The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Circle of Humanity

Calling them out

We live in times where people are now being called out for their disrespectful words and actions, on a daily basis. Bravo to those callers is all I can say, over and over again. 


Having respect for anyone is part of the gift of humanity - so when you show no respect or lack respect then you are stepping into an inhuman place. It is the true meaning of "Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other."
Mindless, low grade, casual or evilly intended - it is all disrespect. Bullying, harassment sexual or otherwise, racism, intolerance of any kind again is about lacking respect for humanity. There are no graded categories of disrespect on a scale of mild to despicable. Every time it is done it brings our race into disrepute. You step out of the CIRCLE and should expect to be called out by those inside, and not be surprised when you are.

Which leads me to what someone described to me as being the hardest question about compassion. 
"Are we, as humans, meant to feel compassion towards not just the victims - but also the perpetrators, the abusers and the disrespectful - regardless of the grade of their disrespect?"

COMPASSION?
Here is a dictionary definition of compassion:
"Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." 

Well, call me old fashioned ... AND while I may feel sorry for their ignorance, but I cannot extend it to sympathetic pity and concern since they have not suffered, nor has any misfortune accrued to them as a result of their inhumanity.
My feeling COMPASSION (another gift of humanity, incidentally) towards them will commence when they chose to step back into the Circle of Humanity. When they acknowledge they have stepped out of that CIRCLE, they can then chose to step back in.

We are all born with the Gifts of Humanity, and are corrupted into beliefs, and behaviours that go against the Circle of Humanity. We have all stepped out of the Circle at some time. Some people never step back in; for some it may take ages, perhaps a lifetime; and for most of us - we hear the call, hang our heads a bit, apologise and return to the fold, contrite.

Oddly enough, I never felt any animosity towards my childhood abusers. 
However - to the drivers who cut me up on roundabouts ... 😉 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Yesterday


My good friend Brian Groves published a short article entitled “Was yesterday really better than today?” And this got me thinking, and musing, and evaluating. I went searching for answers – and came up with the following:-

Answers

  •         There's the outside stuff, the Extrinsic answers - the world out there, including ours, the environment, the weather, other people etc
  •         and there's the Inside stuff, the Intrinsic answers - our relationship with our thinking, how we are harnessing the power of thought; our feelings and our emotions, beliefs etc

And here is where we bump into the conclusion, “There are more questions coming out of these answers than we ever considered when we set out to answer the original question.”

Of course, the bullet-point nature of the answers is that they are mutually exclusive.
For, the interesting thing about all the Outside stuff, is that it doesn't really relate to any of the Inside stuff, unless we believe and think and feel that it does.
All of which arguments, roll along, and come to rest at the door of what is REALITY – and the perspectives of Outside-In and Inside-Out.


Outside-In

When we are living from the Outside-In perspective then we believe that much of all, sometimes approaching near 100%, of our experience of the world – how it is being, what it is throwing at us – is REAL, and that we are regularly experiencing, enjoying and/or suffering the effects of that seemingly uncontrolled reality. As humans we would all like to have a controlling handle on our lives – to feel that we are, to some extent, directing our destiny.
We have been led to BELIEVE that this is the best, and most predictably reliable way that we can perpetuate our sense of security, comfort and wellbeing.
“The more control I feel I have, the safer and more secure my life will be.”


Brainy

The Inside-Out nature of reality, on the other hand, grasps that “nettle” of experience and asks, “Where does our Experience actually come from?”

How our brain primarily handles the vast stream of sensual data that bombards us in every moment, is by prediction and recognition. It is as if there is a set of questions that ask,
“What is this exactly? What is it most like? Have I ever encountered this before?”
OR in terms of something affecting us …
“What WILL happen NEXT? What is MOST likely to happen? Have I ever encountered this scenario before? And WHEN and IF I did, HOW did I think/behave before?”
And so on, and so forth.
Part of the effective reasoning behind the Four Cartesian Questions ** comes from our predictive brain and cognitive processes.


After the primary predictive and recognising process, comes the filtering process.
This is where we Delete, Distort and Generalize that data that we have predicted and recognized!
This enables us to discard the unnecessary, and the repetitive; enables us to describe something as being LIKE something else; enables us to categorize something under a much broader description.
These are all wonderful processes carried out at exceptional speed by our amazing brain – in a seemingly continual flow – and can be best described as Thought Processes.
They are processes that harness the Power of Thought.
If we did not harness that Power, then none of the above would happen. We would not see the warm smile, or hear the barbed arrows of insults and criticisms, or feel a lover’s caress.
And the clue to where our Experience really comes from, is in these processes. For these are Thought Processes – and our every Experience comes entirely from thought, from our Thought Processes.


