I’m letting inspiration guide my writing at the moment .. and ‘learning to feel’ is a lesson I am currently learning .. to become aware of and open with my feelings. In my household growing up, joyful and happy feelings were much appreciated .. while painful emotions caused deep distress or disconnect. So I learnt to cut off from my emotions. Over time I made a virtue of it. It was a case of mind over matter.
Such a strategy developed in early childhood isn’t likely to carry us through life without any hiccups. My cutting off from feelings, along with a cutting off from needs, also made me need to cut off from people. And while I managed ‘on my own’ for more than 42 years .. it came to take me down through a spiralling circle of confusion and escapism. What helped me to come out of my pit of despair was the realisation that I needed to connect with people and speak out.
I started a new job today. The goal is to support aged people to live at home, though my work experience is at a nursing home. In a lovely twist this work is, for me, about independence and connection at the same time. It feels like the next step in an upward spiral I’ve been on. I am very protective of my time and energy and have always been resistant to working with people too much lest my energy get completely drained. But I’m discovering that learning to be present to my own needs and feelings (which I never have been) .. and practicing being in my body and grounding myself (another thing I haven’t been conscious to do) is how I can be with people and stay open but not allow myself to get lost in the process.
And talking of lost .. which I now discover is an offshoot from cutting off from emotions .. I’ve been thinking about how I have spent my whole life feeling lost and constantly searching for an answer that explains life, the universe and everything. And my biggest breakthroughs around being lost have been:
1996-ish : bushwalking in Kakadu when I got completely lost and by connecting inward to intuition (due to extreme urgency) – and found my way back in a magical way.
2001-ish – Landmark Education course – discovered ‘my act’ was “I don’t know”. When discovered this, the flash of insight about how I’d almost driven myself crazy with getting stuck in loops in my thinking. For some weeks after the realisation and clarity, I felt confident, I knew what I wanted, I felt at peace, my constant hesitation had a rest.
2014 : discovered the Enneagram and felt like my understanding of people all fell into place. It felt like a mind blowing experience and has brought me a lot of peace. I guess I feel less lost and confused now that I can understand better how and why people respond to the world in different ways .. and it also gave me a lot more compassion for myself and how I had experienced the world.
2016: started opening up about my thoughts and feelings to a friend, and this has been a really clarifying and liberating experience. Also talking to a psychologist who is helping me to make sense of my world and my life. For the first time I started to feel what I wanted, and ask for it.
It seems that returning to feelings is my pathway to having direction in my life. And it makes sense really .. because when I just thought about how directions feel when disconnected from feelings I had a vision of a person with a crazy scramble of thoughts happening in his head. And, well, moving ultimately happens with the body, not the head .. so moving to the senses makes sense.
I have two weeks, as of tomorrow, with a job placement with early mornings. It’s only for a short time .. but it is bound to be a big shock to my system. I’ll be started work before I’d normally even be awake. It feels like a baptism of fire. I guess I’ll have to start having early nights. I have a sense it could be what I need to properly shift me into a healthier and more productive lifestyle (i.e. going to bed earlier and waking up earlier). And I have some huge resistance to ‘conforming’ .. though it is only temporary. I’m starting to see how I have resistance to ‘having’ to do anything or to having to do things the way someone else tells me. And of course I’ve done plenty of both .. but my point is that I see that as a response to my childhood (I think my nature defied conformity) and it is a pattern, or a blueprint, that I am carrying with me. And I have an opportunity to have a different experience .. simply by bringing consciousness to the situation.
And so .. life becomes an adventure .. so long as I keep throwing myself into it. When I withdraw I have lots of fun mind adventures .. but ultimately there is an emptiness. By being in life I am confronted with feelings of pain and discomfort .. and I think it is the memory of the emptiness and a sense of hope that has me push through the swamp .. and conscious of the fact that in the muck, is life.
I will sign off for now ..
Onward march ..
E. M. Forster
Revolution for Peace: from nuclear disarmament to the tree of life
They say you want a revolution,
Well you know, We all want to change the world.
You tell me that it’s evolution,
Well you know, we all want to change the world.
John Lennon & Paul Mccartney (from the album Love)
Declaring a revolution
There is a certain freedom that comes from declaring a revolution .. a shift away from what has gone before. And so I will take the liberty to be so bold and declare my current quest – of creating spaces within public places that invite people to explore, play and connect – as a revolution in connection.
As a natural loner and a keen explorer I have spent my life striving to be alone and self sufficient in order to explore freely without the demands, expectations and judgements of others. As part of my explorations I have spent my life studying people and trying to understand why we experience and respond to the world in such different ways. My confusion about people and lack of confidence in my opinions resulted in my withdrawal from society or from any self expression to the point that I felt I might as well disappear completely. Instead though, I found a way to reenter the world – bringing with me a conviction in the importance of, and indeed the need for connection.
In my study of people, I’ve come to learn that there are in fact nine distinct worldviews that shape our experience of the world, each with it’s own strengths and limitations, gifts and challenges. I see tremendous value in having spaces where people can drop their guard and their patterned ways of being in order to open up to their essence. By shifting out of everyday life, letting go of egoic patterns and beliefs, and being in the present moment, we can come to discover that we are all connected.
