Thursday, 25 June 2009

Gene in a Bottle

I was spring cleaning a drawer a little earlier today and I fell upon a magazine page from 5 years ago. I guess I had originally ripped it out of the 'Observer Magazine' in a fit of "wow, that's kind of cool". I've fallen upon the piece a few times in recent years and each time gave it the nod of approval. And today was no different. The article was an interview with Gene_Simmons, he of the ordinately long tongue and odd make-up from the band KISS.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mr Simmons has a certain way of looking at the world that is, let's just say, unconventional. He's lived a life that's been full to the degree of scarily excessive at times. But equally he's got such a charming way of looking at stuff you don't really mind the crazier parts. A case in point is when he talks about his mother:

"Besides giving my life, she's given me the wisdom that all the holy books and philosophers have been unable to encapsulate into a single phrase, and here it is: every day above ground is a good day and nothing else matters....The secret of life doesn't matter. What it all means doesn't matter. You're doing great if you're alive...You're alive. You're in the game."

I hear you, Gene.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Finding yourself, creating yourself

There are a crazy number of books providing a template to life. How to speak to your inner soul, how to speak confidently within thirty seconds, how to become a millionaire overnight, and so on. And I, for one, have read a trailer load of the above.

I see nothing wrong with this kind of literature as they do a lot of good for a lot of people. Personally, however, I prefer to view them from a certain angle. Different bookstores will categorise the same books under different criteria. Maybe it’s just my bugbear but you walk into certain bookstores and it will be “Self Help", walk under others and it will be “Personal Development”.

I prefer to see it all from the development rather than the help angle. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-valuation. In fact, an unobserved mind and all that can be a little dangerous.

But while some people may see life as being about finding yourself and these books are a tool for doing so, I’d prefer to see life as more about creating yourself, which these books are perfectly positioned to do as well.

There’s probably no right or wrong answer to this. It’s probably more down to how we individually prefer to see the world.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Everybody was kung fu fighting

Even after a year of doing kung fu, I can’t possibly bluff that I’m on the same page as some of the great exponents of the martial art – such as a big fluffy Panda voiced by Jack Black…

Still, the more I practice it, the more I see it beyond the slow mo acrobatics that good cinematography and a great head for heights brings to a movie theatre near you. The basic tenets of it all actually seem to apply to what I’m trying to stick to in real life. For example, there’s a basic sequence of movements that you rehearse, which are the basis of all Wing Chun kung fu moves, known as ‘Siu Nim Tau’. Think: an upright form of Tai Chi - and you can get the idea of a set routine, posture and way of applying yourself.

The more you practice it, the more you realise it’s all about the inner workings. It’s not just a slow, mimicking, shadow-boxing kind of act. It’s about how everything ticks within. My instructor boiled down Siu Nim Tau, and Wing Chun in general, to four major elements: being centred through the spine, relaxation, flexibility and having focus with intent.

The Bruce Lee flying kicks are great box office but real Wing Chun is all about looking from the outside inwards and not the other way round. You don’t focus on looking the right way; you focus on being the right way.

The other day the instructor outlined the correct way to move, fully focusing on both your poised structure and your arm rotations, rather than focusing on an object you may be hitting or blocking or whatever. Interpreting it for my real world, I view it as a call to focus on your goals/values/essence without being disrupted by those kinks in the road that suddenly appear from nowhere, called ‘real life’. Wing Chun isn’t a crazily theatrical martial art with arms and legs flailing everywhere. It’s all about keeping things simple and focused. The movements are deliberate and direct. No need to be excessive or undisciplined or wasteful. Relax – move forward…

Some day my whatever will come

There’s nothing wrong at all in setting goals. Hell, I give myself a metaphorical clip round the ear once in a while for my lack of goal setting. But just because ‘nice stuff’ can be expected from the resolution of an event or the achievement of a long-held desire, it doesn’t mean you should ignore all the time between the start and finishing lines. “When I finish this project, then I will be happy...When this situation is resolved, I will be fine... When I reach my goal, I will finally relax.” It’s best not to postpone your happiness for some future unknown. Enjoy what's in front of you. All that waiting could be for nothing anyway. It could all turn out to be for that proverbial cold dinner that you now realise wasn’t even that nice when it was hot.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Falling upon one of my favourite websites, I found the line: “I have manifested this because I like it.” It wasn’t talking about achieving some beautiful and wonderfully long-held dream.

Au contraire. It was all about the crap that we see in our lives. I started thinking about the mechanics of the idea and saw some truth in it. It’s the old ‘devil you know’ syndrome. If you really wanted to change your perception of a situation you can if you try a little.

But, oh no, you’d much rather be the victim, or the struggler, or over-worked, or the unloved, or the put upon, or the… And it goes on.

If you manage to take a deep breath and go head on against the comfort of feeling crap, as it were, you might actually surprise yourself. Get aware. As ever.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Getting busy

I’ve been busy in the last few weeks, hence I haven't had a chance to actually write much on this blog. Doing what? Busy being busy. The trouble is that it’s way too easy being caught up doing random stuff that doesn't actually fundamentally mean something to you. Think of habits, activities or 'priorities' that don’t take you along your road to fulfilment, enlightenment or whatever goal you may so choose. You get clogged up but not necessarily filled up spiritually or nourished, so to speak. In The_Tao_of_Pooh , they talk about ‘Bisy Backsons’ those characters that are always busy. Busy doing things, changing everything and everyone but sometimes just for the sake of it - always “busy but back soon” . And, of course, they forget to think about relaxing for their own benefit. They work themselves to death but don’t get much of anything in return for it. The question really should be: is all that rushing about really adding any value to you?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Talking to the Self

Here's another gem from the people at Innerspace from a while ago:

When you talk to yourself in your mind, which self do you address? And how? Usually people do not talk to their divinity, but to the most superficial aspects of their everyday personality. And often its a stream of fears, complaints and mindless repetition of old things. If we talked that way to another human being, we would have to apologise. Learning to talk properly to the self is a spiritual endeavour. Thoughts from the past and worries about the future do not create good conversation. Instead learn to talk to your mind as if it were a child. Talk to it with love. If you just force a child to sit down, he won't. A good mother knows how to prompt her child into doing what she wants. Be a good mother to your mind, teach it good, positive thoughts so that when you tell it to sit quietly, it will. Love your mind. Stay happy.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Think Big

"Rise above little things. Be a big thinker. You are what you think. So just think big, believe big, act big, dream big, work big, give big, laugh big, live big." Innerspace