Pardon me


“To be be Happy” is something I never really sought. You ask people what they want out of life and an automatic response is generally, “I just want to be happy.” I never really understood what that meant. “What do you mean you just want to be happy?” was my usual response. I was looking for something deeper, something more profound. I took being happy for granted, like it’s a default state, not something to aspire to. There’s a difference in my mind between happy and happiness. Happy is an emotion, the opposite of sad. Happiness is a state of being. It’s one of our inalienable rights according to the U.S. Constitution. That which is inalienable can’t be taken away or denied. I should clarify, the constitution say we have a right to the “pursuit” of happiness, which taken in the context of 1776 meant “prosperity, thriving, wellbeing” in contrast to today’s meaning of happiness which focuses on “pleasant, positive emotions and having needs satisfied.”

There is a darkside to happiness. It has become a duty and a burden – a moral obligation. My happiness is making me sad.


Pardon me while I burst into flames
I’ve had enough of the world and it’s people’s mindless games

If you were to burn like the phoenix and rise from the flame what would your rebirth bring? What would you want it to bring?


Continuing on with the deadly sins, here’s sloth.


1. What is one thing you’re supposed to do daily that you haven’t done in a long time?
2. What is the latest you’ve ever woken up?
3. Name a person you’ve been meaning to contact, but haven’t?
4. What is the last lame excuse you made?
5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through?

6. When was the last time you got a good workout in?
7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today?


How do you get to know someone? Do you ever really know someone beyond what they show you through their constructed words and explicit actions? How much do you really know about me? You might know me better than I know myself because you can see what I can’t see in the negative spaces between the things I say and do and the things I don’t say and don’t do. So tell me, what do you see?


Oh Lord in heaven (if there is such a place), what holy moment is this coming through the mist?


Riot walked into the bar. He paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the dim light. He scanned the small room looking for a familiar face. He didn’t recognize anybody tonight. Just as well he thought. Sometimes a man needs to brood in his beer without being bothered by conversation.


Another Friday has crept up on me. Life is funny thing. We’re all running about doing our thing until one day the running stops and we are no more. Kinda makes you wonder what’s it all about, really? I had a “real” philosopher try to tell me that I had no real new thoughts – that my thinking wasn’t original. I guess he never read the Book of Job. There is nothing new under the sun. And to bring into the 21st century – everything is a remix.

Can you leave your mind behind?


Truth is in the perception of the moment like the time I set my room on fire. I was fascinated by how well Brute burned until I looked and saw the trail of fire I had dripped across the floor. In a panic, i threw the Brute into the trash can. Moments later my room began to fill with smoke. In another panic, I poured the contents of my trash can out the window. Better that than the truth I’d learn if my mom found out I was playing with fire.


Can you leave your mind behind, those 70,000 stray cat thoughts of visions and revisions a thousand ways she walked.


When it comes to dogs, I like a mix between a German Shepherd and a Dobberman Pinscher, else I like the scruffy mutt that followed Mel Gibson around in Road Warrior. Or maybe Charlie of Travels with Charlie fame. I quite fancy that. Getting a dog and pick up truck and hitting the open road. The dusty open road. The kind of road where I’m not likely to see many other people for miles. The kind of road with wide open spaces on either side.


Stephen Hawkins died today. He was 21 when he was first diagnosed with a very rare form of ALS, a form of motor neurone diseases. Few expected him to live beyond a couple of years.

“The realisation that I had an incurable disease that was likely to kill me in a few years was a bit of a shock.”

55 years later on, death finally caught up with him.


He scribbled the words ‘rights of passage’ on the chalkboard.

In 1968, American troops landed on the shores of Vietnam. Many of these troops were boys about to undergo one of the most important rights of passage for men since man first picked up the stone and the spear to defend what he considered to be his by divine right. They were about to undergo a baptism of fire, not in the biblical since, but ever much as enlightening.

Do you remember your first kill?


