Mikel Ocean Azure

A SOUL IN SHADES OF BLUE.

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past PRESENT future

Posted by Cobaltsoul on April 21, 2012 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It is one of the glories of humanity that we remember our past and we dream about our future.  It is one of the tragedies of humanity that we dream about the future and remember our past and allow these magical abilities to cheat us of our present.


There is some pretty good research around these days which suggests that what we remember of our personal past serves not so much as a factual data collection of what actually happened but rather as one thread of the story of meaning we are making of our lives as we live it. 


I'm not suggesting that our memory of our past is a fabrication, I'm pretty sure that evolution weeded out the creatures who'se record of the past was entirely inaccurate and therefore a dangerous basis on which to make survival decisions.


Our memory of our past is OUR memory of OUR past,  in that moment when it was our present we took in only certain parts of the whole reality, we paid more attention to the hateful look our sister gave us and less attention to the loving affirmation in the face of our mother, for example, and forever more our memory of that moment is a memory of being judged, when in that moment we were being judged by one and loved by another.  The power of that memory inside us flows from the way we weighted what we experienced AS we were recording that memory.  They are not false memories but they certainly are subjective memories. 


More than merely subjective, they are harnessed and weighted to support whatever the story is we tell ourselves about ourselves and our life.   Of course,  until we make a different choice as adults, if we ever do,  the story we started out telling ourselves about ourselves was the story our parents told us about ourselves.  Not the story they put into words, though what they said to us might have been consistent with how they treated us, but the story of who we were that was in the way they treated us. 


If my parents neglect me then clearly I am unimportant, of no value.


If my parents worship me then clearly I am a god and deserve to be worshipped by all.


If my parents blame me for their anger and violence then clearly I am a bad child who deserves to be punished and limited/imprisoned.


Our parents give us the first story of who we are.


We interpret experiences and lay them down in our memories weighted to support the story our parents gave us.


It turns out, this is an aside from my main point, that we can return to those memories, unpack the parts not formally noticed or balanced, and re weight our own life story, find the hidden glories and truths in it that show us a wider picture of who we are than the one our parents gave us.  As adults we can wash away the story our parents gave us about who we are and decide for ourselves who we are.  It's not easy, but it's possible.  Lots of research in this area,  one area to look into  "Brain Plasticity", if your'e interested.


Most of us dream about the future.  Some of us make plans for the future we hope we will have.  Some of us take action in the present to create the future we dream about.


Not many of us really NOTICE our present.


The power of the past and the escape of the dreamed of future both serve to distract us from experiencing the present moment.


In truth the present moment is the only living moment we have.


I don't exist in the past or the future.  I only exist NOW.  Now is the whole truth.


Sure we can have a faith about the future and hope for the future, but even if our faith is entirely accurate, which we can't know until it arrives, we will only experience the future in the future AS A LIVING NOW.  


Now is all there is.


So it's a tragedy that we pay so little attention to our now.  We notice such a tiny percentage of what any given moment contains. 


I'm just going to make one point about one area of our NOW experience while there are many different elements of our now experience we could lift our attention to.


How much of what you are feeling right now do you actually notice? 


Some of what we feel floats up into our awareness with a vague quality of "something", without us ever really noticing it or describing it or enjoying it or learning from it.  Mostly the strident feelings might jag our attention, or the feelings we've given major roles in our self story might regularly get our attention, but the whole range of things we are experiencing in our inner world simply flow past without recognition.


We experience our present moment more like robots than like beings.


You might read this and say I'm writing as a man and that women's relationship to their now feelings is different.  Well, it might be different but at fifty years of age I have to say I have seen little evidence that women are any better connected to the range of feelings they are experiencing than men are.    Most women definitely have a better emotionally vocabularly than most men but that's a learned thing.  Generally our western cultures tell women that their emotions are a legitimate part of their female identity while telling men that only strong emotions that serve power and domination of others are a legitimate part of our male identity.  


I'm not sure I've ever come across anything that suggests women are more healthily connected their emotions than men are.  I'd be very interested if such research exists.


