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.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke
Remember those sci-fi films where an alien ship is discovered on earth but nobody knows how to fly it because the controls and screens aren’t visible. The intrepid explorer climbs into the ship and then the door automatically closes and the cockpit lights up. The cockpit looks simple and clean from the outside, but we all know there is a some serious alien technology under the hood.
Carl Sagan had the same idea when he wrote the book Contact which later become a movie starring Jodie Foster. The pod that NASA engineers built according to the alien’s directions had no controls or even a seat. All the technology was unseen.
When I look at the SpaceX Dragon cockpit and compare it to the NASA Shuttle it’s like I’m living in a Science Fiction Novel.
What will spaceships look like 50 years from today?
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Break free from your indoctrination and step into your imagination.
Here are a couple of indoctrination factories that seduce you, recruit you, shape you, and end up using you:
Any schools (except Montessori)
Universities with prescriptive degrees
Corporate jobs like accounting firms, law firms, and banking jobs
Here are some of the imagination factories you should seek out:
Cities like San Francisco, New York, LA
Festivals and gatherings with like-minded people who will challenge you
Twitter and Reddit
Book clubs and writing groups
I learned more at university, sitting with my friends at night trying to figure out life than I did in any lecture hall.
In a post-pandemic society, I hope fewer people attend university, and instead, they get busy working and learning. Now that “top tier” universities charge tuition and fees of over $60,000 per year, can you stomach paying that much money to watch classes via Zoom and YouTube? Instead, start a business or learn in the field.
As tertiary education demand drops, I also hope there are less grooming and rote learning type educations at schools where the sole aim of an “education” is to get a child admitted to a university for further indoctrination.
Getting a gold star in the school of imagination is not about the right answers; it’s about asking the right questions.
The bird and its call make an appearance during significant moments in my life.
On the day of my wedding, I was in the Presidio in San Francisco with my eldest brother. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and take a walk on Crissy Field while everyone was getting ready. As we were walking through the Eucalyptus trees on the way to Crissy, I heard a dove cooing high up in the gum trees. The sounds calmed my nerves and reminded me of my family who weren’t with me that day.
The other time, I was with my other brother in Lafayette Park in San Francisco. We were waiting for some life-changing news and decided to take a walk to do something while we waited on the results. We were standing at the top of the park and looking down towards Sacramento Street when I heard a dove cooing. A couple of minutes later, I received a good news text from my wife that changed my life forever.
The other day I was dropping my youngest son off at school. We’d been away for a while, so it was his first day back, and the drop off went badly. He was crying his lungs out as I walked away from him and left him in the capable hands of the teachers. I felt awful. As I walked home, I heard a dove cooing on the quiet street. I took a deep breath and calmed down. Whenever I’m at my son’s school now, I listen for the dove watching over the school.
If you listen carefully, you can hear mother nature whispering to you. Next time listen, look, and be still.
“Out beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing, there is a field I will meet you there. It’s the world full of things to talk about.”
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.
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.
I think AA Milne was tapped into Zen before Zen was a Western thing. His writing is simple and profound at the same time. It reminds me of Rumi who was a 13th-century Sufi mystic and William Blake, the English poet and artist. AA Milne was an author but also a mystic.
Here are my top four lines from Winnie-the-Pooh:
“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
“‘How do you spell love?’
‘You don’t spell it…you feel it.'”
“I think we dream, so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”