Enlightened Conflict

we do not deal well with emptiness

January 8th, 2017




“As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness.

Any empty space must be filled.



The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place. A single moment with that empty spot causes excruciating pain. That’s why we run from distraction to distraction – and from attachment to attachment.”



Yasmin Mogahed






I am fairly sure people have never, as in “since the dawn of time”, dealt well with emptiness in their lives.

fill-emptiness-empty-with-various-thingsEmptiness is … well … empty … less than … not full.


We put incredible energy into putting a person into an empty space left by the last person.


We put incredible energy overthinking shit if we find that we may be empty of some thought, i.e, we are ‘not thinking about something … anything for god’s sake is better than nothing!’.


We put incredible energy trying to figure out what to do, and sometimes actually doing it, when we find some empty time.




I would guess that in todays “if you are not doing a lot of something, you are a lazy, worthless slug” mentality world … emptiness has taken on a more miserable aspect. It is miserable because we are almost expected to not only be miserable if we have some ’empty’ <i.e., only losers have empty> but we are expected to figure out how to not be empty for any extended period of time.


What this translates into is … well … suffice it to say … more often than not we create our own emptiness with how we choose to live our Life and think our thoughts.


Boy oh boy.

There is a double whammy.


We do not deal well with emptiness and, yet, we almost always create our own emptiness.




So what happens if you decide to not accept the societal bullshit about empty?




You will be seen as an outcast.

That I can almost guarantee.


It is a societal thing.society blame responsibility


If society demands empty to be unacceptable then … well … dammit, we gonna hate them because they aren’t living Life they way they are supposed to live life <even if it looks fucking awesome to do if we actually did it>.




“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.


The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.


Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”



Rick Warren



I only bring up society not to suggest society is bullshit or that society is the root of all evil <and your personal problems> but to state that with regard to ‘empty’ there are two layers to our inability to deal well with ‘empty’ – ourselves and society.


Doesn’t mean you can’t establish your own rules & standards with ‘empty’ in your own Life … but it is tricky to do it in a way that doesn’t … well … make you crazy.


In the end you gotta look at your Life, what is empty & what is full, why things may be empty and why things may be full … and think about what the value is of the life we have decided to cling to.




ما قيمة هذه الدنيا التي تتعلقون بها ؟ ..


“What is the value of this world that you cling to?


(via idle-handss)



And I say ‘cling to’ because it is our choice.

the choice is yours life

Emptiness is our choice.


Fullness is our choice.



Here is what I know about empty.


It gives you room. It gives you space. And, yes, it gives you uncertainty.


But what it does do is it gives you certainty in freedom to move & do & explore the area between “I can’t” and “I can” … as well as … “what is” and “what could be.”



“I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy.

I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”



Kristin Armstrong






Here is what I know about empty.


I once wrote Emptiness is a weight … heavier than you could ever imagine empty should ever be.

Emptiness is a burden if you fill it with the wrong things <hence the reason I tend to believe we rush to fill it with other things>.




“How can emptiness be so heavy?”



Six Word Story

———holes kids and thinking


It can become a hole filled with the remnants of everything left behind.

Let’s just say … all things gone but not forgotten.

This could include regrets, memories; past decisions … even people no longer there … as well as whatever else your thinking may fill it up with.


Ok. Let’s just say anything that has touched our lives will reside in this emptiness and their, oddly, the absence of what used to touch us carries a gravitas which becomes a relentless burden.


Here is what I know about empty.


It is not nothing. Empty is something. It is possible it could be a blank piece of paper waiting for you, or someone, to wrote something on it but I don’t like that metaphor.

I do not see empty as blank or blankness. I believe empty is a map … a map we just cannot puzzle out yet. It is something you do want to carry around with you all your Life and it is something you want to deal well with.




“I don’t want to be just a nothing, a sick blank, withdrawal into myself forever. I just want something, beside the emptiness I’ve carried around in me all my life.”