You can win the battle and still lose the war. Remember Pyrrhic? He was the king of Epirus. He managed to defeat the Romans in two major battles between 280 and 279 BC. He strode into Italy with 25,000 Men and 20 elephants and lost so many men that his victory essentially null and void. It was a hollow victory and deserving of becoming forever known as a Pyrrhic Victory.

Life sometimes feels like a Pyrrhic Victory.

That was a long time ago

I need to lose all sense of audience, play my part and bow out at the end. Now you see me, now you don’t. It’ll be just like that in the end. I had a run in with Schrödinger’s cat last week.

I used to love M from afar in science class. She hated me, or so I thought. She used to kick me. Call me names. Even bit me once. Then one day, behind a bush, she kissed me. The fighting stopped. We became boyfriend and girlfriend and the magic stopped too. After three days of being boyfriend and girlfriend, we called it quits, and went back to being “frenemies”. The magic returned.

That was a long time ago.

The birth of Facebook brought us back in touch. The usual likes and comments ensued. Life carried on. After the novelty of being reunited with an old friend wore off, she drifted back into the outer reaches of cyberspace. I haven’t heard from her since 2012.

Up until a few days ago, she was alive in my head. I was excited to see her picture pop into my feed the other day. Until I read the comments. Turns out, she passed away a few years back. Up until I read the comments, like Schrödinger’s cat, she was neither dead nor alive until the comments comfirmed her status.

Rest in peace M.


Into the fire and Ice I go


I want to exorcise the demons from [my] past, but where would I even begin such an exercise? These demons, no doubt, have made me who I am.  Into the eternal darkness, into the fire and into the ice I go.  Walk with me now.


In the cinema there’s a girl. I sit next to her. I steal a glance and suddenly recognise her. She used to work three cubicles down from me. She looks at me suspiciously, I say “It’s me, Clay.” I place my hand upon her knee and break down crying. A grown man weeping.


I found out today that the trolls are winning. And that made me sad.


“I’m not an idiot,” the artist confided in an interview. “I know that people are mostly interested in it because it’s David Bowie. But I think it’s still a valid artwork.”



Let’s explore the seven deadly sins starting with ANGER:

1. Who did you last get angry with?
2. What is your weapon of choice?
3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex?
4. How about of the same sex?
5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you?
6. What is your pet peeve?
7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?


It’s been a fairly standard day. Typical Monday. Cold, grey, and wet. Hanging out with the lawyers today. Spent most of the day designing a piece of micro-learning content using Microsoft Sway, a program up until last week, I had never heard of, even though it’s been out since 2014. It’s not bad if you want to knock up a quick and basic multimedia story to deploy via the Web. Control over the design is limited so if you like tinkering with the final look and feel of your presentation, you probably won’t enjoy Sway all that much.


Why are there so many mopeds in VietnamItaly’s first black senator. And The history of the Chinese typewriter. Because I knew you’d want to know such things.

The mere possibility

I stumbled upon this quote from The Alchemist , one of my favourite books from Paulo Coelho:

“The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcome, all the suffering we endured, all the thing we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal when it was only a step away.”

While I haven’t stopped myself from doing something because I felt I didn’t deserve it, I have stopped myself from doing stuff that meant a lot to me. I was afraid if I tried and people said I sucked at it, then my sense of self and self worth would be shattered.  I also didn’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have this thing, so by keeping it to myself, nobody could take it away from me by telling me I was no good at it. I know that sounds a bit cryptic, but the details aren’t important. What’s important is I had to take the risk of failure in order to get what I wanted.

The tool that helped me get through this was Robert Dilt’s Logical Levels*. I was holding on to the belief that what I do is who I am. In other words, my identity was bound up in what I did for a living. That caused me no end of angst! But the Logical Levels helped me get through it.

The Logical Levels break down like this:

Mission & Vision 
Where you are going with your life? With which people?  Which activities and placesare central to this vision for your life/future – and, perhaps, the contribution you intend to make to the world.

