusive pools.
Banking on Bitcoin: an eighty minute documentary now showing on Netflix UK.
The Search for Satoshi: Christopher Cannucciari’s documentary.
Relax. You are going to die.
Doing and waiting are layers we build on top of being. Oft they began as volitional. Eventually it came to pass that we couldn’t stop.
The thing about To Do Lists – clue in the name – is that they tend to contain things to do. On and on they go. Stacked up. That’s the thing about lists. They list stuff. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be. All things are that which they are. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The thing about all vehicles of anticipation; queues and waiting rooms, departure and arrival lounges, holding patterns, lines, unfulfilled orders, waiting your turn, first-come-first-serve attendance systems, check-ins, checkouts, track-your-order facilities, book early to avoid disappointment and your call is important to us, you are fifth in the queue, don’t hang up ways of living is that you are wasting your life. You have become an instrument of clock time and clock time doesn’t even exist. The dogs and the birds and the horses seem to be doing just fine without Sunday 21st July 2019 at 1815 hrs or whatever time you make it whenever you make it and for why. Even sillier than To Do Lists, here you are waiting To Do. You’re not even doing anything and you’ve turned it into a thing. Sit in a waiting room or jump into a line and see what happens. You’ll be waiting. If you were not, it wouldn‘t be that which it is.
But it is.
Just under waiting and doing, being shimmers. Inviolable and vast, she is constance. She contains all you ever need.
Heartstone. Oasis in the water.
More accurately, she contains all of you by removing the illusion of need. Only when you are truly with her will you know that she is all there is to be within. Everything else is without.
All of your life you have chosen to be without. Why are you doing this?
Dial down the background noise. Strip everything back.
You can’t see her as she is surrounded by things that blot her out. The emptiness of being and the humility of her silence drown in the grim kinetic cacophony of quotidian nonsense that is all of your own making.
You are conducting the orchestra. You are filing complaints like the quiet neighbour invaded by nuisance.
The secret is in being while you wait. The secret is in letting go of doing and being wider and deeper and being more often. Cut out the middle man. Most problems don’t get solved. They get un-existed by non-doing.
We live in a highly action-oriented society. You tend to be valued for what you do. You tend to value other people for what they do.*
When was the last time you valued someone for what they didn’t ?
The most disruptive form of doing and waiting is thinking.
Your thoughts are just your thoughts.**
They are not your life. They are your thoughts.
Make a room as big as the sky in your mind. Your thoughts can be clouds that float through.
Some of your thoughts are clear. Some of your thoughts are muddy. Belief is just a thought.
An open mind isn’t attached to thinking or belief.
Thoughts can be a jail.
Watching them coming and going lets you out to play in the universe.
Please enjoy watching your thoughts come and go.
Come out to play
You will learn this sitting quietly.
In fact, sitting quietly and being yourself is the highest of arts.
When you learn to sit quietly, this is the same thing as being Buddha.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Sitting quietly can teach you many ways to accept life, meet pain, age gracefully, care for your body, accept your feelings, give thoughts room, be who you are, live each moment well, be surprised, wonder, be grateful, do no harm, benefit life, contribute, heal, serve, devote, commune, accept change and grow.
Cherish your life here. Now.
You don’t have to be religious or take on new grave philosophical commitments. You don’t have to be traditional or conventional. Nor must you be cool and on-trend. There is nothing new to learn, intuit or understand.
You don’t have to be, get or do anything. You don’t have to begets the futility of doing anything. You are.
Get tar for the targets and feather them. Perforate the form of performance. Find the absolute (I didn’t say relative) gaping hole in every point of every goal. You wear your pursuit of them around your head like a blindfold, genius.
In the modern world with your phone and your high speed way of thinking and your non-stop behavioural tics. Even your hopelessness is hope. Even your loneliness is bliss. You don’t know it but you’re so beautiful. You can start here and end here. Just do it. You’ll see.
You are Buddha in blue jeans.
Thanks for reading.
We are one
- *These three sentences are written in today’s Gospel Reflection. This is the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time in Year C of the Roman Catholic liturgy. When Martha complains that she is doing all the work while Mary is just sat listening to Jesus, it is pointed out that undoing, not doing, is often “the better part of us”. Stop! Is the message for my 1.2 billion Catholic brothers and sisters today. God bless you all.
- **This line and the following nine lines that fall away from it are a direct quote from Tai Sheridan: Buddha in Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Simple Zen Guide To Sitting Quietly, copyright 2011.
Welcome to the house of Zen which has no walls, doors, windows or roof, joining fee, visiting hours, name, membership, rules, location, leader, host, agenda or selection criteria. Pour yourself a glass of cold water. You are here.
Some knowledge is a gateway to unlearning. Some behaviours are a type of knowledge.
Know that you are a creative being, devoid of essence and identity. Hiding in constructed identities. Regain your psychological confidence in being able to self-generate. How? Let me show you…
Buffer zones: serenity now
Notice how at the cinema or the theatre, before the show starts the lights in the auditorium dim about one minute before the main presentation. Consider the function of the amber light on a set of traffic lights on UK roads. Or the warm-up band at a live music gig. A hundred and fifty years ago the Victorian middle classes all had parlours and corridors and reception rooms built into the design of their houses. The drawing room was short for the withdrawing room. They were hardly knocking out still lifes in pencil and crayon. Withdrawing from what? And consider the waiting room at your local dentist surgery or the starter course option at the restaurant. What are they actually for? And likewise, the Quiet carriage or the Converse carriage (in Germany) on long distance trains. In my local church in the entrance chamber the sign says Talk to God before Mass. Talk to each other after. Why not the other way round? Why am I encouraged to be quiet even before the sermon begins?
