No-mind, Just Dance

Is your mind troubled by the music, and you still can’t dance? Listen to yourself; your soul has probably something to say.

Performance in life is like performance on stage: the less room there is, the harder it is to move and bring dancing skills to life. Do not limit your floor with what others have drawn for themselves. Create your own space, and draw your own lines. Receive the sound of life openly, and feel every beat. Follow your own steps, not those you learned in dancing schools. Listen to your body, and be in control.

To know yourself, you have to experiment yourself. And to discover your true essence, you have to test yourself. You have to welcome life and its experiences. You have to look at all the options, and have the courage to step into the unknown. Be strong, and try something new.

You have the right and the moral obligation to define your own self; give meaning to your life. You were born in a way you did not arrange: if you cannot change where you come from, you can still designate your path, set your goals, and decide where to go from there.

Do you like what you are doing now? Maybe… Think again: is it truly what you want? Passion is not only what we see; it is much more what we feel. It is not simply what we like; it is what we cannot live without. Make sure to find your genuine and authentic passions, and to never settle for the affected ones you learned, or were obliged to like. To know yourself, you must start by letting go of what you are told or convinced that you’re destined to be. Do all that you can, until your destiny is revealed to you.

Look around you, and hear what others have to say. They might be right, and they might be wrong. Ultimately, you will have to answer to your own convictions and beliefs. Be a product of yourself, and not the product of your surroundings. Give birth to yourself, and to the environment you want to live in.

Be in conformity with your true self, and never blindly abide by prefixed social rules. They might go in tandem at some point; try to combine them peacefully. Find the common ground if possible, but if you can’t, don’t be afraid of creating your own new conceptions. What is now, one-day was not. And what one-day will be, does not necessarily exist today.

Are you afraid of not achieving what others have achieved? Stop, you’re wrong. By comparing yourself to others, you might be running the wrong marathon. One day, you will all reach the same end, and rest in the same pot. And at that time, competitors will be of two kinds. There would be those who ran so fast and forgot to experience life and enjoy its fruits. And there would also be those who moved slowly, and got to enjoy whatever life had to offer, from the tiniest to the deepest of pleasures.

Don’t compare yourself to others. If it can motivate you to move forward and faster in some competitions, it can also limit sight and hinder your moves. You don’t have to run on the same track while you can change direction. Compete with yourself, and not only with others. Walk fast if you want, but try not to always run. Get some rest when you feel the need. Stop to breathe, and to reenergize. Stop to reflect, and to re-focalize your goals.

Teotihuacán (Mexico)

Teotihuacán (Mexico)

Look around and inside you; you might want to redefine your path. Are you lost, and can’t tell where you are now? Do you know where you’re heading to, or at least where you want to go? It might be scary to step into the unknown, but isn’t also frightening to let go of ourselves for what some people call destiny, fate or luck? Why should we always be the product of life, and not vice versa? Why don’t we create the life we want, plant the seeds of the future we seek, and enjoy its fruits on time?

Sometimes we wake up, look at what we see in the mirror, and hardly recognize ourselves. But do we ever give attention to the moment when we look within ourselves, and hardly read what we see? Even worse, when we slightly see what is inside of us? To meet yourself, you must open the windows to your heart and mind. It is only by opening up these holes that light can come in. You need it to see and read who and what you really are.

You are born with your own seed inside of you, and it needs light and water to grow. Let them in… While light enters when we open the windows of our heart and mind, water arrives with the lessons of life. Let it drink before it gets thirsty, but remember that overhydration can kill it.

Life experiences are like the dishes of new cuisines, perceived by their smell, appearance, and people’s feedback. There are those we like, and those that we don’t. But among both, there are those that are healthy and beneficial, those that are bad, and those that make no difference at all. Isn’t it what doctors and dietitians say? Yes, but we won’t know what we truly like or dislike until we try.

Learning about yourself is also part of learning about others and their different cultures. Travel, meet new people, and learn languages. Dress, eat and try to think differently. Combine cultures, and find the mix that suits you the most. When you travel, you get to see things differently. You obtain new lenses with which you get to zoom in and out. You get to focalize your own vision until the scene looks natural, and until your picture becomes crystal clear.

Don’t be afraid of letting go of what you have, or are currently doing. If you don’t like it, move and try something else. Engage in new activities, and scratch your creativity. Innovate, and bring your ideas to life. And if you are afraid of moving, remember that while stability is important, immobilism is dangerous. What you can do now, you might not be able to do it tomorrow. Today is always a right time to start.

Create your own world, and set your own rules. Satisfy yourself, but avoid hurting others selfishly. Look for what makes you really happy, and define your own pleasures and desires.

Be true to yourself, and do not silence your dreams because of external pressure. Do not give up; hold your stance. If you protect your wallet and the money that is in it, you must also defend yourself and what is inside of you.

