Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Monday, January 31, 2005

Following the rules and being a good boy!

Don’t you just hate that you always should follow the rules in the workplace in order to appear to be a team player and a professional? Sometimes, when your work or your manager crosses the line, when they push well into your boundaries and you have to bite down and go with it in order to be seen as a good employee, in order to pick-up your wage check at the end of the month, when what you actually want to say is ‘Just who the fuck do you think you are?’ and then bitch-slap them until they cry for their Mum.

I had one of those moments last week, and although the occasion caused me undue stress and frankly was not needed, what annoys me most is that after getting over my initial reaction to pick-up the phone and inform them that they can put my contract where only a proctologist could find it, I eventually put on my ‘professional’ personality, bent down in the shower and picked-up the soap!

One of these days…

Jigowaza Randori as therapy


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Originally uploaded by Bat21.

After that fun little incident with the work side of my life, I kind of felt sorry for the boys in the ju-jutsu club last thursday as I had some excess energy to be rid of. Seriously, they should start charging me for therapy! We have started this term doing jigowaza randori, which is literally a form of freestyle where you stand in the middle and the rest of the class stand around you in a circle. On the instructor's command, they attack from any direction with any form of attack, and your task is to deal with it, and with the next attack and the next...

I told my friend James about it, as we used to train this way at the club in UK, and I could feel him smile on the phone as he told me that I was in my element. I love this meeting of people. When you meet someone who has aggressive intent towards you, you suddenly become aware of your immense personal power. Not in terms of strength so much as in terms of mental capacity. Suddenly you have the ability to slow down time almost at will, so an attack that happens as a blur, is suddenly moving slowly, giving you plenty of thinking space between the outset of the attack and the defence. You are forced to open your senses to an abnormal level (a level you wish you could make use of in everyday life) and your hearing and eyesight detect the faintest rustle of cloth and move at shoulder level, which indicates for instance, that the knife attack will be a backhand cut to the face. You are forced to live acutely in the present and whatever had happened before or will happen later is suddenly not there. Once, and once only, whilst in this state and amidst all the 'violence' around me, I was able to relax into the moment, to enjoy my now and to smile. I have been searching for it ever since.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Cry for help!

Dear Loyal reader(s)!

I need help to turn this blog into something that it's not, i.e. something worth reading. At the moment, it bores even me and that is saying something as I am currently trying to find some kind of interest in reading acient Greek philosophical definitions of 'health'!

Please give tips, comments and advice to help me turn this into something you would want to tell your friends about!

Thanks,

Paul

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Can 3-hour lectures be humane?

Well, we have finally got stuck into the course. We had our first official lecture today and, including one 20 minute and one 3 minute break, it was a brutal 3 hours long! Seriously, that is one tough cookie to break. I found that the last hour it was really hard to keep my concentration up and my note taking got a bit sloppy.

We are also working through our first piece of group work, based on problem-based learning. We have two ‘cases’ and we need to argue whether we believe they are healthy or not and whether we can constitute that they have an illness. We need to support our assumptions using the various theories of heath we have read over the weekend in 60 long, long pages of philosophical banter. I mean, if I was given the job of defining health, it would take me a hell of a long time to come up with a definition like ‘health represents having the functionality to fulfil goals typical to your culture or species!’ Lack of health then comes into play when this functionality is reduced.

Add onto that the fact that on Friday afternoon, I will be presenting a pitch for a strategically vital account both for my business and for the ad agency I am working with! I am swimming rather hard to keep my head above water just now.

When I cycled to university this morning, it was -7ºC and snow. By the time I finally got home this evening, I had cycled over 25km and run 6km and very soon I am taking this tired body to bed. Have a good evening, morning, afternoon wherever you are! (Actually one of the two readers of this blog is currently sitting in Munich, so have a good evening, Dom ;-) and Robert, I don’t know where in the States you live as it’s a big-ass country!)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Just think about it...

I was flicking through the required reading list for the first three courses this morning and found myself thinking that it was a hell of a lot of books and material; and that it would be impossible to read it all – Then I realised that just that thought, or just that word ‘impossible’ began to immediately collapse possible futures and began to form a reality, ‘impossible’, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everything begins to slowly form a path that I then begin to tread. I start to feel the panic rising, start to question myself and how I will possibly cope and start regarding the pile of books and papers with something other than enthusiasm.

What, instead, if I changed my pattern of thinking to the more positive and instead of thinking that all of this reading is impossible, instead, see it as ‘demanding of a level of performance & discipline that requires me to operate on another level than the one I currently operate on.’ A mouthful, but basically moving away from the word ‘impossible’ to being ‘possible if I notch my performance up to another level.’ Possible if I stretch my boundaries. Realising this, I realise that the word ‘impossible’ isn’t a fact, it’s an opinion, it represents potential and if I am willing to rise to the challenge, then ‘impossible’ becomes temporal, it gets lost somewhere behind me and becomes nothing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The first day

Well, that’s the end of the first day. I was hoping to be able to post a blog ‘in situ’ but haven’t yet got a wireless campus network, but have promised that it is on the way shortly. So, back to the same old option of posting from home.