My point being that we all tend to NOT be IN our PRESENT fully.


We miss out on a great deal of richness and insight into ourselves as a result.


If we are only alive NOW, then the more of what's happening for us and in us NOW that we touch, taste, notice, engage  then the more alive we are.


Far as I can tell my present is infinite.  No matter how wide and deep I open my awareness, no matter how delicate I set my feelers, there is always more of my Present Being to experience in any moment.


Just a thought.

Mikel.

Why It Works When It Works.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on December 31, 2011 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (0)

New Year's Eve and that seems like good enough reason to blog.

I think, actually, the idea of blogging was originally that you didn't need a reason, you just splurged any old nonsense onto the digital space and in a thoroughly post modern gestalt someone might read it and connect, or not.

Returning to my thought...  oh, right...   On those occassions, rare as they may be, that a New Year's Resolution actually works there is a good reason in our design why it works.  We attribute significance to things without reference to their actual significance.  When I say "actual significance" it kind of begs a question, how one determines "actual" significance.  If you are Theist of any colour then the answer is easy,  "actual significance" is some pure or absolute thing determined in the eyes, or whatever, of some perfect and all knowing entity/being/force.  (Frankly I think the idea of "the universe/force" as any kind of substitute for an actual Being is pretty silly.  Seems to me as soon as you say a force is "knowing" then your saying the force is actual a Being and we are back to talking about God in one or another guise.  If your force remains purely a thing of non-Being then it seems to me you've chosen a spirituality a tad irrelevant to Beings.)


Returning again to my thought...humans attribute significance to things entirely subjectively.  Indeed this attribution of significance happens not only on the level of consciousness.  It turns out that our brains have developed a marvelous pattern recognition capacity as a way of processing the virtually infinite amount of information our senses flood us with every moment of our waking life.  Not just processing that information but organising it.  The information our senses take in is useless without organisation.  Our brains organise the information and what do you think it uses to organise?  Previous patterns that have been found useful for the same task.  It's not mere human stupidity that causes us to struggle with seeing important changes in our environment and our situations, it's hardwired into our brains to first trust old ways of organising and interpreting information. 

This is a real example from my past - I see a field mouse scurrying away from my lawn mower and I stop to watch with a sense of wonder and delight at discovering a little bit of Wildlife right at my feet.  My friend, mowing the same field sees a field mouse scurrying away from his lawn mower and stomps on the mouse, killing it.  I don't know what significance he attributed to that mouse but clearly not the same as I did. 

We attribute significance from within us.  Sometimes reality forces a significance on us but even those we have a lot of choices in how we frame what cannot be denied or ignored.  Everything less than catastrophe or bald tragedy is open to our own decisions about the attribution of significance.

If the resolutions you make this New Year are significant to you, then they'll stick.  If they don't stick, just admit the change wasn't that important to you, not down in your belly where it matters.  That's the learning potential right there - the gap between what you think is important to you and what is actually important to you.  It can be a pretty confronting gap, which is why most of us mostly don't notice it.  :)

Happy New Year.

Mikel O Azure.

Real Family?

Posted by Cobaltsoul on October 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (1)

In The West we have endless myths about Family.

We are given the idea, somehow, that family relationships have a special quality that excludes them from the normal shittiness of human hearts. 

We are quietly conned into thinking that somewhere out there is a normal family full of unconditional love and mature mutual respect for all family members.  We are sure that family must exist but we all know it's not OUR family.  In that comparision OUR family suffers terribly. 

I don't use family in the traditional sense in my own thinking these days.  For me, family is still that ideal thing - unconditional love and mutual respect - but it has nothing to do with blood relationships or the house I grew up in.

Blood relations are no different to any other stranger - some of them are fantastic, some of them are criminal, some of them are selfish, some of them are nice, some of them are takers, some of them are givers.  You get the picture, just because someone is your blood relation has no bearing on how they will treat you.   If you accept that fact then you just totally exploded the myth we all tend to buy into - blood family is something special. 

In fact, a bad family member is MORE dangerous and damaging to you than a bad stranger.

