Enlightened Conflict

a wrong turn

February 6th, 2016

field of sun flowers===

 

“A wrong turn lead me to a field of flowers and suddenly I’m second guessing every wrong turn in my life.”

 

———

Source: a thousand words tumblr

 

===

 

 

Well.

 

 

I have never analyzed nor have I seen any research with regard to how much time we use to plan out the ‘right moves’ to make in our careers and lives. I planned what happenedimagine, if a study were done, between consciously planning and the ‘in the moment analysis’ planning … those two ‘life plannings’ would represent some inordinately absurd amount of our time.

 

 

When I saw this thought on athousandwords I began thinking about how often most of us attach ‘bad’ to wrong turns and how less often we attach ‘good’ to wrong turns.

 

 

Simplistically we attach wrong to bad.

 

 

Wrong turn = Bad choice/decision

 

 

Sure.

 

Sometimes that is true.

 

 

But I think I could argue that a wrong turn simply puts you in some place you hadn’t planned on <and you assume the plan was a good plan because … well … you had planned it>. Therefore the unplanned place is a bad place because it … well … was an unplanned place <some circular logic which seems kind of doomed to conclude bad even if it may actually be good>.

 

 

Setting aside the whole planning thing … turns are part of life.

leading one way

Life is not one huge straight boulevard you place your car on and start driving.

 

Life is more often like seemingly random patchwork of inner city streets with dead ends, one ways and no left hand turns which seemingly are only placed at only the intersections which you had planned to make a left hand turn.
Whether you plan the shit out of your life or not we all make a shitload of turns in Life.

 

Some are planned.

 

Some are unplanned.

 

Some you have the time to invest a lot of time thinking about.

 

Some you cannot invest a lot of time thinking about.

 

Some end up in a good place.

 

Some end up in a bad place.

 

 

I imagine my only point is that sometimes, maybe more often than you think, a wrong turn puts you in a different better more interesting place. A wrong turn exposes you to something you maybe never imagined you would ever see, ever face or ever think about. And that is the ultimate value of a wrong turn.

 

 

It exposes you to something beyond the plan you ever envisioned.

 

I don’t propose building a Life around a disproportionate amount of purposeful wrong turning. field dirt road sunset

 

That kind of seems a little chaotic and absolutely suggests a shitload of wasted time & energy.

 

 

However.

 

Maybe we think about Life more as a shitload of turns … just a blanket ‘shitload’ … instead of categorizing them simply as right turns & wrong turns.

Turns are turns and more often than not they don’t lead you some place you can never leave they simply lead you to some place.

what hath america wrought

October 22nd, 2015

ideas urinal

Aici lo tems s’en , va res l’Eternitat.”

<here, in this place, time moves away toward eternity>

====

“This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper. “

T.S Eliot

<“The Hollow Men”>

=====

“Has it been in your experience that one’s affairs are always in order and that all life’s conundrums will eventually be made clear?”

David Stone

====

 

 

 

Well.

 

what hath god wrought

 

It is always interesting to read a historical book <What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe> and look at what is happening in today’s world.

 

 

Historical note on the title of the book.

 

 

The first telegraph message, sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, over an experimental line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, was “What hath God wrought?”

 

 

At over 900 pages and pretty academic in its detail and narrative … this book is not for the faint of heart <but very interesting if you can wade through it>. The book is heavy on political history and the role politics & government played, and didn’t play, in the transformation of American society.

 

 

Simplistically you see that government has always been functionally dysfunctional constantly lurching through the decisions a country needs to make as it struggles with private versus public, growth and the well-being of its citizens <all within a Constitutional construct>.

 

 

In addition … in looking at that one particularly period of history we see everything was magnified, or amplified, by developments in communications <mails, newspaper, books, and telegraph> and mobility/transportation <trains, steamboats, canals, and roads>.

 

 

Uhm.

 

Isn’t that what technology & the internet is doing today?

