Archive for reality

Sequence XLVII

{Writer’s Note} a few months back, around the start of the new year, I started a new writing project, one that had tied to it, some of my highest aspirations. That project is not the focus of this piece, but some backstory is required in order to fully understand how this piece starts. This new year project is being written in a journal that was given to me as a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law, adding to the special meaning behind it. I will be divulging more about this project shortly, but for now, I want to share a secondary project, one that came to me amidst my on-and-off writing of the new year project.

 

It has been several days since I last contributed any written thoughts to this project {see writer’s note}. In that time I have discovered a new thought, a plan, a project, a roadmap for the unroadmapable, a way to take singular, yet significant steps towards betterment. Sequence XLVII.

So what is Sequence XLVII? The Sequence is a combination of forty-seven different iterations of actions, projects, activities, and experiences, each specifically selected to better myself, to bring me closer to being a more enlightened and positive being. These forty-seven items, or iterations, called iterations because while they are all unique events, each is bonded as a piece, a segment, that when combined makeup an existence for myself of awareness, and hopefully, just that much closer to enlightenment.

I do not necessarily refer to enlightenment as Buddhahood, or biblical revelation; rather, I use enlightenment simply to refer to an (re)evolution (awakedness) of myself to be a more closely aligned version of myself to a positive and impactful true-being. I acknowledge that it would be grandiose and ego-driven to believe I had any idea on how to realize enlightenment; this is not that, this is betterment, achieving a greater me.

The iterations were intentionally selected and given an initial ordering by myself to act as a roadmap of directional force, propelling me forward in this endeavor. This is a needed experience for me now; I have grown weary, beat-up, so often consumed by terrible feelings of dissatisfaction, muted emotion, lack of meaning and life satisfaction, despair, anger, and regret. I often feel as if I have lost my ability to truly live a happy life. I know I lost it, because I had it, I have had segments of my life that were fulfilled, that left me with overall life satisfaction, joy and wonderment. I have had it, so I can realize now when I do not. This is not a result or fault of anyone outside of myself, no one decision, no one experience did this, it is not about my career, my family, my home, my friends, my experiences around me, it is about me, my self (or non-self) realization, my being, my vision and approach to life. It is on me, and because it is on me, it is open for me to change, to make better, and to regain that spark. I need to and will do this. And for this, I have created the Sequence, Sequence XLVII, within which I have embedded forty-seven iterations of specific actions for me to complete.

Iteration 01, daily appreciation for life, is ready to begin.

 

{Writer’s Note} Iteration 01 and all future iterations will be discussed in detail as the subject of future writings. Each iteration will have its own written piece(s). There is an undertone of darkness and bleakness in the latter portion of this piece as I describe why I need this. That is not the full scope of my feelings on this, and especially on life in general, it is simply how I was feeling in that moment, at that time; it is an honest and naked look at me at a moment in time. Much like each one of us, I am a yin and yang of emotions, outlooks and feelings. Some days light, some days dark. It was my realization that the dark days were outweighing the light days, so the Sequence was created as a sort of spiritual to-do list to rebalance the scales and tip them in the favor of the light. I hope that as the reader you can find some commonalty and inspiration in my journey with the Sequence.

The Student and Spilled Tea

{A modern-day take on a traditional inspired zen koan story}

Each night when the student would dream, he found himself trying to control his dreams, attempts (in vein) to force resolution, to find that which is missing within the dream world. This phenomenon would occur across various settings and elements of his dreams. The student would even begin to wake, realize he was dreaming and before he had completely lost the dream state, he would continue on, determined to force resolution within the dream. On one such occasion, the student was deep in a dream in which he was wandering through a large retail store in search of a missing item, his frustration levels rose and rose, not just in the dream, but in his real-world sleeping self. The student would not let himself move on from this dream, even in a state of fluidity between sleep and awake, his need for control and an orderly logical dream (life) had taken over. In another instance, he dreamed he was on vacation and had become separated from his friends and family. So determined to control the situation, ensure everyone was together, on-time and staying according to plan, he consciously choose to remain in this dream state and force and orderly completion to what he wakenly acknowledged was a dream and had no bearing on his real-life.

