Oct 26

Follow the madness

love unfurl ladinsky

Over and over again I find myself coming back to this quote from poet Daniel Ladinsky. There is a beauty to it, but also a rawness to it, and a sense of unstoppable magical power.

Sometimes, we need to rediscover madness to step forward. A sense of craziness, a personal insanity that draws us past what makes sense, what seems logical. Sometimes we have to step beyond what we can see, or what we can think of. Sometimes, all our pondering and planning needs to take a back seat and we need to let our hearts do the deciding. Because our heads just aren’t equipped to understand what our hearts can naturally intuit. And so we need to let go of what our thoughts tell us – that manic maelstrom of pros and cons, for and against, extrapolations of the future – and simply let our hearts say ‘yes’.

Love doesn’t make promises of safety (although you always are). Love doesn’t guarantee success (although you might be surprised to find what ‘success’ really looks like). Love doesn’t always lead us down paths that make sense (although looking back, they will). But what love does promise is that this is what you were made for. This is the adventure of your life. And always – always – love is leading you forward into your greatest ever life.

One day, 13 ‘interesting’ years ago, I faced a choice as to whether to remain safe and secure in my hard won and well remunerated technical career, or to step out into a new world, a new adventure, full of uncertainty and danger, yet something I knew my heart was calling me to. I faced the choice – stay safe in harbour or run before the winds of the universe. I would like to tell you that it has been easy. Those close to me know that it has been anything but. It has been a wild ride. A perilous ride. But it is the adventure my heart longed for, and I know that, as Hemingway put it, I have become strong in the broken places. And, looking back, it was the adventure I needed to become who I needed to become.

Martha Beck says, in ‘Steering by Starlight’:

“Maybe your inner sight is clouded by the opinions of others, or the horror stories of your inner lizard. Maybe you’re sundazzled by a perfect looking surface, projecting the trappings of an enviable success and hiding the sense that you’re lost, directionless, hollow. Maybe life has given you a chance to walk into the darkness, and you’ve been staring terrified at the ground in front of your feet, trying to see your way by following your way to some well-beaten path. And maybe – quite likely in these days of dizzying change and unprecedented possibilities – no beaten path exists.

No matter how clouded, sunblind or terrified of the dark you may be, your Stargazer self is always gazing calmly at your destiny. Follow it forward expecting to break things – rules, conventions, your own vulnerable heart – but knowing that you’ll heal strong. The strength itself, the joy of finding it, using it, testing it and feeling it grow, is the purpose of the whole adventure.”

If you’re reading this and wondering whether to throw yourself into the adventure your heart is drawing you into. then by all means check whether this is the insanity of infatuation or the stirrings or crazy passion. And then look deep into your heart and let it draw you onward. As Joe Campbell observed: “If you go into the forest where there is already a trail – you’re not on your own path.” Find yours. Find the path only you can walk.

It takes a certain madness to leap. It takes a certain craziness to leave the well trodden safe path in search of true meaning. But when that madness is driven by a profound sense in the depths of your being that this is where love is taking you.. then jump. And you will be born on great winds across the sky.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Jul 09

Steve Jobs and success

stevejobs1

There’s a post wandering round the internet and social media that’s purportedly from Steve Jobs.

It isn’t.

I won’t bother to reprint the whole thing, but in amongst its off the shelf self help words about the need to “Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends” and “Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands” lies a deep dark poison.

Before I start, I don’t know Steve Jobs. Never met the guy. I have a lot of respect for his speech to the University in Stanford which contains some real insights into modern life, business and the pursuit of a dream.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

That’s the sort of vision that I’d like Steve to be remembered for.

I have a lot of respect for his achievement. Although I don’t own any Apple technology. Because I don’t like it much. So I’m not a huge fan of Apple.

But I am a huge fan of people following their dreams. And Steve did. And this latest post, which seems to indicate that Steve rejected what he achieved in life, rings false to me, and with it trickles a steady stream of new age poison into our lives and our beliefs.

Steve was a man with a vision. Not a vision to be wealthy, as such, but a vision to create. To create a working personal computer. To create a computing world that was elegant and beautiful. To create a computing world where things worked together. To create devices that were intuitive, effective, efficient and enjoyable to use. And he created that.

In his time with Pixar he helped create the computer animated feature, and paved the way for new stories to be told.

I don’t see any way that Steve Jobs saw his life as a failure, or that it had turned him into “a twisted being”. Steve was a Zen Buddhist, deeply at peace with ‘what is’.

