#OccupyWallstreet

I am fascinated by the #OccupyWallStreet process that is going on – its just expanding and flourishing.

I found an offical looking blog that hosts the #OccupyWallStreet New York Manifesto
http://nycga.cc/comments/
– whether its the official one or not, the manifesto is good, and what’s even better is there is a LOT of sensible commentary.

I wanted to ask them to allow reposting/Like/sharing options, but got distracted suggesting how people can take the process to heart and move the Change forward. This is my post in that blog:

——————————–
This is great !!
– People seem frustrated by the discussion being open and not answered “officially” (hey – besides the originators of the #occupywallstreet group, who’s going to take on a role as an “official” ? Its about all of us people – you are the 99% and you are also the ONE. Make it happen, make your own choices, make a noise locally, change your life, change your families life, change your local politicians (completely – or at least their views!!) – make a difference in your own community. The big issue here is all of us have stopped voting as nothing seems to change, and we wait for someone “Official” to do the right thing.

WE ARE THE “DEMOCRACY” we keep asking for.
WE ARE THE 99% who want change.

WE ARE THE CHANGE!!!!!

Its not an easy viewpoint to hold, but think about it. If you don’t want that guy to run that corporation that way, why aren’t you telling him so? Why aren’t you offering your ideas, and your assistance?

I believe the current process for this “99% movement ” is about talking through ideas, lets all put our concepts and suggestions out there – on every blog and youtube speech and comment area you can find. Sell your ideas if you believe in them. Don’t wait for someone on this forum to tick your gold star box and tell you “Good Girl – you got it Right” — I don’t think there’s an easy “Right”

We have got to keep talking and as media starts to pay attention and corporates start to feel the anger and frustration – by you NOT buying things, and telling them you’re not happy – there’s going to be some clear and obvious choices of what actions to move on next. This is not going to stop. We have a world view to overturn – an economic structure and vast corporate network that encompasses everything we know, it all has to be untied and re-structured – that will take time, and needs gentle coaxing. We’re not at war, there’s urgency, but we have time. Let’s do it right. Get all these Brilliant ideas out there, and I have to say some of you are so eloquent and focussed it brings tears to my eyes – why aren’t you guys standing for government?

oh yeah – right – we can’t be in the government, we don’t agree with the corporates…. ok, so where are you all going to stand to make a REAL difference and implement some of your FANTASTIC ideas then?

The occupation of Wall Street has focussed a LOT of attention within the average man on the street who’s heard about it – both tax-paying working ones, AND non-working-would-be-earning ones; its bringing out everyone’s creative energy. That’s the benefit of keeping it a non-violent protest – let’s stay focussed on the change, and not get distracted by violence and arrests and pain. No one needs to suffer to keep this going – everyone is coming up with absolutely FANTASTIC ideas of how things can change.

And so much is wrong, it can’t all be resolved with a sweep of one person’s hand – we don’t need another dictator, benign and wise or otherwise. We need to each take responsibility and make our voice heard locally. I’m in London, and our political and economic issues are different and complex in their own way, to what you’re facing in the States.
But Anti-greed ethics (we have a surfeit of fat bankers and stock-brokers here!!) and “99% for the 99%” concept apply here as much as anywhere else in the world.

I’d love to see an option to post particular comments on this page, and on other sites which are documenting and holding ideas for #OccupyWallstreet (there are now 1000’s of associated sites which have started, or since linked themselves – amazing!!!) so I can share the ideas I subscribe to, with friends and my contact group – on FAcebook, Twitter and other social media.

That’s how the GREAT ideas’ will be pushed forward and come into construction – lets vote with our “Like” buttons.

So my question – can owners of blogs and #occupy and #99% websites look at implementing sharing options ?

– most blogging software has it as an option that just needs to be turned on?

Thanks everyone – let’s go change the world we live in. Why not?

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Change – the nature of a beast

Returned to London – right into the centre, the hub of the “civilized world” – and wow, has it been a profound culture shock and a huge jolt to my peace of mind!

Life before was slow, manageable and controlled, parts of what was happening, were uncomfortable,  but generally life was a no-brainer.

Well, its only been a week but I’ve been very conscious of a rush – a spike of energy, a hellish wind, from the world moving past my door – literally,  as the apartment I live in is on a busy road and has a lot of pedestrian traffic along the back. Even the news seems faster and more controversial here, fashions more edgy and faces more profound, words seem to carry more weight.

As I am watching myself experience this change, strange fears raised familiar faces in my emotions – fear of the unknown (what now?) and fear of the known (can I once more live in this place I left 10 years ago?), fear of the future (what should I be doing?) and fear of things undone in the past (why am I here?).

 

All the usual culprits.

 

My friends and family shared concerns about me moving away from them, work and a community I’d become part of, into a state of flux and change. So I was partially prepared – for complexity, issues and new experiences –  but hadn’t realized my old self would react to newness with such fear and dread.

 

Its been a sadly recurring theme of my life to move into total change more often than others – sad, because a lot is usually lost in the process, friends, comfort levels, possessions, modes of thinking and valued concepts – but that seems to be the unforgiving and exploitative nature of Change and there is also no way of avoiding it!