These are all buffer zones of varying shapes, sizes, durations, colours and names. Some are even inverted and fail to exist in the material world. And they are here, in part, to enable us to psychologically and physically adjust into a mood or a new state of mind and body that will be required for an upcoming project. You can’t just change gear. You are not a machine. You need to prepare to change gear by way of trial or rehearsal.
Buffer zones make the change seem less sudden. They are cushions that nurse, usher and guide our delicate mental states, should we be wise enough to let them do so.
Your success and failure in terms of your ability to fully optimise the upcoming mental and behavioural task is dependent on them for they are the kernel of essential preparation.
Modern life. Smart phones. Social media. Performance goals. Our ambition to succeed. The magnification of mental constructs. The beatification of me-ness. The deification of clock-time. The dematerialisation of stuff from camera film and CD’s to money and books and shops and meeting places which all became ethereal binary code. These harbingers of speed. All such things have eroded the buffer zones. Without them, even routine daily living can feel stressful and without boundaries things tend to lose their meaning. Yet this is merely a very modern problem.
You can build buffer zones. For yourself. Now. For free. Easily and quickly.
Here is a dozen – ideas, that is – to get you started;
- Create at least two periods of your day when you are fully awake without any connection to any electronic device. The internet or a phone line, music, or TV. A thirty minute period after you have showered in the morning and a thirty minute period before you brush your teeth and head to bed. Then, how about a third at mid-point? This is the buffer zone of tranquility. What’s that? You cannot possibly sit around idle for an hour. Wow! How very self-important you are. Have you heard yourself? Like, get a room already Narcissus.
- Do not eat within one hour of waking up. Let your organs breathe instead of putting them to work the second you are able to. They deserve a waking rest. Experience the emptiness. Do not eat between meals and make sure you have a maximum of three light meals per day. Always be seated when you are eating and drinking. Yes even water. You don’t see consummate professional athletes drinking and moving at the same time. If you did it was a high exception that proves the rule. What’s that? You need to eat breakfast? You have to? Don’t be so weak. It’s just a bad habit you can quickly unlearn. You sound like an addict already. Those verbs are red flags. This is the buffer zone of digestion. No one talks about breakfast. Virtually all people with carb related health issues casually trot out the mantra Don’t you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? They think everyone says it. They think they’re delivering an insight but they’re just reeling off a rote myth. Virtually all seriously healthy people either skip breakfast or push it back.
- When you enter a room with a person or people in it, at work or at home, don’t be the first to speak. You needn’t listen. Just don’t speak. When you speak, always say less than is necessary. I find Machievelli unhelpful and strategically needy yet here is an exception. This is Rule 4 of Robert Green’s The Forty-Eight Laws of Power. Always say less than is necessary. Not less than you can or might. Less than you should. Aim low. The buffer zone of quality dialogue. Likewise, when replying to text or email never type fresh into the reply space. This is at best really slack and at worst seriously damaging. Who do you think you are, Shakespeare? What are you a professional stand up comedian now? A hip hop artist in a live battle? Get real. Open Notes or GoogleDriveDocs or a draft window and type first here. Run it through Grammarly. Wait ten minutes. Read it on a different device in a new location. Edit. Re-read. Now make the transfer to the reply space and hit send. Jeez! You’re like a chimp with a semi-automatic.
- If you read a lot, switch your screen text for printed words on paper. Try paper books in conjunction with or instead of eBooks. Make them bounce off each other. Get natural daylight behind you and then start to prepare your reading material. Do not hold the hardware that contains the words. Use an easel. The analogue buffer zone into digital.
- Prepare a buffer zone between wakefulness and sleep. You tend to start reflecting on the days activities when your head hits the pillow. Do not ever do this. Reflect in the waking state before you enter the bedroom or even start preparing to power everything down and enter the bedroom. Then commence the approach into sleep. This is a classic buffer zone of mental deceleration. Use the lane to slow down. Don’t just turn off the motorway at full speed into A roads and expect there to be no consequences. High quality replenishing, healing sleep is not something you can medicate. You have to earn it by aligning to it.
- Know that you don’t know how to listen. Listening is not hearing nor committing to memory nor understanding nor sympathising nor even deep and wholesome comprehension. You are always trying to fit the message of the speaker into your existing framework of truth. Nodding along. That internal voice going yes I agree or no I don’t think so. But this is judging-as-you-listen behaviour. Attaching a value the instant the words arrive. This is not listening at all. Pause…..…..not to think or analyse or play back…….just to pause. You think it sends a complementary (enhancing) and complimentary (praiseworthy) message to the speaker – that you are listening because you are thinking their words over. It doesn’t. You are not. This is the buffer zone of bracketing because to truly listen you must bracket every value and belief and truth you ever held and receive the speaker with a pure open mind. Like children do.
