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.


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]:



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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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]:



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 The Code [Seer Crawl day 34]

Your thought to ponder for today: a slow read through THE SEER. Day 34. [all material from the book appears in italics]:

A long one today. I started to edit the story segment but thought better. It’s worth reading through. The details matter. The meditation for the day matters. Pay attention to the tension of a natural gift and learned skills.


Parcival, sitting on his mule, having just demanded to be made a knight of the Round Table, met Arthur’s glare with a glare of his own; he didn’t know any better. Luckily for him a lady broke the deadly silence. She probably saved his life by declaring, “My lord, I believe this young man will become your greatest knight.” Galahad added, “Perhaps. If he lives long enough.”

Arthur took a breath. He stared hard at the young man. He recognized him. He was, despite his clownish get-up and his boorish behavior, from noble blood. Arthur could see it. In a very quiet voice, Arthur told Parcival that a man must prove himself worthy by adventures, service and by doing good acts. He told Parcival that he must first learn the code of conduct of a knight. When he had done these things, when he was trained and knighted by a worthy teacher, he would be welcomed back to the court and become a knight of the Round Table.

Parcival wanted nothing more than to be a knight. I wanted nothing more than to be an entrepreneur, a successful businessman. Knight. Entrepreneur. Both are roles. In Virgil speak, both are ways of locating within a story. Parcival wanted to be a knight because, to him, they were godlike; angels shining in their armor, sitting high on their warhorses. I wanted to be an entrepreneur because, to me, they are creators. From nothing they bring forth something that serves people. I had not recognized that as godlike until this story took me. Now, I recognize that I thought entrepreneurs sat above others, shiny in their minds, all seeing.

Somewhere along the path I stopped seeing. I left school with some book knowledge and a bit of life experience. I stormed into the world thinking I could do anything. No door was closed to me because I had no knowledge of closed doors. There is a freedom that comes from not knowing. When I started to believe that I knew things, when I started believing I was an expert, that I had a sack full of answers for all comers, I slowly stopped seeing. It was what I was taught: be an expert. Stand above others and “know.”

I loved this part of the Parcival story because I lived it.

Parcival understood what he had to do. He wheeled his mule around and rode out into the world to prove himself. There are many descriptions of his adventures and they are delicious. He proved to be a redoubtable fighter. No one could best him, and not because he was so highly skilled – because he certainly wasn’t – but because he was so loutish, so out of control in combat that he frightened every dark knight and every dragon or beast that he confronted.

He was a wild boy who knew no fear because he’d never been taught much of anything. Think about it, he had no real armor – most opponents saw this goofy boy wearing dirty broad stripe pajamas and a welcome mat for a breastplate. His trousers fell more than once. His opponents had a hard time taking him seriously. Which was a mistake.

He also had this habit, when juiced with adrenaline, of talking non-stop. He was a talker when calm but amped up considerably when under stress. For instance, whenever he would find a lady held hostage in a tower by an evil knight, he’d start talking. He’d go on and on and on – talking about recipes, hat making, brands of shampoo, about how best to scale a dragon or fish or a mountain. It’s very hard to fight when your opponent won’t shut up. Most foes either felt sorry for him – which was a mistake – or they got so irritated at his chatter that they lost their concentration – which was also a mistake.

His natural gifts took him far, just as my gifts took me a long way into business. I’m a natural networker. When I first started I didn’t know whom I should fear and whom I should respect. And, because I typically did not do great research, I bumbled into some nice clients who mistook my naiveté for honesty and respected me for it.

One famous day an old retired knight named Gornimant was out for a ride when he happened upon Parcival who was engaged in combat with a giant. Now, giants are tough. And apparently, Parcival and the giant had been circling each other for quite some time because, Gornimant later told folks the giant had this desperate look on his face, the look of someone who is trying to sleep while a mosquito is buzzing around his ears. The giant would swat and Parcival would comment on the giant’s combat technique or his choice of club or the giant’s posture. Or he would speculate about what it must feel like to have that much hair on his toes. Ultimately, at least this is what Gornimant said, Parcival never struck a blow. He didn’t have to because the giant, in desperation, sobbed and surrendered. Parcival actually had to stop the giant from clubbing himself.

Gornimant could recognize potential when he saw it. He’d actually heard of this chattering champion because Parcival was becoming quite famous in the outlands with his trademark chatter. So Gornimant invited Parcival home and promised to teach him the ways of a knight.

The master was good and the student was hungry. Over many months Gornimant taught Parcival the proper use of sword and lance and shield. He taught him the care and feeding of a warhorse, the proper treatment of damsels, which fork to use at the table. But most important, he taught him the code and conduct of a knight. Specifically, he taught Parcival to control his chatter, which, up to that point, had been his greatest asset.

Finally, after many long months of study, he presented Parcival with a proper suit of armor, with weapons and a magnificent warhorse. And then Gornimant knighted Parcival in the name of the king.

As Parcival, now a man, prepared to ride away from his master into the world, Gormimant offered his final words of advice. He said, “Talking too much, saying whatever comes into your head, is rude. It is behavior unbecoming of a true knight. Remember, it is impolite for a knight to ask questions, it is rude – even sinful – to speak without consideration of what comes to your mind.”

Having received that final bit of advice, Parcival, thanked his master and set out for Camelot. But, on the way, he wanted to go home to show his mother what he’d become. And, it was only a few weeks later that Parcival came upon the river and was invited into the Grail Castle by the Fisher King. Now you know why Parcival failed to ask the Fisher King about the grail and the lance. For the first time in his life, Parcival failed, because he did exactly what he had been taught to do.

Through the story and Virgil’s guidance I began to understand that I’d failed for the same reason. My businesses collapsed because I did exactly what I was taught to do. And, because I followed the code I’d been given, I stopped seeing people and what would better their lives. As the expert, I lived to service my needs and completely forgot about the needs of my customer.

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