The fake deathbed quote talks about how he was surrounded by life support (he wasn’t, he died at home), and that he had “little joy”.

I don’t think so.

As far as I can see it, Steve followed his dream, his vision, and his heart. For sure, he had feet of clay. He had his weaknesses. There were times when he wasn’t an easy boss. But then anyone with a vision is going to concentrate on pursuing that vision.

I agree with pieces of the post. All you can have at the end of life are “the memories precipitated by Love”. Those are “the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.” Although perhaps the things that you do, or your heirs do, with your material inheritance also goes on. Perhaps your achievements remain behind, inspiring others to achieve as you achieved.

If we forget love, we forget everything. Steve knew that. In an article published in Time magazine Walter Isaacson, his biographer, recorded him as saying:

I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.

The article continues: “He was very human. He was so much more of a real person than most people know. That’s what made him so great,” he added. “Steve made choices. I asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done’.”

So let’s not succumb to the poison that says that you should shun success, that it will make you unhappy. Following our hearts, and our dreams, and our vision – while coming from a place of love and peace and kindness – can only make the world a better place. And that’s what Steve would want you to hear.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

PS. According to his sister, Mona Simpson:

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

 

Now THAT’S amazing..

Apr 13

Beware of Tuesdays. And October.

haig-unfathomable

Author Matt Haig spent most of his twenties in the grip of severe and debilitating depression. He shares his experience in his fabulous book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. It’s a powerful work giving a real insight into what depression really feels like – neither descending into self absorption nor trivialising the blackness and despair. And even those of us who have been fortunate enough never to live in a world where even hope is missing – well, we will learn how to face the darkness too.

Towards the end of the book Matt shares his advice on how to live – “forty pieces of advice I feel to be helpful but which I don’t always follow”.

  1. Appreciate happiness when it is there.
  2. Sip, don’t gulp.
  3. Be gentle with yourself. Work less. Sleep more.
  4. There is absolutely nothing in the past that you can change. That’s basic physics.
  5. Beware of Tuesdays. And Octobers.
  6. Kurt Vonnegut was right. ‘Reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.’
  7. Listen more than you talk.
  8. Don’t feel guilty about being idle. More harm is probably done to the world through work than idleness. But perfect your idleness. Make it mindful.
  9. Be aware that you are breathing.
  10. Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.
  11. Hate is a pointless emotion to have inside you. It is like eating a scorpion to punish it for stinging you.
  12. Go for a run. Then do some yoga.
  13. Shower before noon.
  14. Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek out vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.
  15. Be kind.
  16. Understand that thoughts are thoughts. If they are unreasonable, reason with them, even if you have no reason left. You are the observer of your mind, not its victim.
  17. Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don’t value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction.
  18. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.
  19. Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen.
  20. Look at trees. Be near trees. Plant trees. (Trees are great.)
  21. Listen to that yoga instructor on YouTube, and ‘walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet’.
  22. Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls.
  23. Alcohol maths. Wine multiplies itself by itself. The more you have, the more you are likely to have. And if it’s hard to stop at one glass, it will be impossible at three. Addition is multiplication.
  24. Beware of the gap. The gap between where you are and where you want to be. Simply thinking of the gap widens it. And you end up falling through.
  25. Read a book without thinking about finishing it. Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph. Don’t wish for it to end, or for it to never end.
  26. No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people.
  27. Listen to what Hamlet – literature’s most famous depressive – told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
  28. If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point.
  29. You don’t need the world to understand you. It’s fine. Some people will never really understand things they haven’t experienced. Some will. Be grateful.
  30. Jules Verne wrote of the ‘Living Infinite’. This is the world of love and emotion that is like a ‘sea’. If we can submerge ourselves in it, we find infinity in ourselves, and the space we need to survive.
  31. Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life.
  32. Remember that there is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals. You are nature. You are a hominid ape. You are in the world and the world is in you. Everything connects.
  33. Don’t believe in good or bad, or winning and losing, or victory and defeat, or up and down. At your lowest and at your highest, whether you are happy or despairing or calm or angry, there is a kernel of you that stays the same. That is the you that matters.
  34. Don’t worry about the time you lose to despair. The time you will have afterwards has just doubled its value.
  35. Be transparent to yourself. Make a greenhouse for your mind. Observe.
  36. Read Emily Dickinson. Read Graham Greene. Read Italo Calvino. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind.
  37. If the sun is shining, and you can be outside, be outside.
  38. Remember that they key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days. Depression lifts.
  39. Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.
  40. Be brave. be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Apr 01

Sweaty Love

perfect - walsh

There are times when we need to be reminded of what we’re doing here. And this says it pretty well, for me. . .