Surround yourself with positive people who can help you grow. People who can read you well, and make you know more about yourself. People who can criticize you constructively, without the envious will of destroying you. People who can bring the best out of you, and contribute to your full self-realization. People who love you the way you are, and appreciate the way you want to be. People who can enlighten you, without confusing you. People who can believe in you, without deceiving you. People who can invest in you, without wanting to use you.

Don’t be afraid of smiling, laughing or even crying. Be the kid you need to be. Lucky are those who maintain a touch of childish innocence in their hearts while all others become dark and hard like rocks. Fly, and let go of what keeps you down. Love, and don’t be afraid of emotions. Love yourself, others, and life. No-mind, just dance.

 

Paul M. Klimos

Envy: The Venom And Its Antidote

A very thin line separates jealousy from envy. While the former involves a claim over the desired object, boosted by the negative and anxious feeling of its anticipated loss, the latter consists of a painful state of discontent and resentful longing, aroused by someone else’s possessions or advantages. Derived from the Latin word invidere, envy is about coveting something we do not have, and looking askance at those who have it with subsequent malice and spite.

In this order of ideas, envy is mentioned by the Book of Genesis as the motivation behind the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, whose envy turned into anger when he knew that God favored his brother’s offering – and not his. Moreover, it is also considered as a “mind poison” by Buddhism (or Klesha), as a “disastrous emotion” by Hinduism, as one of the “seven deadly sins” by Christianity, and as an “impurity of the heart” by Islam. However, while envy has this one essential meaning, it can be manifested in different forms.

There are times when the envious believe that the envied do not deserve the desired object, at all. The more this situation seems unfair to them, the more they will fight to find ways to demean and dispossess the envied in the name of justice. And as William Hazlitt once said: "envy, among other ingredients, has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good fortune”. Nevertheless, in case the readjustment of the balance fails, this premise should not justify the blindness of envy by maintaining passive inferiority. Unjust circumstances should never halt personal growth for the sake of recuperating what we believe is ours. Instead, we should liberate extra potential, grow more, and outrun the envied.

Furthermore, there are times when the envious believe that the desired object is mutually deserved, but strive to gain its exclusivity. How can we forget what the Roman historian Titus Livy once said: "no man likes to be surpassed by those of his own level”(in Latin: a proximis quisque minime anteire vult). This situation sharpens sight and brings up a fair competition in which the envious aim at pulling the envied down to take their place and become “King(s) of the Hill”. Being more attentive and concerned by the defects of the envied, they get to perceive faults they could hardly see in normal conditions, and hit straight where they should.

But the worst case scenario is when the envious know that they do not deserve the desired object at all, and do all they can, not to improve their credentials, but to merely dispossess the envied or stop them from reaching their goal. This is active inferiority, married to pride, and giving birth to envy. In this situation, the envious would reject the idea of seeing anyone in a superior position, regardless of whether it is earned or not. This policy of envy aims at preventing the other from being distinguished by success, and paralyzes his chances of elevation. People of genuine merit get attacked and hammered down because of their talents and achievements. This set of circumstances reminds us of the “crab mentality” – as first coined by the Filipino writer Ninotchka Rosca – referring to a pot of crabs in which the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab and prevent each other from escaping in order to ensure a collective demise. This image can be related to the famous saying: “if I can’t have it, neither should you”.

Museo Nacional de Antropología (Mexico City, Mexico)

Museo Nacional de Antropología (Mexico City, Mexico)

Whereas coping with envy is not a complicated issue, using the wrong attitude might get a bit confusing. This problem cannot be resolved by the simple caress of its surface; it should be tackled by its root cause. Instead of concentrating on the uncontrollable, it is advisable to shift the focus to whatis within our control. What brought the other to a better situation than yours? Was it something controllable he did, and you did not do? The person you envy could have taken steps you did not think of because of ignorance, or had the courage to face what you did not dare to approach out of fear. While praise can be bought, envy has to be earned. That being said, be careful not to flatter yourself too much; superiority can blind small minds.

Moreover, envy can be used constructively, against itself, by cultivating awareness and nourishing self-development. We often end up protecting ourselves from a known poison by using it in small doses, as the best antidotes are made of the same substance they fight. On the one hand, Socrates imagined envy as venom, tormenting virtue and leading to self-destruction. And on the other, Buddhism uses the term mudita for taking joy in the good fortune of others, considering this virtue as an antidote to envy. This notion is the exact opposite of the German loanword Schadenfreude, which represents the pleasure deriving from the misfortune of others. 

Kant defined envy in Metaphysics of Morals as "a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another's because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others". You do not necessarily need what the other has or desires, and what you obtain does not automatically make you happy. It is wiser to start by wanting what you have, than by having what you want. You must first learn how to appreciate what you have, before striving for more – which is always conceivable. What is the point of filling a cup you never drink from? You would remain thirsty, and kill others of thirst because of useless greed.

