Tag Archives: perspective

My First Steps

The new calendar year begins.  A prime time to think about life, direction and perspective; to reflect on past thoughts and seek out new lines of reasoning. So, on a rainy fog-filled morning, with coffee cup in hand, I strained my eyes thoroughly, browsing through the multitude of headline stories presented by online media outlets.  At the start, I searched for inspiration among the black and white lines of text.  Then, as my posture slunk further to a form that asks “are humans really supposed to sit for hours this way?,” I realized that inspiration was the distant star of emotions triggered by my perusing.  Frustrated, disconnected, fearful, sympathetic, enraged and ultimately betrayed – those were the emotions and reactions ranking near the top of the list.

From death and destruction caused by suicide bombers, to people complaining about the requirements for the Nobel Peace Prize, to a child plagued by unstoppable weight gain due to a surgery side-effect, to a list regarding the ‘11 Dumbest Things Said By Media About Women In 2013.’ These were just a smattering of story lines; each snagged my attention and triggered a distinct emotional response.

Actually, because of my responses to those stories, I am reminded of my earlier blog post (“Frustration Loop” published October 2, 2013) when I mentioned briefly a method of thinking, described as reaching outside of one’s self as an immediate response to anything encountered.  I then continued by asking if perhaps there is another first step, which would include “reaching in.”

To develop and apply the concepts of thinking methods, I wanted to break down how I normally think, which I will describe as “looking outward” and then try a different perspective or method of thinking, that I will describe as “looking inward.”

So, what is that first step in the method of thinking timeline (either outward or inward), before any emotion, or any action may be triggered?  Is that initial step so natural and engrained that it pushes my train of thought down a well entrenched path without me even thinking about it?  I think so, or else that’s just my excuse for procrastinating with this blog post and staring at a blank screen.

Okay, down to business then.  In order for this to make sense to me, I need these concepts (looking outward/looking inward as methods of thinking) in a useable everyday format.  Let me work with a concrete example.  I’ll take a media story that I just saw online and process the experience in both methods and try to note the timeline and details of both.   Here goes….

I  just saw a story streaming on the Today show about a teen bullied because of her looks and deciding to get plastic surgery.  She got a nose job and a chin implant and feels confident enough now to go back to school and make friends, after not wanting to leave the house for a couple years.

Outward – First Steps:

*I think about the story as it is told, those involved, the circumstances, the choices, the outcome.

*I feel judgments rising, emotions gathering energy.

*I feel frustrated that this kid got plastic surgery in an attempt to affect people’s judgement of her.

*Then, the frustrated spiral continues when I ask myself, are these the values that we want our kids to live by?

*Then, there is the counter-argument in my own brain – she is empowered and can do what she wants as long as there are the resources for it.  If it raises her confidence, then great.

Ah, the loop of no clear answers and frustration, feeling a pressure to form an opinion and a convincing argument, the automatic and expectation that I should have or make a judgement.  I am left feeling slightly manipulated, drained a bit of energy, leaning toward  ‘who cares’ apathy.

Inward – First Steps:

*I listen and watch without judgement – a calm pool.

*I gather the details for the sake of knowing, observation.

*I have no opinion; I feel compassion.

*I understand the story’s perspective, but give no energy to it.

*I maintain my perspective.

*And I let the encounter go.

*I move on.

There is no analysis, comparison or pressure to form an argument. In this example, I do not think as the first step, I listen.  I am not launched onto the mind’s path of judgement, of creating an opinion.  I do not personalize the story, or take it in.  I maintain my own perspective and empathize with the characters involved in the story and observe the various facets of a society intertwined.  I feel full and deep with the warmth of heartfelt interaction.

Interesting.  So, the first few steps lead perhaps to more questions, to more “concrete example” work.  Hmm…another coffee cup in hand, another rainy fog-filled morning and the new calendar year continues….

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2014

A Reflection on Control

This morning, I jogged around the lake close to my home.  The foggy cold paralyzed my senses momentarily.  But, once my blood felt safe to actually circulate throughout the entirety of my body and I could feel my ears again, I began to hear conversations from some people I passed on the path.  Since I am only an accidental eavesdropper, I caught just a few random words and phrases, but one sentence seemed to stick out.

An older couple walked towards me at a brisk pace.  They matched in their puffy down jackets, black jogging pants and gray beanie hats.  They leaned their heads in toward one another, while their arms pumped and their warmed breath smoked around them.  The woman spoke rather loudly to the man, probably from the physical exertion and of course the thick wool caps covering their ears. Just as they passed, she exhaled “the sad thing is, there is nothing you can do.”   Without context or any extreme inflection in her voice, I had no immediate emotion or image to anchor the words.  I guess there was a bit of concern in her manner, maybe a hint of frustration.  For the most part, the words appeared to have been thrown out there, more of a figure of speech or something to be said because there was nothing else left to say.