How sad the masters thought, this student of the way is so caught up in his idea of self and the illusion of control, that he not only attempts to control his waking-self, but also control the infinitely uncontrollable planes of the dream-world. How far he had to go in order to let go and begin to see truth and realize enlightenment.

One morning, the student woke up from another set of dreams in which he continued to impose his faulty ideas of control and structure on the ethereal plane. But on this morning, the student had a new thought- he realized what he was doing in his dreams, saw the futility of his attempts to exercise any amount of control and intentional direction over  them. He then pondered his real-life awake state and also realized that this same attempts at control and understanding were just as futile in the awaken-state as in the dream-state. The student for the first time saw that the dream world and the world he inhabited while awake we really one and the same, and control and forced resolution were an illusion in both, he realized that control, decision and logically structured outcomes were non-existent and he lived in clouded vision as long as he held on to these notions.

The student thought to himself, “control is an illusion, no matter in the dream world or in an awakened state, and it is my crutch and barrier to true-sight to hold on to this.” In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.

 

{The same story written in a more traditional context}

A student dreamed of himself hosting a great master for dinner and tea. On this occasion, the student would sit down to eat with the master and realize that he had misplaced a key accompaniment to the meal, rendering the tea unusable. Sure that this would upset his guest, the student attempted in vein to recover his tea, even though the master ensured him it was no problem. The student began to awake from this dream and realized what was happening, so focused on control he dove back into the dream and continued to demonstrate failure in front of the master. The master stood up, intentionally spilled food on his robe, turned to the student, smiled, and thanked him for a perfect evening. The student awoke from his dream pondered what the master had done in his dream, stood up from his bed, spilled tea on himself, and smiled. In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.

Repetition and Routine- Bringers of Negativity- How We Turn it Around

Coming Up:

  • Repetition and Routine as the hidden handicappers of embracing life
  • How routine and repetition impacted me recently
  • Considerations for how they can impact you and what you can do

 

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, or so they say. I am not here to debate the merits of that statement, although it would be interesting. There are things else in the world outside of idle hands that are some of the largest proponents of woe and misery today- repetition and routine.

Coming from a family that leans heavy towards the obsessive compulsive mindset, routine and repetition are our closest neighbors, we wave hello to them every morning and invite them over for Sunday brunch. Branching out further, expanding the scope to society as a whole (at least the American society I am familiar with), it can be easily seen that routine and repetition have not just pervaded our lives, but have infected it, captured it, tortured it and ground us down. The worst part about all of it is that routine and repetition are so sneaky, so conniving that they have brainwashed us into believing that they are needed, a simple fact of life, just how things are. They do not have to be.

Variety is truly the spice of life (to be cliché).

My journey over the past few months has been eye opening. I have learned more about myself than anticipated (and I expected a lot). My view of the world has changed drastically. It is not just about career change (that is part of it); my world in the past few months has been riddled with unexpected loss, undo stressors, uncomfortable situations that have forced me to confront deep seeded notions of who I am, what I believe in, and how I impact the people around me. The road has taken many twists and turns as of late, and along the way I have brushed against some thorny undergrowth on my way to truth.

One component of that journey has been my realization regarding the toxic nature of engraining oneself in routine and repetition. This dangerous duo can manifest in countless forms: taking relationships for granted, bad dietary and or fitness habits, accepting sub-par working conditions, avoiding dangerous health symptoms, being oblivious to others’ desperate outreach, and perhaps most tragically, a general and overall apathy for life and missing out on the possibility of the true wonder and amazement that can come with each day.

Life is overwhelming for all of us in some way or another, to varying extents. Routine and repetition are what some may call tools, others will call crutches, there to help us avoid having to see each day as a unique life experience, equal parts exciting and terrifying. In general, we are not equipped, nor do we have the energy (unfortunately) to approach each day as a new adventure, open our minds up to the possibilities, see every item, even those most commonplace fresh and rediscover life with each moment. As a society we have set up our lives in a way that will not allow for this type of fresh-eyed childlike approach. I will acknowledge that there are benefits to routine and repetition in certain niches and situations, but as a whole, when taken to the extremes that we have become accustomed to, they deprive us of a baseline satisfaction and appreciation for life and learning.

