Would you pursue that which calls to you if money was no object?


A conversation occurs with my son

One of my sons recently returned from Christmas in France. During Christmas he saw a beggar, he was touched by the plight of the beggar, stooped down and gave him money.  His friends told him not to do that.  They told him that the beggar was merely lazy and should get a job. This is not how the situation showed up for my son. How did it show up for him?  Life can be hard sometimes. Nobody chooses to be dirty, out in the cold, homeless and begging. And the obligation of one human being to another is for the standing up to help the one that is on the floor.

Reflecting on this it occurred to him that whilst he likes the subjects he is studying for his A levels they do not call to him. What calls to him?  To help the homeless: to provide them with a home, to clothe them, to feed them, to provide education and training, to rebuild their self-esteem and confidence, to provide the foundation with which to rebuild their lives.  Listening to his speaking I was touched-moved-inspired and in large part that was because I got that this really called to him, the he himself is touched-moved-inspired.

Then my son shared his worry.  What is the worry?  Money.  “How am I going to do this?  Where am I going to get the money from to help the homeless?  Where am I going to get the money to look after myself?”

Is this how we become wage slaves?

I got how it is that so many of us become wage slaves.  It occurs to me that when you and I were young we had dreams like my son has right now.  Some of us wanted to invent, others wanted to explore/adventure, others wanted to create/make stuff, others wanted to be of service to help others….. Confronted with the money question we put away these dreams and got busy with the practicalities of life.  And little by little, one sacrifice at a team, we became wage slaves.  Trapped: lifestyle, mortgage, school fees…..

What is a wage slave for me?  For me a wage slave is a person who has no affinity for the work that he does.  Importantly,  he notices that the work is ‘killing him/her’ in some significant way and yet continues because of the money/rewards that go along with the job/work. Put differently, the work that the wage slave does and/or the environment in which he does that work does not nourish.  On the contrary it is slow poison that kills that which is most human – the capacity to imagine possibilities, to pursue possibilities, to be a creator, an author of one’s life!

Is the point of living merely living?  

Is our project here on here on Earth simply do feed oneself, clothe oneself, shelter oneself? And when these needs have been secured to entertain oneself and/or drown our sorrows with the drug of our choice?  If that is the case then the meaning/purpose I give to myself is merely to survive, to exist.

And if that is the case then a question presents itself “What for?”  Put differently, why toil away as wage slaves merely to survive?  To feed, clothe, shelter and encourage our children to be wage slaves?  So that they can do they same for their children and so on?  Isn’t this madness?  It occurs as madness to me.

My message to my son and all who are young or young at heart

So what did I say to my son?  I encouraged him to pursue this possibility the one that calls to him.  I told him that to be human – uniquely human – is to step into, live from and pursue that which calls to us.  I told him that he is fortunate that he is present to that which calls to him.  I told him that this is gift, a gift that provides access to walking the path that gives meaning to one’s life. Yes, there will be difficulties. Yes, there will be pain.  Yes, it involves sacrifice. And what kind of life do you want to live, one that is difficult yet meaningful or one that leaves you showing up as a wage slave?

I reminded him of the film that we had watched some time ago.  Which film?  Into the Wild.  And I posed the question, “What is better for you, a long life of drudgery, of being a wage slave or the kind of life that Christopher McCandless (the subject of Into the Wild) lived?”

What if money was no object?

Finally, I asked the question that Alan Watts asks: “What if money was no object?”  I encourage you, especially if you are young, to listen to the words/wisdom of Alan Watts.  I encourage you not only to listen but to let this conversation be you.  Here is the YouTube video:

And if you prefer reading then here is the transcript:

“What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do. So I always ask the question, what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there. And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question, What do I desire?”

On possibility as an access to transformation


What is the access to transformation?  Specifically, what is the access – for you and me – to transform the quality of our living?  Put simply, it is shifting our being-in-the-world, and thus our showing up in the world, from impotent to potent.  What do I mean?  Let’s take a look at the definitions:

impotent

Adjective: unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless

Synonyms: powerless – weak – feeble – helpless – infirm

potent

Adjective: having a great power, influence or effect.

Synonyms: powerful – strong – forceful – intense

Let’s assume that you and I are up for transformation, up for shifting our being-in-the-world from impotent (the default) to potent.  What is the access to making this shift?  Willpower? No, this rarely works as many New Years resolutions show.  Is it setting goals? No, this rarely works because goals tend to rely on the exercise of willpower.  And willpower tends to fade.  So what is a suitable access?

The access to making the shift is inventing and living from one or more possibilities that move-touch-inspire us. Which begs the question “What is a possibility?” A possibility is not a wish.  Nor is it an intention.  A possibility is not a goal, an outcome, an achievement.  Nor is possibility a belief in that which is possible for a human being.