 

 

 

And that magnification created the same issues we seem to discuss today:

traffic hurry disconnectd going

 

–      In 1846 Philip Hone wondered if the rapid pace of change threatened cherished values …

“everything goes fast nowadays, even the winds have begun to improve upon the speed with they have hitherto maintained; everything goes ahead but good manners and sound principles.”

 

 

 

They discussed the delicate balance of empowerment and responsibility within the citizenship … the power of government to enable individualism all the while encouraging the citizenship to use their liberty & freedoms to seek improvement.

 

 

 

–      John Quincy Adams stated …

“Liberty is power and the citizens have a responsibility to use their freedom.
The spirit of improvement is abroad upon the earth. Let not foreign nations with less liberty exceed us in ‘pubic improvement’ … to do so would ‘cast away the bounties of providence’ and doom what should become the world’s most powerful nation ‘to perpetual inferiority.’

 
Even in religious environments ‘responsible capitalism’ was discussed:

 

 

 

–      As the author points out … even in 1826 preachers were teaching …

“work hard, be thrifty, save your money, don’t go into debt, be honest in business dealings, don’t screw down the wages of those who work for you to the lowest possible level, if you manage a surplus be faithful stewards of your bounty and generous to causes.“

 

 

 

 

All the foundation things of capitalism done the right way and economic growth without sacrificing values to a better society.

 

 

 

The book does a nice job reminding everyone of the challenges any government faces.

 

 

–      Tocqueville expresses concern with the future of a democratic government.sheep

“… it rarely forces one to act but it constantly opposes itself to one’s action; it does not destroy it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize , it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces the nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

 

 

 

Mostly, as I read about a country’s transformation, I was reminded that change is never easy and in the midst of progress you do right things and wrong things and there are consequences for all <and you inevitably have an opportunity to ‘wrong the rights & right the wrongs’>.

 

 

It reminded me that we all adapt.

 

 

Countries also. Just look at capitalism.

 

 

America developed a prosperous example for capitalism and ultimately exported the example. Other countries then adapted the idea creating a customized capitalism to accommodate their needs, wants and desires <which, by the way, may not match America’s>.

 

 

Yes.

 

 

America exported capitalism …. not values or rights <or democracy>.

 

Economics is what inevitably changed behavior because as country leaders desired people to be more productive <so they could be more competitive globally> they inevitably had to give them more rights, liberties and avenues to do so.

 

 

This means that the expansion of rights was driven by economics … and only curbed by that particular country’s government ideology <or the country’s overall culture>.

 

 

I mention that because we Americans tend to look outwards with a sense of righteousness … and the outside world states unequivocally … I do not want to be exactly like you.

being yourself cahnging

 

 

I struggle to understand why we in America don’t get this.

 

Our book stores and amazon are strewn with self-help books shouting “being yourself … don’t be someone else!”“learn from the best but be nobody but yourself.’

 

 

In other words … learn the shared learning and implement as an individual.

 

 

Well.

 

 

Are countries really any different? Why wouldn’t we expect another country to want to maintain its own character and way of doing things?

 

 

In addition.

 

 

The book reminded me how grumpy I get with people who continuously claim <loudly> that America is declining <i.e., going into the shithole>.

 

 

I never really thought of us as a country of whiners, pessimists and blamers <finger pointers>.

 

 

Context and perspective … the book once again reminded me of this from a historical perspective.

 

 

The book reminded me that in the 19th century there was a relatively balanced global power <hmmmmmmmmmmm … kind of like where we may be heading today?>. Oh, and yes, there was a ‘global economy’ at that time.

 

 

And the 21st century began with an extraordinary imbalance in world power.

 

 

The United States was the only country able to project military force globally, it represented more than a quarter of the world economy and had the world’s leading “soft-power resources” in its universities and entertainment industry.

 

 

America didn’t purposefully build the imbalance … the imbalance was opportunistic and reflective of contextual situations.

 

 

What that means is that no one truly knows much about social engineering and how to “build nations.”

 

The transformation of America in the 1800’s certainly reminded me of that.

 

At times it appears like America reached its strength position despite itself.

 

 

Therefore … if we cannot be sure how to ‘build a nation’ or have some formula to improve the world hubris is dangerous. It certainly seems like what is required is a careful understanding of the context of change.

