Thursday thoughts about Yin, Yang, coffee and happiness

When does the sacred ritual of “having a coffee” start?
For me it often starts the minute I leave the train and head towards the place where a heroic barista will be preparing a sublime beverage for me.
“Having a coffee” transcends the actual climactic act of taking that first sip.
There’s so much more to it all.
The interaction with friends, soaking up the vibe, experiencing the ambiance and derivative background muzak— All of that contributes to “having a coffee.”
Even when you put down your empty cup you are still actively having coffee with a friend, because there’s a latency in the experience that only gets committed to archived memory much later.

So much of our lives and enjoyment thereof hinge not only on holding the filled cup but also on putting down the empty cup and the anticipation before there even is a cup.
Without emptiness, we can’t experience fulness.

Are we so often embarking on a quest towards chasing down happiness as “somethingness” that we miss happiness within the emptiness?”
Continue reading

What is a common denominator in any job? No, it’s not asking for a better salary!

I’ve had 16 jobs over 30 years.
Some lasted for a few months, some lasted years.
None of this means I can offer profound wisdom about the “working condition” but I sure managed to rack up a few observations along the way.

So I might as well cut to the chase here.
What did I perceive to be the “common denominator” in any job?
The answer is very simple, so many of the colleagues who contributed to my collective working experience had these standard phrases in their linguistic arsenal:
“It’s almost…”
“I’m so over…”
“I can’t wait for…”

Your vivid imagination can surely start filling in the blanks?
“It’s almost Friday!”
“It’s almost time for my annual holiday!”
“It’s almost weekend!”
“It’s almost lunchtime!”
“It’s almost time to go home!”
Continue reading

Your office job probably isn’t “heroic” but that’s fine!

Programming isn’t a spectator sport.
But wait until the proverbial excrement hits the fan!
Then everyone who believes he has a stake or interest in the emergency is summoned by some arcane force.
Then they all gather around the guy who needs to fix the problem, and they swarm around him like flies on a fresh cow turd!
Unfortunately, it’s nothing like the epic “hacking scenes” from a movie.
There’s only stress.

Software and systems emergencies remind me of the times when you needed to find a plumber over the weekend.
While the plumber is fixing the leak or declogging the sewerage you’ll also see everyone standing around.
They’re not watching in awe though, but more out of morbid interest— Secretly being glad they don’t need to do the job but also irritated by having to pay for someone to invade their sanctum on a weekend.
I think many white-collar office emergencies fall in the category where management is just relieved someone pitched up to find an accounting error, incorrect booking or whatever other glitch showed up on a monitoring screen.

Yeah, alright then— Perhaps you’ll get the courtesy nod of approval if you fixed the error timeously.
Just don’t think for a minute there’s a medal in it for you.
After having worked a dozen jobs I very seldom received more than a cursory “thanks dude” for fixing “leaks.”
It seems that inadvertently the boss easily perceives a glitch as an inconvenience.
Perhaps he was lounging by the pool when the crisis was reported.
On some level, he equates the problem with you, because irrespective of whether you caused it, he needs someone to personify the irritation he feels at losing some leisure time!
If you’re working for a cool boss he might appreciate your efforts, just don’t assume it will improve his happiness, well-being or anything for that matter.
Getting you to do the job—That’s the job for him, and you’re part of the job.
Continue reading

The modified beast in the basement. Surviving corporate parking-bay woes!

Research the age of the building in which your offices are housed.
Perhaps it was built during a time when a fuel crisis forced people to buy smaller cars.
Not all allocated parking bays are suitable for gargantuan vehicles.

Some of my colleagues own big badass 4X4 Off-road monster trucks.
Many of those trucks have never seen any road surface other than smooth tar.
But some of the trucks have a winch.
If they were to get to bogged down in mud then the winch could easily pull them out!
And many 4X4 vehicles have a snorkel, in case the car needs to submerge when navigating a crocodile-infested and flooded marshland.
It often features bling-mods as well, just in case it doesn’t look manly enough.
Continue reading

Remember the empty parking lot? Why were you working on Sunday?

