Add To Your List [Seer Crawl day 48]

A few paragraphs at a time. It’s is how I have been reading books lately.  Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought to ponder today from The Seer.  Day 48. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

Me: This seems…overwhelming.

Virgil: Start simply. Begin with a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center of the paper. On one side at the top write: “Things I can control.” On the other side, write: “Things I need to let go.” Add to your list every day and soon you will clearly see what is within your control and what is not.

31.

I went to the coffee house to do the exercise Virgil suggested. It quickly became very clear that there are not many things that I can control. For instance, I can’t control what other people think or feel or believe. This was the big revelation. At the table next to me I heard a woman say, “I don’t want him to think I’m a bad person.”

How much time have I invested in my life in the idea that I can determine what another person thinks? Too much! How often have I said, “I don’t want them to think that I…,” or “I don’t want them to feel….”

I was beginning to see the true value of this exercise: my emotional, mental and physical health is invested in something over which I have no control. No wonder I’m stressed all the time. No wonder we fall into the “things happen to me” story! My energy is wasted if I am trying to control another person’s thoughts or feelings.

 

 

 

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Find Your Second Master [Seer Crawl day 46]

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I just used this image but it seemed appropriate for today’s post. This is WEEPING MAN

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 46. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

29.

When my business failed my confidence collapsed. Like Parcival’s sword, everything that I thought I knew was worthless and lay in pieces all around me.

I stayed in bed wallowing in my misery for a week with my blankets pulled over my head. When finally I realized that I had nothing else to lose, I got out of bed and called Elizabeth. My business was gone, my pride, my reputation, my intention, my identity. I was pinned down and had no fight left in me. I surrendered. And that was when I found Virgil.

It seemed that the Parcival story was a braid strand entwined with my life story. Was I following the story or was the story following me?

Parcival’s sword exploded. The pieces of his power lay all around him.

The panther, the warrior of the earth, stood above Parcival poised and ready to strike the fatal blow. Parcival was pinned down by the weight of his armor. Laying on his back, he looked up into the warrior’s eyes, surrendering himself to death. He closed his eyes thinking, this is going to hurt. Nothing happened. Parcival opened his eyes and the warrior, like the castle and the maiden, was gone. Parcival managed to roll onto his knees and something broke inside him. He wept.

After the warrior vanished, Parcival retreated deeper into the woods. In his five years of searching he had become intensely self-reliant. He couldn’t go back to court. He had no idea how to get home. The source of all his power had just been shattered. His life was not unfolding as he had imagined that day long ago, when he first bumped into the knights and confused them with gods and he decided that he, too, would become a knight.

While Parcival was deep in his despair, he was discovered by a hermit. Now, it’s harder to be discovered by a hermit than you might imagine. A hermit, by definition, likes to be alone and generally avoids contact with other people. However the hermit found Parcival just as Gornimant had found him. Because Parcival was ready for his next life lessons, his teacher emerged.

That’s the same story I tell myself about for Virgil. I was ready and he emerged. Elizabeth had given me Virgil’s contact information a few months before I emailed him. I wasn’t ready to learn until I experienced the collapse of my business. Just like Parcival, I needed to lose my sword before I was ready for the teacher to find me.

Parcival was sitting on a stump, helmet off, weeping – which was why he retreated deeper into the woods because he didn’t want to be seen. It was the perfect time for a hermit to come along. I think the sight of a knight in full armor, sitting on a stump having a barking-style cry got the best of the hermit. It piqued his curiosity.

Hermits are notoriously quiet so Parcival didn’t hear the recluse sit down on the stump next to him. You can imagine his surprise, after his cry had run its course, when Parcival heard a crackly old voice say, “That’s a hell of a giant you’re fighting in there. What’s his name?” Parcival yelped and jumped from his stump. Keep in mind that this story is happening in the days when forest spirits showed themselves to mortals. Parcival wasn’t sure if he was about to be spelled or cursed. When he jumped up, he landed sideways on his foot and, being in full armor, he made the sound that a stack of cans in a grocery store makes when a cart bumps into it. He kind of looked like that too, as he crumpled all the way to the ground.  

The hermit chuckled and said, “Simmer down boy. I’m not going to turn you into a frog or nothing. I’m a hermit!”

That was not very comforting although it did help Parcival relax a bit. The hermit helped Parcival out of his armor so he could stand. The hermit looked him over, and invited Parcival back to the cave for some stew. Parcival went with the hermit, leaving his armor behind.

He broke his vow not to stay two nights in the same place until he found the Grail Castle again. Parcival stayed with the hermit for a night, then two, then he lost count of how long he’d been there. You’ve probably guessed by now that the hermit was his second master. The first master teaches craft. Second masters are the midwives for the birth of the heart.

 

 

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Reveal Your Choices [Seer Crawl day 45]

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 45. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

In THE SEER, I end each chapter with 1) a study, 2) an action, and 3) an exercise. Today’s chunk-to-ponder is the study and action from the conclusion of the 5th Recognition. Beware – the action suggests that you can own your story.

The Fifth Recognition: You are the teller of your story

Study: Actions reveal choices, choices reveal story. Study your actions and your choices: what story do they reveal?

Action: Own your story. Continue to distinguish the difference between circumstance and story. Eliminate the “things happen to me” story: at the end of each day choose an event from the day that was challenging, frustrating or made you mad. What if your response within every circumstance was a choice? What did you choose within your circumstance? Track it each day in your journal. What changes when your choices become conscious and intentional?

What do you choose? A great business as well as personal question, especially if growth and change is what you seek.

