Life: Pack Only What You’ll Need!


Picture yourself going out on a journey. In the relative safety of your home, you look into the future and visualize what you’ll need to pack. After all, forget to pack it now and you’ll either have to do without or pick it up along the road and there’s a cost associated with doing so. If it’s a short journey; a weekend getaway; forgetting something and not being able to replace it might be inconvenient but hardly a disaster. In two days time, you’re back home and you can better equip yourself next time you’re out the door for a weekend.

The thing about a weekend away though is you know where you’re going and you therefore have a pretty good idea what to pack and take along. When the weekend comes to an end, you can assess your success or lack thereof in terms of planning and either repeat your success or make some additions and deletions; things you needed but forgot and things you packed and didn’t use.

Life however is a one-time trip. You never know the final destination and if we’re totally honest here, you don’t even have a map showing you the route you’ll take. How on earth do you prepare yourself for that kind of trip? (Incidentally, these are my favourite holiday trips; heading in a general direction, hitting the open road with a general idea of where I want to go but no planned itinerary; no having to be in a certain town on a certain day; heading down some sideroad because it looks interesting and there’s an unspoken promise of an amazing something not to be missed.)

Now the one thing that excites and invigorates one person will confuse and cause anxiety in another. Some people need to know exactly where they’re going; who they will travel with, where they’ll stay. These folks like to pay in advance where all is known and just not yet experienced. If this is you, excellent and enjoy your trip. Life for some is like this too. Careers are mapped out, school is a given and paid for, weddings are arranged, investments made in stocks and properties, funerals prepaid. It’s all so nice, neat, ordered and arranged.

Ah but for the rest of us life is nothing but flux. Change is constant, plans are made with good intentions but often chucked or amended as life brings us into contact with other people, other places, new information comes our way and stimulates us in new directions. Change for us is good! We do things we never imagined we would, we fall in and out of love with people we never imagined ourselves with, then never imagine ourselves without. We lose jobs, move to new places, get confused at times, live the highs and lows. At times we know what we want and then at others we haven’t got a clue. We’re hopeless one minute, on the right path the next, go years seemingly drifting and then bazinga!, we’re suddenly successful!

How on earth do you plan for a journey like this life you’re living? It’s easy actually. You pack as best you can with the information you have and you tell yourself right at the start that you’ll be needing to pick up more supplies as you go along. When the weather turns, you drop the shorts and t-shirts and pick up some sweaters and thicker socks. You adapt my friend. Although you knew this time would come, you were smart enough to know there was no need to pack the long underwear and mittens way back when the weather was hot, muggy and the streets were steaming.

Life is the same way. When you start out thinking of a job you don’t know where you’ll end up. You’ll get exposed to different jobs, meet people doing work you don’t even know at this moment exists. There’s no way you could prepare yourself now for those jobs you want in 10 – 15 years because they haven’t even entered your conscious thought or perhaps they haven’t even been created yet.

Some general direction is great but a detailed master plan with all the career changes and jobs timed and mapped out? Highly improbable and unrealistic. This might cause you some minor or major anxiety if you’re the type who must know everything in advance.

Life is organic and if you’re to fully thrive in it, embracing all the changes, influences, suggestions, advice and yes – warnings is required. There will be good and bad, highs and low points. You’ll meet good people and some bad unfortunately; those who will help you and those who will hold you back. Be wary but don’t cocoon yourself from the world or they win. Get out in it; breathe deep.

Your age? Inconsequential. You’re still living aren’t you? Your finances? Not everything expensive is worth having. At some point in your future, you’ll come to the Point Of Reflection. You know, that time when you stop, pause, slowly turn and look back from some vantage point on the path you’ve taken. You’ll forget many of the things you thought you never would, you’ll remember many faces you met and feel satisfaction over much of what you’ve done. Regrets? Sure. You’ll have some. Big deal.

Get going. That’s the sum of it in two words. Job? Career? Relationship? Travel? No matter what you want, get going.

Awake The Giant!


Many people, maybe you perhaps, go through much of life living their days in a relatively state of complacency and routine. Each morning is a regular routine, the trip in to work is essentially the same route, taking approximately the same amount of time to travel. The work day might vary every so often with training or a unique encounter with a customer, but as you look back at the past month’s or years in a job, the days blend pretty much in a sea of normalcy.

At the close of the work day, the trek back home is made, another meal prepared and consumed, an evening spent and the cycle repeats itself. This life you’re living isn’t bad; it’s far from it perhaps. Your happy in fact, and generally content. Sure you have your moments with problems, challenges, frustrations and setbacks – we all do. However, you’ve also got your moments of challenges overcome, tasks completed, successes realized. Nothing is really wrong at all.

So if all this is true, if nothing is really wrong, why is it that from somewhere deep down inside, you occasionally feel this tremor; this stirring of something slumbering? Physically there may be nothing going on; it’s not indigestion, nor is it your last meal breaking down into nutrients and waste. No, something else is stirring restlessly from within; something far from physical – much more metaphysical. It might be hard to put into words beyond what I’ve done here but if you’ve felt it you know what I refer to.

It starts with a general awareness you get that something is stirring. That stirring is in response to what’s going on around you; your stimulated in some way with your environment or maybe someone you’re interacting with. If you fail to tune in to that deep inner feeling, it passes. There’s no harm done, you return to the life you’re leading and it subsides. It never really goes away completely, but it slumbers again for a period. Ah, but if you’re dialed in, attuned to the stirring; if you really live that moment in full self-awareness, you my friend, have the opportunity to awake the giant!

Some of you will never know what I’m referring to here. For you, this will be simply a romanticized post of whimsy and theatrics; a poetic rambling of nonsense to be dismissed. Might actually be the majority of you come to think of it. No matter. There are only so many Harry Potter’s, Frodo Baggins, Christopher Columbus’ and Sir Edmund Hilary’s in our world.