Allen Ginsberg



For if you accept empty as what I just suggested it can lead you to unknown places and meet as yet unknown faces and … well … its darkness is not empty of ran-my-fingers-on-edge-of-empty-within-selflight … it is a darkness awaiting light.


And maybe that is my point about empty.


Instead of trying to fill ‘empty’ with shit, with people, with doing … why don’t you stop for a second and trying filling it with … well … light.


Maybe if you do that you will see the map I believe that is there a little better and instead of filling the empty you travel someplace where your empty doesn’t feel as empty.




My heart yearns to fill its hollows with unknown places and unknown faces. It desires to be tainted by the warm rays of welcoming faces. It longs to feel nostalgic of the unknown places that reside within its darkness out of wanderlust.


Sandeep Sidhu




hatred of boredom

June 26th, 2016

 hatred of boredom f scott quote



“I’m a slave to my hatred of boredom.”




F. Scott Fitzgerald










Far too often I think we confuse a lack of attention, attention spans, or attention in general, with a hatred of boredom.


I imagine I could say that this is simply about discussing two sides of the same coin.


look bored blink

One side is boredom.


One side is attention span.



Regardless of my imaginary coin … attention spans, in general, are certainly one of the main “topic du jours” a shitload of people, and ‘experts’, pontificate on espousing on “a generation borne of short attention spans” <the infamous … “we have attention spans of a goldfish” — note: we do not>.


I have always said we do not have significantly shorter attention spans today than we have had in the past and that technology isn’t make us a society with an attention deficit.


And I have a post coming up soon discussing the important, and responsibility, of getting someone’s attention.


But why doesn’t anyone ever discuss WHY our attention wavers?




Many people, I included, have discussed relevance matters in gaining attention and maintaining attention  and many people, I included, have discussed how interest and attention are inextricably linked … but why don’t we just simply talk about boredom?


Because if I am bored I will not pay attention.boredom structure boredom





If a goldfish is bored they will not pay attention.




If you are bored enough <as the chart “structure of boredom” suggests you attain “demonic boredom” – this is the type of boredom which can make you say stupid things out loud>





Here is the flipside of the coin.


If you can keep me from being bored? You have my attention.


Personally … I hate being bored.


Some people confuse this with a lack of ability to pay attention. They are wrong.


People have my undivided attention and focus … if I am not bored with what is being said or shown.


I don’t think I am particularly unique n this.


I do know because of my hatred of boredom that I have quasi-mastered the art of ‘surface attention.’


Surface attention?


What this is … is … well … let’s say you are in a meeting. And some bonehead is engenders boredom speaking too muchdemanding you sit through a 75 page PowerPoint presentation.

I can guarantee you that I am gonna feel some hate <some boredom> within those 75 pages <and the 75+ words that must be said accompanying every page>.

But that hate will not keep me from perking up on … well … say … page 51 where … well … you aren’t boring me.


And I have to admit. It is good that I have mastered this particular skill because F. Scott and I have something in common … I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.


Because outside of a meeting or some environment constricting my ability to flee my boredom … not only do I not pay attention but I move on. I actually will get away, if not actually flee, from boredom.

I hate being bored so much I have been chastised for being rude <and sometimes it can also mistakenly be construed as some version of ‘self superiority’>.


I am neither rude nor do I believe I am smarter, or superior or better in any way … I am simply a slave to my hatred of boredom. In fact … as a parallel point … I will actively search out ‘non-boring.’ So … its not like I don’t want to hear what people have to say and i actually highly value other’s opinions, especially of they are contrarian views., but just as i am active n my pursuit for non-boredom i am also quite active in avoiding, and fleeing, actual boredom.


Maybe I don’t handle it as well as many other people but, once again, I just don’t think I am that unique.  Given the opportunity I believe most of us schmucks would haul ass when bored by someone or something.


In most cases it isn’t rooted in any thought that someone is ‘dumb’ or ‘an asshole/asshat’ … we are just fucking bored.


