firelight


Come, firelights,

Show me a path through mountains.

Aid my broken steps,

Set each on stony ground, not to fall

And fail again.

 

Come, light my way.

Weave round trees and silver leaves;

Guide this weary heart,

Bring back its beat to the strength

Of the drum.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals”


That title gives off a common view. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals.”

Well then, at that point you’re already in trouble.

If you can’t imagine each element of your goals, then you risk never reaching them – even when it is the act of giving up on them.

We need to imagine what it would be like to let go of our goals, because in doing, we understand everything which is at stake.

Why not go imagine what it would be like to let go of your goals?

Are you awake? I’m not.


Are you awake? No really, are you? You’re reading this right now, and we generally assume that if you’re busy reading something on the internet you tend to not be asleep.

But I’m still not sure how awake you are. I know I spend a lot of my waking life not really being awake, but rather I drift through life missing some of the most beautiful moments that pass me.

I’ve only realised the extent of this anomaly over the last week or so when I started a little experiment of mine. I have been constantly doing what I call ‘wake checks’.

The origins of this experiment came from my attempts to Lucid dream; when you become aware that you are dreaming and can consequently control it. It is meant to be an incredible experience, and although I haven’t succeeded yet, I’m vaguely aware that I could lucid dream to an extent when I was younger. (I have an interesting story about when my dreams stopped, but perhaps I’ll leave that for another post).

As i just said above that I hadn’t yet managed to lucid dream with the help of my wake checks, naturally i’ll be talking mainly about something other than Lucid dreams today. The fact, from my experience so far, is that wake checks do more than improve your chances of Lucid dreaming. Oh so much more.

Let me actually explain to you what my wake checks entail. The basic principle is fairly self-explanatory. You check whether or not you’re awake. I write ‘Are you awake?’ on my hand everyday in Chinese  (你醒马) and look at occasionally over the course of the day. As soon as I see it in passing, I ask myself “Am I awake? Am I dreaming?”, count the fingers on my hand, close my eyes, then check my hand again, looking for abnormal changes.

This may all seem a little odd, but in a dream certain small details get distorted. By making it customary to check for abnormalities in the waking world (being the strange person I am, I hesitate to use the word ‘reality’), it should increase the chance of noticing abnormalities in a dream – triggering awareness within the dream.

The problem arises when you consider that most people would think it rather strange to check they’re awake, especially when they know that they’re awake.

The bigger problem is that they should, and are missing out in not doing so.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘am I dreaming?’ used for when something incredulous happens. Interestingly enough, if you force the question, you start noticing plenty of incredulous things you pass every day but ignored before as ‘normal’, ‘just the way it is’, ‘boring’.

But things aren’t just ‘the way they are’ or ‘normal’. If you have ever read ‘the Kite Runner’, you may well remember the moment when the protagonist breaks down into tears because he had seen something stunningly beautiful for the first time. The sea.

What is considered normal is just what we are used to, and we tend to ignore it to an extent. An Eskimo isn’t going to be too excited If he met a Bedouin nomad telling of the wonders of icicles. Likewise, the Bedouin would be severely confused for an Eskimo in awe of expanses of sand.

Of course both places are incredible. But for someone, they are normal and for someone, what’s normal for you would be a world of experience for someone else.

You just need to see it.

And wake checks do that.

These are some of the things I hadn’t noticed – or had at least forgotten to the sea of acceptance and normality – that have come to my awareness since starting my wake checks.

-The cold isn’t as uncomfortable as we make it out to be, we just seem to be predisposed to anxiety from it. (of course I may have a different opinion of this if I still lived in Xinjiang, where it gets to -30)

– I’ve noticed patterns I never saw before in the way trees grow

– music has more depth and clarity

-The way different colours interact with each other seems clearer

-The huge amount of movement that happens in one single view at one time is incredible (this one came partly also from a recent training of my periphery vision. That in itself is another example of positive side-effects of projects as I was improving my periphery vision for speed reading rather than for increasing awareness in general)

-Fog has a very distinct smell

-I’ve realised how difficult it is to remain completely in focus of multiple actions. Try taking in everything in front of you in extreme detail whilst also trying to focus on a piece of music.

-Even if I haven’t lucid dreamed, my normal dreams are coming back (the disappearance of my dreams is worth talking about, but not today – it’s a weird story)

-I never noticed before how certain objects illuminate under streetlights at night.

-I see now just how much most people sleep-walk through life, when I see their faces in the street.

