The inevitability of the death

A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Soon afterwards, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace, he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, who made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at great speed to Samarra, where he believes Death will not find him.

The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture to his servant. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

W. Somerset Maugham‘s retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale, which appears as an epigraph for the novel

There’s nowhere to hide from our own mortality, even though we try to avoid it. It’s scary to imagine dying, so we joke about it or ignore it.

The sooner we face up to the inevitability of the death the sooner we start to appreciate waking up every day and starting fresh.

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Winter Solstice

This weekend marks the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere – the longest night of the year.  This means late dawns and early sunsets.

Summer begins in the north and winter begins on the southern side of the globe.

Now we wait as the days lengthen again, as we move around the sun towards another summer.

And so the cycle continues.

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Trusting your gut

Trusting your gut isn’t limited to the big decisions in life. It permeates our daily lives.

  • What to eat.
  • Whether to swim in the sea if the current feels too intense.
  • Deciding to exercise or take a rest because you don’t feel 100%.
  • Which books to read.
  • Who to trust and who stay away from.
  • When to leave and when to stay.
  • When to be quiet and listen.

Trusting your gut is all about the micro moves we make during the day.

The more you listen to yourself, the closer you get to who you are.

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Spooky places

There are certain places that always never feel good to me. I feel a sense of unease when it’s quiet, and the busyness of life isn’t there to distract me. Something inside the lizard part of my brain tells me to be on guard.

Sometimes I’ll walk into a house and or building and pick up the negative juju the instant I step into a particular space. It also seems to stick around, and it’s not like burning a sage bundle will make it better.

There’s a deep channel of water on my daily swim that makes me swim a bit faster and breathe a bit deeper on every inhale.

There’s a corner of the lounge in the house where I grew up that never felt right to me. You wouldn’t catch me alone in the room with the lights out, and curtains closed.

I believe that feeling that sense of dread is like a phone ringing and telling me to pick up. Maybe instead of avoiding those bad juju places, I should hang around and let whatever it is that’s knocking settle in for a bit.

Accept your seat at the table

When the Goddess of Wealth comes to give you her blessing, you shouldn’t leave the room to wash your face – Hindu Proverb

If you want to win the lottery, you gotta buy a ticket.

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The lie of a linear life

“God does not build in straight lines” – Prometheus (2012 Film)

Progressing through life is not linear. It’s a messy, lumpy line that is all over the map.

We have setbacks and leapfrog moments. The trick is not getting knocked when you are sucker punched and capitalising on the good luck moments.

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The power of words

My father first got me interested in the weight and power of words. Understanding the meanings and root of a word added a whole new dimension to reading and learning.

Take the word love as an example. Next time you say you love something or someone, it’s worth thinking about what you mean.

Just for fun, here are eight ways to define love:

  1. Agape — Unconditional love. Altruistic, selfless, unconditional love
  2. Pragma — Enduring love. Love that has matured and developed over a long time.
  3. Eros — Romantic, passionate, and physical love
  4. Ludus — Playful love. The giddy feeling of young romance. The honeymoon period.
  5. Philia — Affectionate love. The kind of love that you feel for your friends.
  6. Philautia — Self-love. Being okay with yourself, kind of love.
  7. Storge — The kinship and the bonding love that happens with groups of friends, sports teams or alumni groups.
  8. Mania — Obsessive love. The crazy fanatical love that can be a little loco.
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Keep calm and enter the Void

If you saw the Netflix show Stranger Things, then you’ll get my next analogy about the Void. The Void appears as a vast infinite expanse of black nothing abyss. It is entirely empty and black, except for the character Eleven herself and whatever or whoever she is trying to locate. Next time you meditate, close your eyes and imagine entering the Void within your mind. It’s entirely still and dark. Thoughts will appear in the distance. Observe then and then keep moving. If you get a freaked out, then open your eyes and start again.

This is a refuge inside of your mind, just for you. Your thoughts will still appear, but this isn’t their home, so let go as smoothly as they arrived.

Remember to breathe.

The Field

Is there something or someone on your mind, something in the past or a problem you are working through that’s making you anxious? The following exercise won’t answer any specific questions you have or offer up a solution, but it will help you.

Take ten deep breaths through your nose and imagine a field. See it bathed in the late afternoon sun, or maybe it’s early morning, and you can feel the dew under your feet as the sun starts to warm up the ground. Feel the breeze on your face and take note of the different smells.

Now take the problem or memory that’s on your mind and release it into the field. It’s now standing in front of you. Sometimes it’s a person, an event or both. Let the sun shine on it and release it from your mind. Don’t try to solve the problem and don’t intellectualize it. It’s free to go. Give it up to the sun and the warmth of the field. If the person you’ve released wants to come back to you, then gently tell them they are free to go with your blessing and love.

That’s it. It’s an exercise in release and surrendering whatever you are holding onto the field and leaving it there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there – Rumi

Side note: It’s incredible how many people imagine a green field. It’s a little uncanny and cool.

Lagging indicators and leading indicators

“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.”  – Warren Buffett

Don’t give in to impatience. People give up because they don’t see results and confuse leading indicators with lagging indicators.

Physical health is a lagging indicator. Daily exercise and a healthy balanced diet is a leading indicator.

Financial independence is a lagging indicator. Persistence, simple living, and long-term saving habits are the leading indicators.

A happy marriage is a lagging indicator. Being in service to your spouse, compromise, kindness, and humbleness are the leading indicators.

A midlife crisis is a lagging indicator. Not being true to yourself and not having the courage to do what’s right for you when you are younger is the leading indicator.

Low stress is a lagging indicator. Controlling smartphone / screen time, daily meditation, spending time with friends, getting eight hours of sleep and cutting out the booze are leading indicators.

It’s never to late to start, but realise where and when you need to start if you want a certain outcome for yourself.