I imagine my real point <and this would be great advice to professional marketers> is … well … if you want my attention don’t bore me.




This doesn’t mean ‘entertain me’ or ‘make me laugh’ or … well … any simplistic tripe many experts spout. Don’t overthink it. There is no formula. And there is no ‘one thing’ to do.


Just don’t bore me.


I don’t care how you do it.

engage me bore interest listen

You can engage me intellectually.


You can engage me by … well … being engaging.


You can engage me by making me smile.


You can engage me by tapping into my inner altruism.


You can engage me by tapping into my sense of responsibility.


The list of how to engage someone is relatively infinite.


But one thing circumvents the infinite list of possibilities … boredom.


I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.


And while I may hate boredom a little more than the average everyday schmuck … in general … I tend to believe most everyone hates being bored.


Well.boredom dog bored attention



There is some professional advice.


Don’t be boring and don’t bore people you have an interest in communicating with.

functional nutjobs

June 14th, 2016


evil good hands



“Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance … the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.”




Charles de Secondat





Hate crime.


Religious intolerance


Extreme intolerance, in general, of other views.




Let’s just say some level of extreme self loathing.


thou art a wack job nutjobI don’t really care about the label we may, or may not; put on the killing spree some nutjob went on in Orlando.


But here is what I thought about as I listened what was being said about the killer … functional nutjob.



He was an abusive husband, he showed some questionable enough behavior to be questioned by the FBI, he expressed extreme intolerance for gays … and he has had a steady full time job with a security firm.


A steady job.


And a steady job where he carried a gun.


And a steady job in which you assume day in and day out he went to work, did his job, got along for the most part with his fellow workers and left at the end of the day most likely after shooting the shit with some fellow workers.


And a steady job in which I will assume if we scanned his annual reviews he was … well … steady. Not the best employee, not the worst employee but most likely the type of employee most organizations have … the ones who show up, do their work, have some friends in the office, doesn’t really make any waves and get the steady evaluation grades which the standard employee receives.


But he was a functional nutjob.




I am not suggesting that all my points on a steady employee equals “functional nutjob” because most of those steady employees are good hard working people carrying around the normal everyday foibles all of us every day schmucks have.




Within that steady employee group there are spouse abusers, some who harbor extreme intolerant views, some deviant behavior and … well … pick your poison.

There will be some who you are pretty happy you don’t know all the details in their personal life.

There will be some who give you a glimpse of some extreme intolerance for something or an extreme non mainstream point of view.


But day in and day out they function, in general rub elbows with coworkers in a reasonable way and the rest of the people know they can count on them to show up and get shit done.see what we look for


What I am trying to say is that while these functional nutjobs do not represent the majority of the work force … there is most likely a meaningful minority scattered among the daily work force.


If I had to offer a number … lets maybe say 14% … that’s kinda close to the % of people who voted for Trump <I am not suggesting his voters are all functional nutjobs>. Regardless of the % populating our world … 99% of them remain functional nutjobs.


I can honestly say I have only worked with one co-worker who I truly believed was capable of going out to his car and coming back in with a gun when he got fired <he was mostly functional but clearly a nutjob>.


But he was the only one I noticed. I assume that while I worked with some functional alcoholics, some functional drug addicts … I most likely also worked with some functional nutjobs.


For the most part nutjobs keep their true nuttiness to themselves <they most likely recognize it isn’t really a mainstream perspective>. But whether they share it or not … it travels with them wherever they go.

And I would assume nuttiness is just like any strong real mental belief system … some days when it gets challenged you kinda get grumpy. We, the rest of us, don’t get worried <hell … we may not even notice> until the nutjob gets angry.


And that is where motivation for the anger matters.





Perception of being marginalized.




Self loathing.



Pick the motivation.

self regulation motivation

The nuttiness of the nutjob means that the mind is already fertile ground for some mentally disturbing thoughts & voices.


It, ultimately, becomes a problem regardless of motivation.