Now the reverse is also true, if an important member of your family is a really wonderful person, that has a bigger impact on you than if a stranger is a wonderful person to you for five minutes.

But it's a major lottery about which kind of family member you are going to grow up with.

Most of us grow up sharing a house with people who cannot help burdening us with the overflow of their own gross imperfections.  The nature of that overflow can be across a wide range - from the parent or sibling who is constantly violent towards us, the parent who neglects us or ignores us, the parent who loves us but with a serious amount of their own self loathing staining the message, the parent who loves us pretty well but also leaves us feeling a bit afraid of the world and feeling weak, the parent who overflows with love and positive energy but struggles to let us go and be fully grown up,.....  etc etec............it's a wide range.

None of that range measures up the mythical family we all wish was our family.  No-one has that mythical family, it doesn't exist. 

For those who suffered in families at the really shit end of the scale, the myth of a normal happy family is a massive burden, one because it makes us think our crap family is less normal than it is and two because it stops other people recognising the whole truth about the families they are looking at - so we stay isolated, not recognising how much helpe we all need.  We all tend to push out of our minds the suffering and pain we see in other families because seeing it everywhere undermines our grasp of that comforting myth - normal happy families are common.

No such thing as a normal happy family.

But if we see that, really admit it, then we have to ask ourselves a whole load of uncomfortable questions about humanity and our society and our culture and our beliefs. 

Most humans are walking around ignoring the pit of loneliness and pain sitting in well of their soul.  Clumsy sentence but you got the drift of it. 

By holding onto the idea that happiness is common and normal and that families are the happiest places of all, we train ourselves to only see THAT reality rather than actual reality.  We train ourselves away from noticing other people's pain, and thus, our own as well.  Perhaps it works the other way, by refusing to feel our own pain we make ourselves incapable of feeling other people's pain.  Every stick has two ends, can't pick up one end without picking up the other end.

I don't have any "moral" to this blog.  It's just a blog.  Something I was thinking and I'm trying to really put into practice the knowledge that for me writing is good therapy even if it seems pointless in terms of structure and content.

Oh, do you think this blog means I'm anti-family, as if you can be "anti-family", family is unavoidable.  I'm not anti-family but I certainly don't put a special frame around family relationships, they are just relationships like any other and contain all the good and bad any relationship might, in the same ratios but with greater power over us because we are IN those relationships so closely and intensely for the first twenty or so years of our life.

What's more important, in my mind, than the blood group I was born into, is the relationships in my life that ARE about unconditional love and mutual respect.  In fact, I'm happy for them to be "less" conditional love and mutual respect as I think "un" conditional love is pretty rare. 

Not just being in them,  making the effort to create them.  I'm not so good at that,  my own blood family left me with really good self isolating skills and if I don't pay attention I tend to ignore the very people in my life who offer me the richest friendships and the freest love.  (Sorry Dave.)

OK, blog over.

Mikel.

The Adjustment Bureau

Posted by Cobaltsoul on June 28, 2011 at 7:38 AM Comments comments (0)

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

 

 

I just watched a great movie, but one that did not crack it big at the box office because it was a genre ambiguous movie.

 

 

This was a romantic movie, also a mythic movie and a theological movie. It was fast moving with plenty of chase scenes and that was how it was advertised, more a thriller than a romance.

 

 

Mythology is full ofstories of mere mortals challenging the “gods”. It is an important theme in our story telling history. This movie is in that lineage even though “the gods” are kept thoroughly low key and the movie tries to avoid any traditional theological interpretation of who or what the highest power is. This element of the movie is not well handled, not badly, but not with a real grasp of the pointlessness of being vague when telling this kind of mythic narrative. If you tell it well enough, the theological specifics you use become tertiary and the story carries the universal truths forward regardless of your narrative's particularity.

 

 

One man meets his full on soulmate, they both feel it. The powers once intended them to be together but the plan has been revised and now they should only meet for this one moment, then never meet again.

 

 

He discovers the Power's meddling and is convinced by them to let her disappear out of his life.

 

 

He tries to let her go but he cannot.

 

 

She is his “the one,the only” and she feels it too.

