The 15 Minute Illusion!

If time is an illusion then our own perceptions can become the malevolent conjurer of falsehood.
So you walked to work and it took you all of 15 minutes.
Did you convince yourself that you were wasting time?
Did you convince yourself that you could, or should’ve been doing something different, something better…Within the demarcated confines of reality that you created for yourself?
What was the illusion that the wizard concocted to convince you that “it,” that section of “time” was merely something you needed to place behind you in order to reach a goal, a destination?

If time doesn’t exist then I wasn’t caught up within the stranglehold of a perception that the moments needed to be anything.
For me, it was an experience within which I didn’t need to explain to anyone why I required to be alone.
On other days the experience becomes a conversation with a friend.
Others could’ve experienced the moment as music or thought.
And right there your own magic happens.
That’s where the evil wizard loses power over you.
Because the illusion he tried to pull off would’ve failed.
When someone else’s illusion doesn’t matter, it holds no power.

Life simply happens between sections of time we choose to classify as events.
I choose to see the interstices as meaningful, even if it’s only an illusion as well.
At the very least it was my own illusion.

Empathy, Death And The Queen Getting Fist-Bumped!

Did the human race exhibit more compassion towards others in the past?
We’ve all heard accounts of battle-hardened veterans who witnessed specific horrors during a war.
It seems like there’s a tipping point of “noticing” for even the toughest people.
A soldier by implication literally signs up to destroy and kill.
As blunt as it sounds, that is the truth.
The reasons for signing up is another thing.
But irrespective of that, the job description is what it is.

So when a soldier who has been in the thick of the fight stops to take notice we can’t help but wonder what he saw.
Within this context I often look at callous remarks about human suffering.
More often than not these remarks are seen on “Social Media.”
And the question springs to mind, “what would it take for people to start recognizing human suffering?”

Personally I don’t have any hope for many Social Media platforms to ever be anything more than a narcissistic outlet for personal opinion.

Recently on a news-feed I looked at articles lumped together.
Next to a heart breaking depiction of human anguish and loss I saw tips for buying a new phone.
Under the picture of a woman mourning her loss I saw some or other inane drivel about Trump “fist-bumping” The Queen.
And last but not least, a roundup of the day’s sport.
I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t read up on topics that interest you.
If the Queen’s story interests you, then by all means… Read all about it.
It is hilarious when seen for what it is!
The big problem here is mostly that we are saturated with information.
Human tragedy is diluted and silenced by a thunderous wave of mundane information.
There is still outrage, but the outrage is often focused on events that speak to the observer, rather than a focus on the actual tragedy that unfolds.
Even during these tragedies opinions are polarized and fighting ensues around the periphery of the tragedy.
Racial, political and economical issues among others are dragged into the topic which in turn causes debates that in turn elicit more debates.
Lately I find myself moving away from commenting altogether.
Lest I become part of the phenomenon that dilutes the real message within the article.

However, I also believe that the negative is essential for the positive to function.
Within the cesspool of unrelated and volatile comments I do notice people who are starting to rebel against the tendency to digress from the real topic.
If the negative is writing vitriolic comments intended to hurt then perhaps the negative is abstinence from writing comments.
For even the perceived positive comments also get attacked by abrasive intent.
Not even something as simple as paying respects, writing ‘condolences’ is left unscathed.
If the mob feels that a certain person had no right to pay respects, that comment will be shredded!
The writer who added a positive blip is often mercilessly chastised.

But back to the positive!
Wherever I go in the offline world I’m starting to pick up a vibe…a certain disdain for much of what was seen as gospel in the online realm.
The conundrum we face is that the online world is very visible regarding that which it preaches.
On a self-contained ecosystem such as Twitter the negative appears to rule.
That only means that the positive needs to exist, in equal parts, but not necessarily within the same platform.

These days I make it a point to talk to people in the offline world.
Making contact and showing real interest in “who” someone else is.
When you make real contact empathy becomes possible.

The battle-hardened collective that has been fighting throughout the centuries often rendered gut wrenching accounts regarding a moment of clarity when they saw themselves in the eyes of the enemy… Up close.
Within that moment of truth, the real impact of a war is felt, when the soldier realizes he is killing someone who could’ve been his own son, or someone from his own platoon or even someone whom he feels resembles himself.