In my most recent revelation, I discovered that routine and repetition were impacting my daily life in serious and negative ways. I found myself doing what was comfortable, not challenging myself, taking relationships for granted, accepting life situations that were a hindrance and contributors to negative mental states simply because they were convenient and easy. I was slipping and forgetting how to see each day as an adventure, open my eyes and see the wonder and excitement that encapsulates existence. It takes energy, often times a lot to approach each day anew; it is easier to do what is known, what is comfortable, what is right in front of us, even if it hurts us.

For myself, I have found that it takes daily intention, constant recalibration to avoid the duo of repetition and routine. It has only been a few days since my revelatory refocus, but it has been a godsend. As an artist and a creative mind, I am always thinking abstract in so many mediums; sad to say that the basic premise of living each day had started to be excluded from that list. No more. I am dedicated to allowing routine and repetition to have their proper places in small doses for select situations, while recommitting to opening my eyes and challenging the status quo of what makes up a day.

Consider for yourself, what do I do each day that falls into a routine and repetition cycle?

What things are appropriate to have routine and repetition for? Which life segments are hurt or not allowed to flourish by routine and repetition?

Once you have established your starter list, it is time to commit and take action. The action will be different for each of us. It may be that we need to avoid certain situations, approach people differently, take a risk on something that scares us (the unknown), or we may need to have tough conversations and cut out items that we once believed were vital in our life. Whatever the case, the overarching message is of a fresh approach and a moment by moment appreciation for life. It does not matter if it applies to your career, your family, or you as an individual, the message remains the same.

Looking back, I want to (need to be able to) say that I saw the wonders of life; I embraced the day, the choices, the options, and the great unknown.

Looking Back:

  • Routine and repetition pervade our lives, often times in negative ways
  • By taking some time to reflect and open ourselves up to new approaches, we can combat these negative impacts

 

Scott Norek

Blogger and Freelance Writer at scottnorek.com http://bit.ly/1KOSW02

Why “Live Every Day as if it is Your Last” is Bad Advice

Upcoming…

  • A critical review of a popular saying
  • I imagine my chaotic twenty-four hours
  • Lessons learned on how we can apply the saying without causing societal breakdown

“Live every day as if it is your last.” This well-known life advice has been stated, restated, and over-saturated throughout the years from everyone and everything from friends, family, strangers, Hallmark cards, motivational posters, to internet images. We have heard it so many times and on the surface it seems like great advice, a push motivation to help the individual see the fragility in life and seek out full-life optimization in each moment of each day. We do need to appreciate the day, enjoy the moments that present themselves, and go for what we want now, instead of assuming we will have time later on. Still, this phrase is bad advice. You should not live every day as if it is your last, for the good of you and the good of mankind. If each of us were one hundred percent honest with ourselves, fantasized out what we would do with our last twenty-four hours in this life and did that EXACT scenario every single day, chaos would ensue and society would breakdown.

Consider that faced with our own twenty-four hour mortality, the majority of people would forgo obligations in exchange for a last few precious hours with family, make reckless impulsive decisions, play out situations that they would never do in real-life because of the repercussions that would follow the next day, and in general burn out their twenty-four hours in a chaotic, emotional mess of glory.

I imagine nobody reporting to work, offices empty, commerce at a standstill. The impulsive individuals causing chaos by indulging in all forms of sin, debauchery, excess, and violations of social norms and laws, followed by countless relationships (family, friend, partner, colleague) destroyed by the silver forked tongue of people who have nothing to lose and no repercussions by speaking their mind with no filter- the immediate stalling and caving of society, all within twenty-four hours.

