Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Patience is a...

I have often been accused (yes, ACCUSED!!!) of being very patient. Most often by people who only know me peripherally in some way. So lets dispell this myth right here and now.

If any doubts just make me go grocery shopping: The land where people walk in the door and stop just there to get their bearings without thought to who else needs to use the door; where people will stop right at the entrance to an aisle and check their list without making room for anyone to pass by; where no matter what you need to grab from a shelf someone is always there taking time to ponder geological activity before they make their selection. Do you wait the interminable time for them to figure out their next step? Or do you get in there with a quick excuse me and grab-n-go? Need I say more? I think you get my point...

But just what is patience in this context? The flow of time and what I need to accomplish? In a nutshell, yes. So naturally the complete lack of flow will become frustrating. I am a quick learner, and doer once there is something to get accomplished. And shopping is my kryptonite anyway as there is very little I ever need to shop for.

But there is another aspect here that I do think is as important, if not more so, than the time flow. That is acceptance. It connotes not just how long to wait for something, but a mindset that is ok with what is happening, or not happening, right now. It's a quality that is much easier for me to work with. Why I find it easier is that there does not need to be any deep understanding and/or goal before encountering any circumstance. Simply an attitude that says it's OK for this to be arising in this moment, even if I have no control over it. Or if I don't particularly like it. The time flow is not truly relevant since you're looking in the moment as much as possible. You aren't casting forward (as in soonly-sight) or even gauging past circumstance (hinder-sight, remember?) so you simply accept. Then the edge may be off for a moment and you can then ask, "what is actually happening?" From there you can see what comes next.

For me the business world requires alot of this kind of acceptance. As mentioned I am waiting for a new venture to begin and it has taken several more months than the principals thought. So I am hanging out on a limb, or in my van, or in my clinic... hoping that plans come through. Definitely lots of soonly-sightedness that I try to temper with this acceptance. And when I feel like freaking out I can often see that those feelings are based in hinder-sight from past failed attempts. But what have we always said about karma larma ding dong? You just never really know how things play out, much less why. So it is reasonable to hope for success in the meantime of waiting for reality to catch up with your intentions.

For now though, don't go shopping if you don't have to. Or unless you love it. Then I definitely won't understand... but hey, I can accept your wierdness! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soonly-sight... nearly-sighted... mostly-sighted... fearly-sight?

So we talked about looking backwards, and coined the term "hinder-sight." So it is only fair to put some brain juice to looking forwards as well (especially since we got the request!). In this case I started to ponder what is the hang up on future plans? In my thinking it's expectation and assumption.

We generally just automatically feel that any plan we put into action should result in the desired goal. Now having confidence is one thing, but what is the guarantee? On what timeline are we working? Sure, saying "I'm going to the store to buy something" can be followed with a reasonable expectation that we get there, buy, and get home. But what do we always notice when the news headlines come up? Someone is saying "I never thought it could happen to me/him/her/them." That's just the standard remark when that random accident happens, or that house burns down, etc.

We certainly don't plan for disaster, even as a contingency. Although we do "prepare" if you noticed. Somehow preparing says "just in case" with no particular expectation. But to plan for a disaster/accident seems contrary to rational thought and I'm sure most people would simply say you're nuts. But really, when you get right down to it, get past any delusions about the unexpected, it's all possible to occur. So if we're going to plan to do something it seems like you ought to accept that it doesn't happen just as easily as it does. Of course don't get me wrong here, this is not about pessimism, nor about nihilism. Truthfulness and realism are their own things. And in my version of things this kind of reality check to our "plans" ought to actually make our experiences more enjoyable when they're good, and more tolerable when they're not.

So that's why the titles. We're trying to look just past a horizon that is all but indefineable. So though we craft plans, we put ideas into action, intend to achieve, there are so many variables that come into play. We've shaped things as "nearly" as we can to our ideas; we expect them to happen just as soon as... or "soonly"; we're "mostly" certain that things will go our way; but deep down we are often afraid that things won't and we try to not own up to that fear, or worse be paralyzed by it. So we have fearly-sight into the future.

What's that you say? If you just set your mind to it you can do anything? Often that is true. But often not. Plus having talent is not an automatic indicator of success. BELIEVE ME... that can be very painfully true. I think about it each time I see Stevie at the beach showers. Handsome and jovial guy from Micronesia, living in his wheelchair (I know, not the usual homeless vehicle but it works) having lost part of his left leg to diabetes, talking story with me while making gorgeous coconut frond hats and baskets. I'm pretty certain most of this wasn't in his early plans.

