Enlightened Conflict

backward glancing daydream

August 12th, 2016

life choices imperfect time moves away




“I was surprised, I was happy for a day in 1975 / I was puzzled by a dream, stayed with me all day in 1995.”


opening couplet to The State I Am In <Belle & Sebastian>



“ … the softly creaking door into their sweet, strange, drolly funny and not a little sinister world, where it’s always a backwards-glancing daydream.”




writer in the Guardian about Belle & Sebastian






let it go & move on



<with my fingers tightly curled around a subject, nails buried deep in it>


I Have






finding themselves as they go backwards forwardI tend to believe we all look back on occasion.




We look back incessantly.


Especially on the good stuff.




Especially on the bad stuff.




Suffice it to say … good or bad … we backward glance incessantly.




And we are creative in our backwards looking. It can be after decades, after years, after months, and … yeah … even after minutes.


“I always say the perfect words, five minutes after the conversation has ended.”


The world we look back at is a sinister little world.


Sinister in that the view looking backwards more often than not is rebuilt in our heads to reflect some utopian feeling moment.


Sinister in that we view some moment as if we were in control everything or, maybe conversely, the universe had controlled everything to occur at that moment in time <some would call this destiny or fate>.


Simplistically … this means backward glancing has a very uncomfortable relationship with “perfection.”






Because we ‘still’ time <make it stop in our viewing> this creates a wacky perception that everything was actually still in that moment. And that stillness implies control and alignment.


This is flawed thinking.


Flawed because this utopian backwards moment is great conceptually but does not even come close to reflecting the reality.reality persistent one






Several reasons but let me focus on our imperfection.


What we view backwards looking as perfect is more likely a reflection of our imperfection in the moment <or imperfections in general>.


Let’s maybe call those imperfections “a confluence of uncontrollable factors.”


And what makes that idea even worse for us is … well … we hold on to the beautifully imperfect moments with fingernails dug in.


To be clear … this can go both toward incredibly good memories and incredibly bad memories. Both reflections of imperfect reality which in the rear view mirror look perfectly aligned with us … or against us.  what I mean by this is that backwards looking is a completely  warped view in our heads.


  • The moment is made up of imperfections yet we see it perfectly.


  • The moment is most likely a confluence of uncontrollable factors yet we view all the factors as controllable <or we should have controlled>


That said.


This means backwards glancing is more often than not grounded in what I often call “if only thinking.”


I coulda, shoulda, woulda things.


Backwards glancing far far <far> too often glances off of several thoughts which can steer our current view in the wrong direction:


  • Not being good at something <or in a moment>


  • Not being good enough <in the moment>


  • Fucking something up <or a moment>


  • Leaving when it got too hard <or leaving in a moment>




As for “if only” … we can certainly change ourselves and our circumstances to some extent. I have written about this numerous times. However backwards glancing generates flawed perceptions of change.  It implies “well, if I had done this” or “if I had only been paying attention to” … you would have done the ‘right’ thing <whatever right truly is> and all would have been good.


Flawed thinking.


All that would have guaranteed is a different ourcome and  different experience. Neither of which is guaranteed to be the ‘prefect’ scenario you envision.




I believe that the past can be a great place to learn from. The past offers us the opportunity to see glimpses of who we truly are in a variety of different situations. It does provide some opportunities to gain some valuable self backwards glance where i am going stay here life pathwisdom.


But at the exact same time it takes some fortitude to not let the past dictate your future or even to let the past get in the way of living in the present.


Simplistically … backward glancing can freeze you.

Freeze you stuck in the wretched middle of the past, present and future.




“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been.

 But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.


So she was turned to a pillar of salt.

So it goes.


People aren’t supposed to look back.

I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.”



Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five




In the end.


Here is what I believe most of us learn by looking backwards.


Looking backwards it can seem quite easy to think everything would have explained itself if you had only stopped interrupting.

Looking backwards it can be difficult to discern what you should miss and what you shouldn’t miss as well as what you actually missed and what you didn’t miss.



“Do you ever catch yourself missing the things that you shouldn’t?

The people you shouldn’t?

Do you find yourself wanting them back but you know that you shouldn’t?

You suddenly remember the million reasons that you shouldn’t want them back in your life but all you can focus on is the one reason you should take them back.”


i think that’s a hard lesson to learn. that it’s okay to miss something but not get it back


/// the-homie-sexual



Unfortunately Life is not so easily explained.