 

I think being truly alone is a strong place to stand.  It tests me in ways I am weak.  Stepping outside of community, away from family, especially for me who loves and actually needs to be part of a group, supporting and supported.

And out of nature – that is SOO hard!! Not only did the the grass seem really greener before, but even my route to work was a gorgeous treed lane with overhanging branches that held the sunlight – so opposite to the grimy pavement outside here!

 

But its only been a week.  A lot of fears arise because once again, I am not sure what my purpose now is and what my next role will be.  And that takes time to resolve.  A couple of work opportunities are pending, as I’ve taken a step back from my role as a fulltime yoga instructor and dropped the comfortable unchallenging role I played as an administrator in a small company, to open to whatever will appear next.

 

To face down fear, I’ve been going into the throng,  walking the streets of the city, touching that riverine current of energy that pours through all great cities but so strongly in London.

 

As I give myself time to relinquish the comfortable life I was living, it becomes clear that the rumblings of discomfort I have been feeling before moving, were the itchy mental rash caused by squashed and limiting thinking, which was  ultimately not comfortable at all and simply had to be dealt with!

I know that now, new concepts will arise, as they have before —  there is now space for incredibly creativity in what I can become, in this void I’ve created  – a wonderful benefit of change I have experienced before!

 

Already ideas present themselves, from reading and online research, conversations with friends, and spontaneously in the Silence.

 

Something will arise.

 

In the meantime, I find old friends and familiar books a wonderful kind of support.  As I open to the new, the parts of my existing self become transportable, an umbrella  to shield myself in inclement situations, but they can also be folded into a corner of my heart to allow the bright clear new sunshine in!

Steve Jobs – a truly great man

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address at Stanford University delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

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.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Politics and how the Spiral Shifts

Fascinating to see an article in the Guardian quoting the Russian president telling Syrian leader Basha Al-Assad, to reform, or leave office.  As a long time supporter and known ally of Syria’s leader, this will be strong medicine and possibly the straw to break the camel’s back  — when a person under strain feels the loss of a great support, it’s often the last pin in an unraveling mindset that then allows complete freedom to change.

I reflect on the power that Nelson Mandela brought to his role as president in South Africa from his own personal and successful journey through change.  It seems Mandela’s embrace of Tier 2 change – from one paradigm to another, created a huge energetic influence on other great thinkers and dogmatic politicians in South Africa – nothing short of miraculous in a country on the verge of civil war.

 

Perhaps its possible that Al-Assad changes, is able to leap off the bridge and ask his country-men what it is they want, and work together towards a new, different future.  Of course if that sounds a little fairy-tale ending-like, then remember the Arabic world appears to have been  stuck in their dogmatic and dictatorial forms of government forever (or at least for a century!).

Any change is a good thing. And a change of mindset in a powerful politician who already knows the country and has access to power and key figures, could be the change we all want.

Here’s hoping the Syrian leader can see the option as a very real and possible step for him to take personally, and then invite the country along too!

What’s a pencil got to do with an ultra-new TV screen?

A team of scientists in Manchester  who won a nobel prize for physics last year, are being sponsored to the tune of £50 million to develop their idea for commercial exploitation.  Is it an alternative energy source?  Is it a new genetically altered food? Is it a view of the universe previously unseen? Sorry, I’m mixing up my modalities here as that’s chemistry, biology, and astrophysics so far, they won for physics… but no, its none of these anyway!!

The team under Andre Geim, and Konstantin Novoselov (from the names, not from around Manchester, are they?  Lucky they decided to do their research locally though!)  have discovered ways of working with graphite (you know, cheap old pencil lead?) in VERY thin sheets – as in, peel a layer off with some sticky tape – which is literally where they started.  This developed into a concept of atom thin sheets of graphite – which, it turns out after centuries of academic thinkers using graphite to record their thoughts, is a sustainable and cheap material which can be used to manufacture electrical and computerized goods and even make plastic cheaper and stronger.

“Wafer thin” (or substantially thinner, at just an atom thick if they can get that right) graphite is many things – its very strong, very flexible, can conduct electricity a million times better than copper.  As it can stretch more than other conductors its useful to replace rare, firm and expensive minerals.  It also has a fascinating property of being more transparent to visible light than any other known conductor.

It’s already been used to create a flexible touchscreen, and Samsung are experimenting with television screen sized sheets, could be used to create transparent cabin wall membranes in aircraft allowing passengers to see out – potential uses are infinite!

Its one of the great discoveries of this century so far – and the truly brilliant thing is that the hard-pressed British coalition government, with all their economic woes, have been able to see the potential (not least of which is high-tech industry and well-paying jobs!!) and put real money behind the development of the idea.

It’s a wonderful paragraph in the ongoing saga of the humble pencil — used to write underwater, in zero gravity, and in the dark… as any Eureka moment scientist will confirm!!

Being rather than always Doing

I always love this segment from Richard Bach’s novel, Illusions – Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

11. The Master answered and said,“Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

12. “The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

13. “Each creature in its own manner clung tighty to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

14. “But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’

15. “The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool! Let go, and that
current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!’

