Standards, possibilities, self-expression and play


A commitment to standards or possibilities? Choose wisely

“Is it possible to be committed to a set of standards that have nothing to do with being fully alive?  You’ve got standards rather than possibilities, and the standards are more important than life itself.”  Werner Erhard

You and I bottle up, hide, forget and even kill our true self-expression.  What is the impact?  You/I do not experience the joy of being alive, truly alive, instead our life occurs (when we are honest with ourselves) as going through the motions.  That is the impact on you and I.  What about the impact on others – the people who come into contact with us?

To be a human being is to be in relationship – always.  So our impact is that our lack of joy is experienced by those around us.  And us going through the motions makes, even encourages, our fellow human beings to go through the motions.  We encourage them to say to themselves “That is the way it is.  Look everyone is going through the motions.  Life is going through the motions.  So I might as well settle for going through the motions.”

Why do we suppress/hide/kill our true self-expression.  Because we have been born and raised in a set of standards, a set of practices.  As a result, we have become and are committed to a set of standards. A key part of these standards is that those of us who speak in terms of possibilities are called dreamers and looked down upon.  The dreamer is seen/spoken of as a child and childish.  In short, we are committed to a set of standards that allow us to ‘look good, avoid looking bad’ rather than being a stand for possibilities that move-touch-inspire-uplift us.

Recent conversation that brings this “theory to life”

With that context in mind, I share with you a recent email conversation that took place between myself and a fellow human being.  My fellow human being reached out to me as follows (I have deleted anything that can identify my fellow human being):

“Maz, 

I hope all is well – our paths never seem to cross…I have a question for you I hope you don’t mind me asking…

I follow your twitter and blogs, and for a new venture I am doing, I am supposed to be generating material (on IT subjects). The problem is I don’t ever start! Any tips on how to organise myself to produce material?

I’m probably not a natural marketeer, but I don’t think this is beyond me.

Best”

Here is what I wrote back.  Please note that I have put some sections in bold to highlight/illustrate the key points around standard, possibilities and self-expression:

“Hello ….

Great to hear from you and thank you for the trust you have placed in me.  

The honest answer is that both of the blogs that I write are forms of self-expression.  For the majority of the time they show up like the opportunity to play tennis – something that I love to do. And they are now a core part of who I say I am in the world and what I am about – putting something into the world and being a source of contribution.  As such they just flow.  

So the key for me is to:

  • write about something that I care about and share my honest voice;
  • write from the context of being of serviceof educating, of making a contribution to the lives of my fellow human beings; and
  • challenge the taken for granted narrative/accepted practice.  

And on top of that I have set myself a target of writing a certain number of posts a week.  As I have conditioned myself to keep my agreements over the years, this target setting encourages me to write even when it is hard going as it has been recently due to work and personal health issues. 

I have found that I cannot write when the writing occurs as work.  When I am being asked to push a point of view that is not mine, authentically.  When I am being asked to write in a style that is not mine.  Again, it comes to the fact that the writing flows. 

Finally, it helps that I am interested in the world, use my experience, have and continue to read/explore widely.  And I pay no attention to the rules of writing.  And do not care if only one person reads what I write.  The key is that I get value out of it and that at least one of my fellow human beings gets value out of that which I share through my writing. 

Put differently when writing occurs as play it flows.  When it occurs as work it does not flow, it takes ages, I don’t like what I have written! 

do hope that helps. 

If you are ok to provide honest – brutally honest – feedback on my blogging then I ask that you help me out by doing so.  Always want to know how my writing is landing for those who make the time to read it.  

I thank for your the opportunity of this conversation.  

At your service and with my love

maz”

I leave you with wise words, revolutionary words of wisdom

“Is it possible to be committed to a set of standards that have nothing to do with being fully alive?  You’ve got standards rather than possibilities, and the standards are more important than life itself.”  Werner Erhard

Playing BIG (practice 2) – lose the significance and play


Taking yourself so goddamn seriously is a key piece in the game called ‘Playing small’.

