This was an old joke between my first wife and me, when a discussion or argument that had reached the point where one person wanted to shout “Why can’t you just do what I’m telling you to do?” – the other would pull out this line and defuse the situation (obviously not foolproof as you may infer from my use of the phrase ‘first wife’).
But it’s a good question, why can’t you just be a better person? Why is personal growth so hard?
Why do we have to grow at all? Can’t we just carry on where we are? Well, no it appears not. Even the most stagnant relationships and work situations don’t last forever. We end up having to change in one way or another and we can either do it consciously or unconsciously. No scrap that, it’s not either/or, it’s a matter of degree of consciousness – my experience has been that for every epiphany as a result of conscious work on myself there are a hundred little growth spurts that I don’t recognise as such until much later on.
So what is this conscious work? It’s a kind of growing up, it’s a way of building good character, it’s dealing with the unconscious triggers that result in disturbance (/me being a dick). Most spiritual traditions and teachers have a way of doing this and for me it boils down to a few steps:
- Admit that the disturbance is in me. Not that the outside world is perfect and I’m wrong, but that the thing causing me the most pain is not outside of me, it’s within.
- Accepting the thing I’m doing is part of me and likely has been around for a while (ie it’s not just a product of this situation). This is tough. Who wants to admit that they’re habitually self-centred, self-righteous or dishonest?
- Remembering that just because it’s a (perhaps quite old) habit doesn’t mean that it’s the ultimate truth about me. I am fundamentally honest and I’m mostly capable of enacting that but there are times, when I feel under pressure, that I say things that aren’t true.
- Forgiving myself for doing it one more time and forgiving those that I’d associated with my disturbance.
- Doing something to express that forgiveness to anyone I’ve harmed through the disturbance – this requires a couple of careful steps, one is assessing who has been harmed (it might only be me!) and the other is how to do something about it without compounding the original harm. Finding someone else who can help you see the right path through this bit is invaluable.
- Get on with doing something helpful and useful for someone else.
- Rinse and repeat as required.
I’m not done, by the way, I have no illusion of my own perfection, but it helps, it really does.
I’ve been quieter here (and the wider internet) than usual of late.
That brings mixed blessings for you and for me.
The good news is that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
The bad news is…
It felt important to put another link in the chain today even though I didn’t feel like talking much. Processing… processing… processing.
Shock is a weird thing, it will be interesting to look back on this once it’s passed. Thanks to all who came to Tuttle this morning to share their experience of shock, grief, acceptance, tolerance and love. More will be revealed!
Also I need to experiment more with this new camera so that I’m not all out of focus
Today I moved into Lower Marsh – this consisted of me showing up and acquiring a set of keys and having an introduction to the various security measures. Then there was lots of walking around the space, poking things, thinking, thinking about where stuff could go, thinking about what to keep and what we might need.
Then we (me, Rachel and Dan) wandered up and down the terrific array of street food stalls and settled on some Pad Thai which we ate at a little table outside the hardware shop while we got to know each other a little better.
I took a wander up and down after lunch and checked out which spaces in the street have free wifi. An important point – there are lots of places that only take cash, but there are no cashpoints/ATMs – bring cash with you!
We need to get the phone line and wifi working in the basement but otherwise we’re in.
Come and see me. I’m not keeping regular office hours yet but let me know if you’re going to be passing through Waterloo and if we can say hello, we should!
Resistance loves distraction – there are so many other things to think about, read about, talk about rather than sit down at the page and write something useful. But one anti-resistance trick is to write a little bit about resistance, at least that gets all my fingers on the keyboard at the same time and pulls me towards getting some thinking flowing in a unified direction. So in case any of them haven’t occurred to you and you’d like to pick them up yourself, my current distractions are (in just any old order):
- Donald Trump and the US Election;
- The referendum – the manipulation of national discourse (because this is what the whole thing is really it seems to me – one big exercise in distraction and misdirection, and we’ve fallen for it.);
- A political assassination in the UK;
- Those people who are going to vote for D Trump and Brexit and how different they are from anyone I think I know;
- Impending doom;
- TheDAO and people’s reaction to it going tits up;
- The weather, although today’s been quite nice most of the time;
- My weight, health, baldness, beard-length;
- Preacher and Halt & Catch Fire plus the dearth of anything good on Netflix;
- Weariness over the effort it takes to get paid sometimes;
- Not having done the washing up yet;
- Wondering… about stuff…
- Worrying about what this list reveals about me.
OK. Let’s see if that helped.
From Monday 20th, all being well, I’ll be starting to work from the Concrete Basement in Lower Marsh (home of Anthony Epes and some new friends) – I know I’ve been down in the basement there before sometime, perhaps one of you can own up to also being there, to help me with my failing memory…
Lower Marsh is a great little street that’s feels like it’s been on the edge of gentrification for as long as I’ve been hanging out in London. That feeling might be accelerating a bit at the moment (key indicator: new, funky coffee shops) but isn’t that everywhere? And it’s been remarkably resilient given that it’s slap bang next to Waterloo Station. The other plus for me is that there are three major theatres and the Southbank Centre all in walking distance.
Anyway, that’s where I’m going to be hanging out for the time being. I shall kick off with some self-appointed Social Artist in Residence stuff, for the space and for the street, but I shall also be focusing on getting Tuttle consulting going again and hoping to use local venues for Open Spaces looking at the human experience of work, technology, economy ‘n’that. Other ideas for collaborative projects always welcome.
Please come and see me, bring exotic teas, stories of “one time, I was in Lower Marsh and…” and perhaps something small but inspiring to put on the wall or sit on my desk.