 

 

So, eventually, he challenges the Powers, willing to risk being wiped clean and reduced to an empty vessel in one all or nothing venture to be WITH her.

 

 

Their story resonates because so many of us have felt that feeling, that THIS one is THE one.

 

 

Their story resonates despite the fact that so many of us have felt that feeling and then discovered we were tragically wrong and THIS one was just a horrible mistake or a sad mistake or a failed chance or an unfortunate coincidence of mutually triggering wounds and family pathologies. Despite our experience of the pain that comes with believing in “soulmates” we go right on believing in them and hoping ours is just around the corner.

 

 

I suspect the hunger underneath this belief is the hunger to be “the one” for someone else and to feel ourselves absolutely surrendering to them, the freedom of self abnegation without care or fear, to feel that safe, that loved, that known, that welcomed, that embraced and penetrated. We hunger for absolute acceptance from one other. We desire to feel able to GIVE absolute acceptance to one other.

 

 

So, we believe in a soulmate.

 

 

The downside of that belief system is that it tends to be a system that relieves us of any responsibility to build something good, to choose well, to work for our lives. If our perfect soulmate is out there somewhere then all we need to do is find them and when we meet, it will go perfectly well from then on without any real effort from us. If it hasn't gone perfectly easily, then they were not our soulmate and we need to keep looking.

 

 

I think that might actually be possible, in a few small number of cases. If you grew up in a healthy family with lots of balanced affection and discipline, where both your parents were mostly balanced and mature in their adulthood and did not contaminate your young psych with serious warps and impossible needs and if the partner you meet had a similar family experience and it just so happens that the internal patterns that gave you and the internal patterns that gave your partner are mutually complementary and balanced, then you can merge together healthily, not loosing yourselves while still being thoroughly open and exposed to each other. It's a rare thing.

 

 

For most of us much more work is required.

I think it IS possibleto be richly fulfilled by the way another human being sees us, welcomes us and embraces us. I think it IS possible for them to behaving that experience from us at the same time we are having it from them. It's possible but it for most of us it requires SERIOUS work, on ourselves and on the relationship we are in.

 

 

The intimacy and fulfilment that is evoked in the idea of soulmates is something I still believe in and still anticipate experiencing in my life. I expect it will require hard work as part of it's ongoing realisation. Two people, together birthing the full goodness of their partnership into reality.

 

 

In the movie, the hero, and then his heroine when she realises she has a choice, decide to reject the simplicity of going with the flow and take the chance of fighting for what they believe can exist between them. In that sense they challenge the soulmate stereotype. It is not easy for them to be together and they are prepared to challenge even God (Not called that in the movie.) in pursuit of their own desired future. I think that is excellent theology. The movie is more subtle than most will appreciate, it implies that what can be seen as fate or predestination and used by some in power to force people into certain paths and roles is not as simplistic as all that, not even close. I think that also is excellent theology.

 

 

The movie is based on a Philip K Dick short story, so of course it would not fit into tidy little Hollywood genre patterns. It is a better movie for not trying to fit into such constricted pigeon holes. It is nicely balanced between character development and fast paced storyline, New York looks fantastic and adds huge wallops of character to the whole affair, the two leads are convincing and engaging and the unreal elements are so well handled you buy into them without noticing you just did. It is hugely romantic and seriously theological/philosophical simultaneously. This is one I will beadding to my dvd collection.

 

 

Peace,

Mikel.

 

MORE CHANCES THAN YOU THINK

Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 24, 2011 at 9:28 PM Comments comments (1)

The end of your last year at school provides a striking example of damaging false thinking.  The false idea is the one that says your entire future depends on what university you get into. 


What a load of bollocks.


The false idea is even more stupid than that first formulation.  Working back from which uni you get into the all or nothing lie appears when students are choosing the subjects they will study years before their last year.  Students are told that they need to pick "the right" subjects in their early teens so they can get into the right streams and get the right marks and get into the right university and get the right career and that if they get it wrong some massive life tragedy will ensue.


What a load of rancid bollocks.