Dealing with the envious should not be hard either. The relish of their lives is inverted, and they remain in pain upon all occasions capable of injecting pleasure and providing satisfaction. Be patient towards them; their passions will consume them like fire eats itself when it finds nothing to eat. Saint John Chrysostom gave a clear image of these words when he said: "as a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man". Keep looking forward with confidence and contentment; blindness will disintegrate and destroy them.But what about the assertion of Moliere: "The envious will die, but envy never” (in French: les envieux mourront, mais non jamais l'envie). Are we dealing with an eternal paradox? Are we facing fingernails, which will grow back every time they are cut? Use envy before it uses you, and absorb its venom before it kills you.

 

Paul M. Klimos

The Possible Impossible

Our mind is partitioned in a way to subdivide the known and the unknown, into the possible and the impossible.

In the things we know, there are those we believe we can possibly do. These are either the easy tasks we can comfortably – or effortlessly – accomplish, or the hard ones we have to strive for. This kind of challenge keeps us on the ground of foreseeable potential, limiting our self-realization to what we naturally and normally perceive.

Nevertheless, the possible is not necessarily certain: while the easy can fool you, the hard can deceive you. Never underestimate the former, as pride would blind you, and never hesitate in front of the latter, as “inches” break records and make champions. 

Alcatraz Island, San Fransisco (CA, USA)

Alcatraz Island, San Fransisco (CA, USA)

And among the things we know, there are also those we falsely believe we can’t do. These are the feasible tasks of a “pseudo-impossible”, wrongly perceived as such because of either ignorance, or fear. This kind of challenge brings us above the edge of foreseen capabilities, until we achieve what we mistakenly considered as impossible, and reach our overlooked and unfulfilled potential.

Remember to overcome your frustrations, and to ignore those of others; impossible is nothing. It is only by commanding your own will and power that you can prove them wrong. And as Arthur Clarke once wrote: ”the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them, into the impossible”.

In addition to that, there will always be unknown things that never existed. Their land of non-existence is a fertile ground for creation and innovation, for challenge and realization. The future belongs to those who master the art of grasping, exploring and developing its unknown possibilities, before they become obvious. The secret is to look forward, and not only backwards. How can we forget what the Serpent said to Eve in George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah: ”you see things; and you say “why?” But I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

Don’t waste time praising yourself for what you have already done. Acknowledge your previous achievements, and focus instead on what still has to be done. Don’t be terrified by discouraging or demoralizing obstacles; re-energize and look straight into your goal. Invest in your unfulfilled potential, and make the impossible possible. 

 

Paul M. Klimos

The Change You Want

In life, there are moments we like, and others that we don’t.

Whenever you have the chance to grasp a moment that you like, remember to do it fully and deeply. Live the moment and don’t only spend it; it will soon be over and might not be back. Focus on the present, and isolate yourself from whatever can ruin your mood. Thinking of the end would only detach you from the moment, and reduce your timely pleasure.

Whenever you are obliged to face a moment that you don’t like, do the best you can to – at least – neutralize it. Don’t hate it; perhaps it’s good for you. Embrace the facts; fighting them would only make it harder and longer. Don’t count the seconds, but let each one of them count. Do the most if you must, and invest in your time; doing a little is better than doing nothing. If you find it boring, get involved, and if you find it irritating, scratch where it itches. Things will run smoother, and time will go faster. How can we forget what Winston Churchill once said: “if you’re going through hell, keep going”.

Teotihuacán (Mexico)

Teotihuacán (Mexico)

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in his Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. In the opposite order of ideas, three keys are required: the wisdom to differentiate what can be changed from what can’t be changed, the courage to face the former, and the serenity to accept the latter. However, and unfortunately, these keys can be lost or simply unfound. Assuming that wisdom is reached and differentiation done, courage and serenity will still be sought.

If we’re sometimes unaware that we can change something and remain blindly idle, there are times when we’re aware of the possibility but need the courage to act. Seek the possibility in every difficulty, and don’t be blinded by the difficulty in every opportunity. Get rid of the glum, and think positive. Nourish determination, and foster courage. And if there is a remedy to your trouble, find it.

While we’re sometimes unaware that we can’t change something by continuing futile fights, there are times when we refuse to be aware of the impossibility and lack the serenity to accept it. When the cards of life are dealt against your hopes or expectations, do not waste the game on despair and disappointment. In the impossibility of moving backwards, move forward or change direction. A continuous state of dejection would lock you in an irremediable past, and deteriorate your forces. And as Marcus Tullius Cicero once said: "it is foolish to tear one's hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness."

Conquer life; don’t let it conquer you. Resist despair with reason, and give place for hope. Aim at boosting the outcome of whatever you have been offered, and optimize what you can’t – or can no longer – change. Set the path you like, and be the change you want.

 

Paul M. Klimos