 

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Test The Chain

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 44. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

Me: I felt it as I stood on the street corner. In fact, I stood there for a long time watching people, paying attention to them play their roles within the stories they tell. I watched mothers with children, people hurrying home from work, couples taking a stroll, kids hurrying to soccer practice. All were deeply invested in their story. It was subtle, as you said, but the small progression from knowing that I am telling a story to actually owning that I am the teller of my story was…huge.

Virgil: Why was it huge?

Me: What I saw in others, and then saw for myself, was a real commitment to the story. There was a dedication to the circumstance. Here’s that word again: an investment that the story was fact or reality. They were seeing their story and nothing beyond it.

Virgil: Yes, the commitment to our stories blinds us to potential. Have you ever come across the phrase “premature cognitive commitment”?

Me: No.

Virgil: It is how elephants are trained to stay in one place. The process is almost too simple: when it is young, a baby, a strong chain is wrapped around its ankle. The other end of the chain is secured to a very strong tree. The baby elephant will pull and pull against the chain but soon learns that there is no use pulling, so it stops testing the chain. As it grows, weaker and weaker chains are used and attached to smaller and smaller trees. Since the elephant has learned that there is no use to pull on the chain, eventually a piece of string attached to a tiny stick is all that is required to keep the elephant from roaming free. The idea of limitation, the story that there is no use pulling on the string, is more powerful than the reality of the string and the stick. Many of the stories we tell are premature cognitive commitments. We become so dedicated to our limits that we stop testing what we think we know.  

Me: When I recognize that I am the teller of my own story, I have the capacity to challenge my assumptions. I never stop pulling on the chain to see what will happen.

Virgil: Yes, and, in that way, you see what is there, not what you think is there. You have the opportunity to see beyond your story or at least you are capable of choosing the story you tell. Why should the limit that you experienced as a child dictate your range of motion as an adult? What commitments do we make that keep us from testing the chain? These are the same commitments that prohibit us from seeing.

 

 

 

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Know What You Give [Seer Crawl day 43]

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another detail: yoga series – greet the world

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 43. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

I stood on the corner suddenly aware of the fifth recognition. It was subtle, just as Virgil promised. I am the teller of my story. I give it shape. I give it meaning. I give it coherence. I exaggerate it. I hang onto parts of it. I define the limits. My story is not happening to me. I am creating it as I go, based on my investments and assumptions of my roles and how I choose to play them. I’m focusing on certain aspects of my story and ignoring others.

***

Later that evening Virgil wrote:

Virgil: Within circumstance you are always in choice. And the first choice you have is the story you decide to tell. You are the teller of your story. This may sound simplistic but the recognition that you are in every moment, every day, responsible for the story you tell, is enormously powerful.

 

Yet another obvious question: what is the story you tell?

 

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Challenge History [Seer Crawl day 42]

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 42. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

27.

I went to my local bookstore to pick up a novel that I ordered. Andrew, the owner, gave me my book. There was a slip of paper folded and tucked inside the pages. My name was printed in marker on the outside fold. I said, “What’s this?” Andrew looked at it and said, “It’s for you, I guess. I don’t know how it got there.”

I opened it and found a postcard bearing the black and white image of a factory with this quote:

“The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”

Abraham Maslow

 

Well? Isn’t the question is obvious?

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Lose Your Gift [Seer Crawl day 41]

 

 

This is how I have been reading books lately. A few paragraphs at a time. Maybe a page or two. To really read and not just consume. Recently, I decided to re-read my book in the same manner. So, your thought from The Seer to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 41. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

 

This is what happens to illusions:

On a famous day, while riding through the forest, out of the trees rode a warrior like none that Parcival had ever seen. The warrior didn’t wear armor, his skin was dark, and he somehow belonged to the land. He was an enormous man. He moved like a panther, beautiful, easy, fluid, and confident. He sat atop a black stallion. He squared himself to Parcival and drew his sword for battle.

Parcival surprised himself; he did not want to fight this man. He felt a deep sadness and was suddenly very tired. He told the warrior that he would not fight. He asked the warrior to stand aside and let him pass. The warrior stood his ground. Parcival said that he had no quarrel and would not draw his weapon. The man said nothing and stood his ground. Slowly Parcival drew his sword, thinking that once his sword was seen, the warrior would recognize Parcival and retreat. The man saw the sword and stood his ground.

Parcival felt as though he could not breath. They stared for a long moment, sizing up each other, and then, silently, as if in agreement, they suddenly rode at each other. Their swords met with a ferocious clang that echoed off the trees and hills. The impact knocked both men off their mounts. Parcival landed hard. Like a turtle on his back, pinned down by the weight of his armor, Parcival looked up and saw the warrior, the panther, standing over him, raising his sword to strike. Parcival raised his sword in defense and found he held only the hilt of his weapon. His sword, the Fisher King’s gift, had exploded into a thousand pieces.

Whether you recognize it or not, this is a great business (as well as personal) metaphor. What happens when your gift fails you?

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Learn [Seer Crawl day 39]

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this painting recently found its home: inward looking he

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 39. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

 

In my life to this point I was always perceived as the one who knew what to do. I was always rewarded for knowing what to do. I was taught in school that a good businessperson has a plan and he follows the plan; he knows where he is going and he knows what he is doing. I believed I was a good businessperson. As Virgil wrote, “That’s old-world thinking.” The whole equation has flipped because the river is moving too fast. Have the experience first. Act. And then make meaning. Act. Test. And then Aim. See the patterns.

People who think they know look for problems. People who understand that they do not know see patterns and create.

My business failed. I did not. I learned. I am learning.

When I emailed this to Virgil he told me that the fifth recognition was very close at hand. He said it was a nuance, a subtle addition to the recognitions that have come before. He congratulated me for beginning the process of removing my armor. He wrote:

Virgil: Everyday you get closer and closer to actually seeing.

 

 

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