It Can’t Be Happening

Have you ever experienced this sensation, it can’t be happening {to me}?

To give a relatively recent geo-political example, the vast swathes of migration into Europe. The international community was very slow to respond, and it took a very long while for the scale of it to sink in. Whilst migration from famine to wealth is a historical fact, and fleeing from war established, people can be surprised when it happens again. Quite why they are surprised is a little surprising, it is probably because most thinking is self-centred. Complacency is not uncommon, and neither is taking things for granted. There is a kind of a fog of denial, which can take a while to dissipate and before realization strikes home. People can be very slow on the uptake, especially if it is something they are not keen on up taking.

Nobody likes bad news. Three years ago, after they found 11 polyps in my lower colon and before they found the tumour, the GP was trying to reassure me. I had read that 1 in 10 polyps becomes cancerous, and I said to him that therefore there was a good chance that given they had only looked so far, they would find something nasty. He, being a nice kind man, did not want me to be alarmed. But I was confident on this basis, that there would be something nasty. One of us was quicker on the uptake than the other. It could very well be happening to me. In circumstances like this, I want more data. I want clarity not reassurance.

This denial of unpleasant realities happens widely. We may not want to think our partner is having an affair, has gambled away all our money or is otherwise up to no good. It can be a very long time before the penny drops. On the flip side it is not wise to live life immersed in paranoia and suspicion, which some do. If you watch Jeremy Kyle, those prone to paranoia have often been up to no good themselves. We may think we have hidden our behaviours from a partner and they start to see through our guise, that too can happen. Consequences can quickly start to unfold.

This idealized view, this complacency in regard of it never happening, can be readily seen. And even when the “data” mounts there is a time dependent denial. The threshold for acceptance can be very high. People can be very slow on the uptake.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever experienced this sensation, it can’t be happening {to me}?

Did I not want to face reality?

Am I perhaps a little slow on the uptake?

Has my idealism ever been dealt a blow by harsh reality?

Do I resist bad news, is it hard to accept?

If so, why?

Complacency or Focus?

Although I have mentioned the hippie vibe in this blog, I am a pretty focussed being. I would say that when it comes to focus, I am at the top end. Pretty much everything I do has some purpose to it, though this is not always obvious externally. And it is my experience that people can find this sense of focus alarming. I try not to waste time. If something is a no go I tend not to pursue it. I decide early, sometimes too early. I know that I am living on borrowed time and because of this I am not overly keen on fannying about. I never have been. I do not have a master’s degree in the procrastinatory arts.

Over the years this part of my nature has made me unpopular with some who prefer endless discussion and it has surprised others by its rapidity. There is some pressure to decide and act emanating from me. And despite all my meditation it can still come across as impatience. It isn’t really impatience, but a sense of how valuable time is. This is a major focus in my life, time. I don’t like wasting it.

People can be very complacent when it comes to time. They put stuff off and engage in multiple displacement activities. Deep down we all have at least some inkling as to what we need to be doing, but because we don’t like it we engage in escapisms. The mañana attitude is a very complacent one and soon enough we run out of tomorrows. This leads to an incredible degree of dissipation in life, because there are some things which have a time window. When that window is missed, it cannot be. The possibility, the opportunity has passed, forever. Oh well, shit happens…nevermind.

Having cued this up:

If there is a scale ranging from complacency to focus, where would I find myself?

Would I be towards one end or somewhere in the middle?   

Reaction and Overreaction

I am pretty certain that these two are causal of a lot of unnecessary grief in the world. As two gain factors, they are the pre-amplifier and power amplifier stages in the global drama-amplifier. Something can get very quickly blown out of proportion because of these. In our immediacy ridden world there is a “need” to react and quickly so, sometimes there is even a need to be “seen” to be doing something. Response is rare, knee-jerk reaction common. And if we are extrovert it is almost impossible not to say something. Response is in the realm of action, reaction can often be hasty and ill-considered.

In order to act rather than re-act one has to learn to work with the tensions and resist the urge to go off half-cocked. The more of a stress bunny you are the more likely it is you will react to the tiniest thing. The gain on the drama amplifier is turned up by tens of decibels in a nanosecond. To work with tensions, one has to use the metaphor of archery {see previous}. In all marksmanship if you are not calm inside, rather rushed and snatchy, you will miss the target. If you let go of the arrow too soon, it will not reach. If there is too much tension the shot will be poor and uncontrolled. Breathing plays a big role and so does being centred. Take a breath before you do anything, particularly if you are tense as a tense thing. Only when the tensions are “just right” are you ready to act and then you can release the arrow of your actions smoothly and with clarity of sight. It is not easy to learn how to work with tensions, there is only practise. It takes some nerve to calmly let the tensions build. But this is the only way to attain the difference between action and reaction.

