How I live

To know yourself is the foundation of all understanding. What you are, the world is. If you are miserable, confused and chaotic, the world is miserable, confused and chaotic. We create our worlds by the way we live. We create our problems. The world does not create our problems. You can change your life if you accept the world for what it is.

Relationships

There is no life without relationships. No one lives in isolation. We have relationships with people, places, things and ideas. These relationships exist in the present, not in the past. If something happens to unsettle a friendship, then it is natural to move on. There is only friendship as long as we are at peace and our relationships mirror our lives.

The best relationships are those in which you are equal. When you are not teacher and student, employer and employee, brother and sister, father and daughter, but two people meeting, maybe for the first time.

Ask yourself ‘What do my friendships reveal about me?’

A Simple Mind

We are made of memories and experiences, but most important, beliefs. Maybe we crave the certainty that came during childhood, when our parents held all the answers. Then we grow up and look to others for answers: leaders, priests, commentators, politicians, expounders, explainer. Beliefs bind and isolate our minds. We seek security from knowing the answers to the things we fear. When we identify with a religion or a group, our opinions and values are governed by others.

Yet it seems nowadays that so many leaders have no answers.

What then?

What is we discard the ‘self’? What if we no longer desire power, position or influence? What is all that we need is to be aware and to live from moment to moment without consideration or justification? Would we not then be more thoughtful, more alert and less gullible?

True simplicity happens when you are free of beliefs. True humility is when you meet life without reference to fear.

The Thinker and the Thought

Thought is self-protecting, self-perpetuating and self-interested. Beliefs tell us how to react, conditional on our memories, experiences, prejudices, upbringing and conditioning. The dilemma is that the more you learn, the less your capacity to take on new ideas. We resist new ideas because we fear they might transform us.

How peaceful it is not to think. How good to be silent. Pay attention to your thoughts. Do not judge. Let these appear. Do not hold on. Let go. You will find understanding when your mind is quiet.

Creativity

The cup is useful only when it is empty. To empty your mind, write down your thoughts and empty your mind ready for the next.

Create without effort, without turmoil. With a quiet, tranquil mind, free of distractions, every situation will appear new, like clear mountain water flowing down a river. Outwardly nothing has changed – the smoothed pebbles on the river bed, the wild flower verges and the mountain vistas, yet the water is fresh and clear, flowing for the first time along this river. So it is with our work. In this place there is no perception of time. Work fast without effort. When you are in the flow, there are no problems or barriers, unaware of the moving pen or fingers tapping on the keyboard.

Sometimes a fifteen year old knows more than a 50 year old

Today I spent building the Horses and Elephants blog. It is all in the detail. The old site had the banner head just across about half of the page. I found out how to have it across the whole page. It is bolder. There were lots of fiddly bits and pieces to attend to and I found myself using the same template for the Writing Habit website.

And I was happy, till my fifteen-year-old daughter came home.

I showed her the websites. She didn’t like the Writing Habit.  ‘I just don’t like the typeface.’ she said. I told her that it wasn’t meant to be that serious. She said the typeface just put her off. We then had supper.

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I kept thinking about this. What was I meant to do? I decided to dump the old banner and try something new.  I picked up a pen, took a page out of a notebook and wrote ‘The Writing Habit’. Then I took a photo with my mobile, uploaded the image and did a bit of work in Photoshop.

‘Yes, Daddy, that’s much better.’

And, to be honest, she was right.  It is better.

BEN WILSON, THE CHEWING GUM MAN

On Friday I met Ben Wilson, the chewing gum man. If you have been to the Tate Modern, you may have seen his work. Not in the museum, but on the Millennium Bridge. The most perfect little paintings on the tiniest pieces of gum.

I saw him as I walked over the bridge, crouched down, painting and then as I approached, he stood up, so I stopped and asked ‘Do you paint these chewing gum paintings?’ He laughed and told me how he liked to paint on the pieces of thrown-away gum. I had often walked across the bridge with my daughter and we had wondered who was behind these perfect pieces of art, so I was delighted to meet him. He was so unassuming. So charming and likeable. We shook hands and went our ways.

I am not a great fan of people who discard their gum by chucking it on the pavement, but if ever there was a good way of dealing with these tiny grey blobs, painting images comes high on the list. This is the purest form of public art. It is underfoot and so doesn’t last long. It is art for the observant, for the curious. We have to pay attention to see it.