When you see yourself reflected in the human tragedy that unfolds in the media, only then can you feel any form of empathy.
Only when you realize you are in fact “the other.”

As far as the media, fake news, outrage and sensationalism is concerned…
I have no idea how to combat the increasing sense of jaded emotion I perceive.
All I do know is that the antithesis, the positive side needs to be true.
And I can be an ever-growing part of the side that needn’t necessarily discard Social Media, but rather see it for what it is, or isn’t… And knowing when to let it go!
That is the moment within which you start noticing The Positive!

“Pop” Music Is A Myth!

You already know what I’m aiming towards, don’t you?
“Pop” was simply an abbreviation for “popular?”
Popular music.
Anything that’s currently charting is “pop?”
But hang on, what about “Rock” and “Alternative” and about a thousand other genres?
Well, Allrighty then!
Pop has become a distinct genre! I know!

When I spoke to an older person a couple of years ago he said Mozart would’ve been mortified had he heard pop remixes of his famous melodies.
I’m not so sure though.
But we can’t really say, can we?
Bach might’ve loathed it, and Mozart might’ve loved the innovation?
Who knows?
And within this topic we see yet another term that could throw the mix into disarray—”Classical Music!”
Classical Music was Pop Music during the time when Mozart was a popular and active composer.
I guess they simply called it “music?”

Years from now all the “hip” and fashionable music of this era will become “oldies.”
Or “rubbish” or whatever future generations decide to use as label for that which we enjoy now.

If you place the enjoyment and appreciation of music first, then the genre, or the “label” doesn’t matter.
Society taught us to adhere to labels though.
It makes the sale of music on various platforms easier.
Back in the day it made the sorting and categorizing of music in record stores more manageable.
But it also taught us to listen to the product through a filter that really didn’t enhance the product in any way.
There’s no way we will ever eradicate the perception that we always need to understand something better by reading the label.
Music is medicine, but we really don’t need to worry about the ingredients having any adverse effects on us.

None of this will necessarily assist us to start enjoying those “genres” we don’t particularly like.
But we could end up exploring new music if we’re not always deterred by arbitrary labelling?

Our Binary Decisions Are Often Worth 0

What If your essence, your very “being,” that thing which is “yourself” could be translated into an algorithm, defining everything that made you function?
How many terabytes would your uniqueness have spanned?
Perhaps a better question would be “How many terabytes do you think that your operating system would’ve required to function?”
Imagine the surprise if you were to find that only a small amount of data turned out to be a representative “you?”
But obviously I’m just talking fancy here.
I’m not a neurobiologist by any measure.

I do know a bit about conditional operators though.
Most would recognize the “IF STATEMENT” as being one of the better-known examples.

This is a far stretch from creating “The Algorithm” but often I’m amazed when I figure out just how simple my decisions “can be.”
Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally perceive them to be as anything other than disastrous!

Now let’s say you’re in a bit of a bind.
You wish to park your car but the parking bay looks ominously small.
That ostentatious SUV you purchased might not fit in!

So how do you go about this?
You will no doubt tell yourself that there are a thousand factors that could determine your actions.
That’s possible.

Consider this bit of pseudo code.

If VERY SURE CAR WILL FIT THEN
DRIVE INTO BAY
ELSE
GO FIND ANOTHER SPOT FOR BIG CAR

We can even expand on this a bit.

If VERY SURE CAR WILL FIT THEN
RE_EVAULATE IF CAR WILL GET SCRATCHED
IF NOT TOO WORRIED ABOUT DAMAGE THEN
DRIVE INTO BAY
ELSE
GO FIND ANOTHER SPOT FOR BIG CAR

Or even more…

If VERY SURE CAR WILL FIT THEN
RE_EVAULATE IF CAR WILL GET SCRATCHED
IF NOT TOO WORRIED ABOUT DAMAGE THEN
RE_EVALAUTE IF YOU CAN OPEN DOORS
IF YOU WILL GET OUT BUT STILL DING OTHER CAR THEN
DRIVE INTO BAY
ELSE
GO FIND ANOTHER SPOT FOR BIG CAR

Or …. even more…. what about a thousand choices?
Choice is also not decision although many have started to use the words in an interchangeable way.

