August 2012

Post image for The Law of Attraction, for science-heads and Secret-haters

Five or six years ago the Law of Attraction was presented to the masses in the form of a bad film. The LoA isn’t new and wasn’t new to me when I’d first heard about The Secret. Napoleon Hill was talking about how to Think and Grow Rich in the thirties, and there’s talk of the principle all the way back to before Christ.

I think when I first heard about The Secret I had recently finished Think and Grow Rich, and the afterglow had just worn off and I hadn’t really run with it. So much about the movie turned me off: the presumptuous title, the self-important wax seal motif, the whole new age vibe of it. So I never watched it, and I think its existence alone killed any urge I had to makes something out of Napoleon Hill’s take on it.

Somehow, planets had been aligning in such a way that I found myself in front of it last week. A flu/food poisoning combo had me incapacitated in front of a television, and the film was recommended to me at a time I was doped up on Neo Citron and very vulnerable.

It was really exactly like I’d expected. Terrifically cheesy. It was almost offensive. Actors, in the throes of dazzling positive intentions, shoot CGI shock waves out of their foreheads into the outside world, presumably to fetch them money, girlfriends and tropical vacations.

The action is interrupted frequently by whispered, out-of-context quotes from A-list historical figures such as Ben Franklin, Shakespeare, Emerson and Einstein, none of whom probably would have been too crazy about their posthumous involvement in this project.

But just because The Secret is profoundly cheesy and easy to dismiss, it doesn’t mean the Law of Attraction ought to be tossed out with same bathwater. I did watch it right through and by the end I was interested in the whole Law of Attraction concept again. I saw something in it I didn’t before, and in hindsight I am thankful to have watched it.

There are two basic camps on the LoA issue:

1) Those who believe that the universe (“the outside world”) is bound to do its own thing, as determined by its own internal laws, regardless of what you think about it or intend for it to do.

2) Those who believe that the course of the universe, or at least what any one person experiences of it, is altered by one’s perceptions, by their thoughts about it and their intentions for it.

By default I think most of us fall into the first camp. The world seems pretty stable in the way it works. I had been hoping for riches, fame and uncanny luck my whole life, and whether I got them (I didn’t) seemed to depend on what I did and not what was in my head.

There were too many contradictions for it to make sense. What if two of us were “intending” to win the same one-on-one ping pong match? It didn’t make sense. I used to feel these questions trapped me in camp 1. I couldn’t believe in a subjective universe if I wanted to. I knew better!  Read More



Post image for The body is in charge, and won’t let you forget it for long

My body gave me a lecture last night. I deserved it.

I’d been feeling run down for the last two weeks, and not without reason. I’ve taken on more social and personal commitments and haven’t managed them well. Daily exercised stopped. Food choices got lazier. I drank more and slept less.

The body is wonderful. It moves you around, keeps you sharp, manipulates the world for you. It does your job. It gives affection to your loved ones. It carries your life for you. We tend to notice its generosity only once it begins to withdraw it.

It’s also forgiving, maybe a little too much. It will take a lot of shit before it gets mad. It gives poilte hints all the time — the 3 o’clock wall, crankiness, digestive stubbornness, weird aches, dry mouth.

Normally we’re very mind-focused and the noise of an overactive mind can distract you from your body’s subtle advice. The body wants to serve, to please, to let you be yourself. It may let you drink five or six drinks now and then, but it will punish you if you drink nine or ten.

If you miss the subtler hints, it will eventually grab you by the collar and make itself understood. I didn’t uphold my end of the deal. I didn’t take care of my body, and was punished.

Read More



Post image for What others leave for you to keep

There are others. More than you can comprehend. They’re everywhere you go and you’ll meet some of them.

Some of these other people will naturally establish themselves as an apparent fixture in your life, and change how life looks to you. This is called a relationship. If the person stays around for months or years, your relationship with them might begin to feel permanent.

It’s not. Relationships are conditions, not things. They all have to end at some point. But they will leave something behind for you to keep.

There are different kinds, different styles of rapport between you and The Other: polite, uneasy, romantic, platonic, confusing. We tend to slot them into distinct types — friendships, courtships, marriages, business partnerships — but they’re all fundamentally the same thing. Two people overlap, experience each other’s thoughts and ideas, absorb each other’s values, and learn from each other’s stories. Personalities leak into other people when those people get close enough.

This happens all the time, and it is always temporary. The overlap comes to an end and the parties diverge and drift away. It could be after 72 hours of traveling together, or after a summer internship working together, or after 55 years of marriage. If nothing else ends it, death will.

This means that life is essentially a solo trip. You’ll have this endless parade of visitors, though, which is nice. Characters you couldn’t have imagined will appear, stay for a minute or maybe a few months or maybe many years, and then leave you to your trip.

Welcome visitors, as a general rule. Their purpose is to aid the solo traveler in figuring out how to enjoy the world. Read More




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