-I’ve noticed buildings and monuments I hadn’t acknowledged before.

-I’m more aware of how I feel, and as a result i’m less confused. This gives me confidence in myself.

-I feel like I need to be more productive each day. Being aware of your own wakefulness accentuates the knowledge that you are alive. We’re not alive for very long, and knowing you’re awake is a pretty good reminder that you’re still alive and need to make the most of that.

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Some of those points probably appear more poignant than others, but I think that the apparently smaller insignificant points are the more exciting. When you notice how the normal is incredible, you realise that there is so much more to reassess for it’s wonder, and that in turn highlights how exciting the as of yet unseen really is.

So I’ll ask you something again…

Are you awake?

Success?


I almost always feel like writing when I’m about to go to bed and am actually too tired to write properly. As is the case currently…I mean, I don’t even have anything planned to write about. I have something to write in two days time, but that post really requires it to be the 31st of December.

Ah, there we go – an idea. I’ll keep it short tonight, partly as it’s a rather spontaneous, not very well thought out bit of writing here, and partly as I really need to sleep…I’ve got a train to catch in the morning after all.

I found myself in an odd position at the dinner table the other night and the conversation turned to future goals/careers/ all that jazz. Usually when you end up on a serious conversation about future goals and ‘success’, words you expect to hear may include ‘work harder’, ‘have direction and goals’, ‘take your work seriously’, among other things.

I got instead, the advice to stop working so hard and to enjoy myself a bit more. First year doesn’t count, the advice goes.

Now this suggestion is quite good fun put into context. The giver of the advice was my dad, who just happens to be a professor at Edinburgh University. In other words, the last person you would expect to hear ‘first year doesn’t count’ from.

The talk expanded into the idea of success – a concept which I often contest the meaning of. Success is in general taken to mean making money and getting to the top of a career, and is one of the roots of this ingrained norm in society: We’re born. We’re kids. We go to school. We go to work or go to university. We work up a corporate ladder. We make money. We retire. We go forever, having been ruled by money since we were kids.

Yet here I am, despite my view above on what is considered a ‘success’, working too hard, to get a top mark, to follow exactly the same chain. And the voice of reason is coming from that system.

I still hold however that success is not getting to the top of the money making machine. For me, happiness is success. Peace is success. Love is success. Knowledge is success. Experience is success.

These things can all be shared without any loss to anyone. When money is shared, one gains and one loses.

I don’t think success should contain loss. It’s idealistic, but I openly have a passion for idealism.

Of course I want success. But money and a career isn’t success.

I work hard for knowledge, not a future dream of money.

But a message from the system, of all places, is helping me to develop an image of what success really is.

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And maybe one day i’ll be able to say more clearly what that may be, for I fully accept that right now, my view is incomplete, perhaps even ignorant and confused.

Just got to…flow.

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Half way up tiger leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China. That’s a view of success.

Thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed it.

a balance of work


I’m sure most people get told how they should balance their work and rest to make it more manageable. But just how do you fit in everything there is to do? I hear people often complain about a heavy workload, but look at it this way-with a lot of work, you improve and the more work you put in now, either it will be easier later or you will achieve more overall.

so here are some of my opinions on balancing everything:

Even when reaching a deadline, there is more to life than school work, business, or whatever work you happen to do. You simply won’t be engaged on your deadline with endless focus on it alone. If you have multiple deadlines, don’t work on one then the next but instead swap between them in order to keep them feeling fresh and interesting.

Don’t stop your hobbies temporarily to make time for something ‘more important’. Its ok to reduce the amount of time you spend on a hobby, but if you are passionate about something you should never stop. You may look back one day to find that you have lost time for it forever.

Always set yourself goals. Without them you have no idea where you are going and therefore can’t balance your time efficiently.

And heres just a thought i had today. Plato came up with an analogy for the link between the body, mind and soul, called the analogy of the charioteer. He describes the body and mind to be two horses, that wish to run in opposite directions, only being held together by the charioteer, who symbolises the soul. Essentially what Plato is saying in this analogy is that the body and mind have conflicting ideas, but the soul keeps them together. Whether or not you like this concept or not, i think that his analogy works rather well for the balance of work. Your mind wants to work and your body makes you procrastinate, however there is something that makes you eventually bottle down and do that work. Now in that analogy, swap your soul for your passion and ambitions and it makes sense. It is in the end (or at least should be) your ambitions that make you want to work, and also what takes you away from the tv and one stop closer to your dreams.

Your soul is your ambition.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment 🙂