The key to understanding the difference between action and reaction is fear management. If you let fear get out of control, you will panic. If you are too complacent and laid back, you will not have enough fear to enable focus.

Having cued this up:

Am I prone to react?

Am I too complacent?

Can I notice the difference between response and reaction?

Have I ever responded rather than reacted?

Did it feel good and were the outcomes better?


I have come to a working conclusion this afternoon and it is that there are some things which are so simple, so very straightforward, that it is impossible for people to believe them. People can have assumptions about the way “it” is supposed to be and when the simple reality stares them in the face, they just can’t see it. It is just too damn simple to be true. This is especially the case if that simple thing, whatever it may be, has implications. The human mind simply will not accept it. Never mind Occam’s razor let’s make it complicated as all hell and then we might believe it, but not before.

Anyway I digress a little, and talking about beliefs:

Do you believe in irrevocability or are many things revocable and open to discussion / negotiation?

Has something irrevocable happened to you and you have had a hard time accepting it?

The notion of irrevocability is allied to that of impermanence. And until you attain impermanence there is a tendency to think you have all the time in the world in which to fanny about. When the “permanent” ceases to be permanent people get upset. When people die it can cause grief. We all know that people die every day, yet when someone close to us dies we get upset, are shocked and surprised. That physical plane death is an irrevocable thing, we can’t plug people back into the mains and they are good to go. Thus, we approach life with at least some notion of revocability, we can take back what we said and what we did, somehow. We imagine a second chance, so we take stuff and people for granted. But there are some times when things and people do not come back, they are gone. Chapters end, the book finishes and that is it. Most of us do not factor in irrevocability, in the way we live our lives. One could call that complacent.

I mentioned previously that I tend not to bluff. It makes me shit at poker. If I say I am going to do something it is not an attention seeking drama or threat, nor is it a negotiation ploy. This has come as a surprise to some. Introverts tend not to gob off all that much and when they do speak, it is often considered. I know when I am doing something of significance and I rarely undertake these things on a whim. By the time I am talking about it I am often >90% towards a decision and subsequent action. I have done quite a number of things which I knew were irrevocable, some with fairly wide implications.

It adds a little edge when you know that things are irrevocable.

Having cued this up:

Do I believe in this notion of irrevocability?

Is it perhaps more common that I would like to countenance?  

Or is there plenty of reversibility?

The Slow Percolation of Reality

Reality can be slow to percolate. We may have a complacent and idealized view but slowly, drip by drip, reality can seep in. When the UK had the Brexit vote, there were many who cheered and celebrated, there were almost as many who thought “oh fuck”, but now the consequences of that “decision” are filtering through. It is painful, messy and drawn out. It hangs like a cloud over Europe and it will not shift.

Consequence is one aspect of reality.

If we are complacent and arrogant it can be a very long time before we acknowledge the causal relationship between our actions and the consequences. I have a very rough theory, no rather a trend. It says; the more intelligent you are the slower it is that reality percolates. It is not a perfect trend, maybe a guideline. This is partly because intellect can invent a whole bunch of alternate scenarios in regard of what is transpiring, it may even do this deliberately so as to stop the actual reality getting through. There must be any other explanation than the reality.

To give other examples. Two people could be involved in a somewhat co-dependent relationship where arguments and manipulation are common. One day the argument goes to another level and one of the “partners” walks out. The other thinks; “he (or she) will come back begging before long”. There is precedent. However, time goes by and this doesn’t happen. The waiting party tries to inject some manipulations as a hurry-up. There is no response. Soon it begins to dawn that no matter how many more manipulations are attempted, it is done, finito, caput. It can be a very long time before the reality of the situation percolates and the consequences of behaviour are acknowledged. People can take their unreal justifications to the grave.

The wider the significance of consequence, the longer the reality takes to percolate through.

A couple could be relatively happily married with children. One of them is away on a business trip and one night the opportunity of a drunken shag presents. It seems harmless enough. But the person shagged decides to intervene in the lives of the “happily” married couple and starts texting body-part pictures to the ‘phone of the shagger. The wife (or husband) of the shagger gets suspicious and sees these. All hell breaks loose. The reality of the situation shatters the imagined bliss. The shagger might imagine that a repair is possible, but it isn’t, things will never be the same. The children grow up in a broken home in which there is animosity between the parents. One of the children gets mentally ill and is in and out of psychiatric hospitals for their rest of their lives. I could expand this scenario, but won’t, you can if you like.

