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Extending Life with a New Set of Eyes

Extending Life with a New Set of Eyes

Happy Mother’s Day, Dearest!

Do you cherish your mom? I do. I only have a memory to hold close, but I can still say Mom rules. I think all moms rule, actually. Moms should rule. With moms in power, we’d live in a more sane, just, and compassionate world. Even if No Dessert Until Dinner’s Finished becomes law of the land.

Moms know a thing or two about keeping a family in line. Bless Mom.

Dads? Well, it may be beneficial to keep an eye on them.

In fact, it may be beneficial to keep an eye on what you’re keeping an eye on.

Get this: Observations can impact the world. And you can impact observations.

Here’s my news: My father’s a month away from turning 85 and just went into the hospital with pneumonia, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and difficulty breathing. Doctors say it could go either way. When he’s been able to talk, he’s got one thing to say to me.

“Are you coming to my birthday party?”

It’s funny. Because faced with the gravity of his situation, you’d think he’d have other things on his mind. True, you could argue it’s his way of looking forward to something, which helps people survive. But what strikes me is my perspective on it.

Right now, I’m focused on diagnoses, pain management, and course of action. I’m not thinking about his party, a month away. I’m only concerned with the present. And I wonder how, or if, that is affecting his health. I wonder if I’m influencing his medical outcome!

Because quantum physics.

Because the very act of looking at something affects the thing you look at.

Said another way, the simple act of paying attention can make matter behave differently! It can turn particles into waves. It’s true. And it’s wild, amiright?

So, knowing this, can I look at his health situation differently? Should I? If so, how so, ipso facto?

An idea or three:

  • I can join him in focusing my attention on the party. What I’d lose in understanding his medical details, I’d gain in positive forward-thinking. And maybe that’d help get him through.
  • I can let go of any attachment to the outcome. What I’d lose in emotional connection, I’d gain in big picture wisdom. And maybe that’d defuse any fear for me and him.
  • I can act as if nothing’s wrong and find the humor in it all (which he’s expected from me forever). What I’d lose in earnest concern, I’d gain in dependable levity between us. And maybe that gives him the peace of mind to carry on.

Choices, choices. But big ones, when you think about it this way, eh?

We can pay attention with purpose – understanding that our perspective, our intention, our energy can bring about conscious change.

So I’m going to screw my head on a new way and see if I can bring Grandpa Perlmutter home healthy.

If you want to know more about the underlying science behind this phenomena, check out this video. Just look past the amateur animated professor – he’s not worth too much attention!

Let’s look at life a little differently, with the intention of making it work a little differently.

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Happy High-Flying New Year

Happy High-Flying New Year

[The following is a repost from the newsletter.]

Happy High-Flying New Year, Daredevil!

Are you ready to make the leap? Or rather, have you made it? I s’pose if you’re reading this, you’ve arrived on this side of the calendar change. And given 2016’s volatile, if not maddening, rollercoaster of a ride, that is enough to be applauded. 

I honor the spark in you that is the spark in me.

Like most of us, I’ve done a bit of reflecting. I’m very proud to have started the Headspank blog and newsletter this year. And if I’ve inspired you to think differently about anything, I’ll count that as a victory.

But as you know, I don’t shy away from change. (How can I when I encourage throwing yourself into it?) And the beginning of 2017 is as good an excuse as any to launch myself into the unknown with new (or improved) intentions. That said, you won’t be surprised to hear my plans for the next 365.

  • I will challenge myself to become more open-minded, less judgmental, and curious as all get out.
  • I will push myself to be more adventurous with my thoughts, and definitely with my actions.
  • And I am going to do everything in my power to grow.

Re that last one, consciously planning to grow goes well beyond learning new skills and adding more value to the world (although that’s part of a healthy breakfast). For me, growth is embracing a you-only-live-once attitude and taking a daily shuttle out of the comfort zone.

My thinking is simple. There is so much uncertainty in the world, perhaps now more than ever. And much of it is out of our control.

It’s imperative to take charge of your own wild ride.

