I'm back from the radio silence! The last month was a bunch of traveling in Vietnam which has resulted in me relocating to Ho Chi Minh City, concluding my short 5-month readjustment chapter in Hanoi.
There are three possible reasons for such a move: 1) something to do 2) somebody and 3) running away. I have all three, plus a need to find an excuse to satisfy my seeker's heart. I'll write more about the reflection below in case you are interested.
Anyway, back to you and to the midst of the sun (and World Cup Final!). Summer brings back a lot of passionate memories, many of which are fleeting. But some of them leave a bigger, often indelible marks on who we are. I'm thinking of the more intense affections and heartbreaks, which has been present on many people's minds and hearts these days.
How do we make sense of the inevitable heartbreaking experiences?
Losing of a loved one, burning out at work, romantic breaking up, health declining, failing at an important personal or professional endeavors.
To put in a personal, closer-to-home context, how do we make sense of those people who have accidentally broken our hearts?
Speaking as someone who has been to both end of this quintessential human drama, I've noticed that a sign of healing is the asking of a different question, a shift from blaming "Why did you do it to me?" to taking responsibility "How have I contributed to this undesirable situation?"
This shift from victimhood to self-responsibility is undoubtedly important. 99% of the time, gaining control and clarity amidst confusion is exactly what's needed. It's the bandage that stops the bleeding wound.
But sooner or later, especially for the 1% crisis that really shakes up your world, you may wonder a different and deeper question, such as "What does this whole incident mean?"
Is there anything to be learned beyond "never do that again" or "take responsibility for your own happiness"? These are great lessons to learn, but I still wonder: Can the wound point to something deeper, larger, truer about who we are?
As Carl Jung wrote, "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” As we dare to reopen the once sealed wound and lean into that darker soul-searching conversation, we may discover some surprising gems of insight.
Then we can ask: what do we do with such insights? In what concrete ways do we change as we integrate them back into our life? In the way we walk through the world? (both light and firm) In the way we care about people? (both generous and picky)
As usual, the post opens up more questions than it answers, so feel free to jump in.
I'm also offering a free conversation to chat with me if you feel like you are going through a trying times and need someone to accompany, clarify and keep you encouraged :-)
Sharing is sprouting.
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Caring more about less [excerpt]
How to care more about less
If you have been in doing a lot of things out there in the world and feel that it is time to go inward, then dig deeper for your purpose by asking Toyota’s Five Whys.
If you have enough self-knowledge through introspection and know that it is time to take action, then screen off nonsense before any commitment by asking five “Why bothers?” instead. This trick, inspired by Venkatesh Rao, assumes not caring as default. We then need to prove to ourselves that we care, and in that careful process we end up caring more.
Yes, it’s dark, and it’s also the best heartbreak prevention mechanism I know out there. David Whyte puts it more eloquently:
“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
If we dare to stick to this intentional pickiness, then we will end up with a small group of people who can truly appreciate who we are and what we do, what Kevin Kelly calls 1000 True Fans. To many ambitious people, it is a seemingly simple aim that are more powerful than they can ever imagine.
Preaching to the choir is rather unsexy, but it is often necessary and pretty darn practical.
Much of my work these days involves helping people ask more generative questions and thus develop more generous ways to see ourselves in the larger context.
While it seems to be interesting to craft my own path, I have a lot of doubts too. It's not "How am I going to make a living out of this woo-woo intangible thing?", for somehow I intuitively know that these tactical stuff will figure itself out once the more important questions are addressed. The bigger doubt is "Who are you, this mustache-free face, to say this old wisey thing? Who cares?"
I imagine that I'm not the only one who faces such doubt, so I thought of sharing some ways I've been dancing with them. No, not overcoming or even managing them. Just dancing.
First, such doubt is the way our ego tries to protect us from being socially humiliated. It's a valid need. Remember, before becoming enlightened, Prince Siddhartha tried being an ascetic monk and realized that he needed to satisfy the ego to certain extent so that it will not bug him too much. So I'm grateful for doubt for keeping me safe.
Second, whenever I have that doubt, I try to remind myself that I'm doing this to scratch my own itch first and foremost. I have such an urge to ask generative questions, and they have such an enigmatic pull on me that I can't resist. These thoughts come so naturally for me, that just feels right when I can articulate them. I can't help it, and maybe I should not.
Third, these questions are not new. They have been asked for thousands of years by countless people, from sages to soldiers, from kings to laywomen. It's an honor and responsibility to continue keeping those questions alive. It doesn't matter who asks, me, you or our friends. It matters that someone asks.
Hope that helps.
I've written a personal updates here in case you want to know where I have been to, physically, life-wise as well as psycho-spiritually. Personal updates, July 2018
Write back to me sometimes, please!