What would I do with my last twenty-four hours? First and foremost, I would spend all of my time with my family, my wife, son, brother, mom, dad, etc. I would forgo all obligations such as chores, work, and social obligations. My family and I would get outside, experience nature, do as we pleased, and not be bothered by what others are doing or may think. Honestly, I would probably also take in a few indulgences and risking endeavors.

Now imagine my scenario above, add in your own scenario, and multiply that by the choices and actions of every single person on the planet- pure chaos, hell on earth.

So why does this popular phrase hold so much weight and end up being uttered daily with the best of intentions? First, we want to believe that we can be free, do as we please, and experience life unfettered. Second, while the literal interpretation is flawed, the intention is a valuable message.

The message is simple, live life in the present. Do not wait for life to align perfectly for your dreams and desires, you need to do it now, whatever that “it” is. Many spiritual practices share a central theme of be present in the moment. That is what this phrase is getting at. We can learn a lot from that perspective.

In the end, be aware of what you desire in life, find ways every day to pursue those desires, and be grateful and present in each moment.

Let Go of Perfection and Embrace Reality

I can be very hard on myself and I know I am not alone. So often we are force fed the notion of perfection, the ridiculously unobtainable ideal that will always elude us and leave us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, an unneeded striving for something bigger, better, faster, more attractive, more expensive. There is nothing wrong with goals, ambitions, dreams and desires- we need that- a motivation to keep moving forward, to better ourselves. Speaking in generalities (of course), we all do this to some extent, some more than others.

Think about it. What do you beat yourself up about? Run one more mile next time, score ten points higher on the next test, wow your coworkers in the next company meeting? Or maybe you just consider it challenging yourself. Perhaps you tell yourself you will pick the perfect partner next relationship, lose five more pounds, write a better story.

In the proper setting these can all be great motivating goals and aspirations. But in the (all too common) incorrect setting, they become negatives, undo stressors, reminders that we have fallen just short, and still have longer ways to go.

So how can the same item be both a negative and a positive? Perspective. Our perspective is key. I struggle with this daily, but being able to be happy with ourselves, appreciate and celebrate our wins (no matter how small), see the big picture, and simply be in the present moment, are the groundwork for happiness and satisfaction in life.

By way of example, my wife (somewhat) recently completed a graduate degree program. One of the first things a close relative asked her moments after graduation was “congratulations, what is next? When will you get that doctoral degree?” Think about it…

My wife had literally just completed the symbolic celebration of the culmination of years of study and work walking in her graduation ceremony, and what she is immediately met with is a thin veil of congratulations, saturated with a polluted mindset bent on the continual “one-up”, keeping up with the Joneses, stuck in a cycle of perpetual reinforcement of the notion that we need something bigger, better, shinier. Ridiculous, yet it pervades all around us. Luckily she is well aware of this, we have talked at length. But, had she not been, she would become victim to the “do better” cycle.

What I have come to realize for myself is it is not just a factor in our career world, nor only in our personal life ,this mentality seeps into nearly every nuance of existence- but it does not have to. You are good enough. You have accomplished a lot. You need to celebrate who you are and what you have done.

Perfection is a myth, a fairytale the ill-intentioned sells us to further their agenda, and what the well-intentioned convince themselves in a faulty mindset. Fault and imperfections are reality and should be embraced. We learn through experience, through our mistakes and life lessons.

In summary:

  • Perfection is a myth– This applies to all aspects of life both personal and professional
  • Reality is beautifully and perfectly flawed– We learn the most from our trials and tribulations, building character through embracing and even loving flaws
  • Accepting imperfections in others is a talent– and key component of interconnectedness and understanding in life
  • The difference between positive goals and a flawed approach is perspective

The next time your coworker, direct report, partner, child, whomever, falls short and exposes themselves for anything but a perfect ideal, take a moment, experience the situation, and take a critical eye to what can be learned from the situation. Focus on showing a level of compassion, understanding and connectedness. You may be surprised at what happens next.

What would a benefit be to you and your world from accepting imperfection?

These are the thoughts of one person, a person who is perfectly flawed, like us all.