But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. To appreciate a Headspank is to celebrate, and initiate, life’s many surprises.

Here’s how I plan on upending the apple cart:

  1. I’m going to do a lot more video this year. More experiments. Interviews. Some live broadcasts. And a bit of silliness, certainly. I think this will be more effective, more immediate, and more easily consumed than blog posts. It also happens to be thriving grounds for yours truly.
  2. I’m going to amp up this whole shebang and help people get more WOW in their lives. One way I’ll do that is to speak in front of people. No, not in tongues. But in TED talks. (Well, that’s the ultimate destination. I’ll start small.)
  3. And to top it off, I’m also excited to proclaim… I’m writing a book. It’s going to be a massive stretch for me. I’ve written screenplays before. But this is a big hairy goal that feels absolutely electric.

You are now my witness. Let it be so. If I do not achieve it by this time next year, you can put me through the public paddy wagon.


May your life be filled with uncommon specialties this year. And may you have the good health, disposition, and prosperity to relish their occurrence as they arrive.

Photo Credits: Sovereign Media, Giphy, Martin de Pasquale

Boredom’s Guillotine

Boredom’s Guillotine

Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true. -William Ralph Inge

Only the boring are bored. – An infinite number of parents


I’m one of the lucky ones. My child is a teenager. Ok, well, maybe lucky is a generous term for it. Nonetheless, most parents of these coming-into-their-own creatures will concede – in spite of the brooding, mood swings, and rebellion – it’s never boring. And that, if you ask me, is a major win!

Because boring is the enemy

It’s anathema to anyone with a shred of self-reflection. It’s poison for any of us with a modicum of belief in controlling our destiny. Boring is for those who accept complacency without a fight. Who want the world to dictate their experience and not vice versa. Boring is vile for being deceptively trivial. In fact, boring is like ignoring a bully: the more you tolerate it, the more you get it.

If you have a fully functioning mind (and, if you can understand these words, you’re fully functioning)…

There is absolutely no reason to experience boredom

Ok. I can sense the scoffing. Yes, I’ve had to wait on line at the DMV. Yes, I’ve had to sit through classes, meetings, and (gasp!) parties with people droning on about the benefits of tapioca. Yes, if I have to hear about gas prices one more time I might have to drop a match at a service station.

I know. Not everything in life is a delightful surprise.

bunny-falls-asleep-at-computer

Unless it is. Rather, unless you make it. Scratch that…

Unless you make art

Ok, I know what’s happening. Some of you are squirming.

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

“Last time I did that was in elementary school.”

“Who’s got time for art?”

I know. I’ve heard ‘em all. And they’re all delusions.

First. Let’s agree that you’re always in one of two states of being.

Either you’re consuming or you’re creating

If you’re chillin’ with Netflix, sipping wine, or Facebooking, you’re consuming. The world has made something available to you and you watch it or eat it or otherwise consume it. Like food, lectures, and nature walks, you experience something that exists “out there”.

That’s all well and good. The world is your oyster and you should enjoy the mollusk’s prize.

But consumption is more often a short-lived, unsatisfying solution

man-on-kids-carnival-swing-ride

Exceptions: Yes, certainly, the world is full of wonders. If you can get out and about to new locales with new people and new things to consume, you can avoid the boredom bug. Rubbing up against something new and unusual is like oil to boredom’s water. Only problem is most of us consume the familiar – more TV, more sweets, more cat videos – over and again, getting a quick fix of stimulant before it, too, becomes boring.

Likewise, the more you can alter your perspective, the more you can stave off boredom. E.g. If I look at a brick wall, it’s just a brick wall. If I take a magnifying glass to that wall, or a satellite view of it, it takes on new, more fascinating characteristics.

Any reader of this blog knows that actively changing your perspective is invaluable

I readily admit that doing so is a way to counteract boredom. But it ain’t the only way. It’s also not the most effective way.

On the other hand, the moment you start affecting the world – putting something into the world that didn’t exist before – you’re creating.

