Category Archives: Uncategorized

Forgiveness

Recently, I wrote about forgiveness, and how important it was in my achieving a deeper understanding of meditation.

Forgiveness is an interesting topic, going back millenia. Sun Tzu wrote about it in the context of magnanimity: “Treat the captives well, and care for them. This is called “winning a battle and becoming stronger.”

One could also argue that all of Ancient Greek literature is a lesson on why forgiveness is so important.

In some readings, forgiveness was one of the virtues of Hinduism.

Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and many other religious and cultural traditions also have many things to say about the importance of forgiveness[1].

However, one could argue that forgiveness is most important and truly central to Christianity. The oft-cited Parable of the Prodigal Son speaks of the power of love to enable forgiveness (and also apparently of the importance of emotional conversation between parents and children, but I digress).

The reason I mention all of this is to give context for forgiveness. When I was growing up, it was a common concept[2], but I don’t really think I internalized it. It’s from my undergrad thesis adviser that I take my canonical example of forgiving the people working for you, and making a daily or weekly clean slate, so that you can do your best work[3].

I took this example with me, and I think helped a lot as I led teams in a variety of ways. But I had never really thought about forgiving myself.

I mentioned earlier that if you want to truly relax, to meditate, to be in your body, inside yourself, you need to have a safe space inside yourself.

But if you have not forgiven yourself, if you are constantly criticizing yourself on the inside, you do not have that safe space, and are prone to self-medicate in various ways[4]

I cannot tell you how to forgive yourself. The power of much of organized religion is that it promises to give you that forgiveness that you cannot achieve yourself.

But I can tell you something of why it is important, and how I got there. All of this arose when I was involved in a dispute. Emotions were running high, and it was distracting me from everything that I find important. Somewhere around then, G suggested that I forgive them. It’s similar to letting something go, to letting the emotions roll over you. This helped my isolate my emotions (my reaction) from what was happening outside me. I understood that I could not control what happened outside me, but I could control myself.

This helped a lot, but it was still predicated on controlling myself, not fully trusting my emotions. Still avoiding my inner thoughts because they were still not a safe space.

This last breakthrough came through a guided meditation, where I was already in a physical and mental safe space, where I was given the permission to forgive myself. I am not going to give you that permission, because I cannot. Only you can give yourself that permission. But know that you have the power to do so, somewhere inside yourself.

“Give a person forgiveness, and they will forever be asking you for such. Teach a person to forgive themself, and they shall become more serene than you can possibly imagine.”

[1]You could even argue that the Babylonian code of laws was an early attempt at forgiveness, where ‘eye for an eye’ was more forgiving than a centuries-long blood feud. Note that this link to an article on this topic is rather lurid and not for the squeamish: [link]

[2]I even went to church for a while when I was younger, and I always enjoyed the construction of the line ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

[3]I will likely write more about this. I think it’s super-important.

[4]Any distraction will do. Not sleeping, workoholism, Oblivion, and running are among the more socially acceptable ones.

A Guided Meditation

This was inspired by a guided ‘being in your body’ meditation with Gorett, my life coach. You may also be interested in my previous post on this. Anyway, here goes:

First, you want to be wholly in your body.

Close your eyes, and make yourself comfortable.

Walk through each of your senses, and see what each of them are saying.

You may still see some colour, depending on how much light there is where you are. You may see some bright spots and dark spots, depending on what you were last looking at. Watch them. Watch them fade as your eyes acclimatize to being closed. You may see some of the sparkle patterns or moving objects that happen sometimes when you close your eyes. Watch them for a while. See how they move. Acknowledge them. Understand that they happen and that that is okay.

Next, figure out what your ears are telling you. You may hear someone in the next room, a siren in the distance, the beating of your heart. What do you smell? Is it a familiar smell? Is there anything at all? Can you smell yourself? Sometimes you can smell the inside of your own nose, similar to how you can see the inside of your eyelids. Acknowledge these things, glory in them, let them wash over you.

What are you tasting? Is it the thing you just ate? The mint from the toothpaste? Something else? Acknowledge it. Experience it fully, let it wash over you.

Where is your body? Think about each of your limbs and where they are. Are you sitting down? Lying down? Experience it fully and let it wash over you.

