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Soft Skills | Conflict Resolution

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Researching ‘advice for young people’ for my last column, for Saathee, I found this intriguing short piece called Desiderata. Now, this may be quite familiar to many, because of the very real nature of Western intellectualism being more commonly delivered to our textbooks and into our everyday lives if we grow up in the West than, say, those who may have other perspectives, like the one I ended up writing about, after all. (Silence, namely. Letting people decide their own things. Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s unpackaged suggestions through his writings and lectures have pointed me this way, and the perspective of keeping quiet instead of over-verbalizing your opinion has been etched further from the many, many conversations that I’ve been lucky to get to have with those whom I have gotten to know, who have opened up, and who have come out and told me when I outright ask, ‘What do you think?’, and, importantly, who are wildy uninfluenced by Western traditions. So refreshing.)

That said, it’s sometimes worthwhile to keep these footnotes around as a reference point. Except for the ‘God’ reference, which I could do without, personally, I feel this short letter, reportedly from a father to his daughter, has some real heft to it.

Here it is.

Desiderata: Original Text This is the original text from the book where Desiderata was first published.

‘Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

‘Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

‘But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’ -Max Ehrmann, 1927

Advice for young people

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This season I am reading articles, and conversing with experts, on Soft Skills for my weekly e-mag, S P A C E. This involves a lot of internet conversation, back-and-forth about how it works when it works well. Of course, this is a spectrum.

The more you read and discover, the more you find out.

It’s not like anyone has this perfectly down pat, but, I think, if we can aim to understand someone by giving them room to talk and not thinking while they’re talking about [insert anything] or being defensive or taking it personally or judging, then the result will be much better quality. In terms of communicating well. My opinion.

Communicating effectively in 2024. How do you do it?

It’s very easy to talk about this and it’s hard to do it; but there are tools, there are kits, there are quizzes and self-assessment tools all over the internet right now, because we are in an era of multi-channel communication and ‘even silence says something’ thinking which is hard to work with if you have something that is very real and labeled ‘information anxiety.’

I am reading about those things, too.


Talking about talking


Soft Skills, in this current season.

I’ll expand further, in my crowdfunded zine, S P A C E. It’s a weekly.

Meantime, if you want to hear more, or get links to some of the best sources I’ve found, definitely let me know; say hi.

Thanks.

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Listening to understand, not to reply

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Here’s where I am today. Researching and learning more about listening, active listening in particular.

When was the last time you really truly listened to someone else? Without thinking about what you were going to say, next? Without being defensive (defensive listening is a thing)? With really simply just being there, ready to connect, and let someone talk, until they’re finished talking?


According to VeryWellMind, ‘Active listening is a communication skill that involves going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks. It’s about actively processing and seeking to understand the meaning and intent behind them. It requires being a mindful and focused participant in the communication process.’


I think this is a very rare thing to get to experience in the 24/7 world. I mean, when do we slow down, really look at each other, really pay attention. Quieting is one way to go into the very comfortable thing that can happen when reflection and pause come into shape.

Active listening is a way to allow others to feel heard, and closeness to develop, from there. Real closeness, not just hanging out, pretending.

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Active listening

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I’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic with the videos and podcasts that are online that you can listen to, recordings that capture the things that Jiddu Krishnamurthi gave us to think over. Many of them talk about thought being the bad guy, how it got us to feel that we are separate from others. The dividing that happens is where we get into trouble. With each other. Things create conflicts, clashes, and gettings-in-the-way; misunderstandings. I like this video. I like most of them, especially when he talks about coping with the world and co-existing with the whole of it all. Seeing things clearly. As they are, with both sorrow there, and joy, too. When you feel sort of alone in a foreign country because you’re stuck and it’s a pandemic, it’s helpful to have these philosophical pieces to ‘visit’ because it’s like visiting someone cool and wise and whom you can learn from. I had missed this opportunity being far from my other ‘homes’, and the people in those places who used to give me great feedback, imparting words of wisdom, wherever and whenever luck was with me, and I could hear them.

HT PR


When you look at yourself as an ego, the ‘self’, the self-centered entity, what is it?’ Actually, what is it? The name, the form, the shape, the idea, the concept, the image? That is the me… With all the tendencies and all the rest of it. Essentially, it is the product of thought… Thought is the past, modifying itself, all the time… limited, narrow, can never been whole.

 

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Ego: ‘Essentially it is the product of thought,’ J. Krishnamurthi

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‘For it is only what belongs to himself that he makes the matter for his activity:’ Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius:

Do not waste the remainder of thy life in thoughts about others, when thou dost not refer thy thoughts to some object of common utility. For thou losest the opportunity of doing something else when thou hast such thoughts as these—What is such a person doing, and why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what is he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away from the observation of our own ruling power.

‘We ought then to check in the series of our thoughts everything that is without a purpose and useless, but most of all the over-curious feeling and the malignant; and a man should use himself to think of those things only about which if one should suddenly ask, What hast thou now in thy thoughts? with perfect openness thou mightest immediately answer, This or That; so that from thy words it should be plain that everything in thee is simple and benevolent, and such as befits a social animal, and one that cares not for thoughts about pleasure or sensual enjoyments at all, nor has any rivalry or envy and suspicion, or anything else for which thou wouldst blush if thou shouldst say that thou hadst it in thy mind. For the man who is such, and no longer delays being among the number of the best, is like a priest and minister of the gods, using too the [deity] which is planted within him, which makes the man uncontaminated by pleasure, unharmed by any pain, untouched by any insult, feeling no wrong, a fighter in the noblest fight, one who cannot be overpowered by any passion, dyed deep with justice, accepting with all his soul everything which happens and is assigned to him as his portion; and not often, nor yet without great necessity and for the general interest, imagining what another says, or does, or thinks.


‘For it is only what belongs to himself that he makes the matter for his activity; and he constantly thinks of that which is allotted to himself out of the sum total of things, and he makes his own acts fair, and he is persuaded that his own portion is good. For the lot which is assigned to each man is carried along with him and carries him along with it.† And he remembers also that every rational animal is his kinsman, and that to care for all men is according to man’s nature; and a man should hold on to the opinion not of all, but of those only who confessedly live according to nature. But as to those who live not so, he always bears in mind what kind of men they are both at home and from home, both by night and by day, and what they are, and with what men they live an impure life. Accordingly, he does not value at all the praise which comes from such men, since they are not even satisfied with themselves.

 

What are you doing today to make your choices, and to allow for those ‘best’ things you have decided to work for you to come into fruition? Today, how are you coming alive? 

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A tribute to Betty Ong

Found this story in the Seattle Times.

The author’s childhood friend was aboard an airplane, one of those that was driven into the WorldTrade Center, etching the date 9/11 forever on the hearts of so many people. A terrorist attack with airplanes involved. I remember when I heard that news; I was in Ireland. It brought back difficult emotions from when I was ten, and the airplane Kanishka was brought down. Terrorists, that time, too. I wrote my feelings of losing my own childhood friend in that attack in my book, Kanishka.

But back to the Betty One tribute. I wanted to share a snippet from the story that really felt beautiful, to me:

‘The Campanile chimes as I’m giving the rest of the assignment. They know the story so they’ll share it: They’ll choose a friend and listen together. Then they’ll write the personal and the partnered experience. This teaches more than story, this magnifies experience and memory. I tell them they’re breaking a secret: they’re writing the intimacy, which becomes their own Betty Ong story.’ –Fae Myenne Ng

Writing our intimacy. I love that.

Here is the link to the full story.

https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/betty-ong-hero-of-9-11-unsung-no-longer/

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