As I continued past the couple, I slowed to a walk.  My brain definitely tends to function at a slightly higher level when it’s not figuring how to conserve as much energy as possible while immersed in an aerobic workout (jogging) and not simultaneously providing a continuous stream of arguments against the benefits of the aerobic activity (jogging).  With the walking decision made, my thoughts turned toward the statement I had heard.  “The sad thing is, there is nothing you can do.”  Applied as a universal concept, I look at this sentence as potentially limiting and definitely just a matter of perspective.  Assuming that the latter part of this statement is correct “there is nothing you can do”, does that lack of control make it a “sad thing?”  Or does the realization that you have no control in a situation equal another emotional realization besides sadness, dependent on the circumstances? This could be anything from extreme anger to extreme tranquility.

Or does the realization that you have no control in a situation present a different perspective all together that suggests that “control” is conceptual, self created, system binding, defined inaccurately, a root of “how” humans are taught to think (along the lines of opposites – control vs no control).  Taking the perspective further, could it be suggested that we are deluded  to think that we have control and we only think we do because we don’t want to think that we don’t?  But are those two extremes of having and not having the only choices available to us?

I had asked in an earlier blog post ‘what can you control?’ and provided a possible answer, ‘you control you.’  Perhaps adjusting the definition of “control” would help to align the concept I was talking about before and the concept I am talking about now.  That is the concept of awareness, becoming aware of situations, intentions, and ultimately decisions.  This includes an individual’s involvement in that process, in order to engage one in one’s path, choices, actions and reactions.  The awareness concept addresses all of the details and hues of “control” as we may perceive the word, but without the lockdown effect of the word’s enactment.

So, released from a definition, the perspective is left without the influence of “control vs no control.”  The perspective is no longer in the same language, color scheme, style, landscape, etc since the normal definition of “control” wasn’t even in the foundation. That’s kind of refreshing.  The perspective does not need to go through the “control/no control” rigid filter to arrive at the initial understanding or direction.

Getting back to the sentence with this definition release –  “The sad thing is, there is nothing you can do” – the statement then becomes a simple awareness of the situation and a reflection of one’s choice within it. An act; a movement; another step on the path.

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2013

Relationships in the Present Moment

The most current of events that continues to impact my daily life and train of thought is my recent move from Belgium to the U.S. Pacific Northwest.  Even though time has raced by and already I have been in my new surroundings for almost two weeks, my feet still feel slightly swept so that I don’t quite have the full balance or steady methods to anchor myself.  However, piercing through all of the uproar and chaos during this change, the impact of “relationships” has cried out with the fullest gusto and has demanded some attention.  Imagine that, relationships needing attention…  I have noticed that beyond people, even how I relate or connect to things, actions or to situations has snagged my curiosity and has overwhelmed me at the same time.

When I think about the word “relationship,” my automatic word-association is to “romance” or “friendship.”  My second filter of word-definition jumps to what I learned in high school/college literature classes – “relationships defined by capacity of conflict.” These are the “Person vs Self, Person vs Person, Person vs Society, Person vs Universe, Person vs Nature” descriptions.  But, since relationships are hopefully not just about conflict, and not just about other people, how else can I be conscious of how I am connecting to everything?

I think that understanding how one relates to everything around or within oneself on all levels is possible, as well as important.  At the moment, of course, I am addressing some of the levels from my standard understanding because “what you know” seems to be a great place (as well as the default place) to start.  But, I would like to move on from the automatic and flow beyond my learned method of thinking or organization of thought to find a perspective that can handle the overwhelming that I am experiencing.

So….Relationships to everything, on all levels and sub levels. I suppose this train of thought could race to the umbrella concepts that span across my thought and that are ultimately affected by my associations, definitions and experiences to everything. I suppose one could say that the human experience and subsequent human expression could be defined through relationships on all levels.  But, exactly how can someone be aware of all relationships at all levels to the extent of continuous comprehension and to consciously live within them?

Maybe the relationship that pushes and stretches the boundaries of imagination and thought should be explored to find the different perspective.  Person and Infinity.

And how can I describe my relationship with infinity?  Well, it’s like a sling shot effect, or like the quick zoom-out on Google Maps.  The map is bursting at the seams, trying to hold infinity and in a snap, there is a zoom out and now, infinity looks like the tiniest dot within the landscape of additional infinity.  And what is that tiny “infinity” dot in relation to my life?  A focal point in my day, a mere moment, perhaps the present moment.

Can you ever be outside of the present moment?  Well, I think you can definitely be unaware of the present moment.  But, if the awareness is there, would it be possible to develop only my relationship with the present moment and thereby develop all relationships at once?

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2013

it is what it is

Is it?  The more I thought about the phrase and its ramifications (empowerment/disempowerment), the more tangents, layers and possibilities I found.  I’ve tried to verbalize my thoughts here without excessive babble, which was definitely a challenge.  But, I think the discussion about this phrase is important.  Here’s what I’ve got.