Well, today was about as easy as they will come. We mainly had loads of introductory lectures to help orientate us around the university; stuff about how the first part of the course will function, the computer system, library, reading lists and the like.

It was a bit hard to get to know other people today, as we sat in a large group of about 180 students, but later on in the week I will meet the people in my groups for group work and the 35 or so people who are taking the same specialism as me, so that will be a better opportunity to meet people.

Well, I promised to post later and here it is. I am signing off now as I have a lot of reading to do!

Back to academia

At 10:00 this morning I will officially start back at university for the second time. It is funny as I don’t feel nervous this time, even though it is a new university and will all be in a different language. I guess that that is partly because I have done the university thing once before and also partly due to the fact that the university is now in my home-town, where my friends are and where I can go home after lectures. Those factors alone reduce the number of things that are different, making the whole process seem less strange.

I do however feel slightly apprehensive for two reasons. The first is that I haven’t ‘worked-out the system’. I guess this could simply be called familiarization. Once I am familiar with the way things work, you get a better idea of what the work-load is, how well you cope, what the expectations are, how much free time you will have over and how much time I will have to put into my company. The second reason for my apprehension is perfectly natural. I will be interested how well I cope with the rigorous academic demands, the reading lists, the essays, lectures and group work all done in Swedish!

I have just been wading through an academic paper which threw open to debate the definition of the term ‘health’, explaining over 14 or so pages that the definition of health very much depended on where you were viewing it from and any student of health should be careful when accepting a definition of the word, to view its source to filter out any bias on behalf of the organization defining it. So, for instance, health can be defined from a medical-philosophical perspective, an economic perspective, an insurance perspective and societal perspective etc… What I have just summarised in 5 lines, took the author 14 pages of academic-infused jargon to explain. I guess I will be taking out shares in both head-ache pills and coffee companies!

Anyway, I am off to my introduction lectures soon, so watch this space and I will report back later.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Ceci n’est pas une pipe

I have just finished re-reading the fifth and final book in the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and came across an interesting passage in the middle of it. Arthur Dent has gone in search of a sage and finds one who makes his mind boggle by making a complete nonsense of his perception of the spatial universe. The sage tells him two things, which caught my attention.

The first comes after he has disobeyed the laws of physics by stepping from the top of his pole, 40 feet down to the ground, from ground to pole, from pole to pole and from pole to horizon. When Arthur asks him to kindly stop, he replies: ‘You come to me for advice, but you can’t cope with anything that you don’t recognize.’ – How much good advice slips past us because we don’t recognize it? By recognize, I mean that we reject it because it doesn’t fit into our perception of the world. I guess that the ‘magic’ mentioned in warrior literature only becomes possible if you can maintain a flexible perception. The very moment that you decide ‘this is how it is’ all other possibilities are frozen in time and space and you bring a reality, one reality into existence. ‘Magic’ becomes possible when you realize that more realities than just this ‘one’ can exist.

The sage then goes on to illustrate this point when he says to Arthur, ’Anything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything you perceive in the universe is specific to you.’

As the Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte clearly illustrated in his famous pipe picture (see http://www.escualotis.com/unpopperuno/Immagini/magritte.jpg) ceci n’est pas une pipe, nothing is quite as it seems. This is not a pipe. Already the headline causes confusion. But it is a pipe! Pipes look like that. – Magritte is right, however, as it is not a pipe we are looking at, but rather a painting of a pipe. Beyond that, it is only a pipe in that someone along the way chose the word ‘pipe’ to describe the collection of molecules that looks like this; and we are conditioned to respond, when we see a collection of molecules in the same form, by calling it a pipe. It could just as well be a banana or a cat.

By having flexible frames of reference, we are able to acknowledge the existence of or at least the possibility of alternate realities and thereby shrug off our cloak of conditioning, enabling us to act with freedom. Freedom maybe even from what we today perceive as possible. What troubles me though is that whereas I can see that this can benefit us by enabling us to operate at or on an entirely different level, it also, as with Arthur Dent, makes my mind boggle when I try to perceive a world where I set no boundaries and take nothing for granted. Where the chair that I am currently sitting on could just as well be a mango; and am I in fact sitting or burning? Indeed, all that I have written only makes sense because I perceive it as so.

I was going to write, ‘now that is a world that would take some getting used to’ – but that’s not the point is it?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

650,000 hours

I have just read somewhere that the average human being has a lifespan of not usually more than 650,000 hours. Now take away half of that for sleeping and you are left with 325,000 hours of life.

What did you do today?