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That’s where you came from and where you’ll return.

You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to learn to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives.

It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s plenty.

Courtney A Walsh

Does that need me to say anything more? Didn’t think so.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Mar 21

Beyond fear

drucker

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, I know. And in many ways I have let fear direct me more than the idea of possibility – to let fear of what might go wrong speak louder than the anticipation of what might go right.

Each of us can choose to live in a world of safety, where nothing much changes – a world that might not be exciting, but at least it’s familiar.. and safe. Dull.. but at least there are no surprises.

But for each and every one of us, there is a call in our hearts to be more, give more, love more, experience more. And there comes a time, as Elizabeth Appell wrote:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

I am certain that each of us get to that point. We can chose to live with the pain, sure.. but wouldn’t it be easier to just.. blossom?

I like what Elizabeth Gilbert says about fear in her wonderful book “Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear”. She recognises that on any journey, both fear and creativity will accompany you. She explains to the fear inside: “There’s more than enough room for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this. Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I will respect you, but your decisions will never be followed. You can have a seat. You can have a voice. But you are not allowed to have a vote. You don’t get to suggest detours, you don’t get to touch the road maps. You don’t get to fiddle with the temperature and you sure as hell don’t get to play with the radio. But above all else fear, my old friend – you absolutely, categorically, without question, do not get to drive”.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Sep 12

Why are you here?

errand-wilson

The 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, had this to say about the meaning of life:

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

In my notebook I have a collection of thoughts, quotes, images, reflections and things people have said that I use to guide, direct and inspire me in life. This one has been near the top of my list for a few months now, and I have been reflecting on it often in recent days.

You see, all too often we see the point of life as being that we should work hard to become sufficiently wealthy to create happiness. I’ve been around the block often enough to have seen behind that particular deception – and I have seen people surrender their dreams and their goals to do ‘the sensible thing’ and make a living for themselves and their families. And that’s OK.

But in the end, it’s not enough. Each one of us is here with gifts that make the world richer, that create more love, more life, more joy – not just for ourselves, but also for those around us. And if we forget that, then actually we end up stealing from ourselves, as we find the noose of fine wire that is ‘making a living’ ensnares us more and more tightly.

The more we refuse to let our gift propel us forward, then the more frustrated we’re going to feel.

I think it’s a matter of intention. If we set out to enrich the world, to make the lives of others richer and fuller, then we find ourselves enriched, in all sorts of ways. If we intend to lift the sights of those we come into contact with higher, to help them see that little bit more clearly, that little bit further – if we look to bring more love, more light, more hope into the world.. then the karmic principles built into the universe will start to move. As we start to give out, then the Universe will find ways to give back to us. Perhaps not in the ways we expect, and certainly not in the ways we demand, but there are no exceptions to the rule that what we give out, comes back to us.

But perhaps we feel we have nothing to give – that others are more gifted, more capable, more able to change the world. Changing the world isn’t restricted to politicians, statesmen, rock stars and aid workers. In every moment there is the chance to bring life and light into the world.. not by forcing it, but by allowing your true nature to shine out.

In a wonderful and thoughtprovoking essay that I have quoted before, author and entrepreneur Randy Gage suggested that:

You have gifts that no one else in the world can offer.  You have skills you don’t yet know you possess, love you haven’t experienced yet, and hope that has your name upon it. There are songs you have yet to sing, dances you are meant to dance, and stories that only you are able to tell.

The world is poorer when you don’t bring your best game.

You may not change what you’re doing – you might just choose to infuse it with a shed load of joy and meaning and richness that transforms your day job into something where you’re seeking to enrich those around you. Or you might find yourself suddenly drawn into a life of creativity and wonder that you couldn’t have imagined. I don’t know. But what you will find is that it all becomes meaningful. Somehow, life seems to matter – and the more that we give it away, the more we find it.

You’re amazing.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Sep 05

Where have all the heroes gone?

daredevil - hero

“What is it, to be a hero? Look in the mirror and you’ll know. Look into your own eyes and tell me you are not heroic, that you have not endured, or suffered… or lost the things you care about most. And yet, here you are… a survivor. So… you must be a hero. We all are. Some more than others, but none of us alone. You didn’t choose this life. It chose you.