If (INSIDE THIS SECTION YOU CAN PUT MANY ARBITRARY CONSIDERATIONS/OPTIONS/EMOTIONS/CHOICES) THEN
RE_EVAULATE IF CAR WILL GET SCRATCHED
IF NOT TOO WORRIED ABOUT DAMAGE THEN
RE_EVALAUTE IF YOU CAN OPEN DOORS
IF YOU WILL GET OUT BUT STILL DING OTHER CAR THEN
DRIVE INTO BAY
ELSE
GO FIND ANOTHER SPOT FOR BIG CAR

While you were considering the feasibility of the space you no doubt thought about the consequence of dinging the car, you were changing gears, working the brakes, singing along to the radio.
All these actions and thoughts create the illusion we’re multitasking.
That isn’t true though.
Each separate thought might very well be just another branch where a simple “YES” or “NO” would’ve sufficed.
Quite often we also confuse thoughts about consequences with the actual decision.

Of course you can nest the levels for making decisions as deep as you wish.
You’re stranded in a crypt, you stole the secret jewels of the Shadow Wraith and his minions are coming for you.
In front of you are 3 or more doors… perhaps a dozen, it really doesn’t matter.
You still need to choose only one.
And then make the actual decision to go through ONLY one.
Is it really that simple though?
The conditions that lead you towards making a decision can happen before you even move towards a door.
I’m sure you’ll debate with yourself for a long time…
What are your options, why do have these choices?
But just remember, weighing the options, examining the choices are still not the actual decision you make!

But wait… There’s more!
We also complicate matters for ourselves when we are presented with scenarios such as “Choose Four and get one free!”
Is the REAL problem/decision the “choice” or “paying for what you chose?”
Do you have enough money to pay or not?
We can’t really exhaust this topic in one session, but I do hope it might help a bit when you’re ready to make an actual “decision!”

There are times when I really need to ask myself, “what is the bottom line?”
See, a whole article could have hinged on the simplicity of asking one question!

Why venture into the realm of “Yin Yang” or “YES/NO” decision making though?

The reason for writing all of this is actually quite simple.
Yesterday I was presented with the decision of escalating an issue I had with “colleagues” or not.
My choice was simple, do I win the battle and let it go, or do I make a fuss and potentially kill functional relationships.
The complicating factors are things like the emotions, irritability, sense of pursuing justice.
Then there are the consequences, and questions about consequences … Would it serve any purpose if I were to escalate?

On a personal level this really helps me.
When I’m faced with options, I don’t see them as “decisions.”
When difficult emotions wash over me, I don’t see them as “decisions” either.
As obvious as it appears to be, next time the going gets tough try telling yourself the “emotion isn’t the decision!”
Choices aren’t decisions.
I address the emotions, and often use the options or choices as considerations in relation to one another to do what needs to be done in the end, “choose one” and make a decision!

What is your take on this?
Are we capable of making more than binary decisions?

Voice notes for your time capsule!

For quite some time I’ve been recording thoughts and ideas on my mobile.
On-the-fly preservation of thoughts and mostly random ideas about life in general.
When I wrote this article I decided to transcribe one of my older recordings.
A recording I made about “recordings.”
Afterwards I “re-recorded” the content.
This is definitely not the “raw material” from which the article originated, but I do believe its slightly more palatable than the messy original.

Voice notes for your time capsule!

During my quest for Actively Seeking Life’s Lemons I discovered voice notes to be a valuable tool for preserving thoughts and ideas.
Why not simply write down these thoughts?
Naturally I could do that.
But I do believe that voice recordings bring a different dimension to the creative process.
Consider the commonplace practice of taking photographs in order to retain a visual confirmation of something you lived through.
Instead of simply retelling the story via text or spoken language you can substantiate many elements of your story with visual confirmation.
That amazing sunset you captured comes to life whenever you revisit your old photos or video clips.
Photographs that you took yourself transcend the boundaries of “simply being a picture.”
Without always consciously being aware of it you’re also attempting to retain a memory of how you felt when you took that picture.
The physical document serves to anchor the emotion you felt and helps you to attach it to a tangible reminder.
The recording of certain content is therefore as important to me as recording the “why” and the “how.”
When you gazed across the waves at a breathtakingly beautiful sunset you’re not just committing a pretty picture to storage.
You’re also creating a time-capsule in which your memories of that moment enjoy a context in which to exist.
Perhaps this is an attempt to attain some level of immortality as much as anything else.