** - The Four Cartesian Questions:
What WOULD happen if I did X
What WOULDN’T happen if I did X
What WOULD happen if I DIDN’T do X
What WOULDN’T happen if I DIDN’T do X
 



Inside-Out

Once armed with the understanding that we, essentially, make up every nuance of our entire experience, it is a short step to seeing that what is REAL – to us, at any moment – is only a constructed conclusion of our own thinking.
Or to put it more simply, even crudely, “We Make It All Up!”

And it is in this given fact of where our Experience comes from, that we can see that WE also have the power to change our Experience.
Not change in the sense of say “Turning water into wine” or manifesting a shiny new Porsche on the driveway, or stepping off a cliff edge and not falling, of course.
No, I’m talking about change in how we perceive the Experience and how we respond. That is the REAL power and control that we can bring to our Experience.  


Shortcutting the Predictions

Now, in part of the functioning of our Predictive Process, we draw upon our Beliefs and Memories to help with the predictions. Here, we are applying some pre-determination upon our data gathering. 

For instance:
“I like Picasso's paintings; Prokofiev’s music is just an awful noise; I don’t like dogs; unshaven means unclean, unwashed; my religion = right, proper; poor = inferior; etc.”

Picture the scene – 

I’m in a lift and it stops at an intermediate floor and in steps an unshaven man, in shabby clothes, with a dog. My predictive brain presents into my conscious attention some evidence that is tagged with belief, grown and repeatedly proved from remembered experience – which was ALL based upon nothing but my own Thoughts in the first place.

If I am an Outside-In victim of my own thinking, then I’m already searching for and predicting MORE evidence to back up these beliefs. I’ll be physically recoiling in some way, shape or form – and I’ll be primed to smell for signs of unwashed-ness and poverty. His dog will detect my non-verbal recoil – because that’s what dogs do – and may well react. Which will make me further react! This is a bad scenario – I wish the lift would hurry up. Thinking, reacting, thinking, reacting …
I may well experience this again and again in lifts. I may well feel SO bad about this recurring that I develop a reticence to using lifts. The SPIRAL, ALL spirals, begin somewhere – and they all get a hold on us through seeing our Experience through an Outside-In perspective.


Freedom from Beliefs

Beliefs are just thoughts, repeatedly grown and proved, to a degree of unshakeable credibility. Layered up, over and over again, many times, until they become something reliable to us - to the “ME that I AM.”

One of the glorious freedoms granted to us with an Inside-Out perspective is to be continually questioning of our beliefs, our likes, and our preferences. We are liberated from narrow-mindedness, and all that that brings with it.
Our everyday life becomes predicated on curiosity and change, rather than un-deviated repetition and conservatism.
We are transformed from thinking, feeling and deciding how we want the world to be – and trying and trying to make it BE that way – into accepting that the world just IS.

And we can notice that how WE are BEING in a world that just IS, is far less of a struggle than Outside-In always seems to be.


Footnotes

So, was yesterday really better than today? For me …
  •         Intrinsically – NEVER. As we all of us are, I am on the road unwinding. I know that if I ever get the feeling that on the Inside I feel less better than I did yesterday, last week, last year, 5, 10, 25 years ago – then something is not quite right, RIGHT NOW. In that case I need to take a look at why I FEEL that, because behind that feeling will be some wayward and out-of-kilter Thinking.
  •         Extrinsically? Well, there are times in where we live, the state of society, cost of living, and so on, will be less better or more better than at other times. These are givens – rather like the weather, or the state of the seas. There is no control, for us, over how these things unfold.

The only control we do have, in the moment, is of our perspective brought to our experience via our relationship with our thinking.


And what of Yesterday, I hear you say?
Perhaps it is …


Yesterday, when all my fears I could not allay. 
When tomorrow’s happiness seemed so far away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday. 
Suddenly I'm not half the youth I used to be. 
There's an age-old shadow cast by me, 
That beckons tomorrow - suddenly.
Why we had to meet, I don't know, I couldn't say. 
For I sang a different song, back ‘ere long, yesterday.
Tomorrow’s love is not the game of some latter day. 
Now there’s no need to hide away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday.”