 

 

Look.

 

 

Here is what I know <and believe>.

 

 

Anyone, and any country, will be successful if it finds its pride cloaked in humility <not hubris>.

 

 

I cannot remember where I found this quote but it seems to highlight what Americans should avoid at all costs <domestically as well as internationally>:

 

 

“Sweep in as if emissaries of light bringing salvation to the natives living in a dark forest. You think you are heroes because people ask for your help and advice. You think that worth works for you will automatically work for everyone else. Your teeth are whiter and your clothes are better and suddenly that permits you to be the ultimate arbiters of public morality.

You assume America, and capitalism, is the ultimate model and you end up judging everything simply by how close it comes to your own ideal. You begin to think you have carte blanche to remake whatever you want to remake in your own image.”

—-

Speaking of humility.

 

 

We, everyone in a country leadership role, lurch back and forth between what is right and what is wrong all the while every step taken on a path with a sign that says “what is best for the country & people this way.’

 

And each step nowadays seems to be burdened by this word ‘compromise.’

 

 

Compromise implies ‘giving up something that is right or the best.’

 

 

It seems like it would be better to recognize that there is no one right way and no one right answer in heading down this path … all head down the path … it is just an argument over what shoes I want to wear that particular day.

 

 

maybe we have no ideaAnd that is … well … it all seems just fucking insane.

 

 

It seems like maybe those spewing forth the idea that the other’s ideas are stupid and the path to greatness is ‘this way’ …and it is the only way … could drink from the cup of humility and accept that our past has certainly taught us that there is no one way nor right way.

 

 

Our past is strewn with greatness intermingled with some dark aspects.

 

 

Greatness doesn’t reside in our actions or accomplishments … it resides in one’s belief in hope & the future. Greatness resides in the ability to keep an eye on the horizon and the ability to put one foot in front of the other, sometimes not knowing where your foot will exactly land, on this path of ‘better.’

 

 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson … “America is a country of the future. It is a country of beginnings, of projects, of vast designs and expectations.”

 

 

 

 

Daniel Walker Howe writes on page 853 … “Americans live by hope for the future but their conflicting hopes for their country and their own lives provoke dissension.
Americans are constantly proposing new ideas and then wrangling over them.”

 

 

America is, and always has been, a country of the future.

 

 

America will, and always has, wrangled over ideas and hopes.

 

 

We always have and always will.

 

 

The moment we accept that, and embrace that, we accept dissension and accept that sometimes we will get it right … and sometimes we will get it wrong … because … well … while maybe being a great nation we are inevitably a great big group of people trying to do the best they can without having any specific formula for what to do.

 

 

The news of the decline & demise of America is tiring. Or maybe better said “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” <Mark Twain>.but yes ideas matters debate hugh

 

 

Frankly.

 

 

That’s why I hack my way through 900 page history books … to gain and maintain some perspective.

 

Sure.

 

Sometimes I learn something.

 

But mostly it gives me some perspective on what is happening today.
One last random thought.

 

 

 

I am not a speechwriter nor am I politician <most likely not qualified for either> … but … it slightly puzzles me that we don’t hear more Ralph Waldo Emerson or Adams or … well … many of the great American philosophical thinkers of the mid 1800’s quoted or used to make a point.

 

 

They had the ability to capture the American spirit, the American desire to ‘do things’, the American power of individualism and the American belief that government supports to ‘better.’

 

 

But, hey, that’s me.

And if they did … well … then I couldn’t use all their great words and I wouldn’t have a blog.

scrap the plan for the day

July 30th, 2015

 

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morning plans who i am

“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life.

Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto.

But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”

Carl Gustav Jung

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“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy.

If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.

But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.

This makes it hard to plan the day.”

e.b. white

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“I’ve always liked the time before dawn because there’s no one around to remind me who I’m supposed to be so it’s easier to remember who I am.”

Brian Andreas

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Ok.

planned what happened

 

Plans.

 

 

Plans and planning are tricky things.