Or is that a falsehood? After all, don’t each of us star as the leading character in our own life stories? We are the ones that compose our lives, write our tales and no one else. So what kind of story are you writing? Is it a story filled with highs and lows, repeated defeats, struggles of mental health, loved one’s lost, and interjected moments of triumph and victory? Or is it a huge volume of mundane, commonplace, daily routines; where your decisions are which cereal to have at the start of your day?

What makes you come alive? What shakes the Giant within and gets you feeling invigorated? Have you found that yet? If you’ve had that feeling why aren’t you doing more to feed that feeling more often? And for each of us it’s different isn’t it? For we are on a quest of sorts. We’re on a journey from our present to our future self. In the stories that make good adventures such as Treasure Island or The Lord Of The Rings, hero’s don’t always recognize themselves as such. They start expecting life to be ordered and highly predictable and then some event comes along that changes all that.

If you’re waiting for pirates to abscond with you or some dwarves to come knocking at your door to take you on a quest, you might be waiting a rather long time – waiting your life away. Your stimulus; your calling, might just be internal and not external – the giant within. If you feed it, it grows. If you ignore it, it diminishes until it’s such a far cry from itself it’s barely recognizable.

For there are many adventures still to be found in 2018. While some are thousands of miles away, some are right where we live – where you live – all around you. There are tyrants and victims, the oppressed and the hungry, lives to be saved and people to be helped up. There are those to advocate for, some to be rescued, and the hero to do all these things and more isn’t charging in on some distant horizon. The hero my friend is – perhaps – the giant that slumbers within Y-O-U.

Sure, go on and nod your head in disbelief. Jim Hawkins didn’t believe it, nor did Frodo when talking to Gandalf. Most hero’s at some point say, “But I am only one! What can I do?” Ah, but there is a slumbering giant within us all my friend. Imagine how powerful we might be if we not only awoke the giant within us but stirred the giant in others to join us; to work with us, to journey with us! Then what could we not do collectively together?

Now the next time you feel this stirring from within, pay heed my friend. Ask not where it comes from but rather what is it in response to around you that stirs it?

Conversation Starters


There they sit on my desk; a compass, a magnifying glass and a clock. The compass has the inscription, “Life is a journey not a destination.”

Whether it’s after a workshop or someone has dropped in unannounced and would like a word in my office, when someone draws up a chair beside me, these three are close at hand. Invariably, their eyes take in the objects and they make some comment. Picking up on whatever they say, a conversation ensues. Usually I’ll ask them which of the three speaks to them, or which of the three is the most important to them and why.

The compass you see provides direction; it not only helps you find your way when you’re lost, it can help keep you on track when you know which way you’re headed. The magnifying glass brings things which are small and hard to see into focus; enlarging them. The clock? Well the clock never stops does it? Time is moving on and the seconds that pass as we talk about time can never be reclaimed or experience again once they’ve ticked past. Time? Time to get going. Lest you see the clock as only marking regret for time lost, the clock can also be a blessing if it reminds a person they have time ahead of them as well; time to spend.

Now the thing about the three is that neither is more important than the other, but to any one person at the point we meet, one will take on greater importance than the others. To someone confused about their career direction, what they want to achieve or do – the compass and the direction it implies is what they want more than anything. To someone with multiple barriers or so many things going on in their life they find it difficult to give their job search the focus it requires, the magnifying glass speaks. The clock maybe not surprisingly, speaks more to the mature or older people who take up the seat next to me. Younger people in their 20’s say, well, they believe they have all the time in the world; certainly enough that the clock isn’t as ominous as it will be one day.

It was out in a store during a busy Christmas shopping trip that I spied the three. They weren’t assembled as you see them in the photo here. No, they were in various parts of the store, but it was the line of work I’m in and the conversations I have many of that first brought to mind the idea of assembling them together. My brain just works this way; always thinking of creative ideas. Even now as I write, I think about the old-fashioned journals so popular in book stores, and how one of these and a quill pen might be good additions, for those who’d like a fresh page to begin writing the stories that make up a life. However, maybe my desk might get a little cluttered?

They are pretty good conversation starters though. The nice thing is that I don’t have to actually say anything to get conversations going. While we talk walking down to my office, sometimes I’ll take just a fraction of a minute to let them get settled in as I load their personal file or feign moving a few things around on the desk to give them room. The objects before them draw their attention in and while most just make a remark, some will ask if they can hold one. “Why that one?” I’ll ask.

And that’s all it takes. It’s not so much about the ones a person didn’t take up or talk about, even though all three are important. No, the most important thing is just to listen and comment on what I hear. A question here or there; sometimes what they share is better, more relevant and certainly much quicker delivered than had I asked a slew of questions. In fact, a litany of questions might come out more like an interrogation!

Work spaces are very personal areas. Do you have pictures, quotes, maybe a combination of the two, other articles etc. that draw out or inspire conversation? Would you be willing to chime in with a comment about what you strategic place in your work area, why you’ve chosen what you have and the impact of those things on those who come into your space?

It would be interesting to share, to read and perhaps for some to copy. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have objects around them for conversation; possibly others even have the same three objects as I do. Sometimes, I move the clock so it faces me and I substitute in an hourglass. Same kind of device to mark the passing of time; the thing about the hourglass is people like to flip it over. so it becomes interactive. Time appears to stop when the last crystal of sand drops, but of course it stops no more than the clock does when it’s battery expires. Time marches on.

These I have penned about before, so if my musings sound reminiscent of a post past, good for you for recognizing the recurring theme. The interesting thing is sometimes a person returns to my office after some time and they suddenly recall the three, and they remark how their priorities have shifted. That’s groovy.