Because a hero isn’t someone who lives above us, keeping us safe. A hero’s not a God or an idea. A hero lives here on the street, among us, with us. Always here, but rarely recognized. Look in the mirror and see yourself for what you truly are. You’re a human being. You are a hero. This is your planet. Welcome home.”

– Karen Page, Daredevil Season 2

Just.thinking.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

(I took a couple of minor liberties with the phrasing of the quotation)

Aug 14

Mission success: Not Guaranteed

fail - gilbert

There is a very famous quote which I suspect is actually required to be included, by law, in any self development book: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” It’s a useful question to break the deadlock of fear that stops you doing something.

In her wonderful book “Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear”, Elizabeth Gilbert asks a different question. Her question is this.

What would you still do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

What is it that’s so important, so enjoyable, so critical to you that even if you thought it might not work out, that you would still do it anyway? What do you love so much that success doesn’t matter? What is it that would cause you to risk your fragile ego and go do it anyway?

As Liz Gilbert points out, your worth is not measured on the outcome. It’s not measured by whether you succeed or fail – it’s measured by whether you followed your heart, whether you put your heart and soul into it. As Coach Taylor exhorts his gridiron team in “Facing the Giants”:

Hold nothing back.

Don’t lose heart.   Don’t stop fighting. Do not quit.   Do not give up.

You have got to leave everything on the field.

That’s all that matters. “Did I give my best?” “Did I follow my heart?” If you do, then success is kinda irrelevant. It’s easy to decide what you’d do if you were guaranteed to succeed at it. But what is it that matters so much to you that success ceases to matter?

Liz says “What if I go through all the trouble of creating something if the outcome might be nothing?”. And the answer: “Because it’s fun”. Or “because I have to”. “Because it consumes me.” “Because it matters.” “Because it makes me happy.” “Because when I do this it feels as if I’m really living.”

For each of us there’s something. A cause, a purpose, a longing, a desire, that’s our true self expression. Go find it. Go do it.

Sometimes I’ve struggled to find mine. But asking that one question has helped me more than anything else.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

(Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of (most famously) “Eat, Pray, Love”. Big Magic is a book about creativity, and fear, about Courage, and Enchantment, about allowing Creativity to have its way. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s an author, a painter, a sculptor or engaged in anything creative. And if you are one of those who don’t feel they’ve got a creative bone in their body, then you should read it. Because it will show you that you are oh so wrong about that.

Jul 24

Chasing wonder

wonder - sharma

In “Big Magic”, the wonderful book on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert, she talks about those moments when she finds herself bruised and battered, her ego damaged from some failure or criticism. It’s at these points that she asks the question of her soul: “what is it that you want, dear one?” And the answer is always the same: “more wonder please”.

We need wonder in our lives.

Let yourself be driven by curiosity, by wonder, by magic. Allow yourself to be intrigued by anything – a raindrop, a cobweb, the pattern on a brick wall, the playfulness of a kitten, the power of a waterfall as it cascades down a mountain, the trickle of a stream. Despite what the experts might tell you, it’s OK to be drawn into a late night exploration of YouTube videos that delight and fascinate. Listen to people’s stories and marvel at the richness and variety of their path through this amazing journey we call ‘life’. Stay curious.

Gaze – really gaze – on anything that looks beautiful to you – on nature, on art, sculpture – and allow yourself to wonder. Seek out the places that make you go “wow”. Invest in the experiences that truly take your breath away. You will never manage to cram enough “wow” into your life, but at least give it a try and see how much you can squeeze in.

If your life isn’t filling you with enough moments of wonder, then there’s something wrong. Seek it out, pursue it with all your heart, with every single fibre of your being, because that’s what you are crying out to experience. the sheer wonder and joy of being alive. Find those things and go do them. Decide that you won’t let anything get in the way of it. Let nature be a source of wonder and marvel for you. Take nothing for granted. Find wonder in the way a child plays, in the antics of your family pet. Find experiences and moments that take your breath away.

Allow the magic that threads through this world to find its expression in you. Open yourself up to the incredible creative possibilities that surround each and every one of us. Release it and allow it to spring up and change your life – allow your expectations to shatter and transform into something totally new. Thrill at the way that life weaves itself into the perfect pattern as we allow ourselves to be swept along on an exhilarating tide of synchronicity and coincidence. 

Prepare yourself for wonder – and wonder will find you.

 

TimSigWeb200

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org