Play offers opportunities to explore, to find connections and to open up our experience of the world. It keeps our minds active and agile and keeps us young. Play can offer a way to shift out of stuck ways of thinking. Play is important at all ages of life.
Yet opportunities for play in public spaces diminish after childhood. Almost all playgrounds cater primarily for youth, and adults without kids in tow tend to be viewed with suspicion or amusement if they dare to use children’s play equipment. I believe we need play spaces that cater to all ages, and indeed that invite all ages to come together. The separatist nature of most playgrounds increases disconnection and ignores the fact that people of all ages get many benefits from play. In addition, there are benefits in young and old coming together to enrich the lives of both.
When I try to think of places where a person who feels isolated can go and experience a sense of connection while having no expectation to be part of a group or to act in a particular way .. I draw a blank. And so I have designed Cloudscape.
Cloudscape offers a shift out of the everyday with many different ways to connect; physically (as we climb through the sculpture and move our body), mentally (as we shift out of our stuck patterns of thinking and allow ourselves to see the world afresh) and spiritually (as we surrender to the present moment and as we experience our personal connection to the world, to ourselves and to others),
A solution to isolation
Cloudscape is a solution to isolation. It is a response to a world where virtual connection has rapidly replaced personal contact resulting in a disembodied experience of the world and epidemics of obesity and depression. Balance needs to be restored, and Cloudscape offers a solution for moving forward.
From life experience
Cloudscape is a coming together of years of searching, exploring and questing on a personal journey of evolution and trying to find my place in the world. It brings together some of my ideas and skills into a mission that feels meaningful enough to pull me forward while giving me the direction and focus I have been searching for.
Having spent my life lacking the confidence to express an opinion (always seeing alternative views as equally valid), struggling to make decisions (hating to cut off possibilities) and holding back from self expression (to avoid the opinions, expectations and judgements of others) – I have finally come to develop a clearer perspective on my values, needs, strengths and what I need to do to evolve. Though hiding and flying under the radar has enabled me to explore broadly and deeply with minimum distraction, it also took me out of the world and out of connection with others, and ended up with my feeling lost, confused and alone, struggling to find purpose in life.
Coming full circle
So Cloudscape represents a coming full circle, a return to presence and self expression, and a stake in the ground that declares what I am taking a stand for. And so, with Cloudscape I am proposing a way to bring more openness, acceptance, connection and harmony to the world.
A bigger picture
My big picture view is to have these spaces in cities around the world, as places for people to reconnect and shift their thinking.
Through Cloudscape I hope to break down barriers to communication and set spirits free.
What is your perspective?
So that’s my vision and my stance. Of course I remain open to alternative views and opinions – and welcome them.
What do YOU think??
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Some things I have learnt:
– if we don’t get a lesson the Universe will keep sending it to us
– Everything is relative
– We are all connected
– I am not alone
– There is a flip-side to everything .. nothing is all good or all bad
– pushing something into the shadow, trying to hide it, gives it power
– the answer to Life and How to Live is … Breath
Moving on ..
Enough philosophising for today.
I realise I need to keep it simple. My mind does a grand job of complicating things. It takes me on journeys of wonder and beauty as well as nightmarish despair.
For months I’ve been playing with ideas, writing tomes, but little has made it to the public eye.
The challenge of self expression ..
Public expression .. is my biggest challenge. And such is the irony .. that what I’m desiring to create is so very public.
Cloudscape .. a vision that has been swimming in my head for too many years.
Just recently I discovered a sketch I did in 2008
An exploration of the ‘cloud’ concept from 2008
It reminded me how long this concept has been swimming around in my head. And I could keep on thinking about it and continue to hide away .. or I can bring it to life and learn the lessons and develop the concept in reality – and in connection with other people .. which after all is a big part of the concept!
The Kickstarter challenge
The September 2015 deadline I have set for the Kickstarter campaign is fast approaching .. and the pressure of that deadline, and the accompanying onslaught of so many competing demands and distractions is taking its toll. But despite all that, I need a deadline to narrow down my focus which tends to want to scatter far and wide into every possible crevice of life. The original goal was a September 1-30 campaign .. this then shifted to a September 15-30 campaign .. and right now my new goal is September 30 – October 31 .. Halloween might be a fitting end to the campaign.
I am in the process of creating the 1:20 scale model .. which is taking longer than expected (I tend to be optimistic about how long things will take .. which is one of my downfalls). I am also in the process of creating an explanatory video for the Kickstarter campaign, plus the Kickstarter campaign itself.
