It Just Doesn’t Matter!

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in PGST Reflections | No Comments

Havel, the Czech playwright, dissident, and politician, had this to say about hopelessness:

“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.”

It is very easy to fall into a strategy or mind-set of avoiding hopelessness and/or profound doubt at all costs. The idea of hopelessness becomes an anathema; we look to ameliorate it, instead of accepting it’s dark and painful embrace. We are loathed to allow the “birth”, an act we participate in, but is ultimately out of our control, to occur. We attempt to manipulate it and manufacture, by artificial means, the “new certainties” that we long for. We cling to our limited ideas, ideas that helped us to arrive at the place of hopelessness to begin with; refusing to admit that we have no F’ing clue about how to achieve the Result that we desperately long for. I think Havel is speaking on the idea that one must fully admit and embrace the profound doubt before the natural creation/understanding of “new certainties” may transpire.

In 12 Step programs the 1st Step is to admit powerlessness. Once this happens the individual comes to see how a “Higher Power” begins to do for them what they were unable to do for themselves; i.e. a restoration of hope. Often the idea of a Higher Power is associated with that of God, but I think we can look at any natural occurring phenomenon as a Higher Power; meaning, we can’t control or make it happen. If, let’s say, we have a garden, we can tend to and water that garden, but we cannot will the flowers to grow. That happens as a result of a power much outside our sphere. And if we do attempt to force the growth of our imaginary garden; if we over-water the earth in which the seeds are buried, if we dig up those seeds and rip them open in an attempt to hasten their growth, we, of course, kill the chance for actual fertility.

Real life begins at the crossroads of hopelessness and powerlessness. As Havel says, the hopelessness/powerlessness we are confronted with is so monumental, so infinitely vast, what else can we do but acknowledge the true absurdity of the situation. The deck is stacked, the game is rigged, we are not gods, and we cannot will any Result to occur. All we can do is humbly show up in the face of “profound doubt”, move forward, and perhaps come to see that the ‘movement’, i.e. our ability to move towards something while accepting that no specific Result is ever guaranteed, is perhaps the only certainty that exists.

I leave you with another voice that perhaps articulates this idea better, and with more sublime grace, than either Havel or I are capable of. The words of Mr. Bill Murray from the modern classic, Meatballs:

“And even, and even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days, even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field, even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk ’cause they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or lose. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!”

The Straight Race

Posted by on Oct 3, 2015 in PGST Reflections | No Comments

These words are from the brilliant Stoic philosopher, Roman Emperor, and deeply influential force on PGST, Marcus Aurelius –

“Develop your own methods for observing how all things are in a continual state of change, one into another. Be ready, and welcome it when it is your turn to experience change, for there is nothing like it to heighten your sensibilities and elevate your mind. At the moment of change, a man’s soul takes flight, and being in this instant reminded that he will soon be called upon to leave the world of things and the company of men, he devotes himself wholeheartedly, to justice in whatever he does and to nature in whatever is done to him. His mind is no longer troubled by what someone may say or think about him, or do against him; and he finds perfect contentment in these two things only: to do the task at hand justly and to embrace his fate gladly. Throwing off all other considerations and schemes, his one ambition is to run the straight race marked out by the law, in pursuit of the swift-footed gods, who never leave this sure course.”

Good God – what words!! They grandly and yet so aptly apply to the life of Man at all levels, from the major movements to the minor chords. I’d like to hone in on the micro level, and relate Aurelius’ statement to the application of the “at least twenty minutes” Daily Action we use in PGST.

In PGST, each week, we break down our Super Objectives (large goals that we feel deeply called to move towards), into simple, practical, Daily Actions. Each day we are gently committed to doing a specific action for at least twenty minutes, no matter what! For example if one of our Super Objectives is “to develop a highly effective and delightful system to launch my new business by August 3rd, 2014”, then the Daily Action for Day One of our Weekly Action Plan might be to “for at least twenty minutes brainstorm a list of all possible investors”. When it comes time to take this Daily Action, the “change Aurelius so majestically riffs on”, emotionally and psychologically speaking, comes into play and becomes the obstacle that must be confronted. Of course, so often, we retreat from the emotional/psychological change (obstacle) and from the action itself. It’s time to sit down and do our brainstorming, but we don’t “feel” like it anymore – the inner change has taken place. Days before it seemed like an amazing idea; we were inspired.

“This is it!” we thought. “I have many contacts who would love the chance to get involved with a venture such as this – I can’t wait to spread the word and pitch my biz!”

Yet now we feel massive insecurity at the thought of creating our contact list.

“This just doesn’t feel right anymore, it seems pointless – I don’t think I have the stones to go through with this. Yesterday, I had a sense of flow and momentum, but now…even the thought of contemplating who might invest in my business makes my skin crawl!!”

FEELINGS CHANGE!! It is bound to happen, and, almost always, is not a sign to retreat, but to leap forward with open arms. Remember, Aurelius says, this emotional/psychological change, even a very uncomfortable one, can “heighten your sensibilities and elevate your mind”.

If we accept that emotions and most levels of thought are not in our control, then taking action through the shifting sands of emotion and thought can remind us of all that we don’t have power over, including life and death itself! It can remind us that there is no place of security from which we can launch ourselves – reality itself is insecure and ever changing. We can then focus on the only things we do have power over, and therefore the only things that can truly bring us peace and fulfillment: “to do the task at hand justly and to embrace our fate gladly”.