It’s a problem [when] a young man who walked into a church in South Carolina and murdered nine people who offered to pray with him. It’s a problem when an angry young man on a college campus decides to shoot people because he feels like he’s disrespected. It’s certainly a problem when you have organizations like Isil or al-Qaida trying to actively promote violence.”


President Obama



I imagine it reaches a point where this voice cannot be reasoned with. The voice is immune to listening and immune to any rational dialogue. Evidence seemingly is only found I what is already believed, and perceived, therefore the unthinkable action becomes a viable option.


Some may call it being pushed over the edge.


I don’t.


I just think it is a functional nutjob who has found the motivation to make some statement about what they believe.


Regardless. It was a horrible act. Done by a horrible nutjob.



Politics drives me nuts.


Political rhetoric drives me nuts.



Was he Muslim? Yes.


Did he have a military type assault weapon? Yes.


Was this terrorism? I don’t know under the real definition … but it clearly terrorized.


Did he commit a hate crime? On this one … Clearly yes.


Was he mentally ill? I don’t know … but listening to his ex-wife he surely had some mental issues.


Was he an immigrant? No. he was an American citizen.


Was he a nutjob? Absolutely.


In a country in which there are over 320 million people I think it is fairly triumph over fear evilrational to suggest there are functional nutjobs scattered throughout the country.


The entire idea that we can eliminate all nuthobs is … well … silly. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be strident in our pursuit of safety for all in society. But it cannot, and should not, come at the expense of the liberties & freedoms which make USA who and what it is.


I imagine I am saying … we cannot let nutjobs win. We cannot let nutjobs dictate what makes America great.


I imagine I am also suggesting … stop calling it radical Islam, stop calling it terrorism, stop putting any label on this other than “nutjob who shifted from be functional to dysfunctional.”


And that is the bottom line.


This loser, this once upon a time functional nutjob, went out and delivered an immoral act killing innocent people acting as a dysfunctional nutjob.


hard to be always the same person

May 12th, 2016


i am mine before anyone else


“It’s hard to be always the same person.”


Dorothea Tanning




the epigraph for ‘A Table of Content’ Dorothea Tanning’s first book of poems

A friend, W. S. Merwin, said of Tanning: “She goes out of the room, comes back, and she’s someone else.”







personality created mineConsistency of character.


Consistency in actions & behavior.


Consistency in thinking & opinions.


Consistency of … well … self.





These are things that are much much harder than one would think.


In fact … I believe that while change is hard … staying the same is even harder.


When I first wrote that last sentence I had to sit back and make sure I got it right.


I have written about change so much it seemed strange to me to suggest that staying the same may be even more difficult.


And, you know what? I think I am right.


Change is most often something with a specific destination in mind. Leaving something behind and gaining something, or going somewhere, ahead and something better.


It’s difficult but at least you are aiming for something which you assume is better.


Staying the same is actually a battle against the natural & unnatural elements.

It’s kind of like the shore refusing to change or erode despite the constant attacks from the ebb & flow of an ocean intent on stealing something from the shore. There is no destination … you are defending your home.


You are actually defending your ‘best you’ in a world in which is constantly whispering “is that your best?overcome the labels people self be





I knew what I wanted to write today on this topic but I googled “hard to be always the same person” just to see if I could dig up any research or some factoid to throw in so this wouldn’t just be an opinion piece.


There are no articles on this topic.


Zero. Nada. None.


And, yes, that surprised me.


There were gazillions of articles on “changing to improve” and “how to manage change” and … well … let’s just say that change is a pretty popular topic online.




As for staying the same … philosophy has addressed something similar to this topic in something they discuss as personal Identity.

The interesting thing to me that I dug out of that was something called “psychological continuity.”


Without boring you with details it basically suggests that we psychologically evolve experience by experience through overlapping chains of direct psychological connections, as those causal and cognitive connections between beliefs, desires, intentions, experiential memories, character traits, and so forth.