Do what you always did, get what you always got
- If you work out in the gym leave your phone in the locker. If you do not work out in the gym find a non-gym based locker and leave your phone in it. If you have a face to face meeting up ahead, do not mute your devices or send them to voicemail. Don’t even turn them off and keep them about your person. Leave them behind in another secure location. Smartphone media is a bodily extension so get it off your body and out of your body’s reach and out of your body’s sensory extended reach to truly make it go away. Don’t and it will own you. Think about how you are choosing to be owned daily and what kind of example this is setting to those who have chosen to make you a role model. What kind of message pertaining to self-value do you think you are conveying? And not just to your charges. How about to yourself? Isn’t this form of self-abuse the most damaging exactly because it is incessant, progressive, unmonitored, socially acceptable, seemingly innocuous and soft at the edges? What’s that? You suffer smartphone separation anxiety? What are you a child now? Make yourself and your colleagues place all your digital devices onto a tray and leave it out of the meeting room and out of sight and out of earshot. Wow! It’s like you’re right back with the humans again! Use DoNotDisturb even when you are free to be disturbed. Use Airline mode even when you are standing on the earth miles from the airport. At social dinners make yourself and all of your guests place all your digital devices onto a tray and leave it out of the dining room and out of sight and out of earshot. Wow! It’s like you’re right back with your friends and family again! Make the ceremony feel as natural as the request that guests remove their shoes at the threshold or wash their hands. In fact, if you suspect you have guests in your midst who don’t wash their hands, maybe rethink your social network. Not this pretend one. Your actual real network of living breathing 3D sentient beings. The buffer zone of physical detachment.
- Switch your shower for a bath in the evening, dim the lights to candles. Burn citronella or incense. Use oils to change the viscosity of the bath water. You are creating a powerful environ to nurture bliss or non-thought. And you know where the smartphone’s gonna be. This is not below thought like most sensory material and narcotic decoys. It is above thought. An alert awareness. The emptiness of non-cognitive clarity. A state not a behaviour. The opposite of cleverness. Anathema to attachment. The environmental buffer zone of meditative priming.
- Some buffer zones manifest in the annihilation of continued activity that might preclude their existence. In voicemail messages, always close the loop. Americans have nailed this. It is an issue peculiar to the British. At work or at home, when you have information to convey and you dial and hit voicemail, never leave a message that amounts to please call me back I have that data you needed. Load the data into the VM. When you’re all about Call me I have what you need you just made yourself the centre of things and smashed up the efficiency of information transfer. Now, it’s clear that you like to be needed and that you’re partial to a phone call. We get it. You are desperate for a ring. But there’s no need to get all Gollum about it. Close the loop. End it. Like a band-aid on an open wound that needs removing. Don’t pussy-foot around like the egg-shell queen. One good yank. Nail it. Call time on the game and move on. The buffer zone of release. Just let go.
- With actual physical journeys, build a walking buffer zone between the final transport facility and the destination. This is both a mental and metabolic assist. Give yourself a non-temporal break. Give yourself a fighting chance to readjust. Lap up the liminal space. Park up a couple of blocks out. Alight the bus, tram, el, streetcar a stop or two early. Call time on the Uber shy of the office. Fly in the day prior and jog the municipal park or the hotel boundary. Come on, let’s see a sign of life and a modicum of self-respect. They say you truly die for good when the last person who knew you dies. One hundred years tops and it’s all over so lets get with it huh. The spatial buffer zone.
If the yellow brick road is broken take the stairs
- Surround yourself with people of higher chakra energy fields. You know; love, creativity, intuition, unity, compassion, direction, resilience, connectivity, authenticity, hope, focus, charity, contribution, joy, gratitude, grace, peace, OK-ness. And ditch the survival, sensation, power, ego brigade. The vainglorious worshippers of image. The reputation demagogues. Money honeys. Like a band-aid huh. No easy way to do it. So just do it. The community buffer zone.
- And finally, in terms of thoughts and feelings: the realisation that your thoughts and feelings are not yours. That they are separate from you – that you are not and never were and never will be them – that you are off to one side as a witness, experiencing them – is the keystone of emotional intelligence. That your security, pain, successes, suffering, hurt, failures, anxieties, dreams and insurmountable problems and greatest ever achievements are not the thing. That they are just the things that get you to the thing. And that in the end the thing is actually the non-thing of self-awareness and the self is itself a non-self in a room full of moonlight, all empty of essence. Illuminessence. The no-thing. The buffer zone of all buffer zones. King of snake. Kundalini rising. The space between.
- OK. It’s a baker’s dozen. When you fail, and fail miserably, and you will, as we all do and will continue to do, please let yourself off and just start over. The progress you made before the slip is not undone by the slip. Such corrupted cognition is the narrative logic of the little voice in your head – the incessant self-critic – and you could sure use learning how to silence or ignore it because beating yourself up doesn’t get you anywhere. If anything, it promotes self-loathing which increases the likelihood of you going off-piste again in the near future. Failure is part of the path to success. It’s an essential aspect of how we learn. Your failures are absolutely valid, as are you, all the time. Failing encourages us to change the way we go at a problem. We are forced to find alternative ways of working things out. If the yellow brick road is broken take the stairs. And when we slightly adjust our approach we slightly adjust the results. Success is just failure slightly adjusted. Do what you always did – get what you always got. Your sense of self-worth and value is innate. Get to a point where you know this. Failure promotes change and change in this context is growth. So get failing. Feel the remorseful ache and the dead-end paralysis of failure. The dull metallic slap of stone cold rejection. You have now entered the growth arena. And you earned it. And it didn’t kill you did it? Keep going. You’re kind of invincible. The buffer zone of resilient momentum. Born of self-acceptance and patience.