I keep my raw recordings for the sake of posterity.
A “summary ” of events are captured in any photograph but nowadays I realize that I often capture a mood rather than content.
That’s why I prefer not to edit photos or recordings.
When I revisit some of the recordings I do pick up on how tired or excited I sounded.
That in itself also provides powerful clues as to why I thought the way I did at that moment.
Sure, we can always revisit the same topic or concepts for later discussion.
But you can’t ever recreate the exact same thought patterns even when rehashing an idea that you felt you’ve all but exhausted.

If the desire to create is a driving force within your life then it could very well benefit you to record your thoughts.
In the future, they might be used as pointers from previous creative patterns that can take you through rough patches whenever you feel the muse has deserted you.
These thought-snapshots, not unlike photos, remind you of things you can easily forget when the pressure of life takes you on unplanned routes!
They are anchors.

If listening to your recordings make you cringe a bit, that’s fine.
You do get used to it.
Like looking at old photos!
Some are just too embarrassing to ever release into the wild.
But, you don’t always pick the professional high-definition specimens as being representative of your life.
Often the out of focus, oddly angled or grainy ones bring back the best indication of who you were when you took that photo.
And pretty much the same applies to the recordings that weren’t intended to be masterpieces of oratory skill, but simply bookmarks for thoughts.
Taking photos has become an instinctive process for many.
Writing down thoughts seems much less commonplace than the manner in which we can visually record our lives.
But to each his own.
I can’t subscribe to the idea that one method is better than another.
However…
Next time you’re stuck in traffic, talk to yourself, and record your ideas!
It’s easy and convenient!
Perhaps the voices in your head won’t ever talk back, but when you press “play” you’ll at least get something fairly close to that!

 

 

TLR

Twitter killed The Wisdom Tsar

Before the prophets of the world poured their wisdom into a text-box with limited character-capacity the words that hit you squarely in the gut were often found in dodgy spaces.
Every local bar, tavern or bake sale gathering had their own herald of infinite knowledge.

In a dodgy dive not far from where I grew up The Wisdom Tsar reigned supreme as the keeper of the key.
The guardian of life’s most profound truths.
The Tsar was a god, he was more than a king, and way too bloody damn cool not to be called “The Tsar.”

Speaking in a voice shredded by a 100 000 cigarettes and low quality alcohol strengthened the power of his messages.
You could ask him about aliens and conspiracies against war veterans.
He new it all.
Almost!
The facts he eschewed were hardly noteworthy anyway.
His steed of choice was a dark red Ford V6.
Even his car dripped, no… oozed masculinity and life experience was etched in the patterns made by cracked leather seats.

Everyone listened when he spoke, because there was no mistaking his crusty voice of authority.
But everyone knew he really cared for all his disciples and hardcore fans.
He knew all by name.
He knew everyone’s most intimate secrets and worst fears.
And he never spilled any beans.

When you dared to disagree, a “Well Fuck lad, let’s hear it then” signalled your turn to speak.
Woe be to your mortal soul if you challenged The Tsar simply to get attention.
His rabid protectors were a phalanx of Stoic musclebound goons not to be trifled with.
But if you had lost the light in your eyes, or the song in your heart … The Tsar was there for you.
More often than not he helped you sort your shit without even giving it a thought.
Because he knew your name.
And he knew your Mother and your younger sister.
And throughout your ordeal you felt a tight grip where he was holding you, lest you fall into the pits of hell.
Legend has it he could bring you back from the depths of hell if he had to.
Because he’s been there so many times.

