Archive for July, 2012


Posted: July 19, 2012 in Change

[music: Time – Pink Floyd]

Time to go. Bye for now.

P.S.  July is living up to my expectations, as much of a paradox as that might be.

Ready to go


[music: Le Vent Nous Portera – Noir Désir]

This is a Summer Exercise for all of my readers, it’s called the Pizza Walk Experience. It’s designed to eliminate hesitation; the task is very simple: “Go into three shops over the next week & make an absurd request.”

I did my Pizza Walk Experience this week. I was going to start with Corné Port-Royal. But every time I approached the shop, I started to laugh out loud. So I decided to ask for a Ham-Pinnaple Pizza at Quick. The experience was exactly as described; I was nervous, my stomach was telling me that this was definitely not a good idea. I waited my turn and when I got to the counter, with a straight face,  I asked “Could I have a ham and pineapple pizza please.”

“Pizza?” an astonished girl replied.

“With ham and pineapple.”

“We don’t sell pizza here.”

“Isn’t this a Chinese restaurant?”

“This is a establishment that sells hamburgers.”

“Ah, well have a nice day then.” – I left feeling elated.

My next stops were: Corné Port-Royal (chocolate boutique) to ask for an espresso and Voyageurs du Monde (travel agency) to enquire what kind of backpacks they had in stock. My experience is that the longer you can draw it out, the more absurd you can make it, the more fun it will be.

So – if you read this blog be a good sport and take the time to do this exercise and write about it in the comments.* Do the first one today – write while it’s fresh. Here are some suggestions: ask for jet fuel at the gas station (to make your car go faster), ask for a Hemès scarf at Louis Vuitton, ask for MSG on your food at a bio-restaurant, a Samsung Galaxy at the Apple Store, a car wash at a dry cleaner, a pepper mill at a Peugeot car dealer, a BMW at a Ford dealer… Use your imagination and try it – 3 absurd requests over the next 7 days, starting today. You will be amazed.

* call it my need for external cyber-validation 🙂

A Long Wind

Posted: July 17, 2012 in Change, Mindfulness
Tags: ,

[music: Caught in a Long Wind – Feist] – a song about both a little bird and the sea…

Manu Chao last week – the Dipabhāvan Meditation Center in a few days. This blog IS about change and July was about the unexpected. So today I decided  to put some thought behind what I originally set out to do.

I am discovering that change and the unexpected are things many people fear. Even though no two moments are the same, we are all changing as individuals, as groups, societies, the universe; people/groups/organizations (hereafter referred to only as persons/people) generally fear the unknown, they are not curious about what’s out there… or ‘in there’. Looking for the comfort and stability of routines, many let the years pass smoothly; but how can you be both mindful and in a comfortable and familiar routine?  Clinging to routines is by definition blocking out the possibilities of the world around you, deliberately existing unaware. It seems to me that fear of change and mindfulness are incompatible.

Part of being aware means being receptive to the unexpected and open to change – and thus personal risk.

Maybe this is a sign of the times in the Western World – sufficiency through superficial connections to real people and the real world. I found this interesting metaphor on the internet: “…un cinéphile qui, au cinéma, visserait les écouteurs de son iPod sur ses oreilles pour s’assurer de ne pas se laisser prendre par l’histoire du film (ne pas avoir peur, ou rire, ou pleurer).” Is Brandon in in McQueen’s movie ‘Shame‘ the role model for the 21st century; living “in an underworld melodrama of fear…“?

Have we abandoned the search for meaning? Can we really find happiness in our selection of an endless supply of video games, social events, TV series, endlessly re-hashed movies, shopping, internet surfing, and meet ups?* Have we replaced the simplicity that emerges from grappling and coming to terms with real life complexities (emotional, inter-relational, societal, intellectual) with ready packaged doses that instead allow us to easily ignore and flee the task?

*not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with any or all of these activities, I refer to them here as easy means of escape from or as substitutes for meaningful life events.