When it comes to education paths and career paths there are multiple routes to the same destinations.  Assuming that most fourteen year olds can actually know where they want to be in twenty years time still does not mean any decision they make at fourteen will absolutely rule out any destination they ultimately want to reach.


You can get accepted to a "lesser" university, go, excell and use that excellence to shoe horn your way into "better" universities.  You can excell at the "lesser" university and enter the career stream you desire and THEN use your excellence to move toward the ultimate career goal you started with.  You can skip university initially,  get straight into the work area you want to be in and then use your work experience to gain admission to the university of your choice.  Multiple paths.  It's not all or nothing. 


I've illustrated it with the student education path but the general principle is the same,  in most things in life there are multiple paths to get us there.  Not everything, but most things.


The all or nothing lie puts false pressure on people at decision points.  The lie makes us think the decision we are making is between utopia and misery.  That false perspective makes each decision a burden when it need not be so.  It also creates a false expectation in us, that THIS decision is the one that will ensure our life long happiness.  When this decision does not ensure our happiness we feel life has cheated us.  Life has not cheated us,  we have a false idea and false expectations.  


There surely are a few decisions we could make that DO have a truly monumental impact on everything that comes after that decision AND which are irreversible decisions.  But those quality of decisions are rare. 


Most of our decisions are not all or nothing. 

Most of our decisions can be unmade or remade with subsequent choices.

Life is complex and there are multiple paths to the same destinations.


If you are a parent, please don't burden your children with the all or nothing lie.


If you are an adult then you are now parent to yourself, don't burden yourself with the all or nothing lie.


In our lives, in the search for fulfillment and happiness

We have more chances than we think.


Peace.

Mikel.

Sudden Change

Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 16, 2011 at 9:11 PM Comments comments (0)

Most of us have our lives set up to support a simple fiction.  Pretty much the entire Western capitalist system is setup to support the same simple fiction.  Regardless of the news entertainment industry's relentless attempt to challenge the fiction we somehow manage to watch all the tragedy and disaster without grasping it's lesson. 


My life can change in one moment.


The fiction we cling to is that things will go along nicely just as they are and we need not consider the matter any further than that.  We do not want to think about the fact that our lives can change without reference to our intent or our plans. 


Now the news entertainment industry (Have to add the *entertainment* adjective, even in my thirty five years of paying attention to the news I recognise the dramatic shift from substance to sensation, from journalist to public relations dupe, from an ethical subculture to a corporate clone culture.) serves up a soap opera of dramatic disasters and terrible traumas and warps the perspective on it all.  More outrage at one crook who robs an old lady of her hand bag on the street than at thousands of millionaire crooks robbing millions of people of their life savings.  Think about it, consider what you've seen on the screen and you will see that matters of very different scales are reported in inappropriately similar tones.  Now consider who that might serve.

Anyway, that wasn't my point, so back to it.


So I was saying that we are surrounded by evidence that our life can change in the twinkling of an eye.  Most of us steadfastly turn away from ruminating on that reality, perhaps because most of us are more pessimistic than optimistic, we don't want to think about the possiblity of our life changing for the worst just around the corner.  There is as much reason to be optimistic, I'd argue, some other time, there is actually MORE reason to be optimistic.


Life can change for the better in the twinkling of an eye.  It can change for the better without our initiating it.  Good things simply come to us.  You might as well call them gifts as anything else.


In the last week I have experienced this and it's a pretty invigorating ride.


I have met a remarkable woman.  Now the story is not quite so compact as that.  She introduced herself to me and gave me her contact details but it was many weeks before the matter proceeded any further.  I stuffed up the first meeting without knowing I had, came away from it thinking this was a breathtakingly delightful and rich individual who I really wanted to get to know better but left her with an impression of me that was quite unhelpful.


I got a second chance when we bumped into each other again and I will admit I was in a small panic to make sure I grabbed that opportunity to say hi and what happened next is that moment, the one where your whole life shifts track.  She gave me a second chance and accepted my invitation to have a good long chat.  She had reason not to talk to me again but in that space where a decision is made, she decided for me, something entirely outside my control but with immense potential to transform my life in countless positive ways.