It’s Christmas.
You’re in the middle of nowhere, in a desert, on duty in a weather station all by yourself.
That’s probably more dismal than going into the office on a Sunday.
There are times when a bit of overtime is required— With deadlines and all.
Even though you know you need to do it you never quite get over that dismal feeling when you notice your car is the only one in the parking lot.
But you do what you gotta do!

Reality is one thing, but unfortunately, we allow “worry,” “unwarranted fear,” “a disproportionate sense of duty” and other malware into our minds on Sundays.
Many of us find ourselves “working” every Sunday!
Yes, there you are sitting on your porch, reading a book, having a nice cuppa joe but yet you find your thoughts wandering off to an unfinished proposal or a document you needed to complete.
Perhaps your mind looks like a jumble of gears and wires from a steampunk movie.
I can already see how it goes into overdrive for no reason, driven by angst!
You’re in the middle of a sci-fi movie where wires from the back of your head are connected to your computer.
Before you know it you’re already working on the problem and quickly log onto your work-environment remotely.
“I just quickly need to check mail,” you tell yourself.
The “quickly” becomes a few hours because illogical self-induced panic has a way of making you doubt everything!
The not-so-funny part is looking at the same piece of work on Monday!
And then it hardly comes across as intimidating as it seemed on Sunday— While you were “relaxing” at home.
Continue reading

Freeing yourself from the illusion of perfection— And being happier for it!

Chasing “perfectionism” can easily become a security blanket.
Some of the so-called “perfectionists” I met in my lifetime were plain lazy and incompetent.
Especially those who proclaim they don’t want to attempt certain tasks for fear of not getting it perfect.
Tinkerers in dimly-lit backrooms can fiddle with things for years under the pretense that they want to get it “perfect.”
Often they’re just too scared to finish something because then they might expose their product or idea to open scrutiny and realize it was far from perfect.

“Perfection” is merely a word.
It’s a word that society loves to fling about.
“Perfection is excellence.”
Nonsense!
No matter what the dictionary says, it’s rubbish.
Perfection is impossible.
Because “perfection” will always be subjective, no matter what!

You can test my theory and go bake a perfect cake!
Yes, according to all the parameters and instructions it might come out quite well!
It might even be labeled “excellent!”
But lo and behold, you will get those who wanted it sweeter, more textured, less decorated.
Now try and convince those dissidents that the cake was “perfect!”
Good luck with that quest!
Try convincing a hardcore rocker that you attended the “perfect” jazz concert.
At the first sound of “jazz”, you’ve already lost his interest.
Had he accompanied you it might’ve been the dullest two hours in his life!

We’ve all experienced what we labeled a “perfect moment.”
Not that it was perfect.
It merely felt like it.
There was that first kiss when time slowed down on a grassy meadow near a waterfall.
perhaps you only forgot about the pesky mosquitoes, the poison ivy you sat upon and the sunburn you got.
Not that the bad things mattered though, you got a sloppy kiss, you felt happy and over time your mind smoothed out the rough spots and left you with a perfect memory.

Excellence is sometimes merely “very good” or “very suitable” within a certain context for a specific group of people.
Still not convinced?
Ask a bunch of petrol heads what they consider to be the “perfect car!”
Then you stand back and watch the fight!
Continue reading

Looking through the glass and finding yourself

Right below the sign that reads “Please don’t touch the fish tank” I’ve seen bored children press their faces against the glass.

If I were a fish on the inside, what would I think or do when I saw a monstrous face leering at me?
Perhaps I wouldn’t care enough to think anything.
One boy who kept tapping the glass identified with a big mean-looking fish.
“Look at the spikes! That’s me!”
He pointed at a clownfish and decided that was his little brother.

We are animals, I guess that’s why we subconsciously identify with traits we observe in other animal species.