For the past week or so, I have been hearing “it is what it is” thrown around the office where I work.  I guess I may have heard this phrase in the past, but never picked up on it as much as I did last week.  I started noticing the words after I actually said them myself.  As the words were leaving my mouth, time slowed.  I almost felt a slight possession, as if I left my body and thought to myself “what are you about to say?/what are you saying?”  I felt, then heard the words leave my lips; an exact repetition of what I had heard someone else saying earlier that morning.

This snagged my attention immediately.  Why did I say that? What does the phrase even mean to me and why did I just spread that to somebody else?  It was like I was trying this phrase on for size and something just felt completely wrong about the fit.  I listened for those words the rest of the week, heard them an uncanny number of times and was starkly aware of how often I wanted but stopped myself from saying the contagious phrase.

So, what is behind this handful of words and why are they so easy to say?  Some possibilities:

“It is what it is.”  Said with a dismissive wave of the hand. No time or care to realize how the “it” will inevitably impact the day; just continue on without thought regarding what may be compromised.

“It is what it is.”  Said with a shrug of the shoulder, a defeatist frown resigned to the lack of control and submissive to the new boundaries set into place.

“It is what it is.”  Said with a nod of the head, accepting the situation as it has been laid out and acknowledging the new challenges, while attempting to work within the new confines of the reality.

The phrase.  Almost like a magical spell.  The words are simple, repetitive, and when I had said them, the transference of power was so evident to me that time even slowed down for me to witness the energetic exchange.  Perhaps the sentiment held when saying the phrase empowers the conditions and the boundaries of whatever “it” is, by acknowledging them and allowing them to have an impact on perspective and choice.  In addition, at least from my experience at the office, the phrase, those five small words, became an infectious unit – alive, powerful and readily used again.  The repetition perpetuated the message and increased its strength.

This phenomena happened, coincidentally or not, during a week of government shutdown and the phrase was heard several times in a government office. A reflection of morale?  A method of trying to find a solid ground, or personal control?  Maybe.

So, I started thinking outside of this specific situation, trying to grasp another perspective.  Phrases charged from the power given to them by users in turn perpetuate the normal status, making the phrases every day and used more often, thereby gaining more power and a stronger hold in the fabric of everyday normalcy.  Okay, so the impact and lasting impression of certain words, of sayings is ultimately a learned normal.  And changing the words, the sayings, changes the frame of normalcy.

However, regardless of the frame or even the picture, the choice to hold onto or give away your power remains with you.  The cycle, the transfer stems from the individual decision, mine and yours.

Current Events

I really thought that focusing on the latest “current events” in my blog would be a pretty straight forward process.  You know, look at the newspaper, get online and see the latest headlines streaming in front of my face.  Turn on the radio or news channel and hear the most important stories.  Right?  I had assumed that’s how it would be.

But maybe this is why I struggled with true and false type of tests in school.  Sometimes there isn’t a concrete delineation of what a certain thing is and what it is not, because I guess, it’s really all about the definition we use to describe that thing and where or who that definition came from in the first place.

So, what determines a “current event” or a story that makes the headlines in such a way that it impacts people’s conversations, sways people’s emotions, influences what people (such as myself) talk about on their blogs?  And are these “current events” the only ones that are worthy of our time, energy and attention?  (*Sigh) Can’t I just say “yes” and move on?  No. What fun would that be?!

I realize that an automatic response could be that a “current event” is what makes the front page around the globe.  Or there is the meaning-of-the-word route which would consist of an event that is currently happening.  Or “current events” in essence could be just completely subjective depending on the point of view.

Lately, I’ve noticed myself float along, allowing the flashy, violent, dramatic, soap opera media headlines to decide for me what “current events” I should be focusing on.  Of course, the outlets present their news suggestions; that’s their job.  Suggestions and reports of what happened in the world today create global access in a sense… but we all know those reports are not all that happened in the world today. Headlines presented with fireworks and ‘disturbing footage meant for mature audiences only’ almost convince me daily that nothing else could possibly be judged as equally or more important.

But, on this particular day, the “current event” that has snagged my attention is the actual process of determining the “current events” of my own life, whether they mesh with the media front page or not.  Exposed to the headlines of the day, while listening to those important events directly around me, popping up in my life; then, taking a moment to choose the direction of my focus, energy and time.  Okay, sounds like an interesting “current event” and perhaps a perspective worth sharing.

Hello and Welcome

Almost everyone that I have met in my life has ideas and opinions and most have appeared to consciously choose the expression of their perspective.  These everyday life perceptions motivated me to write down my ideas and opinions, largely sparked by current events and triggered by conversation; really, anything that has snagged my attention.  The grounding force of this blog is the sharing of a perspective, or another point of view.  Adding to the pool of conversation or generating an alternate stream is the movement that keeps the conceptual gears empowered.  I’m trying to clear expectations off the path and just keep moving along … and writing … and sharing.  Thank you for reading and please don’t hesitate to be a part of the conversation.