A possibility is like a context from which one shows up and gives life to one’s life.  A possibility is like a stand that one takes upon oneself.  A possibility is like a path that one chooses to walk of one’s own accord and thus gives up the multitude of other paths that are open to oneself.  A possibility is like a declaration one makes on what constitutes one’s life.  A possibility is always a choice one voluntarily takes upon oneself that gives shapes to one’s life and how one shows up in life.

Still looking for a pointer as to what constitutes a ‘possibility’?  Then let me share this quote from Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba The Greek):

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”  Nikos Kazantzakis

And when he speaks of believing he is talking about the following kind of believing:

“A belief is not merely an idea that is thought, it is an idea in which one believes. And believing is not an operation of the intellectual mechanism, but a function of the living being as such, the function of guiding his conduct, his performance of his task.”  Jose Ortega Y Gasset

A possibility gives meaning to one’s life and power to one’s being-in-the-world.  As such it does more than provide one with a reason to get up in the morning.  It provides one the access to transcend one’s psychology and push the limits of one’s biology as and when this is necessary.  It calls forth one to be unreasonable when unreasonable is what it takes.  In short, it the access to living a life that shows up as fulfilling.  A life worth living.

Why do I write this blog as opposed to put my feet up, watch a move, hang out in a bar?  Because I invented a possibility. What possibility?  The possibility of playing BIG, living an ‘extraordinary’ life, of being a source of contribution to a ‘world that works, none excluded’.  How about you?  What possibility leaves you moved-touched-inspired to be and create that which does not exist today?  What possibility are you up for inventing/living this year?

Please note, that all acts of leadership start with inventing a possibility that leaves one moved-touched-inspired to disclose and create that which does not exist today.

To Walk With Lions: why did we cry?


My youngest loves animals.  A year or so back I read Jane Goodall’s book ‘My Life With Chimpanzees‘ and she loved it.  At the end of the book my daughter made a choice – she chose to stop eating meat.  Why?  She was deeply touched by the story Jane shared and the fact that Jane went from being a meat eater to a vegetarian.   A few weeks back I came across a move on Sky that I thought she would like (because it is a story of people and animals) and I recorded it.

Yesterday, the two of us sat down and watched ‘To Walk With Lions‘ a film that can be described as “Set in Kenya in the late 1980s, British backpacker Tony Fitzjohn is fired from his safari driving stint and lands a job assisting the aging George Adamson at his wildlife reserve. After a shaky start with the lions, Tony soon develops a rapport with the animals and also a strong bond with George who continues to battle the government and poachers to protect the magnificent creatures that mean so much to him.”

Both of us were captivated by the movie: George Adamson’s love of the lions and his absolute commitment to his cause, his stance, the Possibility that had fired him through his life; Terrance (George’s brother) and his love of /devotion to the elephants; and Tony Fitzjohn and his transformation from a lost soul into one fired by his love of George Adamson and the Possibility that George is living into and living from – the right for lions to be exist, to live, to live free in the wild.

At the end of the movie my daughter and I were both crying.  She was crying at the slaughter of the animals (rhinos and elephants for their tusks) and the killing of George Adamson (an 83 year old man) and his associates by the local populations.   She could not make sense of why man does what he does.  Why man cannot let the animals live freely?  Why man kills fellow man just because that fellow man loves animals and insists that they be allowed to exist freely rather than being hunted to extinction or put into prisons called zoos.  And she could not understand how anyone would kill an 83 year old man.

For my part I cried deeply for a very different reason.  George Adamson lived as a ‘God’ and if you do not like that word then lets use ‘ GIANT’.  Each of his days was full of absolute commitment to an unshakeable stand (coming from Possibility that was lived from).  And from that context George lived fully, completely, deeply.  George’s life was simply a vehicle to serve a purpose that touched, moved and inspired him so profoundly that the ordinary pettiness of life (vanity, status, money, power…..) had no place in his life.  And it was this that infected Tony Fitzjohn so deeply that he became George Adamson in the sense of being a ‘GIANT’.  Within and from that context I got that for the bulk of my living has been wasted.  I cried for myself and all the moments, days, years that have been wasted.  Oh to have lived one day as George Adamson did?

And I get that I am still alive and I can invent and live into any Possibility that calls me and causes me to live as a ‘GIANT’.  Yes, I can do that, you can do that, we can do that.  And now that I get that, really get that, I am smiling on the inside and the outside.  Are you?

The Possibility that I am ‘re-inventing’ for myself and my life is that of ‘Playing BIG’: of inspiring myself and my fellow human beings to live an extraordinary life, to be of service (to our fellow human beings, to animals, to plants, to the earth, to the universe itself) and to contribute to a ‘world that works’ for all – no-one excluded.  That moves, touches and inspires me.  What Possibility touches, moves and inspires you?  What Possibility lifts your heart, gives you wings and in the process you find you have transcended your life and current circumstances?

Finally, leadership is simply OWNING your life, your living, what is so, COMPLETELY!  George Adamson was a leader.  Tony Fitzjohn became a leader simply be being around George Adamson.  Enough for now.

I love you, I thank you for listening to what I say.