And while this suggests we evolve … what about remaining true to our self?


How do we do that with all these ‘overlapping chains of direct psychological connections’ constantly bombarding our true self?


Why is there no advice on how hard it is to maintain our identity?


Everyone, experts included, must believe that once you have landed on some person who you actually want to be & like … that it must be easy to maintain.




That is nuts.


Let me explain why it is nuts <and why it is so hard to always be the same person day in and day out>.


Practically speaking the difficulty actually resides with … well … us. You & me.


Every day we act, albeit mostly unconsciously, to recreate the day before and the person we were before.

With the same habits, routine, and daily rituals … always attempting to replicate the ‘same’ which makes up the same person we kind of liked the day before … day in the real world survive in minebut, uh oh, all those little pieces actually all adds up to something new … sometimes a small new and sometimes a big new.


No matter how hard we try our days are different.


Try this thought on for size.


This means in a world striving for repetition all we actually achieve is change.


<insert a “yikes’ here>


Reality is messy, complex and a fairly fragile web of repetition and change.

Therefore if reality is messy that means always being the same person is a big mess day in and day out.


If we are not careful a little of us gets chipped away simply by attempting to handle all the everyday messiness.




I am not suggesting that daily we don’t learn a little something new and that every day we slightly evolve, change, as a person. Most of us do. But as we change based on experience and the context of our lives change … well … that is where it gets hard to always be the same person.  All that experiential change starts easing its way inside you trying to pry away little bits of who you are.


Experience can be very demanding of us.




Our attempt to maintain some sameness as a person is not only about character but you probably realize that consistency is important for making progress, doing better work, being efficient and ultimately achieving some level of success in most areas of life.


The power of consistency is that repetition is actually more important than perfection. And that ‘sameness’ while often associated with ruts & boredom actually represent small gains which inevitably add up to bigger results.


The challenge, of course, is balance. You cannot be “all consistent” just as you once is enoughcannot be “all change.”


I could argue that the success of balance resides in whether you can always be the same person. Because, if you can, it provides a solid fulcrum as Life naturally see saws between consistent repetition and change.


I tend to believe this solid foundation permits you to go forth into Life everyday trying to always be the same person and meet each new challenge represented by each situation, moment or experience which seem intent on forcing change to ‘being the same person.’


I imagine I am partially talking about “being true to thineself.” I once discussed this challenge as the “just this once” justification. Because the world & Life is so messy it is fairly easy to make an excuse for not always staying the same person you want to be. But that just makes it easy to step onto that slippery slope which can slide you much farther, and faster, away from who you are than you can imagine.

Life make it far too easy to leave a room and come back a different person.


I also sometimes think this is why so many of us hate, or just get grumpy, with Life. It is easy to hate something that makes it easy for you to lose sight of the ‘same person’ you liked when you began.


But you know what?


Always being the same person is hard but doable. Ultimately it is about choices. Choices on what you will and will not do and choices of who you want to be as a person. And I actually believe once you find your space & place in Life as a person you actually come to love the world a little more.


For, well, as Tanner says …





He told us, with the years, you will come

To love the world.

And we sat there with our souls in our laps,

And comforted them.


Dorothea Tanning



We all change.

That is what experiences do. We simply become a little wiser with regard to the realities of Life. And in our wisdom we tend to watch & participate in experiences without changing.self discovery loss soul


We don’t permit those experiences to change the character and soul we each have inside us and permits us to sit there and comfort our souls … and be comforted, in turn, by them.


All that said.




“It’s hard to be always the same person.”



doubt is our passion

October 18th, 2015

hugh passion hunger losing


“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have.

Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task.”

Henry James





I admit … I like doubt <on occasion>.


idea not expect what people



Rather than have blinding confidence all the time I like a world viewed through a filter with some doubt.






Maybe we shouldn’t look at doubt as an insidious feeling inside of us … maybe we should simply accept doubt as one of our ongoing valuable partners in Life.