What are you touching? Are your hands in your lap? What is the sensation of your hands on your legs? Feel your hands, your lower arms, your upper arms as they come out of your shoulder. Flex your shoulders just a little bit to remind them that they’re alive. Feel the sensations as your muscles move. Now relax your shoulders, your arms. Feel your toes. What are they feeling? Feel your feet, your ankles, your calves, your knees, your thighs. Feel your pelvis, your hips, rotate them just slightly to know they’re there, to put them in a slightly more comfortable spot. Feel your lower belly, think about what you most recently ate, and let it go. Take a deep breath and let it go. Feel your heart beating. Feel your breath in and out. In and out. Move your shoulders again. Feel your neck, feel your ears, the hair on the back of your head, your chin, your mouth, your nose, your cheeks, your eyes, all the way to the follicles on the top of your head.

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in…breathe out. Breathe in…breathe out.

You are in a safe space now. You may be hearing a voice right now, telling you things about yourself that you don’t want to hear, that you have something lacking. Acknowledge that voice, feel it fully, experience it, and let it go. Breathe in, experience it, breathe out, let it go. Breathe in, feel it, breathe out, let it go.

You are now allowed to forgive yourself. We are forgiving ourselves for many reasons. We could talk about absolution, we could speak of religion, or spirituality, but here we are forgiving ourselves because the voice in our head is getting in the way of us doing the things we want to do. Acknowledge the voice, experience it, forgive it. Breathe in, breathe out. This is a safe space of forgiveness.

Be in your body. Check in on your body, are you still comfortable? Things may have shifted. Move yourself a little bit to make yourself a little bit more comfortable.

Breathe in, breathe out. You are in a safe space. Acknowledge, fully experience, forgive, let go. Breathe in, breathe out. You are in a safe space. Acknowledge, fully experience, forgive, let go. Breathe in, breathe out. You are in a safe space. Acknowledge, fully experience, forgive, let go.

Now, on your own time, you can take as much time as you want, you can open your eyes and share with me how you are feeling, what you might be thinking. On your own time, take as much time as you want.

How do you Stop Yourself From Acting?

I’ve been working on a number of posts, now that I feel that I can start writing again. It so happens that I’m feeling (I think) a little more tired than usual[1], and so it feels slightly more difficult than usual to put words to electronics.

So, I’m working on a number of posts, each of them with perhaps a paragraph or two so far. A couple of them have really poignant titles, that really speak to me. Titles so near and dear to my heart that I’m afraid to publish something that isn’t perfect. So, I start another post instead of publishing something.

It is this fear of not being good enough, a falling out of trust with my own ability that is stopping me right now. Or rather, it isn’t, as I seem to have found a way around it.

It involves trying things, trying different channels of thought until I find one where the words flow well enough from my fingertips. I think it helps that I’ve had that feeling before.

I’m tempted to make a sequel to something I’ve already done[2], but interestingly, this feels even easier. I think it may be because struggling with uploading pictures to WordPress is such a bear.

Anyways, words flowing from fingers. Following the flow wherever it takes you. You see the shoals of writer’s block, of tiredness, and you sit down, fully accept them, then playfully try different things until you find something that just flows around them as if the obstacles weren’t there at all.

More on that later. Happy creating!

[1]Who knows what is actually happening, with the amazing ability of the brain to convince you that you don’t need to be doing things.

[2]Anything on this blog entitled ‘Burning Man in Pictures’.

Burning Man 2015 in Pictures LXX: Decompression in Reno

It’s always an experience coming home from an immersive event. Good movies can do it, especially when you’ve experienced catharsis, I’ve also experienced it a good meditation or epiphany.

But when the event is weeks long, with a totally different culture and social mores, the decompression experience can approach culture shock in its intensity.

When I first came home from Burning Man in 2013, I was biking down the Danforth, looking at all of the establishments along the road. Because I was still decompressing, I saw them as emplacements whose main goal was to persuade passers-by to give them resources.

we had decided to spend a day or two in Reno on the way back from the Burn in 2015, a trip which I will document later. Today it’s more about the decompression experiences.

We arrive at the hotel in Reno!  Also visible: Mike, possible Marc.
We arrive at the hotel in Reno! Also visible: Mike, possible Marc.
Our pristine hotel room.
Our pristine hotel room.
Is it a strange alien beast, or bungee cords?
Is it a strange alien beast, or bungee cords?Is it a strange alien beast, or bungee cords?
This is what playa dust looks like in Real Life(tm).
This is what playa dust looks like in Real Life(tm).
#metasymbols
#metasymbols
These were the best bike locks.  You just had to spell a word, such as 'HIRP', and it would unlock.
These were the best bike locks. You just had to spell a word, such as ‘HIRP’, and it would unlock.
POLT.  Also, we left these locks (and our bike baskets) behind for the next renter.
POLT. Also, we left these locks (and our bike baskets) behind for the next renter.
In the Reno airport, we saw an installation that seemed somewhat familiar.
In the Reno airport, we saw an installation that seemed somewhat familiar.
Aha!
Aha!
Your trusty correspondent, outfitted in full Space Cactus regalia.
Your trusty correspondent, outfitted in full Space Cactus regalia.