Ok, so Twitter didn’t really kill this man.
The Tsar is still alive, and still preaching, but wherever he hides these days the room is surely filled with dull eyes transfixed on little screens.
Words of wisdom pour forth from their devices.
Everyone is now a King!
Watch them, because they won’t notice you.
Observe them…
Dripping with exaggerated intellect, and faux wokeness.
Even those who did hear the words of the true prophets disappear in the huge cracks left by vast sludge dams of constantly regurgitated drivel.
The true voices of our generation venture into this ocean at their own detriment.
Because nobody cares to teach a new generation of disciples how to set the ego aside for a while.
And the new disciples only bow to the god created by their own number of followers.
Yes…
There they sit…
Typing, deleting and creating even more derivative soulless content each time they have a go at someone.
Their audience doesn’t look them in the eye, nor does it care.
Their enemies care even less.

For somewhere down the line we traded the raw and gritty sweat of true conversation for comments on homogenized daily outrage and faceless opinions.

Walk, not type!

I remember a time when you either phoned your neighbour when his dog was barking incessantly or you walked across the street in order to resolve the issue.
There was also a third option, you could either have ignored, or accepted it for what it was… Life in the suburbs.

“Acceptance” is not our strong suit though…we’re an entitled species. Our own preferences and comfort needs to enjoy a top-tier priority level at all times!
Luckily for us: Along comes Social Media to the “rescue.”
A lumbering vehicle buckling under its own weight.
So let’s drive into the echo-chamber where thousands clamour for attention.
Let’s blow the horn with our own rants and raves.
Inside this hollow chamber we can lambaste “The Neighbour” for not disciplining his dog.
Unfortunately this is where it all goes pear-shaped.
Animal lovers will immediately chime in to educate us about the sanctity of preserving a dog’s autonomy.
Several others will jump onto the bandwagon and somehow change the topic to “Bad service delivery in the suburbs” thereby causing a totally unrelated outrage!

But then your computer requires a restart and you’re forced to go offline because Windows updates will take 20 minutes.
You decide to bite the bullet, what the hell…
And you cross the street.
For once you’re going to have a real conversation with your neighbour!
But the problem is, your neighbour is on his mobile, busy reading the local Facebook neighbourhood community page.
He is almost too distracted to talk to you…
He is waging a fierce Facebook-comment-war against someone who dared make the false claim that all small-breed dogs reflect the owner’s inability to maintain satisfactory sexual relationships.

It’s not much?

I had already pitched my tent for the night when the Audi pulled in.

The 5 guys in the car were big, and the Audi’s suspension was already taxed by age and neglect.
They succeeded in lowering the car to such an extent that I wondered about the ride quality—Let alone any safety concerns.

A huge but well-travelled tent was clumsily erected between alternating sessions of drinking and smoking.
The revels carried on into the wee hours of the morning.
Somehow all of us eventually scrounged up a few hours of sleep.

The next morning found me a bit ragged around the edges but a cup of good coffee alleviated some of the lethargy.
When I was packed and ready to go The Party of 5 started stirring.
I decided to hang around for a while and make another coffee.

The big cumbersome tent disappeared into the car’s trunk with unexpected ease and speed.
When all 5 were settled into their respective seats the launch window started.
Firing up the engine was a bit of a mission.
After three failed attempts the guy who was riding shotgun got out, popped the hood and fiddled with some wires.
I imagined a World War 1 pilot telling his ground crew to turn the propeller.
Someone surely could have yelled “contact!”
That’s when a cloud of smoke signalled the Audi’s return to life.
The driver put his trusty steed into gear and they drove off—All smiles!
For some strange reason I still remember the first word that came to mind.
These 5 men almost appeared to be “triumphant.”

I also remember thinking how much fun and laughter surfaced that night.
They didn’t have much…but they sure knew how to have a good time.
When I revisited these memories not long ago it finally dawned on me though…
We often think people manage “despite having very little.”
Quite often though the indomitable human spirit says “No, that’s not it.”
“What they had at that moment wasn’t much, but it was enough!”

When the party’s over

Next time you attend one of those parties that you never to end think about it this way—The minute it’s over you can immediately start reminiscing about the amazing time you had!

Our minds can experience the gift of traversing memories without the constraints of time and space.
We can manipulate the very fabric of reality.
The party will never end—But only Because it did!