Things you can do today
- Go take a walk in the rain and listen to the sound it makes on your local environment.
- Actively locate and listen to the silence and learn how it can help empty your mind of thoughts. Listen as described above. Learn to denote the instructive messages and healing advice of silence. Learn how silence can exist behind noise. How you can summon her even beyond the daily radio. Even amidst the chaos.
- Earth your body. Stand or walk barefoot on the earth – on the grass outdoors for a fifteen minute period each weekend.
These simple ancient techniques, many applied here to modern debris and litter, cost nothing. Your quality of life will improve in leaps and bounds should you choose to engage. To play. The improvements do not know a timeline. They occur instantly. Out of time. Satori.
Heart not head
If you are puzzled and find yourself asking how any of this can work then you are definitely ready to begin. Because you are thinking too much. And I’m guessing you probably don’t even know it. Any argument countering my thread may indeed be valid. However, it is coming from your cognitive and intellectual centres. So you are definitely ready to begin. Because you are thinking too much. And I’m guessing you probably don’t even know it. Doubtless your pride and ego are firing sublime and crude forms of resistance as the realisation dawns that here in the modern world of individual entitlement and personal rights is a person insisting that you humbly submit without intellectual question. This is OK. It simply means that you are definitely ready to begin. Because you are thinking too much. And I’m guessing you probably don’t even know it.
Thanks for reading.
We are one
I will eat his heart in the marketplace*
agora: a central public gathering location or marketplace in ancient Greece
A straight line can be described with mathematical precision as a curve. A theory, at least in science, is something that has been tested and proved. Chaos is a form of order with strict organisational rules and an underlying pattern. The church is not a building. Infinity is not bigger or smaller than fifteen. Or eight thousand. Or ten million. Or five. The most popular European language on earth is not English. Vertigo has nothing to do with heights. Agoraphobia (agora) is not in any way concerned with open spaces. Quite the opposite.
The misconception that belies all of these words is multi-faceted. Rather than outing themselves, taking the floor and becoming the debate, such misconceptions are stealthy and opaque. For their media is the unstated consensus assumption. And as such, they are slippery fish.
For that which is unstated can hardly be contended, let alone dispelled. It shimmers in aloofness like old Etonians. Its bullet-proofness is not a jacket so much as an invisibility cloak.
The trouble with words, when left alone to fester, is that – worse than going away – they hang around causing trouble. They begin to imply things that overshoot their jurisdiction. Bobbing up every now and again and in doing so always causing fresh consternation, like motorway road cones after dark that smile idiotically into your headlights. They will neither disappear nor will they yield. They often mean that the next junction is inconvenience. They start messing everything up.
This is not the same as saying that prostitution has always been legal in the UK or saying that the English are recent mongrel immigrants or that trespassers can never ever be prosecuted. Because these are just rare facts that can easily be checked and verified or falsified. Well, verified, if you’d care to do the honours. My point is that such misconceptions are binary misconceptions. They come packaged with the potential for closure. You can put them to bed. This takes the sting out of them.
Do you want multi-faceted or binary misconceptions with your toast in the morning? That’s an easy one. You’d sooner have ones and noughts than some dense fog washing in off the coast with no boundaries or qualities of accurate affirmation.
You’d sooner know where you stood.
Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin is the writing on the wall. No, I mean literally.
This Hebrew phrase appeared as graffiti, if I may be so modern, and was written no more recently than 164 BC. I suspect that many people who give any sort of religion a wide berth, and for good reason, are now too far out to engage with even the basics. The Bible is not Christian – well – at least the Old Testament certainly is not.
You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
I love the Old Testament. It’s nuts. It is the basis for every horror movie you ever watched or hid away from. Electric read. The Scriptures of Wisdom. Boom! Wow! Who on earth got that down? It is profound and awesome. Like, literally.
Ha. There’s another. The bible is not Christian. Unstated consensus assumption says it is. But it is not.
Jesus of Nazareth was atheist. Yet these are weak. These are binary misconceptions. Easily checked off.
What about “blatantly obvious”? This is malapropism. That is, somebody nearly overheard somebody say “patently obvious” but misheard and began to use the malaprop. In other words, it is nonsense. It does not make sense but we get the intention.
Obviousness is a necessary precondition of blatancy. So their use, combined, in grammar, is a redundancy. Patently means uniquely. So that combo fires.
Blend together. After having. Actual fact. Pitch black. Added bonus. End result.
The volume of the application of grammatical redundancies is directly and negatively correlated to any society’s distribution of a standard classic education which in turn is negatively correlated to any society’s increase in average personal income. Redundancies are operating subconsciously. The richer we are the dumber we get. The dumber we get, the less likely it is to occur to us that the richer we are the dumber we get.
But back to basic learning strategies or “growth” as it was known in Ancient Greece;
When we don’t know something we can choose either to live with the ignorance (an under-rated bliss in my opinion) or set out in pursuit of an explanation.
But when we don’t know that we don’t know, even these two options are not on the table. We are denied the opportunity to live voluntarily with perceived ignorance nor may we set out to abolish it.
We are hoodwinked. Forever.
We think we know. And it is precisely this thought that does all the damage.
OK Coca Cola
Sick and Cool are quite fascinating. Worth a minute.
The former is like wicked and cosmic and groovy. You just get the feeling that it is trending. But underneath the trend is cool which is hanging around like a terrible smell.