It is my intuition and my hope that in thirty years time this blog will be the first of many I write inspired by the impact and influence of this woman on my life.  There is good reason to hope in that direction but you can't always tell from the first paragraph if a story is going to be a long one or a short one. 


Even if our story is not a long one the impact of meeting some people even briefly can be life changing.  It depends on the quality of the person and how their qualities intersect with the open and unresolved themes in your own journey.  This woman is definitely one of those quality of individuals for me.  Her fusion of character, personality, history and hopes resonates intensely with my stuff.  Not the harsh discord of damaged patterns crashing into each other, the natural and delightful harmonies of two lives close enough to be complementary and different enough to create together a third new thing of beauty and joy.  Just knowing, first hand, that such a person exists, shifts a private but unfullfilled hope to a realistically fufillable goal.  If it can be real once, it can be real twice.  If She is not *The One* meeting her affirms to me that women like her are real and they are attainable. 


Either way,  that second conversation transforms my life.  That moment she decided to chat to me the second time is the turning point, everything after that is different.


You just don't know what's about to happen.

Our lives don't roll along unchanging but we do our best to interpret it that way because it makes us feel safe and comfortable.


It might feel safe and comfortable but I suspect it's really only a half living, we are missing a great deal of what's going on, not engaging it, not enjoying it, not growing with it, not making the most of what's offered.  For sure I'm guilty of that but I think maybe less so from now on.


Peace to us all.

Mikel.






Honesty and Christmas.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on December 25, 2010 at 7:13 AM Comments comments (1)

 

 

 

 

I am a BIG movie fan. I mean, multiply the girth of the universe by the number of hamburgers eaten by the average Aussie bogun in any given year and even THAT number won't be big enough to let you grasp how BIG a movie buff I am.

 

 

I think movies are THE modern cultural stream.

If you want to write a PhD thesis on modern society and culture, write it about Movies.

 

 

Do you want to know what modern cultural expression has the same interpretive power in our generation as we attribute to the great Masters of classical painting? MOVIES!

 

 

OK, that's my one exclamation mark in ten thousand words. (Hemmingway's standard.)

 

 

Movies, despite the venality of so many .that get to our screens, are THE modern narrative expression of meaning and values and self reflection. That's what I think.

 

 

They incorporate story telling, visual power and (In those rare few with any good quality scriptwriters supported by intelligent directors and intelligent producers.) the soul scouring blade of well used words.

 

 

Sadly, the potential of the majority of movies are undermined by the power of the “bean counters”, the profit margin obsessives and the egos of the actors involved.

 

 

Here is a piece of movie world reality. Every major movie actor is insured for millions of dollars on each movie. The insurance company will not allow THE star to be at risk. If THE star takes an injury then the whole movie takes a dive or costs massive amounts more to make. Therefore, the insurance companies make sure that the star of a movie never takes risks.

 

 

Now, if you watch all the “extras”and “features” of some movies, you are given the distinct impression that the movie star DOES take risks. I remember one movie, it's quite impossible for me to remember exactly which movie that might be, in which the additional features were edited to make it look like the male lead, a real tomcat, actually DID one of the big stunts in the movie. That particular (In my view shallow and clearly insecure.) actor even gave the impression he HAD done the stunt. How embarrasing is that? A ful grown male PRETENDING he took a risk he didn't take? Like a twelve year old lying to impress a girl.

 

 

Meanwhile an actual stuntman took the actual risk and made the liar actor look good.

 

 

Now you might think that on Christmas day I had something more substantial and “deep” to write about.

 

 

Is there anything more substantial than honesty?

 

 

I love movies.

 

 

I admire the talents of actors and directors and screenwriters and producers and directors of photography and gaffers and all the gifted talents who work together to create the modern narrative miracle of the movie genre.

 

 

Any sane person knows that the actors don't take risks. We, the movie viewers, don't need to believe the actor is in danger for us to enjoy the movie and to be carried alone by the narrative.

Apparently some actors are so underdeveloped as human beings THEY still need us to believe they take risks they don't actually take.