By the way, Stevie thinks I must be a cop because I'm too well spoken to be homeless. I showed him photos on my phone of some art that I made. His suggestion? Make a spread on the Waikiki sidewalk and make a killing. How to explain to him that the works I showed him were like 8 ft high, or 16 ft wide??? In any case he's a sweet guy and I wish him luck.

Friday, November 12, 2010

More hindsight... or hinder-sight???

Well, I sort of remember the beginning of this promised topic. Of course the direction it was supposed to take was definitely lost to the dream time. As it is the beginning only took shape cause I was still awake enough. Everything else I thought "no need to get up to write anything down. This is so cool I will certainly remember it!" Riiiiightt.

So what was intended is this, 20/20 connotes having normal sight, thus looking backwards at 20/20 is "normal." But I don't think that very truthfully represents what we do. To be more accurate it should read "Hindsight is laser-like," or "Hindsight is like using an electron microscope." Or something sufficiently technologically advanced and able to pinpoint the smallest structures imaginable. The point being that we go over past efforts and events with more than a fine toothed comb: We scour things for error in the minutest detail. That's not normal to me. That's obsessive and damaging to certain extremes. Especially, in my honest opinion, if there is no healing aspect that comes out of the process.

So what, you might ask, is my version of things? Hmmm. Good question. At the very least tolerance has to come into the equation. If mistakes have been made then we have to tolerate the fact that we screwed up. 'Tolerate' begins to have threads of 'forgive' within it and hence we might find ourselves saying "Well, won't do that again," rather than something like "Why did I do that? Waaaah...Boo hoo..." You get the idea.

Even in business failure there has to be reflection, but it has to be progressive and not debilitating. Otherwise future ventures are at risk even before money is on the table. The second type of question "Why?" carries fear forward, whereas the first is a statement, an affirmation, an acceptance, and an open door to move on.

So unless you have reason to appreciate lasers (like laser hair removal... what's up with that??? I can't quite imagine how that one works) then look back with normal sight. The same sight that should be happening in every present moment and quite possibly looking forward as well. That way it doesn't become 'hinder-sight'... get it? as in "to hinder"... (I crack myself up :P)

Hindsight is 20/20... What a laugh!

This was the brilliant title for my next post that occurred to me just before falling asleep last night. And of course the content seemed a brilliant direction to go in. (By the way, does it happen to you too that when you talk to yourself in your own mind you are always so brilliant? But then in the real world interactions something gets lost in translation? Just wondering...) But of course now I can't remember it :|

Oh well, I think I can dredge it back up tomorrow once I'm rested. I've been busy writing other things all evening so don't blame me for being a bit fuzzy.

Meanwhile then I will leave you with my favorite joke, and quite possibly the most important one of modern times. I will continue to use tai chi teachers as the subject but you can really change it as needed. OK, here is...

Q: How many tai chi teachers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one... but 99 others to tell you "well I would do it differently in my school!"


Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Why is this happening to me?"

This is something we've all said at some point, and it's very easy to say when things go awry. Whether in personal relations, business issues, health, school... you name it and that phrase pops up sooner or later. I know I've said it several times a day over the last few years. I've been baffled more times than not.

On one hand there's plenty that we can take honest responsibility for, but on the other hand there is all the stuff that seems to be out of our control. Just take my recent run in with the long arm of the law. Ok so maybe getting tagged for a missing license plate and expired safety check isn't that big a brush with Johnny Law, but come on... there were two cop cars AND they did spend up to 20 minutes running me through the computer. Of course kinda ironic since there ought to be a complete absence of anything on me. Unless of course there was that time... Just kidding, I'm clean.

Point being that sometimes things just come up and there's no linear reason for it. Just simple law of attraction I suppose: You're feeling crappy and crappy things roll your way. Now every entrepreneur has their low point(s) and if they're true risk takers they don't sweat it too long. When it came time to jump in and run my own herb company I knew it was an important step to take. There were things to be learned and I thought I was ready. And mostly I was. Sometimes I wasn't, and when it came time to close up shop I can't honestly say I wasn't heavily affected by it. You naturally feel the sting of failure in spite of best efforts given. You hang your head for a while, a long while at times, you go to a movie in the middle of the day for escape, or maybe hit some golf balls on the driving range. Badly I might add so there's no illusions that golf is an escape here.