It’s a trend nonetheless but a word that trends with such longevity becomes authenticated precisely because of that longevity. It joins the club. Such are the governing values of the Oxford English.
Longevity. Stickiness. This is all that words are, or more accurately, this is all that the meaning of words is.
Words are trains for moving past what really has no name.
No. They are, in collective, constituent parts of windows on the world. Beyond the moment, gathered up into sentences into stories into books that are more or less lighthouses in a sea of time on a dark stormy night.
No. They are not to be defined by their spin-off qualities. They are engines of change. Let’s stick to their prime function.
Of course, all of this is conjecture.
Words are songs to learn and sing. Words tend to attach to the speaker such that, for instance, you or I will most likely be held accountable for the words we speak. Yet we are not them. I am not my words. Nor you yours. This illusion of representation is rife.
A board for hanging cups (cupboard) became a cabinet for stashing plates and food round about when? Round about the first generation after the American war of Independence. 1776. White landowners had to use words which native black American slaves would intuit as meaningful. So counterpane – the Victorian English word for duvet, became “bedspread”. Words now needed to be intuitive. Self-explanatory. Two old simple words welded together into a new one. Thus we have the foundation of all American English. Hillside. Highway. Sidewalk.
Does what it says on the tin innit.
I am a doughnut
On 26th June 1963 in West Berlin, President Kennedy of the US gave an anti-communist speech to the world. In a bid to show solidarity between the two nation states and in a bid to impress the locals he finished his speech with the words Ich bin ein Berliner.
The thing is, if I he was giving that same speech in Hamburg, would he have tried to say I am a Hamburger ?
Well, it turns out that a Berliner is a type of pastry pretty much usurping the function of doughnuts. He left the definite article in the sentence and therein changed its entire meaning. If only he hadn’t been too eager to please everything might not have fallen to pieces. There’s a lesson here for all of us.
Kennedy was upstaged in word idiocy by his own successors, not least Reagan and George W Bush.
That’s the trouble with the French. They got no word for entrepreneur.
They misunderestimate me.
There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. …
Actually that last one’s not even word idiocy. It’s just idiocy. Straight shooting.
Let him have it
On 28th January 1953 Derek Bentley was hanged for murder in England.
The year prior, Derek and his mate Chris Craig were messing around with a gun when they came across a policeman. Carrying a gun in England in 1952 ain’t gonna win you any gold medals for popularity, granted.
The policeman demanded the weapon.
Derek looked at Chris who was holding the gun and spoke the words “Let him have it”
Chris shot the the policeman. The policeman died as a result of the violence.
You can see where this is going so I won’t indulge you.
The thing is, ambiguity will steal, build and collapse meaning from and out of and back into all words until the cows come home. Always did. Always will.
People will hear what they want to hear, irrespective of the words chosen to communicate with them. Yet this does not steal the power from words. On the contrary, it loads the power into the words yet more intensely. You have an attentive audience means your words are a point twenty-two air rifle. Your audience ain’t listening properly means you’re packing a thirty-eight snub.
The ambiguity of utility
Words are handy. Essential. Charming. Terrible. Necessary. Highly offensive. Heart-melting. Difficult. Lovely. Powerful. Totally inappropriate. Dangerous. Empty. Meaningless. All that we need to make things better. The keys to the kingdom.
Depends how you use ‘em is all.
All messengers get shot
Speaking words is different if no less important but I’d wager that, when carving them into digital bits and bytes on your illuminate glass, a little respect wouldn’t go amiss.
The best myth is that you can take spoken words back. You can’t. The milk is spilt and the stain is fading very very slowly if at all. So watch out. Keep the nouns close. Keep the adjectives closer.
When you’re speaking, spill them off the cuff at your own risk. And when you’re writing, keep it trim and tight.
Too many over-zealous writers, me included, overload the adjectives in a bid to impress. It always fails. Building multi-level car parks on top of the noun is not good for the noun. Neither is it good for the reader. Mutton dressed as lamb is the outcome. Yet, writing needn’t be cheap. You can easily make it expensive and valuable and sincere. Just shift your perception at the outset, thus:
See, prose is architecture not interior decoration. Just set out to build the basic frame. Strip it to the bone.
Keep that last point in mind and now start typing.
It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.**
What good writers appear to be shouting in unison is: Stop trying. Cool stuff happens when you let go. Submit to flow.
Many celestial moons ago when I was a lad, only clever people wrote anything. But nowadays everyones at it. WhatsApp. Facebook. Twitter. The idea that the average Joe would be writing daily was impossible only thirty years ago. Yet here we are.
So how about this: writing is change. Words are a change agent and the writer is the changeling. I don’t mean this in the same sense as the engines of change remark earlier. I’m not talking about changing the world. Joules reads Newton. Einstein reads Joules. Eddington reads Einstein. Planck reads Eddington. That’s a thing but that’s not what I’m on about.
It’s way more personal than that. Have you ever confessed or admitted to something that you were ashamed of ? Shame is a really powerful tool. Because once you cross the line and attack it with confession and open admission and outing, nothing will ever be the same. You hear your own voice speaking the truth and somehow the truth gets rubber stamped. No going back now. This is a classic journey of initiation. You step up to the plate and truly become master of your domain. Actually I prefer master of your demesne. Your relationship with the world just shifted for good.
