In my life I have had the great benefit of walking a path less travelled and as cliché as that sounds in reflection it is most certainly true. No-one who has met me or worked with me would deny that I am my own man and that the relatively grounded character that is ‘me’ has been forged in both benign and extreme situations.
Benign in building value into a life that assumes a responsibility to community and to commerce going through the motions of everyday decision-making that shapes friendships, neighbourhoods and business; borrowing the templates for those activities from those more seasoned veterans who shone a light to the path of the beauty in the ordinary.
Extreme in living and working where the situation if misinterpreted leads to one mistake that can kill or maim and nature transforms into a wild and untameable beast from which there is no refuge; spending 3 months at a time on shark boats and ocean trawlers where the sea provides surprises daily and nothing can be taken for granted; being assaulted by the ferocity of the wind and scale of waves that provide a deep perspective on your own irrelevance as a cyclone overtakes the small vessel we lived on.
Extreme in working as a young police officer and making life and death decisions in an instant, the consequences of which you live with for a lifetime. And with that the sadness that sits with the realisation that the situation can never be changed which builds a determination to learn through it all.
There have been many more situations that through their adversity and challenge have forged my ultimately optimistic yet pragmatic view of our world and the changes that we are all going through always whether it’s COVID, family, work or life.
For me, through all of it, I have learnt to embrace change. Imagine, if we spent as much time engaging with change and planning how to make the best of it as we do denying it and avoiding it, how easy it would be to move into the new?
These current changes full of uncertainty have certainly rattled the cage of what normal is for many of us. There are different ways to look at that and perhaps for some the way to look at it has been to be overwhelmed by the confused information about the events that are happening and are repeatedly being highlighted by the ‘news and views’ cycles constantly.
There seems to be little escape given most people these days are tied to their phones, their computers and their social media profiles poring over the insights of opinion makers, so called social-influencers, the aspersion casting and conspiracy theories being projected from either the right or left wing with opposing views on almost everything.
The saturated hyperbole being broadcast as “news” confuses many creating anxiety, excessive concern and mental dissonance that is upsetting for some and deeply disturbing for others. Given that state of affairs it’s obvious that it becomes a major challenge to distil all of the noise to find your own effective truth devoid of the chatter however it is certainly possible and it can be done and achieved very simply.
The first thing is to turn it all off! How can we find quiet and peace if we are constantly allowing ourselves to be distracted by things we have little or no control over? The brain loves novelty and distraction it also has no filter for determining what is fantasy or reality so it will believe everything you tell it. It is also negatively biased so it will leap onto things and create worst case scenarios that we then confirm to ourselves by adding fuel to them through our thoughts.
Just stop all that for a moment. Turn off your phone, your TV, radio, computer and get outside and if you can’t get outside look outside. Take notice of all of the small and insignificant things that you take for granted everyday. Feel the breeze? What direction is it coming from? Hear that bird? What is it? Why does it live in this environment? What’s that tree? When does it flower?
What I’ve learnt is that our role is to be present in the moment we are in. Totally present now. Take a breath. What does your body do when you do that? What do you feel happening within? Observe your body moving even as you sit still. Marvel at the incredible piece of engineering that you are. You’re extraordinary. How do you make your body move? You use a thought and it happens. I mean seriously, we’re the best science fiction story there is and yet we pay little attention to it unless we have to.
So, rather than get caught up in all that ‘stuff’ out there pull it all back and focus on you and what you can control. Your breathing, your movement and your appreciation. Make that the action to ground yourself before you let what is outside get in. Let me know how you get on.