But hopefully the indulgences don't get too extreme. You know what I mean there. And over time you get to doing something. It's a process and you just have to trust it cause there's not going to be a good explanation on it. In my case I did several things that I hoped would be supportive: I opened my acupuncture clinic, stared at the ceiling often, wrote some poetry (I can't judge whether it was decent and heartfelt, or overly melodramatic or just plain bad poetry, but it did get some emotions out), and made some art. Not necessarily usual fare for countering failed entrepreneurial efforts but it got me through. Didn't solve anything per se, and of course the karma larma ding dong kept/keeps on rolling.

But there is another thing to remember here... we ask that fate-filled question of "why" when things go really bad. We even cry and wail it out. But have you ever said it when things go well? For that matter have you heard anyone say it in that context? Usually its something more like "well it's about time," and we take immediate ownership. It's an interesting place to find oneself and makes me pause. To me this perpetuates the cycle and can't be good in the end. It smacks of hubris if not simple delusion and non-acceptance.

Each morning I go down to the beach to swim and shower. It's getting chillier lately so the mindfulness is forced to get sharper. I don't like taking cold showers, but I accept it. That's what I've got to work with and though there are no shortage of friends who offer the occasional hot shower at their home it's more convenient and closer to the office to go to Kaimana Beach. Besides, it's great practice for acceptance. And besides that beside, something good has been dangling just out of reach, or just around the corner, for a little while now. It's a new venture opportunity that was presented to me, and I admit does seem too good to be true in light of the long run of s#*t karma. But I can tell you this, if/when it comes through, and I am once again able to have a real home, and I take that first hot shower there, I'm not gonna be saying "it's about time." I'm going to be grateful as hell and cherish the moment since you just never know in this fragile dance of life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What goes around...

Happy to say that going to court this morning had a good outcome. Back in September I had received a few tickets for some trivial things that could have been overlooked by a compassionate officer, but no. Instead I faced $400 in fines at a time when I'm counting change out of the basket for lunch. Fortunately, having resolved the things in a timely fashion the judge accepted my explanations and dismissed them all. Yay!!! But of course the story is the thing, and not the outcome...

You know how they say things happen in threes? I kind of think that is a convenient number but not always accurate. In my case the number has been cranking upwards like a taxi meter in NYC. So imagine the karmic moments when a friend says "Well, the bad karma can't last forever," and 10 mintues later I'm being pulled over for my front license plate not being on. (It had gotten knocked loose several days prior and rather than lose it on the freeway I pulled it off. Little did I know that it was illegal to not have it on) That was ticket #1.

Ticket #2 was having forgotten to get my safety check renewed on the van. It had expired during the interim that I was moving out of my house, putting things in storage, and otherwise going through a difficult emotional period. Total oversight.

Ticket #3... After enjoying 15 minutes of sarcasm and accusatory tone of my officer (saying that I've got too many stories offered up for #1 and 2. ?????? I was answering his questions...????) He asks for my license... which was sitting in my work pants at the house-sitting location and not with me. Ugh.... "Another story" according to Officer Compassionate and he says "Now you have to prove who you say you are." This was a clear case of "WTF? Could this get any worse??" And apparently it could since showing current mail in my bag, his extensive computer search on me and the van (a good 20-25 minutes), nor being a well spoken human being who happened to drive an old van through a posh neighborhood could persuade him from NOT giving me the tickets. :(

To cap it off he says to me, "maybe you'll have better luck telling your stories to the judge." Greeeaaatttt. Now did he go over any edge where I could have complained? No. Was he a complete assh@*e? Yes, and the only saving grace was this morning's outcome as the judge did indeed think that my explanations were reasonable.

But it does go to show how dangerous assumptions can be. I had assumed I had reached rock bottom prior to the pull-over and chuckled heartily with my friend's "it can't last forever" quip. Alas, rock bottom can be a very relative position. And if you're convinced of its location you are once again the ding dong when something new comes up and you find yourself saying "I didn't think it could happen to me!"

In any case I am not $400 poorer for the moment, and it's a rainy day so will probably be slow here today. But it gives plenty of opportunity to reflect on what else I have in my mind that is built on assumption rather than the reality of it. We'll see if any insights pop up, but I won't hold my breath on that one.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Predicament means what???

I looked it up and predicament comes from Latin roots "to proclaim." I'm gonna have to stew on that one for a while as that doesn't seem to tie in with my understanding of a "WTF?" moment. But none-the-less there is something to say for proclaiming your place in the world no matter the good or bad. That's true for what karma really means, you own up to what is happening and take responsibility whether you like it or not.