So imagine, rather than speaking it, writing out the confession. How about the idea that all forms of writing are, in some way, an inner confession disguised as an outward expression. Each letter of each word takes effort and you see it being forged as your own hand moves to form it, be it a keypad or a pen. And better still, unlike the spoken word, it stares back at you even after you finished. It won’t go away. And the first reader of anything you put down is always you. And that’s fitting because everything you ever got penned is first and foremost a message for you.
It is my contention that something happens when we write which implicates the writer in the content – whatever the content may be. Even fiction. Especially fiction. A bond is forged in that furnace such that the writer who finishes a piece of communication is not the same person as the writer who started it.
This change is growth. The communication is first and foremost internal. Furthermore, such growth does not occur sequentially. It is not something that happens afterward, like some token reward.
Words are so very powerful that the growth they engender is born and contained in the very act of using them. In the very fact of summoning them. In the fires of execution and in that very instant.
Who’s the fairest ?
Got something to say? Go ahead – say whatever you like – I’m all for pleading the First. I have no interest in censorship.
But please be careful! Because nothing – but nothing – will ever be the same again. And I ain’t talking about your third party audience. I’m talking about you.
Words are not just the clothes you stand up in. They are the mirror in which you get to see who you really are. And I’m guessing, if you’re like me, that you could sure use a kindly reflection most days.
Thanks for reading.
We are one
*Beatrice to Benedict in a fierce witty exchange in the opening act of Much Ado About Nothing, a stage comedy by William Shakespeare. First performed in London, England in 1598.
**The opening sentence of 1984. A dystopian novel by George Orwell written in 1949.
Where I go when I go home
All species know the vitalising force of the breath as it moves through the body
Blue vessel vacuous
My body – one framed shot in the arc of a project eternal
Genetic arrow timelessly bending
Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn to where we came from.**
- Cnut: The Danish Warrior King of England from 1016 to 1035
- Cnapa: Old English word meaning servant
- Knapton: towns on and near the English coast in Yorkshire and Norfolk and a derivative of the Danish word Cnapa
- York: a walled fortress city built within yet apart from its host island, operating for centuries with its own language, laws and currency organised by the Viking invaders in 867 in a part of Great Britain now called northern England
Seventy five million years ago giant dinosaurs threw their weight around this pent-up planted planet, their home.
One hundred million years prior leatherback turtles would migrate thousands of miles. Feeding in arctic tundras yet nesting on tropical beaches.
Fifteen hundred years ago the ancestors of the largest block of English peoples of all the domestic English that were to settle in the Thames Valley and live there still, left forever its only known permanent home deep in the Black Forest. Constituent participants took to the seas with only a fairytale sense of what lay ahead. Only a grapevine notion of where they were going. Sea shanties. Tales echoing back from a cold rock in exile.
They were going away.
They came ashore at a group of over six thousand islands in the Atlantic ocean off the north west coast of continental Europe, covering three hundred and fifteen thousand square kilometers, not including Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey and Sark which are often taken to be a part of Britain even though they are just off mainland France and never formed part of this archipelago.
These devil-may-care travellers made settlement, multiplied and within a few hundred years outnumbered the natives to such an extent that they were deploying novel nomenclature in reference to the family name for their umbrella group of marauding immigrant tribes. The collective patronymic or nationhood noun for Angles, Saxons and Jutes being the German word English. Pronounced as you and I say it now. This being a Germanic tongue. We, at least many of us to a multitude are embodied constitutions of their endeavours. Offspring manifest and legion.
By the mid-ninth century casual reference was being made to one half of the largest island of the six thousand, heretofore Great Britain – specifically the half located below Emperor Hadrian’s east-west dividing wall – as England.
The enduring immigrant invasion. The mighty, genteel, fierce, ruthless, terrible, beautiful, kind, heartless, reasonable, murderous German sailors in search of a new Jerusalem. Us.
Yet, back deep in the days of upheaval, when these people, our people, left their forest home, they had no idea that home was what you made wherever you made it. That home was more than merely where you originally came from. That you could go home by going away.
The concept of home to the indigenous British – the native Celts on my mother’s side – was always where you come from, because in this cultural tradition, where you come from was where you stayed. To these societies, home was and still is where the heart is. Within the framework of this perspective, home is not dynamic. It is a final statement. A paradise born into. Mindful to me of the very beautiful close-knit communities of poor rural Italy from the Mezzogiorno right up to the riviera paradise beaches of Monterosso al mare and its neighbouring isolated fishing colonies of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza. Five lands. Cinque Terre. The rural Irish and Italian Roman Catholic communes that neatly book-end Western Europe are tightly weaved into the deepest, most meaningful embroidered sense of home and heart that such as me and my kind can only admire. One foot in that gene pool of simple serene love. One foot in with the Norsemen of rape and plunder.
Home, conceptually, to the mongrel immigrant English – those foresters and the flash-mob strong-arm pagan Viking invaders on my father’s side – was always many things at once. Where you come from. Where you are. Where you will be. To this lot, home is where the hearth is.
Fruits of the season
The Vikings would embark on racial seasoning as a strategy. This involved killing the British men and raping the women but leaving food stores and animal stock intact. Just taking the gold from the monasteries away with them. Five generations of this meant that the next mission could travel on a one way ticket – safe in the knowledge that all the newly adult men of Yorkshire were Viking by blood. Tell tale physical, behavioural and psychological features – short stubby fingers, blonde hair, blue eyes, voracious appetites, a failure to recognise and obey central British authority rule and casual attitudes to sex and violence gave the game away and sealed the project as fruit-bearing.