Though I have more questions than answers, I think that I have learnt a few things:

1. Change is happening regardless of our ‘awareness’ decision; to people, to groups, to organizations, societies and the natural world around us. Humanity generally chooses to deny or ignore these changes, but there are exceptions.

2. Change in of itself is a priori neither positive nor negative. But it is the point of view of this blog that at an individual level, awareness, acceptance and engagement lead to superior outcomes.

3. The decision to embrace change and accept the consequences is personal. All efforts to change someone will be unproductive unless they have embraced the decision themselves. All one can do is extend a helping hand.

So in a few days I am off until September. First stop, a break from all electronic links to the world that I have become addicted to: iPhone, computer, e-mail, internet, music. Instead, meditation, seated, standing, walking, chores, and more meditation. Parts of my world could end, I will only know at the end of the retreat. Once the retreat is over, I’ll the the Universe decide what’s next and see what wind carries me.

[Bonus track: Babylon – David Gray]

[music: Who by Fire? – Leonard Cohen]

Last night, my friend Lingyun and I toasted ‘Gan Bei’!  In chinese Gan Bei means to to finish the cup (Gan = dry; Bei = cup), the end – and a new beginning. It was a celebration.

There are so many ends, some go by, almost imperceptibly, others are traumatic and we grieve. The toast made me think of a passage in the book Mindfulness in Plain English (see a short excerpt below). I thought to myself, we are the cup, experiences are what fill it. I chose the music specially for this post. How am I filling my cup?

How are you filling your cup? Something fresh, something stale, emptiness?


“And you suffer from the same malady that infects every human being. It is a monster in side all of us, and it has many arms: Chronic tension, lack of genuine compassion for others, including the people closest to you, feelings being blocked up, and emotional deadness. Many, many arms. None of us is entirely free from it. We may deny it. We try to suppress it. We build a whole culture around hiding from it, pretending it is not there, and distracting ourselves from it with goals and projects and status. But it never goes away. It is a constant undercurrent in every thought and every perception; a little wordless voice at the back of the head saying, “Not good enough yet. Got to have more. Got to make it better. Got to be better.” It is a monster, a monster that manifests everywhere in subtle forms.”

Mindfulness In Plain English By Ven. Henepola Gunaratana (p 7)

Setting Out

Posted: July 6, 2012 in IdeoKoan 圖像公案

[music: Sail Away – David Gray]

New things are terrifying to people; most need familiar routines. Fear of the unpredictable can be a cause of death; some people would rather kill themselves rather than face an uncertain and unknown future.

It takes courage to deal with new things.

Unpredictable Things…

Posted: July 4, 2012 in Mindfulness

[music: Slug – Passengers]

July will be the month of unpredictable things. For me, every month this year has been full of unpredictable events, but here goes, I’ll raise my glass to yet another month of the unexpected.

On the 1st of July (Canada Day, by the way), Cyprus took over the Presidency of the European Union. I celebrated by visiting MAPPING CYPRUS: CRUSADERS, TRADERS AND EXPLORERS. I should have celebrated my Spanish lessons by taking a walk in Sabadell.

The exhibit was unexpectedly bad. Entirely centered around religious iconography and maps, with a cursory look at history. I found that the Othello connection was the most interesting part, but hardly worth a trip. Overall, they attempted to stay away from the controversial and succeeded;  nothing crossed the green line.

Laurence Durell’s Bitter Lemons is more informative and entertaining.

My quest to see the Euro-Cup Final was more interesting. It started out in Place Lux, which was packed, then moved towards Matonge before being intercepted by free tickets to Couleur Café.

I started to ask myself how many unexpected things have happened these past days. In the past, how many chances have passed me by because being entrenched in my way of thinking?  Have I listened and observed carefully enough, have I been present? Have I been to focussed on myself and not the people and environment around me? Am I sufficiently aware and receptive to the unpredictable?

Let’s see what happens in July…


[music: Polonaise #6 – Chopin]