Saturday 20 October 2012

As It Seems

By Lily Kershaw

Well I knew
What I didn't want to know
And I saw
Where I didn't want to go
So I took the path less traveled on
And I'll let my stories be whispered
When I'm gone...

When I'm gone
When I'm gone
When I'm gone

Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin'
You'll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing's ever really
As it seems...

As it seems
As it seems
As it seems

Well I lost my innocence when in I let him dive
But the way that he looked at me
Made me feel alive
And now I know
Nothin' at all
But the release that comes when you're
In mid fall...

In mid fall
In mid fall
In mid fall

Cause in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin'
You'll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing's ever really
As it seems...

As it seems
As it seems
As it seems

One sided conversations

On my last night of a work trip in Auckland, I sat alone at a table in a restaurant. Beside me were a retired couple. Both Australians who had moved to New Zealand to be with one of their two daughters who had given them grandchildren. They'd spent several years of their retirement on the Sunshine Coast and finally gave in to the call of the grey babysitters.

Old couples are cute. They obviously know each other well and have stuck around for the long haul. I don't have flash forwards to my own life of aged coupledom or wish for that for myself. In fact, I am of the belief that I will always be young and beautiful... even at my current 36.

Those couples are comforting though. To know that people can persist through the good and bad and even the boring to come out the otherside together without one of them deserting is healing for me.

The wife was the one who told me their life story. The husband didn't make eye contact with me and spent most of his time staring out the window. This I understand. Not everyone is an extroverted puppy like me, who longs to connect with people... with anyone. She was though.

What irked me about the whole situation was that as the courses of their degustation dinner were served, she discussed each one in detail. She referred to how it should be done according to Master Chef or how you'd achieve a running creamy egg after baking it for two hours on 65 degrees Celsius.

He said nothing. He grunted once in a while during moments of scoffing food. He looked out the window a lot.

He did not share her passion. He didn't even humour her.

At that moment, I knew that I'd hate to sit in a restaurant savouring food and longing to discuss its nuances while my life long partner showed little to no interest.

Not saying he is a bad person or unloving or anything like that. For her to stay with him until death do they part, he must be something wonderful to her.

It was just that when the sum of your life is almost calculated and you are double checking numbers and reconciling the steps that get you there, I'd hope that the person across from you is at least in conscious attendance.

May I never share my passion and receive only a grunt.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Don't drive angry

There is a fantastic scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray's character is committing suicide for the umpteenth time and he lets the groundhog drive the car over a cliff. He casually says "Don't drive angry."

It is such a simple scene and wrapped in so much humour that you laugh it off without a second thought.

As someone who has watched that movie more than twenty times, it is poignant. It has meaning beyond a navigator guiding a rodent.

Life is this journey that you have to take. A road trip that you are destined to drive. An excursion that you must go on because you've been told to.

Awful stuff happens. Awesome stuff happens. Sometimes you don't want to participate. Sometimes you want to punch someone. Ok, maybe that is just me.

Bill Murray has it right when he says "don't drive angry."

Do not live an angry life. Do not hold contempt for others. Let it go and enjoy the new moments.

Malachy McCourt was right when saying "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Let the things that have been done, be done. Enjoy the rest.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Lengthening My Attention Span

Over the years and particularly through my depression, my ability to concentrate became almost non-existent.

I worked out a while ago now that multitasking is a fallacy. You end up doing twice as much stuff but half as well. For me, focussing on a task and ignoring interruptions has resulted in higher quality work and more enjoyment for me in doing it.

People will often hear me talk about mindfulness and being aware of and involved in each moment as it happens. I've been reading a lot of books exploring existentialism that encourage the idea of authenticity of experience.

For me, mindfulness and authenticity are a result of participating in the experience and savouring the moment as it envelops you. It is like a perfect kiss where you breathe each other in and kiss each other back.

What I have worked out in the last six months is that to truly appreciate life and live it in the best way I possibly can, I must pay attention to the parts and not live it in an event driven way where I follow the distraction to... well, distraction.

Even while writing this, I have flicked to Facebook several times to see what my latest notification is and then Twitter to mock the way I can't focus. I have a long way to go.

These are my current methods for lengthening my attention span and they are working:

Read 20 pages of a book every day

Reading has been the most successful mechanism for lengthening my attention span. At first I could read only 1-2 pages before feeling sleepy. Now I can read 10-15 before I start to wonder what else I could be doing. Fiction is the most successful thing for me to read but I'm trying non-fiction from time to time.

Spend time without my phone

Great ideas come to people in the shower because they are not distracting their mind with anything. They have time to think. These are called gap moments and we spend so much time filling them with distractions that we are losing the ability to think of nothing and let thoughts emerge. When I am standing in a line or waiting to meet a friend, I no longer use my phone as a distraction. I actually stare in to space or mini-meditate while doing nothing much.

Give people with you all your attention

Nothing bugs me more than being with someone who will take a phone call in my presence. If someone is with me and in the same room then they get my priority. Some person who calls me on a whim is not going to trump my present company. I will often take the call and say I am busy and will call them back or I hit a button that texts them and says I'm busy right now but will respond soon. Giving attention to the person I am with shows respect for the time they are giving me. I wouldn't spin my chair around and join another table in a cafe mid-sentence so why would I take a call and put the here-right-now person last.

These are just some of the skills that are helping me rebuild and hone my mind so that it is the bright little spark it was in my mid-20s.

If you have any other suggestions that work for you, please do tell me.