The self esteem level. Your sense of self, what you identify with, etc. This can include identifying with your job, marriage, religion, etc. it can also include how you interpret events in terms of your own self-worth.

Beliefs & Values
Whether you believe something is possible or impossible, whether you believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not you feel motivated about it. How your personal Values support or hinder you.

Capability & Skills 
These are your ‘internal behaviours’. The level of innate capabilities and learned skills which you have for dealing with life situations – and how effectively you use these.

Your actions – externally observable behaviours, posture, movements, etc. including what an observer would see or hear or feel when you are engaged in a particular activity.

Your surroundings: the people and places etc that you are interacting with, and responding to, when you are engaged in a particular activity.

If you find yourself mentally stuck, this is a great model to use to get yourself unstuck. It works by helping you figure out which of the subsystems of your brain structure are holding you back. Hear Robert Dilts explain it.

*The notion of logical levels refers to the fact that some processes and phenomena are created by the relationships between other processes and phenomena. Any system of activity is a subsystem embedded inside of another system, which is embedded inside of another system, and so on. This kind of relationship between systems produces different levels of processes, relative to the system in which one is operating. Our brain structure, language, and social systems form natural hierarchies or levels of processes. Link

Oh and here’s a clever video edit of several of Simon Sinek’s presentation into one 14 minute long video on leadership and being a leader. I’m planning on sharing in a team session i’m leading tomorrow. I love the question: “why should anybody follow you?”

Between two thoughts

I often ponder the question “who am I between two thoughts?” We have between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of noise! So when you have that fraction of a second when there is no noise, who are you? In other words, who is the “I” thinking all of those thousands of thoughts?

Altered states

It has only taken me 38 years, but I finally made it into a flotation tank. Why 38? Well 38 years ago (damn!I know..) I saw the movie Altered States starring William Hurt, Blair Brown and Bob Balaban. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a Harvard scientist who conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber. The movie was very trippy and for a 12 year old boy with an over active imagination it was fascinating.

Eddie Jessup : “I was *in* that ultimate moment of terror that is the beginning of life. It is nothing. Simple, hideous nothing. The final truth of all things is that there is no final Truth. Truth is what’s transitory. It’s human life that is real. I don’t want to frighten you, Emily, but what I’m trying to tell you is that moment of terror is a real and living horror, living and growing within me now, and the only thing that keeps it from devouring me is you.”

This is what I wanted to achieve in the tank:

I tried to achieve the same results in the bathtub when i was 12, but no dice! And ever since then I’ve wanted to get in a floatation tank and alter my state to the same standard as Eddie Jessup.

So it was with much excited that I headed up to Nottingham to visit Calm Waters and have a go in their flotation tank (it was more like a space pod though):

The experience was much as they describe on their website:

Floating weightlessly your body is perfectly supported by a cushion of silky, skin-temperature Epsom Salt solution. Freed from all sensation of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound you conserve and redirect vast amounts of natural physical and mental energy, and with little to do, the brain begins to slow down and relax….Every single muscle in the body is allowed to totally relax, with ear plugs in and, if you wish, the tank’s interior lights off, the quietness and the darkness allow the mind to drift into the deepest state of relaxation possible.

And while it was deeply relaxing, I didn’t go as deep as Eddie Jessup, so slightly disappointed. But, as I was writing this up, I realised I missed out a key ingredient – hallucinogenics. Will have to try that next time.

Anyway, from my Facebook post, it appears a number of people have been meaning to try floatation.  Maybe not for the same reasons as me, but for the relaxation, and for that I can highly recommend the experience.


Reconnecting the dots!

That’s thing about life, it doesn’t move in a linear fashion (ok well time does, maybe) but our life’s plan sure as heck doesn’t. It’s full of peaks and troughs and sometimes the peaks are really high and the troughs are really low. But I believe it all balances out in the end.