 

 

I still remember, “You had me at.....”

No risk was involved in that truth, no danger imagined or stunt person involved. A grown up actor would understand they did not need to lie to convince us that they GAVE us something in their art.

 

 

In art, in movies, as in life, the truth always has more power than the lie.

 

 

Let us each be naked and honest.

 

 

Let us not pretend we are more than we are.

 

 

Let us not pretend we are less then we are.

 

 

Christmas is a time full of bullshit.

This year I met a guy who wanted toknow why people made such a fuss about being nice and honest and giving at the end of the year, why not all year round? Fair question.

 

 

So I leave you with this question...

 

 

Honesty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Not Really Friends.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on November 7, 2010 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (2)

In the taxi I was driving on Saturday night I had one short (Thankfully.) trip with four customers.  Four twenty something young women who were already far enough into their cups as to be somewhat careless of normal social constraints of communication. 


It was a very noisy trip because at any point at least two of the four were speaking and all of them on the same topic:  who was best friends with who and who had said what nice or nasty thing about who and the details of the most recent friendship failure between them and if it was a failure and who was to blame for it and ....................  .


One of the women was particularly outspoken, correcting everyone in pretty much everything they said and finishing it off by insulting me as she got out of the taxi. (No idea what that was about unless it was because I wouldn't turn off the meter and give them a free ride!)  Basically these four argued non stop.  They did not agree about anything.  They were annoyed with each other.  They were aggressive with each other.  They were using friendship words but all the non verbals and the communication patterns were of combat and competition, win/loose. 


It got me thinking about friendship again.  A thought I've had before is that many people have friends who are not really friends.   Perhaps we get them because they just happen to be the guys we were socially required to hang out with at school and that developed a pattern which just endured on, humans being generally resistant to change and thus willing to endure all kinds of dissatisfactions to avoid change.   Perhaps we get them from a similar process in a work place,  they happen to be the people in our office who we consequently go out with from time to time and even without a real friendship connection a pattern develops and gets stuck.


Now my analysis requires a definition of friendship.  Here's one of the top of my head.

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection, mutual respect and having a mutually shared level of personal intimacy between parties.  Plenty of other ways it could be defined but that will do for now.


By my on-the-run definition a relationship without respect is not a friendship.  If someone does not respect you, even if you try to respect them, it's not a friendship, it's some other kind of relationship.  If you like someone but don't respect them, that's not a friendship either.  If someone shares deeply with you but you don't share at a similar level, that's not a friendship, it's not mutual intimacy. 


Friendship is mutually rewarding, mutually enriching and empowering.  For sure,  over the long haul  a friendship can legitimately have seasons of being out of balance, less mutual in some aspect, but an actual friendship will regain balance because that is what both parties honestly want in that relationship.  Any relationship that is permenantly or dominantly out of balance is not a friendship, it's something else.


Using my four combative customers as an example.  I think they were enmeshed but not friends.  If that one trip was an accurate slice of their reailty (A big assumption I know, but for the sake of illustration I'll stick with it.) then they did not respect each other, they had no affection for each other and their whole dynamic was to keep each other at arms length, not in an intimate closeness. 


People mistake shared history for friendship but as soon as I remind you of how divorcing couples can argue over details from twenty years in the past and do it with hatred and malice, you grasp my point - lots of shared experiences and lots of detailed knowledge about the other person is NOT friendship.  These four women clearly knew each other very well but they did not share any agreements about what that shared knowledge meant or how to interpret it.  Nothing mutual was going on except a veiled mutual antipathy. :)


I"ve thought about this a lot over the last ten years because I've got few friends.  Mostly as a result of my own patterns, learned at home.   I do things, and I don't really know what they are, that keep me isolated, even though I Iove real friendship and I think it is the foundation stone of a worthwhile human existence.  I'm working at finding ways to live congruently with my value, not live the patterns learned at home.  It is not easy to stop doing something when you don't know what that something actually IS. 


Life is astonishingly short.

I suggest it's best to spend it with people you actually LIKE and who genuinely LIKE you. 