If I were on the inside I don’t think I would’ve bothered to “identify” with the outside creatures.
They are more trapped than anyone on the inside.
They lug about electronic trappings such as phones and tablets.
Those devices are nothing more than tethers that link them to offices and problems 24/7 as well as make-believe worlds in which they believe they have real lives.
Those on the outside are prisoners of a myriad insecurities.
They lack confidence.
Callous oversight, arrogance, and entitlement are leading them to destroy the little lifeboat called Earth they live on.
In the process, they are slowly poisoning themselves and eroding the quality of life for future generations.
But hey, if that whiny kid with the bad haircut doesn’t decide to throw his straw into the tank there will still be less plastic in here than in the spaces my free brothers are navigating right now.

I do believe a growing number of people are starting to identify with the creatures that the fish might’ve seen through the glass.
We’ve been taught we need to look in the mirror to see a reflection of ourselves.
That’s become a problem, with selfies, beauty-filters, and Instagram-ready representations of ourselves we’ve become too accustomed at fooling the mirror.
Perhaps it’s a better idea to look around us for a change, look at others, look at the spaces we occupy, and the spaces we leave behind.
These could very well become the elements that define us, once we are well and truly out of the picture.

4 Surprising reminders that challenge the belief in dishing out kindness to everyone

Make no mistake, you don’t have the energy, time or means to be kind to “everyone.”
It’s a big world out there, last time I checked there were a few billion people.
Society teaches us to use feelgood kindness-buzzwords without substance.
Generic kindness-memes get us all fired up and enthusiastic without delivering the tools required for implementation.
Somehow there’s the perpetuation of this mystic and esoteric vision that we need to go on missions of mercy and kindness to exotic faraway places and be transformed into saints of sorts.
Kindness begins at home.
Sorry… You needn’t book a travel ticket just yet.
Feed your kids, be civil to your wife and make time for them.
That’s the most basic kindness you can put on the table.

Kind people can be undercover bullies.
We do get individuals who force kindness onto others irrespective of appropriate context or not.
They can be ruthless in their attempts to feel good at all cost.
Let’s not beat about the bush.
Fueling a desire to give can become a narcissistic act.
Those who launch huge charity events in the name of kindness can surely do a lot of good.
But the attention and publicity it reflects onto them can feel and look oh so good!
Ironically enough I’ve experienced seriously unkind abuse of staff members and crew at the very events designed to promote kindness!

Continue reading

Why the caveperson started walking towards the mountain

One of the guests at a party attempted to tell a story about a caveman who decided to start walking towards the mountains…
Almost immediately a paleontologist silenced the narrator.
He proposed that the term “caveman” was outdated.
He said there were better terms for the character that the storyteller tried to depict.
A cunning linguist from the back of the room insisted that paleoanthropology was better suited to describe the ancient protagonist from the story than paleontology ever could!
The archaeologist in the group had a few bones to pick with much of the narrative as well.
He was very vocal about unearthing tangible proof!

Just when most reached consensus that “caveman” would be suitable as a generic term for a simple story a Professor in Geography questioned a meteorologist’s take on the caveman scenario.
A fight almost broke out.

One of the mathematicians in the group used doodles on a paper napkin to illustrate why the caveman couldn’t possibly have been able to navigate a straight route towards the mountain.
The nihilist didn’t care about any of this, because he felt there was no mountain.
At that point a feminist joined the discussion.
She was very adamant that the main character in the story could’ve been a cavegirl!
To preserve the peace, the term “caveperson” was voted in as a suitable alternative for “caveman!”

For any given story there will be as many opinions as there are people in the room.

We’re often so busy dissecting comments for some truth that we tend to forget they don’t necessarily enhance the original story.
Sometimes we only want to hear a story!

And due to the interference from third-party experts, we still have no idea why the caveperson decided to start walking that day…

If you should choose to ridicule me, let me offer assistance!

“Opinion” is the illusion that you achieve something
by commenting on something.

So many people online are ready to label everyone else an “idiot!”

If I’m an idiot then I would rather write aphorisms than write a novel.
Digesting a novel in its entirety is difficult.
You would need to read a lot of it to arrive at the conclusion that
it was pure drivel.
I’m making it easy for you, I’m offering bite-sized chunks of wisdom
that you can assimilate quite easily.
You can read a few pages and draw your conclusions much faster!