The time taken for reality to percolate is proportional to the initial levels of complacency.  

The more one believes that something could not possibly happen, it is so off the radar, when it does it remains utterly inconceivable for a very long time. The fortress of denial is so sturdy that not a single iota of the reality can percolate through its mighty walls. That could not possibly happen, ergo it didn’t, even if it did.

Until you can acknowledge reality it is impossible for you to respond to it.

You are over due on the rent on your cottage. The landlord has taken you to the county court and you have a letter from the bailiffs saying that they will be around to evict you next week. You have a week to find some alternate accommodation. “That is not really happening, everything will be OK”. When the bailiffs turn up and chuck you out on the street with all your belongings it is more than a little too late to deal with the reality of the situation. The moment has passed.

The only way to offset this tendency to not be real, is to try to be a bit more real. That way reality may percolate a little quicker. But first you have to be prepared to face reality. The consequences of not facing reality are often more wide-ranging than facing it.

Are You Awake?

This is a very good question and during daylight hours most would answer yes. But is this “awake” a relative term?

I have, according to family legend, always been a creature of the dawn. The time around dawn is my favourite time of day. It is when I am most alert, and I love the general quietness on the mental plane. Most are still dozing or coming groggily to. For me there is no slow transition between duvet, via coffee, to alert. Sleep ends, a switch is flicked, and I am awake. If I was able to and from a strategic perspective, I would have any meetings soon after dawn. Many complain about zero dark thirty, not me….

Have you ever had a “what the fuck just happened” moment? Or has something slowly, ponderously, started to dawn on you? Eventually you start to realize something which you have not considered or had been resisting. In slow motion, the penny starts to drop. Ever so slowly it makes its way under gravity towards the floor. This probably means that you are not quite as awake as you might deem yourself to be. There is a saying; be alert, Britain needs lerts.

Many people are very complacent about many aspects of their lives. They think they have it sorted, under control and sussed. So, they do not pay attention. There is a dream-like coterie. It will all pan out as it is supposed to. And when something a little non-ordinary comes along, they miss it. They don’t see it. By definition anything unexpected surprises and the unexpected is pretty big for many. Consciousness and awareness can be more than a little foggy. This state of distraction and dissipation is made worse by mobile ‘phones and other gadgets. People are not present. Hence, they do not notice. By not living in the moment fully, there is a lack of awareness and situational awareness.

As an exercise:

Make a mental note of your level of awareness, be aware of when it is sluggish and then try to fight back the fog. Over a period of a couple of weeks see if you can determine the time of day at which you are most alert.  

Quirks of Fate

This is a subject of much interest to me. Quirks of Fate happen when you “think” life is heading along in one particular direction and the something happens which changes the direction of life significantly if not entirely. The world seems to pivot around only a few moments, maybe minutes or hours. After that nothing is the same. These can be caused by a telephone conversation, a series of emails, a letter, a condom falling off, a car crash, a lottery win, or a cancer diagnosis. There are many other examples, we have the eponymous straw that broke the camel’s back, etc. These Quirks of Fate can lead to a major upheaval.  In most cases we do not see them coming, in others were we not so complacent we might have. Many think they have more control over their lives than they actually do; it is a common assumption.

When they happen, we can find them very hard to believe, we may even be in denial for a long time. In extreme cases our entire world is turned upside-down. And when this happens we can feel more than a little lost. “Shit happens” is a saying in common parlance but not everyone has this kind of relaxed attitude. The more we subscribe to the notion of permanence and continuity, the bigger the shock a Quirk of Fate is. We might be going one way and the universe says; “sorry sonny-Jim, that is not the correct way. This one is, so now off you trot…”. I don’t know how common these happenstances are. Some might be anticipated, if you live at 1 Water Meadow Lane, it stands to reason that a flood could be on the cards. The more fluid you are the less trauma a Quirk of Fate brings. If you push your luck sooner or later your bluff is called.

The Quirks of Fate can be triggered by the tiniest of things, something is brewing and then Bang!!

At these pivots one door in life is closed or slammed shut and either at the same time, or soon afterwards, another opens. What lies ahead may be very different. I have had at least half a dozen of these.

Having cued this up.

As an exercise:

Have I ever experienced a Quirk of Fate?

Am I in control of my life or does the universe like to take the piss from time to time?