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Tenuous Coincidence?



Ralph Vaughan Williams
Walt Whitman


Paths That Cross

My first encounter with the works of Walt Whitman were through my love of the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Of course, back then my young ears paid more attention to the music, the sounds, rather than the texts – however, as time passed by, I began to consider more about the “WHY Whitman” choice of the composer.
It would appear that Vaughan Williams’ own first encounter with Whitman’s works was when he was a student at Cambridge in the late 19th Century; and he was not alone (among composers) in being drawn to the poetry of one of the most famous literary figures of the time.

Certainly, when I first encountered Vaughan Williams’ first symphony – A Sea Symphony – I was bowled over by the opening bars of the movement entitled “A Song for all Seas, all Ships.” Nestled amidst the depths of Whitman’s poem Song of the Exposition is this somewhat unassuming and brief recitative:

Behold the Sea - Itself!

Once you have heard and got to know this great symphony, I am sure that, like me, you repeat, perhaps under your breath, that stirring acclamation - every time you see the sea, in the flesh so to speak. A picture is not enough and is never enough. You really do have to be standing face to face with any mighty body of sea or ocean to get a sense of awe at the sheer majesty of it.
If you listen to this short clip you can get an idea of what meaning I am trying to convey here … 




Towards the Unknown Region

En route to composing A Sea Symphony, Vaughan Williams set another of Whitman’s poems “Darest thou now, O soul” into a work for chorus and orchestra.

Here Vaughan Williams took a complete poem of Walt Whitman’s and entitled the setting as “Towards the Unknown Region.” It was this musical work that was instrumental in my using Whitman’s poem as the inspirational quote for my book ‘Navigating The Ship of You.’

I’d known the music, text et al, for many years – long before I ever became a personal development and performance coach. Yet, once I’d set out to write the book in 2014, it did not take me long to consider using this poem as the inspiring opening frame of reference.

On his blog, Back to Being Gentlemen, Kenneth Baldwin writes about this particular short and insightful work:

"Darest Thou Now, O Soul, is a beautiful poem that I've found myself repeating during hard times. It is a dialogue from a man addressed to his inner self, his courage. There is something universally mysterious and daunting about the unknown paths in our lives. For a rising generation with college degrees and little work, I think this poem has inestimable value. It assesses the difficulty there is in being a pioneer, an explorer, and carving your own path. It calculates the risks and payoffs of blazing new trails.”

http://backtobeinggentlemen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/memorization-test-darest-thou-now-o-soul.html


For me, in Navigating The Ship of You, the poem is also about courage and bravery – yet with the advantageous possibility of our being a good navigator – as we ply our way across life’s infinite oceans. For me, in this book, Life IS the Unknown Region – for every day is a new journey. And in the finality of life that is Death, it is – to the expert navigator – just another Unknown Region to be made known.

Far be it from me to presume there is anything more than a tenuous link between myself and the literary and musical giants of Walt Whitman and Ralph Vaughan Williams respectively.
If there is any link, however, it has to be about something more than coincidental influence.
My musical tastes are the strongest elements in the chain from my standpoint, for I would never had “found” Whitman had it not been for Vaughan Williams’ music.
As a young man, Vaughan Williams admired and was inspired by Whitman’s works, which set him on the pathway to blending his creativity with Whitman’s words for well over 30 years.

To get a real sense of that admiration and inspiration, here is an article – centred around the Vaughan Williams cantata “Dona Nobis Pacem” - that reveals much about Whitman’s influence:

Finally, here, is Walt Whitman’s poem that set me alight for “Navigating The Ship of You”:

Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
                                              nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes,
                                               are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream'd of in that region,
                                             that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
                                            nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!)
                                            them to fulfil O soul.


Also, if you have a mind to, and would like to listen to how Ralph Vaughan Williams took Whitman’s words above,and blended them with his own creative genius, here is a You Tube link to a BBC Proms Concert performance of “Toward the Unknown Region” in 2013:


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Just Another Day on Pen Y Ghent ... my Video Diary!



This is the filmed diary of my day on Pen Y Ghent!

It is a 20 minute film with spoken commentary at times and a musical soundtrack at times. There is video footage and stills, some with captions. You may get a sense of how much the wind featured through the walk/climb.

I do hope you enjoy it and also get something out of it for yourself.

Put the kettle on, make yourself a nice cup of coffee (or tea!) turn the sound up and watch - preferably on as big a screen as you can!