I can pretty much promise you one thing … you missed some things you shouldn’t have, you miss some things you shouldn’t and you didn’t miss some things you should have and you don’t miss some things which you should miss.

universe backwards imagination watch

Back in 2013 I wrote about how most people either get trapped in past or trapped in the future as they live Life. I called it ‘forward without looking over your shoulder. Life is tricky. Always has been and always will. And both the past has its attractiveness <learning> as well as the future <possibilities>. And there is only balance and not perfection.


And maybe that is the thought of the day.


In the end if all we try is to make this life perfect we will fail and make ourselves miserable in the process.

And backwards glancing is a key components to making ourselves miserable.



Live a Life no one understands

October 8th, 2015

do not understand


“It’s OK to live a life that others don’t understand.”


<on pinterest, weheartit & instagram>









I am a big ‘find who you are and be it” person.


Therefore … what I am about to say may seem hypocritical … but I, personally, do not think so.



I don’t think its okay to live a Life that others don’t understand.






I said that.



If you live a life that others don’t understand than it is not relatable to anyone.




And I mean anyone. That goes far beyond ‘being unique’ or ‘standing up for what I believe in’ … it shifts into the ‘you are out of touch with reality’ sign reality check jpegzone.




I am certainly not suggesting you have to be what everyone wants or accepts.


But I am suggesting that you have to at least be relatable in some form or fashion.


That is … well … having a touchstone with reality.



If you don’t have that then … well … you are simply living a fantasy.




To be clear.



That ain’t good.



Do I believe most people get this … understand this?     Sure.



But when I see quotes like I opened with used in blogs and instagram and pinterest and tumblr … and notice how many thumbs ups & likes it has … well … I start wondering if we aren’t making sure young people have a clear perspective on what is truly meant by ‘being yourself is a good thing.’




I tend to believe we mishandle this discussion with young people more often than not.



be find yourself and beWe older folk either sit on one end of the see saw or the other and ground our ‘be yourself’ discussions on either ‘accept your quirks & flaws as your version of perfection’ or, conversely,  ‘here is how to be successful by doing a, b & c.’




We don’t do with this bad intent … I think we do it because this discussion is difficult. It is strewn with nuance and intangibles and vagaries.



Mostly I think we screw I up because we want our young people to ultimately be happy and not disappointed with their lives.



That said … I do think at the root of our discussion … well … we do need to take on ‘disappointment.’





Because there is a huge difference between being yourself and not having people understand who and what you are … and being yourself and disappointing people.


On the latter … people can relate … can understand … just be disappointed.
And, therefore, in THEIR disappointment you can judge whether … well … you care or not.



On the former … you have no evaluation of self. You are so far out of the realm of reality people cannot even be disappointed … nor appreciative … they are just … well … offering you nothing.



And, by the way, if you are receiving nothing externally then you have nothing from which to build upon internally < … approval and acceptance is not the only nutrition necessary for a healthy esteem and worth. It is simply one part of the diet: POST professional aspirationalist>







This quote made me cringe.



I would much rather we simply told our younger folk something like this:seek_truth





“Despite what you may believe, you can disappoint people and still be good enough.

You can make mistakes and still be capable and talented.

You can let people down and still be worthwhile and deserving of love.

Everyone has disappointed someone they care about.

Everyone messes up, lets people down, and makes mistakes.

Not because we’re inadequate or fundamentally inept, but because we’re imperfect and fundamentally human. Expecting anything different is setting yourself up for failure. “

Daniell Koepke




Within that quote it certainly permits a young person to embrace being unique … certainly suggests that being relatable in some way is healthy … and that participating in Life <being involved in some interaction and receiving response> is necessary as part of human nature.



I don’t want to make a big deal about this because for the most part I think we do a fairly good job of nudging our young people in the right direction.





I am a firm believer in ‘teachable moments’ … taking opportunities as they arise to drive a deeper important message so that there is some cognitive connection <which is what really matters>.



I know I immediately turned around when I saw this quote and sent it to a larger group of teachers and mentors of the young and said I would write about it and that using the quote could be an effective way to say ‘I saw this and I was thinking about it.’






Because I think a young person looks at the quote, likes the quote <on its surface> … but doesn’t really think about it on a deeper level. And any opportunity I can use something that a young person actually LIKES to make a point or create a discussion … well … I believe it is one of the most effective ways to create a connection to actually generate true listening.


wah wah wah teacher

And that is maybe one of the most important things we can think about when talking with young people … are we simply the teacher in Peanuts <wah … wah … wah > … or have we connected enough that there is true listening.




