Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The smile on a dog ...

I borrowed the title of this epigraph from an old song that's knocking around in my mind; that's just how I feel today, like a smiling dog.

There's a lot of talk out there about motivating yourself by working on your self-talk -- you can do it!  Have an attitude of gratitude!  and so on...   But I feel best and work best when my thoughts are quiet.

I don't mean the quiet of meditation, at least not exactly.  I mean the quiet of focus.

There is more than one kind of focus, too.  For example, there is focused intent.  This might be closest to what the Flow masters talk about.

There is the focused awareness.  Not holding onto anyone thing.  This is more like meditation, but meditation is not necessary to get there.  I most often get this when walking down a street or hiking down a trail.

But focus, by which I mean attention without words, can go beyond the dichotomy of awareness and intent. A kind of focus is felt when considering the behavior of others. Often, I feel this kind of focus when watching others:  the play of children, an act of kindness between two strangers.

On another level, a kind of focus appears in the joy of physical activity.  Running down a trail for the heck of it, instead of trying to meet a distance or a time. Jumping.  Dancing.

At bottom, because of the lack of inner words, it is ultimately un-self-conscious.  But saying it is the state of no self or ego, is incorrect too.  The self is there, but supercharged. Powerfully Present.

#Awareness #Intent #Meditation

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Evolution of Storytelling

Communication begins without words.

Words come after.

Words come when we depend on each other.

Imagine all of the life that's come before: fish, ants, dinosaurs, birds, cats, dogs.

All of these signal each other.  They work together to find food, find shelter, and to survive in a world of limited resources.

The dependence of one member of the tribe on the others is the beginning of love.

Wolves communicate as they hunt, using the best strategies they can muster to secure food for the pack.  Just as early humans must have.

The first signals would have been from beings exploring for resources: "food, water, shelter is over there". 

At first, pointing would have been enough.  Bees are able to communicate this much.

In conditions of scarcity, more communication would have been helpful: "there is stream over that hill, but there is a bear as well."

What about trade?  Trade would have begun between tribes; resources needed by one tribe would be traded for resources by the other tribe. 

More complex communication would have eventually evolved into stories:  "we hunted in the ravine, were successful in the hunt, camped for a night on the plains, and returned home."

Being able to tell such stories would allow members of the group to leave for extended periods and to return to the full tribe later.

These kinds of story would have the effect of increasing the bond between the members of the tribe.

These kinds of events form the basis of the human love for stories.

We have evolved so that we are constantly telling ourselves stories.  We have an inner monologue.
We are constantly telling others stories.
We are constantly watching or listening to stories.

Real life becomes the story in the evening news. 

Our own life becomes the story in the realm of psychology.

Stories about our tribe become our history.

Stories about our place in the world become our religion.

Stories about the how the physical world works become the story in the physical sciences.

But the world is not a story; we are not characters in a story.

Stories are generally judged on their external and internal cohesiveness -  do the events in the story fit with each other?  Do they fit with the other stories we tell ourselves? Do the actions fit with the characters?

They are NOT primarily judged on how true they are.

So the question becomes:  how far should we trust our story-based thinking?