And, that’s all she wrote.

There are still many more photos to process (we had so many people helping us plan and build!), but this is the chronological end of the project (modulo a couple of moves of the installation parts when they arrived home). It feels good to feel like I’ve finished something, even if it was in much more depth than I had ever expected.

Here’s to next time. Thanks for reading. 😀

Burning Man 2015 in Pictures LXV: Mirror Blaze Teardown Continues!

Last time, we watched the first stage of the Mirror Blaze teardown. Today, we witness the second part of the teardown, and some of the (very very very sooty) effects of having flame effect equipment in an enclosed tube for a week.

Mirror Blaze, at the start of phase II.  Note the wind bracing sticks at the top.
Mirror Blaze, at the start of phase II. Note the wind bracing sticks at the top.
Callum pulls up the fence protecting the fuel depot for Mirror Blaze and FaIRE Hockey.
Callum pulls up the fence protecting the fuel depot for Mirror Blaze and FaIRE Hockey.
l-r: Case, Kosta, Kevin, S (slight case of clamber), and Splat
l-r: Case, Kosta, Kevin, S (slight case of clamber), and Splat
l-r: Kevin, S (slight case of peeping), Greg, Splat
l-r: Kevin, S (slight case of peeping), Greg, Splat
The disassembled pieces of Mirror Blaze pile up!
The disassembled pieces of Mirror Blaze pile up!
Greg holds up some of the padding used to protect the quartz tube from the metal straps holding it up.
Greg holds up some of the padding used to protect the quartz tube from the metal straps holding it up.
The quartz tube, marks left over by the silicone and not-so-flammable fabric padding.
The quartz tube, marks left over by the silicone and not-so-flammable fabric padding.
The quartz tube, in situ.  Note the sooty colour.
The quartz tube, in situ. Note the sooty colour.
Kosta unhoking 'Flamey', the flame effect.
Kosta unhoking ‘Flamey’, the flame effect.
'Flamey' is quite 'sooty'.  But the aluminum foil protecting the wiring held up!
‘Flamey’ is quite ‘sooty’. But the aluminum foil protecting the wiring held up!

Next time, the rest of the Mirror Blaze tear down!

This is What Privilege Feels Like…

This is what privilege feels like…

So, I was walking down the street at lunch today, and I had been walking behind someone for a while. We got to a point where I could pass them, and suddenly I was passing them like they were standing still.

Normally, I would think nothing of this, as it’s happened too many times to count. But thinking about it, I really hadn’t sped up that much. It *must[1]* have been that the other person, sensing that I wanted to pass, read my small signals, and slowed down so that I could pass more easily. Not thinking about it, or even noticing it, I took them up on it.

When you’re walking or driving, these little non-vocalized communications are essential for safe movement of traffic.

Outside of that, when someone defers to you and you don’t even notice?

That is what privilege feels like.

[1]It is entirely possible that the person became uncomfortable with someone following them[2], and let them pass for that reason. The privilege argument above still holds if the follower who is stood aside for does not notice, or bulls through anyway.

[2]The case above was around noon, outside on a busy street in an affluent neighbourhood. But I know that I don’t like it when people follow close behind me, and perceptions can vary.

BrVenn Diagrams:

There has been a considerable amount of discussion about the ‘UK European Membership Referendum‘ which happened this week[1].

I currently remain optimistic, and not too concerned, but I was struggling to put words together to explain why, until I saw this diagram, which dovetailed with many of my thoughts:

A Venn Diagram showing many of the treaties binding European nations together.
A Venn Diagram showing many of the treaties binding European nations together.

To put it bluntly, the UK is already quite entangled with the other nations of the EU, economically, geographically, and by treaty. This referendum result may end in something further away from a completely united Europe, but there are already a number of nations which are already at arms length from the EU. (The UK still had its own currency, for example.)

Hopefully they’ll just use this vote as a negotiating tactic to get more of what is good for the people of the United Kingdom (although they’ll probably use it to get more of what is good for the people in power).

Now that David Cameron has resigned, I feel like they need some leadership which can take this immense amount of frustration which has just been expressed[2], and channel it into positive change. Looking back at my knowledge of current and recent UK political history, I don’t know who that would be (or whether there has been such a person in recent memory).

But I remain hopeful that people will step up, and the sensible party will bring people together.

[1]Here, and here, I’ve said some words on the topic, for example.

