The two sides of a moment

Kahlil Gibran (by F. Holland Day)

I’ll never forget the first time I read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. I was about 13 years old at boarding school in Johannesburg, and as I walked into our shared dormitory I saw one of my roommates, Nomi (who’s now a star incidentally!), reading a little book. I was of course curios. She said it was so wonderful that no matter where you opened it, you would be blown away. So I accepted her challenge and dubiously flipped her copy open to a random page and started reading. Well, she was right on.

This poem comes from his 1918 collection, The Madman: His Parables and Poems (public library)

Said a Blade of Grass

Kahlil Gibran

Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling!  You scatter all my winter dreams.”

Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling!  Songless, peevish thing!  You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.”

Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept.  And when spring came she waked again—and she was a blade of grass.

And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves!  They make such noise!  They scatter all my winter dreams.”

No matter how good or even how bad our life situation may feel at any given point, we can just as easily be on the other side. It’s so easy to grow impatient with the slow-azz driver in front of us when we’re late. But another day, it might be us – slightly lost in a new area maybe, or a little hesitant of where the indicator is on our rental car.

Another day, an opposite story awaits. We are all just doing the best with what we have.

I wanted to write about this after reading Maria Popova’s post on the piece. It’s of course far more eloquent – check it out. I absolutely love all her writing.

Are you making a hell on earth for yourself?

A letter to myself:

Hooker Valley
It’s easy to find peace in Nature.

Keep going. Word by word, choice by choice, vision by vision. Soldier on to the tempo of your own triangle. The time will come when it will be painfully obvious what needs to be done.  Or should I say, painlessly obvious. I am absolutely certain of this phenomenon. Call it God, call it your own soul’s wisdom, call it both or none at all.

But it is this way.

And you will see and have the strength required when that time comes.

The scenario for perpetually ignoring your gut?

It’s commonly called hell on earth. Revel in it or listen.

Show your work

I’m busy reading a little book called ‘Show your work’  by Austin Kleon. It was recommended by Derek Sivers on his invaluable podcast episode with Tim Ferriss. It’s a super quick read and I’m not even done yet, but what I read about today really resonated.

First thing: Share what you learn. I’ve always been an avid believer of this, but he puts it so eloquently and really makes the case clear for any doubters out there.

Annie Dillard said, “The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Share your work, share what you’re learning, share what you’re teaching. We all know that the more we teach, the more we understand that topic.

Second thing: Leave the vampires behind.

If someone sucks the energy out of you, do whatever you can to provide them with what help you can, and then go. There’s no point trying to change that person, and less point to you trying to suck the energy you’re losing back in, like trying to squeeze back sand falling out your hand. It ain’t gonna work. Sounds harsh, but if you’re on a mission in this life, which you should be, then focus.

Derek Sivers (again!) famously advises: “Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.” Check out his brilliant piece on the topic.

I know it sounds over-simplified. But I promise you that one day you will, as if all of a sudden, realise precisely how much control you do in fact have over your time. That talk you felt obliged to go to where your presence won’t actually be missed? Just leave it. That party you said you ‘might make’? Las it. (Cape Tonian for ‘leave it the hell alone, it ain’t worth it.’)

And yes, I’m still learning that more each day. And in case it wasn’t obvious, vampires take the form of relationships, jobs (bills, I know I know…when you figure that one out, SHARE HOW please!), people, animals, actual vampires, zombies (probably), trips, parties…you get the idea.

Also, let’s try not be a vampire.





Intro: Delaying tactics 232 officially passed

Thanks to some wise words from Derek Sivers, I have decided that since writing is what I love to do, more of it shall be done. Showing the messy process of our ‘art’, recording lessons and useful findings along the way, is after all, an incredibly easy way to share.

I can’t necessarily produce good writing, nor perfectly edited writing, nor funny or wise

Credit: Angus MacRae
Credit: Angus MacRae

writing. But I can certainly do my best to write what I observe in the day and record lessons learnt on my journey to ever more presence.

My presumptuous hope is that perhaps one day another soul might stumble upon those words and may find them to be of some use to them. Whether it be through my own musings or through my observations of other inspiring people such as Derek Sivers, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin or the host of other legends that move me to soldier on towards self mastery; I sincerely wish that even just one other person will reach the same conclusion that I have.

That whatever they are going through, there is another soul on this planet that is probably also wading through something similar.

This is what I am learning. This is what I would love to teach. Let’s learn from each other.

All hail the age of ‘online’ learning!