Scott’s Excellent Adventure

Upcoming…

  • Making the most of the day
  • Slowing down life enough to have a moment
  • Adventure in many forms
  • Finding joy in the everyday

 

Author’s Note…

  • I talked with my wife on this topic last night and today it is my blog

Adventure. This topic was front and center primary in a late night talk between Laura and I last night. I have been finding myself pontificating so much during the day, having so much I want to let loose and riff on with Laura, by the time she comes home, settled in, we have taken care of our son and put him down to sleep for the evening, and finally have a moment to just talk, I am a damn ready to burst in my mind, having played out parts of the conversation (stop Scott- be in the moment) and I could go a million miles an hour- speedy word genius of forgone (Neal Cassady) staggering down the winding road, jumping from topic to topic. The ever elusive and mad ramblings of a man possessed. I have trouble holding it all in recently- a whirling dervish of mad riffs, long winded expulsions and stream after stream of intricately laced story. On this night we traded off points on adventure- having both realized that we are in good spirits individually and as a couple as of late, we dissected that fact. Discussed the whys, the hours, the experiences, and the outcomes. A sense of adventure and of experience, searching each out and devouring them whole in each day was our primary takeaway. We all need adventure, as often and as madly as possible. I had almost forgotten (and am sure many others have) how to do this on a day to day basis, how to find time, even if just a moment to be wowed by the day, to be amazed by life. My former professional life in corporate compliance did nothing to facilitate this, and in many ways was crippling. I realize I am in a special kind of situation being able to be a stay at home parent and aspiring writer that facilitates these ambitions. But we can all do it. We have to be able to…

(I took a rather lengthy pause here to stop writing, hear the music, and absorb the nature that I had immersed myself in.)

Adventure will mean something different to everyone, but the primordial need and the baseline effect are generally the same. Life is made up of moments, and within each moment that we bridge we choose to either be present or mindlessly follow suit- we can either seek out truth and connectedness with the world around us, or we can continue on mindless, numb, oblivious to the preciousness. This is what was happening to me- too caught up in the grind, the routine, the have-to-dos, I had forgotten how to enjoy, how to be simple. Recently we have been seizing this though- two individuals both in desperate need of release- finding that groove, peeling back the veil just a bit to step into the shallow waters of tranquility and the liquid essence of adventure. Truth seekers.

Everyone is different (already said) and everyone’s level of awareness is also. Life can be a slow twisting knot, becoming ever more tight as each day passes by, until there is no more slack left and you are trapped in a life and in a way of living, approaching each day that is a far cry from your true aligned self. Take a moment, discover something new in your everyday routine. Notice the person you have never noticed before, see the beauty in the flower garden you blindly pass every day, read a new book, hear a new song, build a campfire, tell someone you love them, sit in the grass (and do nothing else besides sit), take a new lover, say yes to that party invitation, take that solitary walk at night, play ball with your dog, live, adventure, experience- fully, deeply, madly, passionately, and as frequently as possible. For it all comes to an end- times change- moments are lost- people exit your world- life continues on. Finite yet endless. Each day does not need to be a wild madcap adventure burning down the city- all you need are moments, experiences to feel the touch- the touch of glory- of truth. Peace. I am trying more and more to do this every day. I feel beyond being right, it is almost a cliché prerequisite for the writer/artist.

Devour life.

For me, most recently, it has been putting my words out in the world in a very public way, meeting new people at a wedding, playing in the pool in my backyard with my son, taking a walk on my own, taking a risk pursuing a desire, and taking a moment to take pride in my wife’s accomplishments and praise her for it. All different, all experiences, all micro adventures in their own right. All took me out of the daily routine, tested my boundaries, showed me something new and reminded me about adventure in life (that is life).