 

 

I tend to believe I could write a Life version of this and a Business version of this.

 

 

Today is Life.

 

 

I have written about ‘hard to plan a day’ before:

http://brucemctague.com/hard-to-plan-the-day

—-

 

 

This time I write more about scrapping plans and how difficult we make it to do so rather than discussing actually deciding what plan to have.

 

 

Let me begin with intentions.

 

We wake up.

 

 

busy making plans notebook
We decide to head off to change, or impact, the world in any way we choose to.

 

 

We may not ‘define’ our decision as impacting … it may simply be under the guise of ‘good shit to do today.’

 

 

This also means, unfortunately, we do have a tendency to think of daily plans as ‘doing tangible things’ rather than possibly judging our plan completion under some heading like ‘teaching someone how to do things with grace & dignity & compassion.”

 

 

Which, by the way, I gotta tell ya … sounds like a frickin’ good plan.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

Let me approach scrapping plans in a … well … curious way.

 

 

Curiosity is one of the three things I tell young people is the secret to success <the other two are resiliency and character>.

 

I tell young people this because most older people just don’t seem to have time, or make the time, to be actively curious.

 

Most older people … having inserted themselves into the daily grind and the ‘conserving institutions’ of which we call everyday Life … are less interested in curiosity and more interested in stability.

 

 

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unexpected change

“Society, community , family are all conserving institutions.

They try to maintain stability, and to prevent, or at least slow down change. But organizations are organized with the intent to destabilize.

Because its function is to put knowledge to work – on tools, processes and products; on work; on knowledge itself – it must be organized for constant change.”

Peter Drucker

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I say all of that because it means ‘improving the world’ often translates into swimming against the natural tide of ‘conserving institutions.’

 

 

This is not easy.

 

And therefore makes it even tougher to scrap the plans for the day.

 

But not scrapping pans for the day has a bigger repercussion to an individual.

 

 

I think the ripple effect for most of us is that we find ourselves waking up each day thinking ‘wow … I would love to improve the world somehow today’ <either consciously or subconsciously> and yet we end the day seemingly ot even having nudged Life in a positive <improving> direction..

 

 

Frankly … this struggle increases a feeling of negativity which can easily consume your life if you are not careful.

 

 

Between society encouraging things that don’t feel right for you, a ‘conserving’ environment, unhappy friends, media generating anxiety rating point by rating point by convincing us the world is going to end or intrusive trolls on social media … it can seem overwhelming negative as you view all of this versus what you felt when you first woke up in the morning.

 

 

Maybe that is why I love, and included, the Andreas quote … we wake up in the morning knowing ‘who I am’ without anyone trying to tell us otherwise. ‘

 

 

It is an odd, uncomfortable, struggle we face in scrapping plans.

change world and new

In our heart of hearts I believe most people want to help others and make things better in their lives <and others>… but it is difficult to make a priority.

 

Especially if we even have inkling that we have some desire to enjoy the world that day.

 

Enjoyment, these days, can be found less in curiosity and exploring curiosity and more in stability and ‘things went smoothly <as planned>.’

 

 

Just like E.B. White suggests … we are not only torn each day by enjoyment and improvement … but as Drucker points out … layered on top of our own dilemma the world around us is conspiring to suppress any improvements or changes we may decide to try and apply that day.

 

 

It is a constant battle of ‘us versus them’ on a variety of levels.

 

 

Us versus society.

 

And.

 

Uhm.

 

Us versus others.

 

 

“…But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

 

 

 

Huh?

 

 

What if the one day I choose to enjoy the world … and someone needs me <which forces me to scrap my enjoyment plan>?

 

 

What if I spend the day helping someone who can never really be helped and I miss out on some personal enjoyment?

 

 

Thinking about scrapping plans for the day makes you start thinking about is it better if one just stopped caring for others … I don’t mean entirely just becomes secondary … and how would this effect Life <your own as well as others>.

 

 

 

By the way … this ends up being more about ‘unintended consequences’ or ‘indirect influence’ on Life.

 

 

big plans ruler universe
This may begin sounding selfish … but it is not.