King Cnut, twenty years the King of England, died on the twelfth of November in 1035. Nine hundred and thirty-six years later, on the same day – the twelfth of November, I was born. My surname reflecting its Viking construction with the silent C now Anglo-filed into a silent K. And Knapton Hall still standing just off the village green in Knapton. And East Knapton, a village to the south west of York. The “ton” suffix a classic old English adjunct for settlement. The juxtaposed final instalment known as a Grimston Hybrid to place name experts.
My religious or Christian name a pure Celtic import meaning armoury and anchored to this so called Grimston Hybrid. A two-bit phonetic badge trotting at a canter and wheeling up close like a horse and cart. Implying the age old illusion of permanence, origin and legacy. Home, for what it’s worth, is where the horse-drawn cart is.
And me? Half native. Half immigrant. Pure mongrel. All English. You couldn’t get more English than this.
Names are places to live. Belonging in a name is to be at home.
All species, consuming to addiction, make a right royal mess of their homes. Artistic mirror images of inner turmoil.
Spiders, high on cocaine or weed spin crazy webs: the symmetry still discernible if now deep under a torrent of variance and intensity.
Spiders high on caffeine break from familiar patterns more robustly, spinning something more reminiscent of the hopscotch ladders chalked into paving flags by little girls at play.****
Birds get ruthless. Male loons of four to five years old – at peak health and bodily strength, scour the ocean for island nests of aging families, ready on a whim to kill the male protector and take his territory and the left-behind female for prizes.
Stealthy female cuckoos sneak their eggs into the unsuspecting nests of other cuckoo families, the unhatched baby genetically encoded to roll its own egg in a motion that intuitively clashes with the other eggs and sends them crashing over the edge. Warriors before birth.
Migrating cranes will leave their birth home under the wing of their parents as soon as they are strong enough to fly and live for years thousands of miles away in distant climes. Then, at the first attempt, they will fly half a world back to the exact same bog or ridge or Siberian snow lake pond or to the exact tree or bush where they were born, to breed where they themselves were bred.
What knowledge? What urges? What does it take to fly nonstop for nearly eight thousand miles, spending all day and all night on the wing, until their body weight halves as they burn up not only all of their food stores but even sacrifice muscle, digestive tract and entrails – almost everything except their brains?*****
Of navigation and resilience, what feats are these! The mystery of how birds find their way home exposes science for quite the impotent desperado, the truth of this quality it so desperately attempts to hide. Some birds flown by airplane, blindfolded, to continents they or their ancestors could never have known will fly home. Yet we know the knowledge is learned not innate and that the skill is nurtured consciously because most domesticated birds wind up as clueless with directions as we are. Wild birds go home. Yet, surely, I suspect, we must know that, ultimately, we don’t know much at all. The circadian rhythm of humans is designed into the brain. What’s to say a planetary navigational device is not designed into the airborne species?
Daft as it is tragic for a species with super-sized brains and proven intelligence when hooked on a drug more potent than fear, pride, weed, coke and caffeine combined, humans enshrine money and ego to such elevated levels, they build nests called houses containing multitudes of empty rooms, scarcely to be used and never to be slept in, while billions of their own starve and freeze to death under the cold night stars.
Most definitely closer to kite-high spiders than the sandhill and whooping cranes are we when it comes to keeping house. Although two bird species do bear a grim reflection of our traits. No question about it: we are cuckoo. We are absolute loons.
Having long-since evolved physiologically to have shed its fur coat, thereby making shelter necessary for survival, the human species remains psychologically and emotionally stunted. Bereft of even basic common sense and bedroom-wise, rudimentary mathematical calculations.
We say make a bee line to reference journeys of a direct-route nature. But that’s not a bee line at all. Just look at the actual bees.
Heading back to the honey pot hive, bees are clever enough to make on-the-spot calculations of probability concerning the likelihood of intruder covert pursuit operations, based on pollen density, distance, altitude, temperature, speed and pollution factors including physical objects, movement and noise. So minded, they head for home in crazy zigzags interspersed with truly random cutbacks and loops. Like foreign intelligence agents dry cleaning their tails on the way to dead-drops in East Berlin. These highly inefficient ingenious homeward bounders take forever. This is the true bee line. A far cry from the bee line spoken of by the unsharing, fur-less humans with their honey-trap machines, long-haul jet planes, GPS satellites, guest rooms, drawing rooms, summer rooms and obese waistlines.
Shows what we know.
Truth be told, all of Earth is all our homes. Not just the humans. The whole spinning ball is only famous for the creatures.
With all things and in all things, we are relatives***
Thanks for reading.
We are one
- *a poem by me
- ** Eric Hoffer
- *** ancient proverb of the Sioux
- **** R Noever, J Cronise & R.A Relwani: Using Spider Web Patterns To Determine Toxicity: NASA Tech Briefs (1995) as referenced in Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep.
- ***** A direct quote from a wonderful book authored by Bernd Heinrich and entitled The Homing Instinct: The Story and Science of Migration. I’m in agreement with the New York Times which critiqued the author thus: Heinrich combines his keen scientific eye with the soul of a poet.
Go find the others
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Go find the others…” Timothy Leary
Knowledge is not wisdom in the same way that learning is not comprehension. This is not an impromptu lesson in semantic priming. The consequences are stellar: a cold uncaring non-society or a common humanity of intuiting and wholly experiencing the essence of our bonding qualities.