 

Looking Back…

  • Adventure and excitement in life can be found every day
  • It just takes us a conscious effort to find it

Days of Freedom

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Upcoming…

  • Short blurb on days I am free to do nothing but write

 

Inspiration. These days are key for me- the days I am free to explore, free to create. No have-to-dos. No responsibility. For the day, my duties as a father, husband, and (until recently) corporate cog are vapor. I exist only as an artist, writer, explorer and seeker of my truth. Each day like this is different, but there are some reoccurring elements. Outdoors, getting back in touch with nature- the harmony between myself as an individual, as well as the unifying truth of the ultimate reality. Freedom- I may plan out where to start   for breakfast, where I will take an afternoon walk, and perhaps where to catch a good drink, but overall, time constraints disappear, freedom to change, alter, take a quick turn to a new location, constitute those days. It is this freedom that helps fuel my creative spirit. Beer- right or wrong, booze has fueled the creative spirit throughout time- I am no exception.

What makes up a great day of creativity? Inspiration. Inspiration and an openness to the little gifts life will sneak up and give us each day.

 

Looking Back…

  • The writer needs time, space and freedom to explore themselves, explore the world, and to write

My True Path

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Upcoming…

  • Life Change
  • True-Self
  • American Dream
  • Your Own Path

Author’s Note…

  • I wrote this piece just a couple of months ago when I had just started considering that I would make a push for writing. It is very self-reflective, somber at points, yet hopeful and aspirational. In that moment, it was being as real as I could with myself on where I was at. I hope in reading this, you take something away for your own life and your own path.

 

I have come to terms recently that I am a disappointment to myself in life, sounds very harsh I know, and your first instinct is probably to say “oh no Scott…don’t talk like that…it’s not true…your great…look at all that you have…look at all that you have accomplished…” But it is true, I am a disappointment to myself. But, if you were thinking what I assume you would have said, you are also right. I do have a great life and so much to be happy and grateful for. I have my health, great family, friends, an amazing wife and son, I had a great paying job (one benefit), and more material possessions, beyond more than anyone truly needs. I have all these things and I have happiness in my life with my wife Laura, my son, and in an overall general sense- I am happy- but in another, primordial, base-level, cerebral, true-self sense, I am miserable, I am lost in my current path, and have great regret, disappointment and depression with myself. I have an immeasurable hole in my being for not having fully realized my true-self, my true-form as a writer, an artist. I could blame a lot of people and a lot of things, but fuck that, take a stand you sniveling sniff, it is on you (me)- I did this- I allowed this to happen- I bypassed a path as an artist, and went the expected route, the preferred way, the safe path, the “successful” mode of living- aren’t you all so proud of me? Outwardly making a nice tidy in-the-box living and life- nice house, good neighborhood, comfy high-paying corporate job- all I needed was the white picket fence. Smile Scott, smile for them, they all need to fakely believe you are happy, you have made it, look at you go.

We trade in our true-selfs for an existence of conformity and quiet despair. Very few finding themselves and even fewer having found themselves and then making it their truth, their daily existence.

The mainstream American society does not promote truth-seekers, the American dream is a facade, a sham, dreamt up by charlatans and spoon fed down our throats- the American dream means fitting a mold, sacrificing freedom, expression, individuality and truth-seeking in order to fall in line, get the job, get the house, get the family, get the happiness?

{insert hardcore public backlash here}

Before I am labeled a commie, or a blasphemous hater of all things good, pure and right in the world, I should say that I believe there is a true American dream, one hidden to the everyday eye, not known, not seen by any beyond a select few- There is an American (really a life) dream…it is at the core of us all and what I believe the American dream was meant to be before it was manipulated, perversely raped, and tossed aside to rot and transform into the ugly creation it is today. The seers of history knew it, a way to find happiness, to find truth, to find a pure path meant for each of us. It includes nothing of the American dream spoken about today- it is uttered throughout the ages by mystics, shamans and prophets. It is on the cuff of adventure seekers and spiritual lighthouses, a clear devotion and unapologetic pursuit of their (our) truth, a life uncompromised by anything and focused on pursuit of life. It is different for each of us, but the modal delivery remains unchanged at its core- pure unmolested unapologetic devotion to the path.

I know this.

I need this.

I am this.

I am.

I.

.

Looking Back…

  • There is a path for each of us
  • That path may be difficult at times
  • Each of our paths share a commonality at their true core