 

 

It relates to an important nuance … serving others to benefit someone else or serving myself t benefit others?

 
Does my plan for each day need to be a question of should I help myself … or help others?

 

 

I think I have an odd perspective on this.

 

 

And it may sound selfish but hear me out.

 

 

I tend to believe if you focus on waking up and improving the world by helping others you are focused on the wrong thing.

 

 

Huh?

 

I would suggest if you focus on improving yourself and being better every day, being the best you can be as PART of the world, you will inevitably improve the world and inevitably help others.

 

 

I know the difficulty in this approach is that you can lose out on the obvious ‘cause & effect’ feedback loop which helps feed our belief in ourselves and fights everyday negativity in that we have tangible proof we did something positive.

 

 

It takes some courage to approach it the way I suggest.

 

 

And it takes a lot of steadfast resilience in the face of a ‘prove you are doing something meaningful’ world.

 

 

Here is another thing in my favor with this thought.

 

 

All of us pretty much understand that no matter what plans you make, something unexpected is bound to happen … especially if one of your plans to enjoy the day and improve the world is a commitment to curiosity <which implies plans will be scrapped at some point any way>.

 

 

The unexpected portion implies plans are relatively useless … and maybe more importantly … scraping plans is almost standard.

 

And following that thought … it also implies it almost doesn’t matter what you actually do <as in measured tangible output and checks against ‘things done today’> as long as you have created some positive change, some improvement, around you.

 

————–

“It doesn’t matter what you do,” he said, “so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”

=

Ray Bradbury

————-

 

 

Look.

 

 

Life isn’t easy. Planning isn’t easy.

 

 

We all know this.

 

 

And my thought on approaching Life every day is tough because its approach accepts that things may not get better by tomorrow … maybe not even next week … but at some point <in the future>.

 

And while I don’t really embrace the whole ‘live in the now’ psychology I do suggest that really the only plan you shouldn’t scrap each day is improving yourself and doing the best you can.

 

 

It is like improving the pebble being dropped into each day’s Life.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Despite all the bullshit in this world the one thing you can control is your own self-improvement. The one thing you can actually DO every day is remain curious and pursue curiosity.

 

 

You have to keep that in mind because while your plans are your plans …you need to beware … someone will always have tools to destroy them.

 

 

 

————

“Even if you have built your walls higher than the sky, someone will have the tools to destroy them. “

=

scraps of dreams pick up

via nothing-to-regreet

————

 

 

Lastly.

 

 

The plans you like, feel comfortable with, and inevitably start putting in place more often. Let’s call this your personal ‘conserving institution’ for the sake of continuity in this post.

 

 

The point here is what you feel comfortable knowing & doing. As you get older you will find a desire to do what you like doing and think what you feel comfortable thinking … more & more often.

 

As a result, you don’t see what I see <or someone else sees>.

 

 

You see what you like. So you end up seeing information that supports your point of view and your plans become less based on pursing curiosity but instead on stability & predictability <based on what you already know>.

 

You get stuck … stuck knowing what you already know.

 

 

 

Curiosity is a deliberate decision and action <I always get a little vocal when someone says ‘I am naturally curious’ because I tend to believe it is more a decision and not some innate characteristic>.

 

 

To improve yourself <and hopefully improve the world around you> you have break the existing routine of doing what you do and thinking what you think.

 

 

You have to force yourself to not only get a different perspective … but actually try and understand that perspective.

 

 

Even if you love your job you need to force yourself to learn new skills that increase your value to others <in business & work>.

 

 

You have to force yourself to look for something you would typically never read.

 

 

Inevitably you just have to learn to scrap the plan for the day if it means becoming better … and I mean proactively scrap the plan rather than have the scraps of dreams possibilitiesplan scrapped for you.

 

 

So go ahead … scrap the plan for the day.

 

I believe either you do it or Life will do it.

 

 

And maybe that is the biggest point.

 

 

Control your destiny or have Life dictate it.

 

 

That is your choice when it comes to plans and your day<s>.

Enlightened Conflict