Peaks, valleys, and the triple whammy of the middle ground

This isn’t about the valleys. They’re bad enough they need no explanation.

It’s the damned middle; the non-peaks. Coming off a peak, the relative dullness of a given situation is magnified by the non-peakedness of the moment. Not only does one feel off because of the relative dullness, one magnifies the intensity of the displeasure by resisting the descent from the peak. IE, I feel droopy, I feel shitty about feeling droopy, and I feel shitty about not being on the peak. Triple whammy.

The power of this moment

The power of this moment is that I am free completely from my past and future.

I am not bound up by my history or by my story. This moment is unique – it will never come again. It’s mine to do with as I please.

In this moment, I can choose to be up or to be down. Even in a moment filled with pain, I can choose not to suffer.

Cut the binds to the past and the fear of the future. Just for this moment. Just for this second.

It’s hard, but totally worthwhile.

Voice Recorder rambling

Trying something new here. I’ve started to use the voice recorder app on my iPhone to, well, record my voice. To my great surprise, some of the stuff I talk about doesn’t suck.

This 6 minute unedited recording contains a couple of interesting thoughts:

  • Controlling our evolution
  • The appearance of free will
  • The genetic imperative, masquerading as intention
  • Striving as an evolutionary advantage
  • And a hopeful ending

There are a couple of long pauses – those are me trying not to crash.

Personal mission statement, take one

For a variety of reasons, I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected lately. Life knocked me off my centre, and I lost my balance. Previously, I had been living in a mostly conscious state, so it’s been uncomfortable and disquieting to find myself reacting, rather than acting.

I’m wise enough at this point to know that what is up will soon be down (and vice versa), so I didn’t panic, knowing I’d eventually come back to centre. I’m relieved that I’m starting to glimpse my equilibrium point, but am frustrated at the pace of change.

In an effort to speed things up, I finally took my own advice and started writing. ‘Lo and behold, it worked (it always does for me). What came from that writing exercise is a personal mission statement designed to guide me through this next stage of life.

The concept of a personal mission statement is as corny as it comes. I didn’t set out to write such a thing. Rather I was trying to understand the thing that was bugging me (uncertainty, instability, insecurity, yadda yadda). In the midst of a couple of pages of stream of consciousness flow, I wrote a simple little paragraph that held an amazing amount of truth. Reviewing it, I realized it is a personal mission statement; it’s a map to what I need to do in order to fulfill my mission (more precisely, my mission at this moment). Here’s what I wrote:

For this next stage of my life, I want to:

  • Design web-based things that have a positive social impact.
  • Have autonomy over the shape of my day.
  • Work with a team of conscious adventurers.
  • Be present with my family.
  • Be able to meet my financial obligations.

Identifying these five points has gotten me a lot closer to my own center. With them, I have context with which I can make career choices. I have a place from which I can reframe my own brand. And I have a road-map of sorts that leads to peace.

The Passion Economy

passioneconomyWhat the hell is the passion economy? Does it exist? Does it matter?

A few months ago, my friend Sean Howard and I got very drunk on expensive white wine and strong Quebec beer (oy, the hangover!). We discovered that we share a passion for, um, passion. Over the following weeks, we met a couple of times to explore models of how passion affects people’s decisions, what passion means, how it’s measured, and to drink more wine.

I was very honored when Sean asked me to contribute the design for an e-book he was putting together specifically on passion and it’s role in the economy. Some seriously big-brained people. You may want to check the authors out on Twitter:

The Passion Economy pdf is released under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. You are welcome to download, re-upload, distribute and do with as you see fit. I hope you enjoy it. Download at will.

Feeling productive

David Seah absolutely floored me with the following observation:

I’ve said before that “personal productivity” is a state of mind; when we feel productive, we are productive.

This ties in with story I’ve been repeating to myself most mornings. I don’t if this is an urban myth or not, but it doesn’t really matter. The story goes like this:

A guy gets sick. He goes to see doctor after doctor after doctor. He has tests and surgeries. And through all the poking and prodding, he retains a cheerful attitude. He never gets cranky. He never gets bitchy. He just smiles and tells funny stories. His doctors and care givers are amazed. “How do you maintain this positive attitude?” they ask.

“It’s easy,” he tells them. “Every morning I have a decision to make; am I going to be happy or am I going to be miserable. I made a conscious decision to always choose happy. I make that one simple decision every day, and what you see are the results of that.”

Lately, as I slowly wake up under the shower, I’ve been telling myself that same story, and making that same decision. It’s helped, and as I develop the habit of doing it, it seems to be helping more and more.

I wonder what would happen if one were to make the same decision about feeling productive…

Stress & Meditation

So, if you’ve been following along, you know life has been difficult for me in the past six weeks. Between my dad dropping dead (literally), friends getting really sick, and clients “forgetting” to pay their bills, my stress chart would look something like this:


There are a couple of problems with having one’s stress set to high: health deteriorates, work tends to suffer, decision making tends to be impaired, etc etc ad infinitum. Also, it sucks.

But all is not horrible suckage. In my case, the pain associated with the stress has pushed me back into my forgotten habit of meditation.

Meditation is like magic. For me, it acts like a kind of a reset button. After 20 minutes of sitting, I feel refreshed. I’ve dropped the bullshit of the day, and can face the coming day with a greater ability to tolerate more bullshit. Without meditation, I’m sure I would have snapped at more people more often with more ferocity.

Meditation has nothing to do with religion or spiritual beliefs. In it’s simplest form it is mental exercise. True, it often leads to spiritual insights. But that kind of comes as a nice bonus.

Meditating is the simplest, most difficult thing I do. There are many excellent free resources online to help you get into or get back to meditating. I particularly like the zencast podcasts myself. They have some great guided meditations, which are a terrific place to start.

Brains are weird

I am psyched beyond reasonable measure to be heading to SxSW. Last year, I’m fairly certain I vowed I was done, that I was not going back. I came home seriously sick and disillusioned. And yet here I am, just a single turn around the sun, barely able to concentrate on my work. Being human sure is interesting.

How stupid am I?

I’m sitting here, looking at my brand new, silly fast, beautiful new computer. And I have a knot in my stomach. I should be feeling relieved that I have a machine that not only works, but works much faster than the one it replaces. It’s a joy to use.

There’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that’s saying “you should have stuck it out with the old machine. You caved in when you could have made do, saved some money, and put less crap into the environment”.

Why do we do this to ourselves?