Pic from: A Compass for Life

I woke up this morning thinking it’s time for me to reconnect the dots because my life, at the moment, is all over the place. My mind is anyway. Maybe I need to practice some courageous stillness as Danielle Laporte wrote about in her blog recently:

Our society is addicted to productivity.
We think productivity increases our value as a human.
And we want to be valued and loved.
So…we become addicted to productivity.

Which means…

being still is an act of courage.

On one level, I know this, on another level, I can’t help but keep busy doing stuff because there is soooo much to do and soooo little time to do it (i.e. I have a limited shelf life on this planet and i’m trying to get as much done as I can before I go).

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” these words of Annie Dillard are worth reflecting on.

And Kierkegaard had this to say about being busy: 

“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.”

Today I will pause, and work on getting my dots reconnected.

Here are a few more links on busy:

Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness, says ‘4-Hour Workweek’ author Tim Ferriss

150 years ago, a world-famous philosopher called busyness the sign of an unhappy person


Being Careful About Your Time

Playlist of the Day

Art & fear and farewell to 2017

A stroll through the woods, reflection on art and fear, and a farewell to 2017. #Audio365

Just before I leave 2017

New Year’s Eve. What better time for a wander through the woods and some contemplation before all of the festivities start this evening.

Hope you all have a great night and if you haven’t gotten around to signing up for the 30 Day Contemplation Challenge tap here and tell us where to send it. It all starts up tomorrow! 🥂

Hear some words from the woods:

in a view that looks the same

in a view that looks the same
nothing changes except time

the rain washed away the early
morning silence leaving in it’s passing

patches of white like tiny barren islands
are all that remain of the snow on my block

30 Day Contemplation Challenge

Ok, so we have this cool challenge starting up soon. I’d love for you to be a part of it.
Here are the details:
Don’t just settle for the same old New Year’s Resolutions. Do something FUN this year! Do something different.
Challenge yourself and two friends to start 2018 with a 30 Day Contemplation Challenge to bring a bit of inspiration and perspective to your life.
(Make this a resolution now by simply tapping here:
This is a resolution that will GIVE you motivation rather than taking massive effort…that will help you recharge rather than drain you. Every day for 30 days a short email will arrive in your inbox with something to consider, some thought experiment that might shift your perspective, some idea that might hit you at just the right moment.
#ContemplateMore in 2018 by joining the 30 Day Contemplation Challenge. The more the merrier, so get a few friends involved too! (I promise it will be easier and much more fun than a Dry January or a diet!)
Tap here and then check your inbox starting January 1st

30 Day Contemplation Challenge

OK, so like me, you’ve probably have your eye on Christmas, if not for the actual celebration of the birth of Christ, then for the time off from work and an opportunity to catch up with friends and family and course to get some cool gifts.

One of my end of year rituals is to start wrapping up the year come mid-November. What that entails is reflecting back over the year to see what I actually got up to as oppose to what I had planned to do.  And then come December, I start to look forward, past Christmas, and think about what I want to do for the new year.  I like to have all my intentions and resolutions decided before Christmas and already in motion.  I then take a few days off from thinking over the holiday period.  My intent is to already have momentum on my new goals as I roll into January.

Alright, that’s the long way round to telling you about the 30 Day Contemplation Challenge we’re running in conjunction with our Havana Cafe Sessions Podcast.  Here’s the lead in:

Aristotle said contemplation is the highest form of happiness.
And yet…we are often too busy being busy to take time out for serious contemplation.

Over the 30 days, we will help you carve out a few moments of your day with either a new question to contemplate or thought experiment to try out.  By the end of the 30 days, you will emerge with a greater sense of self and a new perspective on what’s important in your life.

Anyway, I think it’s a great challenge and would love for you to join us.  Sign up now and then a few days before the challenge begins, we’ll send you an email to remind you to get ready.


And just in case you missed it, here’s the latest episode of the HAVANA CAFE SESSIONS podcast:

MJ004 The Musical Journey Show – The Mad Ones

Monday’s Musical Journey Show in case you missed it.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

– Jack Kerouac