Archive for September, 2013

Linguistic Beings

Humans perceive things through language. Without the language that describes gravity we would not understand it as the phenomenon it is. Sure, objects would move in a direction, but we might ascribe all sorts of bizarre meaning to that without the understanding we’ve been given of gravity, through language. (And we still don’t completely understand it.)

Eskimos have 50 different words for different kinds of (and uses for) snow.

Another example is color…

colorcrayonsDifferent people often don’t see a color the same way, with the same name or same emotional meaning.  Within the same society/culture the difference will be small, but inter-culturally the difference can be enormous. Colors are socially defined. Yes, they have a quantifiable definition via physics BUT color names and the ability differentiate between any two given colors is socially learned and not based on fundamental physiology. An example is in Japanese there isn’t a traditional differentiation between what we call Green and Blue – it’s all “Blue” in different shades. The word for Green is a recent linguistic creation. You still see this in the language. So the phrase, “I like green” has a far deeper existential angle – what does it mean to like a color that “doesn’t exist” in another culture?
Nearly everything you ‘know’ is a linguistic interpretation. This confines our understanding of the world. Sure, it can be humorous to compare the simplistic view of the color spectrum understood by men versus women, but we are all confined in what we understand by the very same linguistic limitations. And that perception we divine for ourselves in language is our reality.
We open up to something new when we can finally begin to understand it through language, and not before.

Infrastructure

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No man is an island. Yet we aren’t all truly connected either. The new age of electronic connectedness provides many of the components of feeling connected — enough that we can tranquilize ourselves that we are — but when it comes to interpersonal interaction there’s less true connecting going on than ever, in part because of the facades we create with media, not to mention our obsession with our mobile devices.

What can a man live without? There’s a short list of a few things required for survival.

Okay, but let’s move beyond mere survival. What do we need to flourish? That’s a much more complex issue.

Infrastructure. We need the pieces in place that help open doors and smooth the way for us to overcome the forces in ourselves and the world that try to keep us standing pat, retreating in fear. We need nurturing of just the right kind. We need to be educated, but not just in the way the schools teach (how to conform and be good consumers and workers). We need a supportive social network. A real one, not just some friends who are hiding behind their own facades or too scared to fully engage or take risks on our behalf. We need to see close up examples of real initiative and leadership. We need to be coached by someone who shows up as credible and sincerely caring about our best interests, not crippled with fear and self absorption. And we need the humility and honesty to be willing to receive these gifts.

We need love. Real love. Not just the emotion that someone would be bummed if we weren’t part of their life anymore, but people who are secure enough in themselves to act in a manner that we learn to be secure in and love ourselves. We need to love ourselves, and respect ourselves. Otherwise we can’t truly help anyone. And if we can’t help anyone what good are we?

We all need that infrastructure, to be connected.

It has to start somewhere. You can be the one to reach out. You should reach out. You may help yourself most of all.

Make New Mistakes

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  1. Make Mistakes – Step outside your comfort zone and push. Some things will go well. Others will go wrong. Learn.
  2. Don’t Repeat – Make new mistakes.

Most people think decisions that lead to success are like a fork in the road. Choose correctly and you’re set. In reality achieving success is more like a series of bumps and redirections as you learn what doesn’t work. Clearly you don’t want to keep making the same mistakes, but new mistakes ought to be welcome, as each one gets you one step closer.

You might get lucky and have a shorter path, but you still have to be on the road for that to happen. Do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong.

Wonder and Futility

FutilityBoyWingsSometimes everyone but you can see that it isn’t going to work. If you don’t listen you can get badly hurt. Well, life is risky. If you don’t make a leap of faith in yourself you never find out what you’re really capable of. That leap of faith involves building a network of people who can not only look out for you, but who will help pick you up when you crash.

Fear encourages us to retreat from the world, to muddle through life without really living it. Wonder opens us up to being able to see the possibilities in things. It’s an attitude. You can control it. But it’s a lot easier with help. Being able to maintain a wonder about things is a luxury purchased through the currency of the support you have earned throughout your life.

The Routine of the Break

clockwatcherFocus is not the strong suit of many people in today’s culture. We’ve all read about the culprits, which range from TV to smartphones, to Twitter, to blog reading (I’ll keep this short).

Routines can be good. Having a designated time for doing a certain type of work provides a structure that’s often helpful in getting started. On the other hand, having a designated time to stop doing it can sometimes be a problem. Do you have to take lunch at noon? Do you find yourself unplugging 15 minutes before, preparing to take lunch? What about the time before work starts? Do you prepare to work, or can you just go ahead and get started?

However, it’s sometimes easy to work too much, too long, to the point of diminishing returns. Having time limits can help provide some urgency, but don’t let them run your life.

Take a look at where your routines help you or hurt you. Shake them up.



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