Our automatic (always on) way of being is taking oneself SERIOUSLY because we are thrown into the game called ‘playing small and fitting in’.  Mastery of this game is not beyond me in anyway.  I could say that I became a grandmaster by the age of 10.  The cost of taking oneself so damn seriously is the loss of self-expression: the unwillingness to say and do anything that makes you and I look stupid in the eyes of others.  One side effect of taking oneself so seriously is the quickness to anger when someone does something to ‘diminish’ our sense of ourselves.   Sound abstract?  Let me make it concrete by sharing an example of my life.

I love driving, I particularly love driving fast and without cars getting in my way and slowing me down.  I think of myself as a considerate driver – checking who is behind me, checking that there is enough space for me to overtake into, indicating before overtaking…. you get the idea.  So what happens when someone overtakes me and doesn’t follow my rules?  Usually it is some form of “You moron!” accompanied by either disgust and/or anger.  Why is that moron overtaking me?  How dare he move from his lane into my lane without indicating and into a space that is not ‘long enough’ and so force me to brake to avoid hitting the “idiot”.  As you can imagine people do what they do and so in the course of a normal journey on a motorway I end up disturbing my own piece several times.  Nonetheless I get to be right and righteous – how great I am and how inconsiderate and idiotic some drivers are!

Since I took on the game of ‘Playing BIG’ I have taken on the practice of NOT taking myself so goddamn seriously.  Here are the results I have seen over the last two days:

I have been singing. Yes, I have been singing and in public!  Why is that a big thing?  Because when I took myself so damn seriously I rarely sang and when I did so it was only because my family ‘pressured’ me into singing.  For the last two days I have been singing at my sisters and outside on the high street (whilst shopping).

On the way  to my sisters (90 minute drive) two/three cars just moved from their lane into mine without notice.  We did not have a collision because I was paying attention and so braked.  What did I say?  “You’re welcome!”.  How was I feeling?  Completely calm – in fact once I even laughed when I got present to what I was doing.

Today, coming back from my sisters (after a great Christmas) there was enough traffic to slow down progress on a dual carriageway.  The inside lane was full and I was on the outside lane travelling at around 60mph – the legal limit.  I couldn’t go any faster because there were four or so cars ahead of me and tightly bunched: too close for the speed we were travelling at.  I looked into the mirror and say a car right up my backside.  He sat there for several minutes and then started flashing me suggesting that he wanted to overtake and I should move into the inside lane.  Normally, I would have said something offensive like “cretin!” and made sure that I stayed in the lane and in fact reduced my speed to slow him down even more – to annoy him.

This time I got that all he wanted was to overtake and by flashing his lights and sitting right on my backside he was showing that he was impatient to get somewhere fast.  So I looked for an opening on the inside (slower) lane, indicated and moved into it.  All the time I was smiling knowing that he would overtake me and then find himself in the same position I was in – blocked by a row of cars travelling at 60 mph.   Once he overtook me, I moved back into his lane and sat behind him.  Now I had a choice: to do what he had been doing to me (sitting on my back and making me nervous), simply to be in that lane and leave lots of space between me and him, and/or leave lots of space and have some fun with him without making him nervous or endangering him.  I choose the latter – I simply wanted to play without putting anyone’s life at risk.

For the rest of the journey 30 minute or so he would speed ahead and then pull into the inside lane.  I would overtake him and then pull in ahead of him.  He then would overtake me, I would overtake him.  Never once did I get angry or competitive – I was simply playing a game, coming from the context of fun.  The 30 minutes flew by and by the time I had to take the slip road and exit from the motorway I was grateful that I had the Mini driver to play that game with.  I thanked him.  And I can honestly say I felt sad that the game we had playing came to and end.

Lesson: we can choose to be light and dance/play in life rather than be SIGNIFICANT and take ourselves so SERIOUSLY.   If I choose to be significant and be damn serious then I am automatically embedded in and playing the game of ‘Playing small’.  So being mindful I can choose again and again to ‘Play BIG’ and that means shedding significance and seriousness (they go together) again and again in all domains of life.