[2]Not that it hadn’t been being expressed before, it’s just that those in power were listening even less than usual.

The Opposite of a Puzzle

What is the opposite of a clown car? S asked and answered this question earlier today, but before we get to that, a commentary about what an opposite is and isn’t from Roy Greenhilt:

“Two things need to be almost the same except for one or two factors to be opposites.” [Cartoon violence and argument]

So, getting back to our initial question, we need to start with a description about what a clown car is:

“A car from which many clowns emerge.”

So you could say something like:

“A car from which few (or no) clowns emerge.”

Or perhaps a ‘Clown Truck’:

“A truck from which many clowns emerge.”

Or the ‘Anti-Clown Car’:

“A car which absorbs clowns with no end.”

(Although any clown car would probably have to gorge clowns anyways before it could disgorge them.[1])

But my favourite is S’s:

“A clown from which many cars emerge.”

We tried oppositing other words as we were talking, but none of them really caught on. The opposite of a fire truck was done in Fahrenheit 451[2], the opposite of a cat is clearly a dog, and what is the opposite of a duck?[3]

Or perhaps this one:

“What is the opposite of a puzzle?”

[1]Or merge them before they could emerge.

[2]I always found this disturbing.

[3]Not ‘What is the difference between a duck?’ The answer to that is well known.

Burning Man in Pictures 2015 XV: A New Day Dawns and Portapotty Commentary

Note: Mild possibly nsfw cartoon nudity in this post.

To finish closing off day 3 (Saturday), we check in on Fire Tetris:

Fire Tetris is up!  Check out all the pilot lights! (Note that this is a back view.)
Fire Tetris is up! Check out all the pilot lights! (Note that this is a back view.)

And Fire Tetris is up! Note that each of the pixels are individually addressable flame effects. You can see the pilot lights from the back in this pic.

Also, we check in on the front of house, looking sharp:

Front of house and a peek at Riskee Ball, night 3.
Front of house and a peek at Riskee Ball, night 3.

Then, a new day dawns.

I check on my boots. Proper footwear is key for Burning Man. If you go barefoot or wear sandals, which you may be tempted to do because of the heat, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with ‘playa foot‘. I have plastic plates put on the heels of my boots[1] because apparently I walk really heavily and wear down my heels. The plates help my heels last to prevent knee pain. You can also see in the picture the pernicious playa dust:

My boots, after 3 days on playa.
My boots, after 3 days on playa.

Heading to the portapotties, we see some of the most recent expressions of ethos:

The Anarchy Love Equation.  For some reason, it seems to fit well on a portapotty door latch.
The Anarchy Love Equation. For some reason, it seems to fit well on a portapotty door latch.

Also on the same trip, we see a very nice, but pretty standard inspiring saying:

An inspiring message.
An inspiring message.

Followed by a zoomed-out picture showing a slightly different expression of the idea:

An inspiring message...at Burning Man.
An inspiring message…at Burning Man.

Last, but not least is a message about baby wipes. Baby wipes are one of the most important currencies at Burning Man, used for your daily cleanup, as most people don’t use showers. However, if they get into the portapotties, they will clog the equipment used to empty them, causing a very bad problem:

A commentary about baby wipes in a portapotty context.  Also, I'm about 90% sure that 'Gonzo Frothwood' is a pseudonym.
A commentary about baby wipes in a portapotty context. Also, I’m about 90% sure that ‘Gonzo Frothwood’ is a pseudonym.

If you’re counting, we’re now in day 4 (Sunday), which also happens to be opening night for Burning Man. Thankfully, during day 3, we had completed the structure for Mirror Blaze, so all that remained was the cosmetic ‘big top’ bunting. Before we get to that, let’s check in on how the rest of Charnival was doing.

Here’s Riskee Ball looking mighty fine from the front:

Riskee Ball looking might fine from the front...
Riskee Ball looking might fine from the front…

With all of the intense construction activity happening in the back, tightening all the joins, attaching all the piping:

Riskee Ball intense construction activity behind the scenes...
Riskee Ball intense construction activity behind the scenes…

Fate was continuing Hellblazer[2] trenching (to attach propane lines to the fuel depot, I assume), with one of my most favourite hats ever:

Hellblazer trenching, accompanied by Fire Tetris and Francis the Fantastic.
Hellblazer trenching, accompanied by Fire Tetris and Francis the Fantastic.

Next time, we’ll check in on Mirror Blaze, and see how things are progressing!

[1]Nick’s Shoe Repair on Dupont. They are excellent and timely. Why not give them a call?

[2]Hellblazer was (and still is!) a highstriker.