The homeless sleeper with a dog. If, like some of my acquaintances, you experience such a person and instantly think ‘How come they can afford a dog? Hmmm. This implication of decadence really gets under my skin!’ … then you are applying knowledge – a kind of base retention of facts – and you are focusing narrowly on those facts. Zooming in myopically. Being clever. Honing your cognitive skills to argue a cool brand of razor like reason. The thing is, you have not noticed how your question seamlessly segwayed from inquiry to rhetoric. This leaves you superior, cold and unkind. Heartless.
Also now trending: the line of argument that homeless people are not really homeless or that they are so of their own volition.
Yet, whereas knowledge is a base retention of facts, wisdom is knowing what all the facts mean when they fit together. This is comprehension. A rounded understanding. A long lens zoomed out for a landscape view of the grand design. Not some dumb pinpoint inquiry.
The wise person will tend to get the whole context and break free from the attentive glare of the immediate knowledge: man with dog: ergo, dog costs money for upkeep: ergo sum, man must have money. This blatant inconsistency left swinging in the wind as a semi-conscious barrier to the dissonance we feel when we step over the shop doorway bodies without so much as a human nod, holding tight the loose change in our pockets lest it make the give-away chimes of mean-spiritedness. The whole rhetorical question constructed on instinct as a base foundation to justify our turning a blind eye. Our very questioning of the validity of the needy in our midst, paper-thin as it is, just the tool we need to continue on our ego-driven way without the nagging sense of shame or guilt. Move on quickly to thoughts anew. Best not dwell.
I’m not saying give all your money to the thousands of homeless people that line our streets. I am simply saying stop lying to yourself that some modern conspiracy has taken hold whereby wealthy people simulate neediness. Wake up to your privilege and the gratitude that it can unlock.
The wise will empathise and feel pity and gladness that some charitable projects have seen the light in funding the very poorest most wretched souls in our stinking rich society the opportunity for vital psychological company.
And the heart of the wise man and wise woman will see the cleverness of the knowledgeable for the disconnected damaging agent it is. This aside from the sheer dumb stupidity of choosing, of all demographics in our land of plenty on which to carry out a spot-check financial audit, those with the very least.
Dogs for the wealthy and those with families are fine huh? You seem to want to deprive those with nothing to start with.
This is what happens when we retain facts and stop at the learning-knowledge level. It is vainglory. We look and sound clever. We give the impression of wisdom. But authentic wisdom only comes when we make the effort to execute the data banked into a genuine personal comprehension such that we know what sums of knowledge might mean. Without afforded meaning, we are cool calculating actors. Arrogant and unkind. Merely intelligent in the passive, sentient sense.
Wisdom is heart. Comprehension is compassion.
Turn the telescope around and zoom out to enjoy the all-inclusive perspective of panoramic detail. This is the birth of truth and context. This is the birth of unity.
Knowledge from learning is granular and atomic. Equipped thus we tend to see only our differences.
Wisdom from comprehension is our community: our common unity. Equipped thus we tend to see our true nature: that we are one.
When you are ready and able to find the humanity in the homeless guy with the dog. With the annoying guy in the office who won’t stop banging on about Brexit. With friends and relatives who have slighted you. With people who ask for favours all the time but never seem to acknowledge or give thanks with signs of learning or an expression of gratitude. With people who stand resolutely for interests that do not align with yours. With your perceived and actual threats and enemies.
Then you have gone and found the other people within those people. You have gone and found the others.
The late MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was a dedicated humanitarian whose maiden speech to the House of Commons requested that we can all exercise the opportunity we get daily, for free, to concentrate on the things that bind us rather than the things that stand us apart.
Go find the others
Whenever you have an insight and, like a muscle, you exercise it and enshrine it with the frequent reference of new habit, personal growth occurs.
Often, at this stage, people will ask – what now? What do I do now?
It is a question of a practical nature and an indictment of our teleological consumer age, where we all have to be metaphorically “going” somewhere or doing something in a bid to continue the rush to get out of now and to make headway in the chase for some promised land that lies just up ahead. Over the brow of the next hill or round a bend in the road. Always just out of sight.
Yet, if you go find the others in the people you least like, as described above, there is nothing else to do because everything has already changed. This is change on a personal level.
And if you still care to satisfy that practical urge born of a utilitarian mindset, you can always take the phrase literally, and go find the other people in your midst who have discovered this self same insight. You can jump into their standing wave and in this manner you can hone the skill set and refine your relationship with it. You can join the existing community and continue along the curve of learning and inspiration that awaits for you there. This is a gateway to peace and joy.
Go find the others
Or, you can create your own standing wave for other people to join. Both such actions constitute change on an interpersonal level. Rather than embracing the existing community, you can take your new self, in demonstration, to the residual unwitting community at large. Again, this usually involves “doing” nothing. People, it seems, will be drawn to you for your newfound compassionate calm and the magnetic pull of the energy field you emit.
Since you have gone and found the others in a psychologically internal sense, the neonate others will come and find you in a very real and physically exterior sense. Personal begets interpersonal begets educational begets public and thus the ripple breaks out across the waters of culture and society at large.
These are the reciprocities of the higher chakras. The uncoiling serpent springing forth. Unity visible. This is kundalini rising.
Thanks for reading
We are one