16. “But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

17. “Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the
current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

18. “And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger,
cried, ‘See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!
See the Messiah, come to save us all!’

19. “And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’

20. “But they cried the more, ‘Saviour!’ all the while clinging
to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and
they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.”

I cling myself – to outdated ideas of how I am supposed to be behaving, other people’s ideas and sadly, quite often its only my perception of their ideas – and I hear this from others too. We often hear things from parents, teachers and friends during those crucial formative years which live with us for decades, about what is expected of us – “Be Good”; “Eat all the food on your Plate”, “You’ll never be good at xxx so give up” or “You must do YYYY or achieve ZZZ to (pick one- ) fit in, be successful, make money, be happy or 100 other “measures of success”.

So I carry all these ridiculous concepts around in my subconscious, making me vaguely aware of discomfort when I act out of synchronicity with them, when I chose actions that are more in tune with who I am.

As I do more yoga, perhaps with the meditation or the body awareness that has definately increased, I become aware of these subconscious “pains” or “twinges” in my psychi which manifest as physical.

So here I am thinking of changing my job and I get a pain in my throat – or a chesty cough or any of 100 symptoms, which my digital homeopath friend will analyse for me and explain are “Fear”; “dread”, “anger” etc. – you get the picture.

Slowly it becomes harder to make a mental step just in response to a prompt from all this old rusted thinking that forms a very unstable, ill-designed, and really unwanted framework from which to make choices. I have to look carefully at each choice, even sometimes to the words I am choosing to descibe something or some choice – whether out loud (in which case friends are good – to say “did you hear yourself?!?”) or in my mind.

I want to be the little creature floating on the Crystal Current.

Part of me thinks I have taken that first step — and let go to see where the river will take me. But part of me feels like I am still clinging (perhaps the discomfort I feel is that part of me IS floating off downstream in splendid freedom, and part of me is still painfully attached to old ways of thinking, causing a tremendous tension!!!!!!!!!

Its an ongoing piece of work, and the most useful tool I have found in the process of scraping my old thinking off the rocks of my attachments (I love this metaphor, sorry – :-)) is awareness. As I become more aware of my thought processes, and even the origon of some of my thoughts, so it becomes less possible for stray, useless or negative thoughts to get into my mind, and prevent me from moving into Being.

The connectedness of Being

In defining what I am looking for in my next relationship with a man, I’ve been examining how it feels to lose a committed, long term partner, through my own and friend’s experience.
I got divorced after 10 years of marriage, so have experienced one half of it – the loss of a physical and emotional connection,  and support at a practical level, from someone who was always a good friend to me. 
Before my marriage,I lost a lover in the midst of our intense relationship- a mad passion of my youth,  I was only 20 and completely in love with life – as much as with Bruce, so when he passed away, I missed his physical presence as a foil for all the emotional feedback he had been giving me.
But my experience of loss is miniscule compared to that of a dear friend who recently lost her partner of 30 or more years.

She wrote “I am in that state of “in-between ness” where I feel I am moving forward and need to change my life but am not quite sure where that new life is or what it will be.    I have to move on as living in the past with memories of B  will not give me a full and rounded life.   I miss him so much that life feels pretty empty without his calls, texts, IMs and e-mails.”

“We spent so much time talking, putting the world to rights and generally communicating that it is very hard not having that contact. My grief is intense but I am learning to live with it and I certainly do not cry as much or for as long. So, I am coping well and feel that I have made great strides in the last year.”

Whenever I read these words I feel her pain and loss at losing someone who had become a very fundamental part of her consciousness – a truly special Gift life sometimes bestows on couples.
There is a wonderful communication one can have with a special Other which is very familiar to me – and I know about the loneliness which ensues when you lose it, because of a close relationship I formed with a monk.  We spent hours on the phone and emailing everyday, and his opinion and thoughts became another part of my own mental processes – i knew how he would react, or would laugh ay something, and in many situations we had so deeply explored each other’s psyche that I was able to present his ideas to others as if they were my own – which in some ways they had become.
That relationship stopped because of the reality of our situation – him a monk and me not – and I haven’t in the ensueing years stopped missing it.  Not necessarily him, I have to admit, as he turned out a bit of a bad egg in some ways, but that deep one-human-soul-to-another communication I felt we had.  Having a mirror for my thoughts and feelings was a wonderful gift – real or not, I certainly grew and explored aspects of myself that I would love to continue investigating.
As a result of this relationship, I have come to define all romantic relationships on a scale based on how deeply the communication reaches into each other’s Soul.
To be a really valuable relationship, (hmm – there’s another discussion – what’s valuable about a relationship…) both parties need to be completely present and non-reactive when the other explores ideas and thoughts, strong enough in their own Self to not wish to create something different from the wonderfully complex and evolving Being in front of them.
To delight in each other’s differences, so when later things might end (Dad always reminds me – any relationship always has one of two endings – they leave, or you leave, and it might be voluntary or you might die!) I want to feel, even if the ending is quite devastating, that ” we spent so much time talking, putting the world to rights and generally communicating that it is very hard not having that contact. “