What I do know for sure is telling some young person that living a Life that no one understands is pretty bad advice.

professional aspirationalist

February 10th, 2014


“I am not afraid of my truth anymore and I will not omit pieces of being yourself cahngingme to make you comfortable.”

Alex Elle





Being yourself is a tricky topic.



I know <I know>.



Seems like it should be simple.


Like breathing type simple.



But it’s not.


It’s not because there is an internal part <’who am I’ type shit> and external <figuring out how ‘who am I’ should actually act in public>.


For example … one of my favorite young writers, Jamie, describes herself this way:



I’m a writer, pretty much by process of elimination. I am also a professional aspirationalist. That’s not a word, but I’ve made it into one, since there was nothing that could quite describe me because I didn’t want to say I’m a “professional dreamer” because that sounds like some hippie shit. I have aspirations, like, lots of them. If you’d like me to create a TV show, get in touch with me. How about publishing my memoir? Get in touch. If you are from The Ellen Show, I will, of course, accept your interview and would be delighted to dance it out with my girl, so long as she doesn’t prank me by making me eat cilantro. In fact, I want no cilantro in anything.





Professional aspirationalist.




That is just awesome.


If I could ever vote for a new word that would be it.


It’s fucking awesome.


Being yourself … and even recognizing who ‘yourself’ is … is hard. And when I say hard … think even harder than maybe becoming a Navy Seal type hard.


Because the truth is that ‘my truth’ is pretty much an evolving tangled web of characteristics which as it evolves simply becomes more tangled <rather than untangled>. Yourself is constantly adapting to new learning … new learning about things … and new learning about oneself.


That’s why I love professional aspirationalist.


True north on Jamie’s compass is defined. And its not a destination … but rather it is a direction.


Aspirationalist is a moving target.



It’s not being on Ellen <although she would be delighted to do so> because once that happens … there will always be something else.



Being an aspirationalist means not only having dreams … but dreaming … oh … dreamers who doand doing.




Doing lots of different shit.



Uh oh.


That also means … well … more and different dreams <and aspirations>. And doing more and different shit. Dreaming and doing. Lots of different dreaming and doing.



In the end … being a professional aspirationalist means being a restless soul.


Restlessly seeking, traveling, doing, thinking … professionally constantly in motion <mentally or physically>. Becoming ‘better’ as a person is experiential rather than tangible <although tangible ‘doing stuff’ is certainly a component>.


I love it because it isn’t for the faint of heart.


And isn’t what truly being yourself is all about? Having some courage to even suggest ‘I will not omit things just to make you comfortable.’


Professional aspirationalist reminded me of this other quote:




“I am a world that cannot be explored in one day. I am not a place for cowards.”

Caitlyn Siehl

<from a love letter to my stretch marks>





Being a professional aspirationalist means you are not a place for cowards.




I wish I had come up with this word. But I am not as talented a writer as Jamie.


I like it for its sense of Life’s paradox. Paradox in that it is independent and dependent at the same time.



Because at its core it doesn’t mean shunning the world and simply being a dreamer … it has rich & royal hues of reality threading its way through its fabric.


I would like to believe I am also a professional aspirationalist.






To be clear <because Jamie is correct … the word selection was thoughtful to avoid the ‘hippie shit’>.


Pragmatically … we aspirationalists do seek <some> approval and acceptance.



Accept what I just wrote.


Don’t fight it <even if you are one of those who say ‘I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks”>. Because you do care.


Whether you like it or not … whether you think it is right or wrong … whether you think it is a good thing or bad in that it makes you ‘weak’ in some way …. just get it set in your head – in some form or fashion we care.

We all care <not just aspirationalists>.



We all care what the people around us think about us. And by ‘people’ I mean everyone from those closest to you <who would most likely accept you in any shape and form you ended up in … but you don’t want to disappoint them> to society overall <there is some value in gaining credit for who you are and what you do>.


Some acceptance from others feeds our self-esteem & self-worth <and all that Maslow stuff>.




Please note I used the word “feeds.”


Approval and acceptance is not the only nutrition necessary for a healthy esteem and worth.


It is simply one part of the diet.


Even we aspirationalists need a balanced ‘self diet’.


We do not seek sole value from proving ourselves to others.


And we don’t accept sole value in and of ourselves.


Being an aspirationalist is … well … the paradox. Independent dreamer with some dependence on external cues as to the value of our aspirations.


We want to fit into the world on our own terms.





What a description:


                       Professional aspirationalist:      I am not afraid of my truth believe in yourselfanymore and I will not omit pieces of me to make you comfortable. I am a world that cannot be explored in one day. I am not a place for cowards.