This morning’s breakthrough idea
And in the meantime .. there is the rest of life. I am pushing forward (too slowly) on an application to council for someone wanting to develop an empty block of land into their dream home, plus getting a bundle of presents ready to send to lots of people, since I’m generally hopeless when it comes to presents and this is a backlog going back years (I could write a blog post on that!), and .. I could go on with my smothering to do list and the efforts I have been taking in harnessing my attentions .. but I would just start rambling (more than I already am). But I will say that publishing this blog post .. regardless of how I feel about it .. is bound to give me a rush of energy since it has been on my ‘to do’ list since the beginning of this year. This morning I had the sort of breakthrough thought that comes from intense pressure and despair. I decided I would write straight into this WordPress site .. rather than into yet another Word or OmmWriter document. And taking a nudge and a glimpse of possibility from an email I received yesterday from Brian Johnson of Philosophers Notes asking ‘What is your keystone habit?’ (that being “a habit that, when we change it, will have the greatest positive impact on our lives”) .. I am here committing (eek!) to regular (weekly?) blogging as a habit. One bonus of doing this is that it can free me from my tendency to get stuck in the thinking process. There is always more thought that can be given to any topic .. but sometimes, as I know much too well, action is more important that perfection .. and overthinking can lead to less clarity not more. I know that I will do far better at clarifying my thoughts and improving my writing by putting them out than in keeping them to myself. And while it used to be other people’s responses that I feared .. I feel ready to deal with whatever may entail.
Taking action and stretching my comfort zone
I feel like I’ve written too much already .. but since I’m on a bit of a roll I will share some of the journey I’ve been on this year. In order to break out of my shell I have made a point of forcing myself, by all sorts of trickery, out of my head and into action. This has meant speaking where I normally would stay quiet, agreeing to do things I’d normally hold back on, doing things rather than just thinking about them. And so I have been pushing against my comfort zones, moving forward .. in baby steps. It has been quite a journey .. a roller coaster really. In taking actions that are against my natural proclivity .. such as opening up and sharing my reality with others, pushing myself into connection, and accepting support – my experience has been that the Universe responds in kind. And slowly – so slowly I’ve often berated myself and felt discouraged – each small action builds upon itself, the cogs start turning, and I have been able to see some progress.
The journey toward writing this post
I will share some actions I have taken that led to this post being written today (and to perhaps explain how momentous this simple post is for me..). It may give some indication of the sort of pressure it takes for me put myself in the public eye. It started with a trip to Santa Cruz, California in February, with funds scraped together by borrowing from my son’s bank account. It says something about how desperate I was feeling to escape from the prison of my personality, as much for his sake as for mine, that I deemed this necessary. This trip was for the purpose of a deep dive into the Enneagram and exploring my personality type. On my return, having seen with some clarity how my not expressing myself was like a slow and painful death, I had the fortitude to push forward on my ‘sculpture for play’ vision enough to crystallise my thinking and submit an entry into Sculpture by the Sea. Miraculously, my proposal was accepted for the 2016 exhibition. My next big push was a grant submission to the World Domination Summit Foundation, asking for help to support me in the journey toward the creation of the prototype of Cloudscape. This grant submission wasn’t successful, but the process forced further clarity, and prompted a friend who was present while I put it together to offer to loan me the money so I could get to the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon in July (Thank you Victor!). My first day back in Bellingen after that magical journey of connection, a meet up of the Bellingen Co-Working group was organised (my joining that group is another step I’ve taken this year). On this day the organiser, Thea, had organised an ‘offer and needs market’. Buoyed up from the trip and crystal clear on the need to connect with others, I announced my offer and need as a desire to create a ‘mastermind’ group for support, accountability and brainstorming. Two people showed interest. This blog post is much thanks to that group .. since I committed to publishing a blog post at our last meeting. And so, with the big steps just shared and a number of baby steps in between, I am slowly getting more comfortable with putting my thoughts and ideas into the world.
What do I have to offer?
For years I have pondered and puzzled, stressed over and felt quite defeated by the question of what I have to offer the world. What gift or offering I have that does not weaken or destroy me in the process .. that has meaning and value enough to sustain me, that allows me to stretch my mind and connect with others in a way that I feel makes a real difference, that allows me the solitude and space I need to feel strong .. and that allows me to be supported financially. My response to this, for the most part, has been a lifelong practice of minimising needs while working just enough to scrape by. But of course this response has serious limitations. And while the answer is yet to come .. this has been a year of climbing out of the hole I dug for myself .. of coming back into the world. And a big inspiration in this journey back into the world has come from my discovery of the Enneagram and the clarity and realisations that have come from my deep dive into this powerful and illuminating tool.
Cloudscape – a tool for transformation
For now, Cloudscape, is the tool I am using to make my difference in the world .. both in the journey toward its creation and by the piece when it is realised. On so many levels Cloudscape is about connection to others, connection to ourselves, connection to spirit, opening up to new possibilities, breaking out of ‘everyday life’, exploring and taking risks, and shifting our experience of the world.
As I move toward making this vision a reality, my next steps include finishing the model and fine-tuning the design, obtaining official approval from Bellingen Shire Council, developing the Kickstarter campaign, promoting it far and wide, raising the funds, settling on a strategy for building it, bringing together a team to build it, building it and then .. releasing it.
I feel like I could write forever. But I don’t need to cover everything in a single post .. so I will stop for now. But never fear .. you will hear from me again shortly .. and having now declared it to the world .. I will continue toward the realisation of this long held dream .. of creating magical spaces for exploring and experiencing the world.
Has anything I’ve said resonated? Please comment below.