For it is often through the filter of doubt we gain some uncertainty, curiosity, mild skepticism, and some resilience to absorb problems and weave our way thru the Life puzzles of ambiguity.



Doubt makes new from what is … it shapes what could be … and creates expression and even encourages us to challenge smartly <not foolishly> and celebrate <with understanding that it is but a moment in time>.



As we manage to work our way thru the maze of inherent dangers in Life, let’s call this ‘the work in the dark’, to … well … simply stay afloat in the tidal wave of everyday shit <and everyday shit people> doubt can become an anchor … or it can be the life saver.



Doubt may be the muscle which forces us to see the truths that enable us to make our way through the maze.




“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.”

Pierre Abelard


Maybe doubt has an underserved bad reputation. Sure, when doubt leads to indecisiveness it is a definite hindrance … especially in a world in which confidence and decisiveness is valued to inordinate levels.


But, let’s face it; doubt can be a good thing.



Conceptually it is highly correlated with intelligence because doubt translates into awareness of alternative thought and exploration.



Doubt can also insure some quality of character <because the line between confidence and stubborn arrogance is razor thin>.



Doubt can also provide smart hesitation … avoid the wrong step and the wrong path because there is this niggling doubt which forces you to looking at things honestly to see if the next action was the best action.






I would like to point out that Doubt is not really the problem. It is actually how we respond to our doubt … in this case … paralysis.



And the root of paralysis really isn’t doubt but … uhm … the old “self” word.


What a tricky little bugger.





If only the brain had one specific muscle called ‘self’ <which had esteem, interest, attitudes, actualization, etc.> which we could exercise and strengthen and focus on.




kids brain

No such thing.



The entire brain is an intricate wired mesh of muscles & things & thoughts all working together to create our sense of self.


There isn’t just one thing we can isolate for self-doubt.



I read somewhere that self-doubt is the opposite of what is known as “self-efficacy.”



Self-efficacy is the belief that you can successfully use your skills and abilities to achieve a desired result.



And if that is true than maybe doubt isn’t a bad thing … it is a counterbalance to this self-efficacy thing. It balances us out.



What helps me out on that thought is the fact that people with perfectly good self-esteem have self-doubt … and people with perfectly bad self-esteem also have self-doubt ,although not always>.
The point? Almost all of us experience self doubt.



All that said.



Here is what I love about the opening quote — doubt as our passion.

The fact that doubt can drive us … be the engine to improvement, enlightenment, curiosity and being the best we can be.




This means that self-doubt serves a real functional purpose.



I have written a shitload about doubt … and what I do know as a Life Truth is that someone can’t simply banish self-doubt from the mind. Whether we want to or not … it will always remain there somewhere in your brain <and thinking>.


This also means I know, as a self-evident truth, that any article that tells you that you can … is lying.



It’s about balance.





Balance … even when bringing confidence into this discussion.



There are a shitload of articles about how more confidence means better performance.



Wrong <wrong, wrong, wrong .,,,,,.  >



Too much self-confidence can result in a lack of focus and drive <you have falsely assumed you will be good enough and do not work as hard as you could> and this inevitably creates increased opportunities for mistakes.
Doubt can not only increase how much effort you are willing to invest … in addition it keeps you aware of things you may be missing <instead of the sometimes blind confidence>.






Don’t doubt that Doubt has a role in being the best you can be.


idea think explode expand

I sometimes believe we all lose our grip on the distinction between the bad and the new … what I mean is that when things feel bad we automatically think we have done something wrong or that something is actually going wrong … when instead it just may be we are in the flux of change and something new.


New always creates discomfort and it would behoove us to discern the newness from the badness <which permits doubt to rear it ugly head>.







Lots of words today simply to say “I admit … I like doubt <on occasion>”.




=== Other things I have written about Doubt <and overconfidence>  ====



about doubt Parts 1, 2 & 3




solid confidence and overestimated ego

Enlightened Conflict