We need more of these people in our world.

forward without looking over your shoulder

October 17th, 2013


“I’m a firm believer in the power of change. 

now is our timeBut there is one thing I’ve learned, and that’s the hardest part of moving forward is not looking back.”






Progress is difficult.


Changing is even more difficult.


And I am not sure if it is more difficult if you discuss this as ‘one’ <an individual> or as a ‘whole’ <groups, countries, society>.




Maybe difficulty is simply difficulty.


Maybe there are no ‘degrees of difficulty’ when it comes to change.


Maybe there is no ‘little or big’ change.


Maybe it is simply … well … change … no size … no degrees … and it is all difficult.


One size – difficult.


In fact … maybe we diminish the whole concept of difficulty by trying to find levels within it.


And maybe a philosophical young student tv character <Felicity> simplified change and progress and difficulty into the simplest form … not looking back.


That change difficulty is all about not looking back. And therein lies the hardest part … the difficult as it were.


That said.


Individuals or societies … ones or manys … we always seem to want to go back or look back <in some form or fashion>.


It’s funny … we do this even if we know it isn’t the right thing or the best thing.




We sometimes <often> delude ourselves into believing we are proceeding in the most rational way by weighing all of the pros and cons of various alternatives … alternatives usually based on looking back <with an eye on a future thought>.




Quite often it really isn’t rational thinking … because in the end most often the decision ends up no more than “I liked that more than I liked the other alternative.”




And that is scary.



Because our attitude and perception with regard to the past is wacky.


time is money focus

Wacky not only because … all things created equal … we not only view the past differently than it really was <we tend to gloss over things> but also how we think and feel today <please note this is the first time I have mentioned anything to do with the present> influences how we remember yesterday. And that matters because tomorrow’s anticipated gains and losses inspire today’s decisions and actions.


–          Example one:



After being shown an ad talking about the wonders of Disneyland, including shaking hands with Bugs Bunny, people were asked about their own memories of visiting Disneyland. 16 percent vividly remembered shaking hands with Bugs Bunny, even though there’s no Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. (He’s a Warner Brothers character.)



–          Example two <using some research>:


This is about what is called Time perspective.


It’s not the actual real events of the past that most strongly influence our lives. It is actually our attitude toward events in the past matter more than the events themselves <ponder that one for a minute or two>.


Our time perspective — whether we tend to get stuck in the past, live only for the moment, or are enslaved by our ambitions for the future – effect our attitudes and behavior and decisions <lets call this ‘progress’>.


Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo created this idea of time perspective. After a boatload of research over a lot of time <10 years> he concluded our attitude toward time is just as defining as key personality traits such as optimism or sociability. He concluded time perspective influences many of our judgments, decisions, and actions. Zimbardo identified five key approaches to time perspective.


These are:


  • The ‘past-negative’ type. You focus on negative personal experiences that still have the power to upset you. This can lead to feelings of bitterness and regret.



  • The ‘past-positive’ type. You take a nostalgic view of the past, and stay in very close contact with your family. You tend to have happy relationships, but the downside is a cautious, “better safe than sorry” approach which may hold you back.



  • The ‘present-hedonistic’ type. You are dominated by pleasure-seeking impulses, and are reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later. You are popular but tend to have a less healthy lifestyle and take more risks.



  • The ‘present-fatalistic’ type. You aren’t enjoying the present but feel trapped in it, unable to change the inevitability of the future. This sense of powerlessness can lead to anxiety, depression and risk-taking.



  • The ‘future-focused’ type. You are highly ambitious, focused on goals, and big on making ‘to do’ lists. You tend to feel a nagging sense of urgency that can create stress for yourself and those around you. Your investment in the future can come at the cost of close relationships and recreation time.






All the research aside … here is an uncomfortable truth. Most of us are either focused on the past or the future.


Or even both.


Here is the uncomfortable part. look back remember



That means if we are so preoccupied with past and future … does that actually make the present … well … smaller?

Yeah. The present becomes the smallest part of our attitudes … which inevitably drives our behavior.


Unfortunately … change actually begins and ends with what you actually do in the present.




That sure explains a lot.





The hardest part of moving forward is not looking back.




Maybe the hardest part of moving forward is not only not looking back … but not looking forward too.


<note: my head hurts after typing that>


I imagine that change will always be difficult and the only thing that may matter is to make the present a little bit bigger in how you think in the scheme of things.

Enlightened Conflict