Creating has infinite power to keep you engaged and interested

What counts as creating? Coaching the company softball team? That’s an act of creation. Collecting sea glass for the Thanksgiving table? Also creation. Volunteering at the food bank? Yes, you’re creating a meal opportunity for someone. It counts.

Creating is the perfect cudgel to strike boredom on the head.

guitar-via-artistsmakingart-tumblr

Second.

Let’s agree that art doesn’t have to be Art

Whether it’s a performance, a painting, a pyramid of pennies, or even a pickled piece of pudding pie, it’s art. The threshold is low. As noted in yesterday’s newsletter, even a so-called Feral Choir – with non-singing people whistling, grunting, and shouting together – is art. May not be art that you like. But because they created something, gave it a structure, and released it into the world, it’s art.

What’s this mean for you? Well, you don’t have to sing like Aretha Franklin, paint like Picasso, dance like Martha Graham, or photograph like Humans of New York. You just have to do it – whatever that creative thing is – like you. And forget about how it’s received. (Secret: It doesn’t even have to be shared with others. But it would get you a ton more anti-boredom serum.)

Yes, for all you detail-obsessed moles, even things like coloring books, room decoration, and stacking your books floor-to-ceiling make the cut. Cooking meals and adding the 74th bumper sticker to your car is art, too. Just as long as you do it with flair.

pancake-saxophone

Basically, if you bring something to the world that wasn’t previously there, and it’s an expression of yours, it’s art.

So! You’re ok with creating instead of consuming. And you like the idea that art is just creating something in your unique way. Great.

That alone will cut boredom’s throat.

But what if there’s still something standing in the way? What if expressing yourself through a creative act feels foreign and frightening?

What if you think you “aren’t the creative type”?

Here’s where the oars meet the water. I saw this article a while ago that drove home this point. It’s about an art workshop for people with disabilities. The woman who started it, Gina Arca, happens to be one of them. And her insight speaks volumes.

“People with disabilities can’t always communicate in normal terms with people; many are nonverbal or scared of other people,” she said.

Right. So?

“‘Whatever your disability may be, you can express what you want in your artwork,’ she added. ‘You don’t have to be normal. In fact it’s a lot better if you’re not. The most significant artists throughout history had some sort of oddity and they were successful because of it.'”

Now, you don’t have to consider yourself disabled. But go ahead and consider yourself abnormal, if just to catalyze the act of creation. In fact, with this perspective, the more abnormal the better! So you’re not like all the people who can make art. Great. It’s not an excuse, it’s an ignition switch. Use it. Capture that in something expressive and, voila!, you’re art-making.

She goes on to say…

“The people who have to think differently or live in a world different then so called ‘normal’, they tend to produce pieces that make the world think differently. It’s a doorway into how people with disabilities see the world.”

And there it is. When you experience great art, it helps you to think differently about the world. When you think differently about the world, you can create some of the most compelling pieces of art.

And making art, in the end, is the secret to an ever-stimulating life. One with discoveries ‘round every bend. And boredom forever in the rearview mirror.

tiki-rv

(By the way, I mentioned my teenaged kid. In my house we have a “create to consume” rule. The more you do of the former, the more you get of the latter. It’s a quid pro quo that builds character and transforms a passive perspective. Try it!)

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Photo credits: The Chive, ArtistsMakingArt.Tumblr.com

Hot Breath

Hot Breath

In newsletter #17, I proposed an experiment.

Breathe Flames.

Not literally. (Although, if you can, you most certainly should.) No, I mean something more Kundalini yogic.

The Breath of Fire

It’s this wild practice of continuously inhaling and exhaling, each for the same duration, with no rest in between.

There are benefits aplenty. Chief among them:

  • It’s cleansing
  • It’s energizing
  • It makes your consciousness go flippy-floppy

(There’s no firm data on that last one. But I stand by it.)

It’s remarkable what our body can do to, and for, itself with nothing but lungs and oxygen. Try it. I did. And will again!

Here’s my attempt.

 

Photo: Josh Anon

 

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