They are the people you can healthfully give the most to and who can healthfully give you the most also.


Having said all that, I speak as an introvert, one who looses energy when I am with people, even people I love or like.  I am an introvert, one who replinishes energy by being on my own.  My perspective on friendship is probably strongly influenced by my introversion.


If you are an extrovert, one who gets energy from being with people and who looses energy when you are on your own,  your definitions of friendship will probably be quite different from mine.


Peace All.

Mikel.

Cynicism Is Laziness With It's Chest Puffed Out.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on June 18, 2010 at 10:51 AM Comments comments (0)

The older I get the less patience I have with cynical attitudes and cynicism in general.


I have even less patience when people are cynical about me or my motives.  There is a handful of people who know me well enough to challenge my actions or motives based on knowledge and insight.  Anyone else who cops a cynical stance towards me is more than likely projecting their own shit rather than perceiving mine.


Cynicism being the world view that starts with the assumption that people's motives are always base and selfish.


It's a lazy stance to take. 


It's lazy because it's rarely based on reasoning or deep philosophical engagement.  Most modern cynics are simply emotionally bruised or tired and rather than dealing with THAT, they adopt a brittle shell of pessimism which is supposed to protect them from emotional investments that might get them further bruised.


It can be costly to believe in people.

In any arena high expectation are always going to be disappointed sometimes.

That does not invalidate the high expectations.

Expecting goodness from people is a sure way to encounter disappointments.

People will disappoint us.


That can hurt, and deeply.

The lazy response is to get cynical.

To turn the disappointments into the only truth we feel, the only truth we allow.


The cynics inevitably sneer at the people who do not share their stance. 

They adopt a superior attitude..."I'm the mature and wise one here, you all are naive and blinded by your wishful thinking...".  As if puffing out your chest, big noting yourself, makes your cynical stance something different from a lazy self protection strategy.


Except for those very rare occasions when the person who disappoints us actually kills us,  other people's human frailty is not going to kill us.

Yes, it hurts.

Sometimes a little bit.

Sometimes massively.

Just as our human frailty is, from time to time, going to cause small and great hurts to other people.


Some people are selfish.

Some people are even malicious.

Such sad souls are a minority.

Most of us are simply frail and fumbling and falling far short of our aspirations and our self image.


If you're an athlete and in competition you get physically hurt.  You don't curl up and say, "You're all horrible I'm not playing any more."  You take the hit, you take a deep breath, you accept it's going to happen again at some point then you get on with what matters.


If you're a student or an academic and one of your hard sweated over papers gets easily dismissed by your peers or marked as mediocre by your lecturer, you don't burn all your books and stop thinking for the rest of your life.  You wince, you have a grump for an hour or a day then you go back, read your work again, work out how to do better and get back to doing what really matters.


The athlete who stops because it hurts is no longer an athlete.

The academic who stops because it hurts is no longer an academic.


The human who stops because it hurts.........


Peace,

Mikel.

THE RULE ABOUT RULES.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Some of us like rules and some of us don't.


Some of us need external rules to keep us from doing stupid things because we can't maintain our own internal rules.


Some of us use internal rules very well and are therefore very successful in life.


Some of us never think about our internal rules but still create succussful lives.


I am more a principles kind of guy they tend to be a bit more flexy than rules, closer to wisdom than to laws.  That quality appeals to me.


I do have one or two rules though, very conscious ones.


I am in a developing situation and part of the reason it is developing, very nicely in my view, is that I am ignoring one of my few rules.


Reflecting on this I arrived at the question:  How do we know when it's better to break a rule than to keep it? 


In my particular case, right now, the answer flows from the purpose of my rule.  It's not a rule to save me from death or anything particularly dire.  Breaking it exposes me to the risk of emotional distress but nothing soul destroying.  Obviously if I am exposed to emotional risk then there is also the possibility of emotional benefit.  In this case, great benefits indeed.


So, I'm happy to break my own rule and see how things turn out.


So what is my Rule About Rules?

Unbreakable rules are for robots.

We are human.


Peace.

Mikel.