In my case we could stretch back quite a ways for how I got here, but lets just go for recent things for now. I may reminisce later but that will be a different post. The big moment of recent ills came with the call that my biggest customer abruptly closed their doors on Feb 7th, 2009. It was the proverbial nail in the coffin for our little herb company. The cascade of events that preceded this were, of course, much bigger than our little company's plights, but it sucked ot go through it none-the-less. What do you do when you're a small fish in a niche pond, barely making it though with forward momentum and huge prospects lining up for you... and then a $30Mil/year company has to close their doors essentially put out by bad decisions coming from the bank. Specifically the bank panicking and calling in a $2Mil loan before it was due. The domino effect was huge. And if they couldn't find someone to step in and save their $30Mil biz, what was I gonna do trying to find only $75K??

So that was the big ripple that hit us: our last sales in April, and bankruptcy came by July. The biggest thing was feeling the shame; having failed, having lost investors money, having lost my own and my spouses, as well as hindsight criticism. Its easy to say that all entrepreneurs go through this (which is true enough) but mapping your way through is never pretty. Especially when other factors take shape due to the cascade. Truly makes you evaluate (or re-evaluate as the case may be) critical issues. And as I mentioned hindsight criticism is a big part.

It's easy to look back and see mistakes that were made, but cautious review should have its limits. For example I made my best decisions based on what was happening and what seemed to be coming down the pipeline for us. Who could have predicted that while we were raising capital to expand our operations the whole world economy was like a little floater in the cosmic toilet bowl of bad karma? Certainly out of my scope, so those decisions have to be forgiven in the end. However, if I'm truly honest there are always moments when something is happening, something being decided, when you know deep down "I think this is a mistake" but you did/didn't do it anyway. Those moments require some extra care cause you still did your best at that moment. Maybe it was simple inexperience that led to the moment, maybe something else, but regardless it was what it was. Now the challenge is more like "can I actually learn from them or am I only going to beat myself up on those ones?" Hopefully learning takes precedence sooner than later.

All in all, the risk was manageable and though I am living near to homelessness I am basically happy, healthy and safe. At least for the moment. And I am still trying to go in new directions and do what is right by my sensibilities and those around me. I can't fix everything, but I can proclaim to do my best. So if my predicament is to be in awe and confusion as to what is going on.. then so be it. Here I am! I've got some sh@*ty karma to live out!

Of course a good taco helps keep the fight on too!

Karma larma whatta?

Those of you who know me have heard me say the phrase "karma larma ding dong" often enough. Some of you have a sense of what karma is, while others simply hear a catchy phrase of sorts. But there is a meaning behind this for me.

Karma is certainly hard to fathom in its full complexity, and no, I don't think of it as a judgement for/against past actions. It simply is what it is, and if you've been a jerk you are also an idiot if you question why people are unhappy with you. Of course if you've been a terrific person deductive reasoning points to some good effects. It's a natural assumption and most often is accurate enough. But here is the rub: karma stretches accross so many aspects of our lives- mental states, physical conditions, how we relate to others including family, friends, customers, strangers, etc.- that there is no simple way to pin down causes and effects that span more than the last few minutes, hours, or even days. Nor any convenient way to explain away a looooooong string of negative events as simply "bad karma, dude!"

In my case things have gone from uncomfortable, to stagnant, to bad, to worse, to worse than I thought it could get, to worse than "what the f*@k is going on?" But that's just the circumstances I have to work with. So what is to understand about it all? Other than it's just karma playing itself out; some good, some bad... (ok, lately most is bad but that doesn't diminish how cool it is to swim at Kaimana Beach each morning before my shower, or watching the clouds along the Ko'olau's catch the evening glows of sunset)

So out of this interplay of karmic forces comes a chance to keep some perspective and humor about things. Hence the "ding dong" part. How can you be too serious if you're saying "ding dong" in a sentence? The "larma" part is simple poetic rhyme; unless there is an ancient meaning that I'm unaware of at this time. I'll google it and see.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my trusty soccer-mom van was sputtering of late and getting worse. Well it needed a new battery, and thanks to a kind and dear friend I traded some services for a new one this past weekend! Yay!! That's good karma coming to fruition and being propelled along for more in the future. Now the van cranks up like its got more of an engine than a wheezing, old lawnmower. The "ding dong" part is all me. Every time I get in I still have the habit of mentally fortifying myself that this time we're not moving. Then it turns over beautifully and I go "oh yeah!" That's the bad karma part... perpetuating an old habit that already has no bearing on present reality. Thus the cycle continues and I shouldn't be surprised to be the ding dong once again.

Here's to fulfilling the good karmic opportunities; causing some more to come along; stopping the bad karmic moments from propogating; and preventing them from coming up at all. Cheers!