The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Keeping Loads in Mind

Selective dyslexia or Freudian Slip?

Some days start quite functionally, and today was no exception. I was on LinkedIn, scanning the profile page when my eyes, or is it attention, passed over a function box that said “Upload a file”. Here’s the thing, though – I read this as “Upload a life”.

And this got me thinking and making connections, starting with recalling my common and repetitive keyboard slips, and the odd amusing “typo” that – nowadays anyway – only I would chuckle at, since the people I shared it with at the time are no longer around.

The trouble with all THAT kind of stuff, all the little fragments of our lives that hang, cryogenically suspended in memory waiting for the activating trigger or the breath of fresh air that brings it back to life – into consciousness – is this:-

It all takes up space on the hard drive of our lives, or is like stuff we’ve put up in the loft of our lives ...
When restored into consciousness it then has the potential to derail and disengage us from the Present Moment. 
The longer we spend in reverie or memory, the more the disengagement – and the more the disengagement the more we become almost ‘hypnotised’ by the recollection.

Now we can de-clutter our lofts and our everyday lives by throwing away real and tangible clutter like that – yet can we do that with the hard drives of our lives? 

Our lives have a narrative which is the chronicle of how we’ve got to here from all that has gone before there, so surely the only way we can de-clutter all THAT stuff is when we suffer memory loss?
Isn’t it?

De-clutter the emotional content

Well there is a way, and that begins when we acknowledge the amount of emotion we’ve wrapped around the item, or the event, or the memory. For out of that acknowledgement comes the ability to differentiate between the objective content and the emotional content.

I call it emotional paint, and it is that that we liberally daub onto things, events and memories to make them MORE real, more vivid. We do this with things that are equally happy or sad or all points in between. So when we de-clutter the emotion then we are using emotional “paint stripper” - in essence.

The trouble with emotional content is that our ‘daubing’ often goes on at an unconscious level, so we are sometimes unaware of some of the associations we have coded away.
One of the most powerful associative triggers is smell, or fragrance. We notice a smell and that will take us right back to something or someone that we’ll recollect with total clarity. Then, out of that recollection, will come flooding a whole raft of emotional paint that we’re quite unprepared for. 

Emotional content triggered by fragrance is, I would say, the hardest to de-clutter. The next most powerful – and also the most tangible for me at least - are sounds, and particularly music.

J S Bach – Prelude No.1 in C major BWV 846

My son played this at my mother’s funeral. 

The thing is it is a piece that I am totally aware of and would be likely to re-encounter over and over again in my life going forward. I knew in advance that I needed to restore it to its rightful place in my library of “music that I love”, instead of it being placed on a shelf also containing sad and dark emotions of deep loss. That had happened for me with Albinoni’s Adagio – a very well known piece – that had been played at the funeral of a friend who had died well before his time. Every time I hear it, even now, I am right back at the church and in that part of the service. It was very emotional.

So I went onto You Tube and played every single different version of the Bach piece. Some were played on piano, some on harpsichord – some were played fast and some slow. I heard many different perspectives – and when I was comfortable and ready, I knew then that my association of the piece with my Mum’s funeral had ceased to be on the wrong shelf.

Emotional stripping, de-cluttering and de-coding can take many forms, yet the end product is always a realignment of a truer and more objective interpretation of the original – whether it is a person, an event, an action or indeed any experience.

Time was, when I used to find things in my loft or – especially – in an old trunk in my loft, that I would put everything on hold while I revisited the associations, walked the pathways, saw what I saw, heard what I heard and felt what I felt – back THEN.

Now I have an Understanding of what used to take place and rarely, if ever, encounter anything other than what is right here in the Present moment. It IS very liberating and certainly, in the case of the Bach Prelude in C major, I discovered that out of the dissipation of my grief came the most rewarding gift. I see that gift as having come from my mother and it comforts and reassures me that her guidance, advice and presence has never left, and will always be here.

I never set out to obtain such an outcome when I chose to listen to an almost endless number of versions of the Bach, however! Interestingly, I would refer you to the comments Andre Gavrilov makes about the piece. “It is white, “he says, “Just white. It could be angel-like if you wish!”


On reflection when I consider “Upload a Life”, which is where all this started, I am still surprised when I look around and see how little I’ve still brought with me when I upload my life now. The file-size on my hard drive is nothing like it was even five years ago, and especially ten or particularly fifteen years ago. Where has all that content gone?

Perhaps this is why I have so much room to enjoy the day to day stuff now, for I’m more engaged with the Present and have no need to reach for that pot of emotional paint all the time.

So this begs the question which I will ask again! Where has all that content gone – and did I ever need it in the first place? 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Culture Shock

Spooking the Impala

One of my more oft-repeated mantras is “Always Expect the Unexpected”. It is, I believe, good advice and practice, for embedded in there is a number of purposeful presuppositions and implied embedded commands.
Interestingly, looking out for the unexpected can give us a wonderful understanding about the nature of Unexpectedness and Randomness – like that! The world is random anyway, so we become more “at one” in spontaneity terms with what’s going on. “Always” is a command, by way of a caveat, since it is also in our nature to be drawn into distractions and moments of unreadiness where our absorbed attention to the Randomness of things is diluted.

Imagine the impala drinking at the water-hole, noticing the crocodiles gliding around thirty metres away in the water – but failing to notice the lions creeping up behind. 

I was at one of my After School Cricket Clubs this week, talking with the players, when this ‘lion’ caught me unawares.

“Are you a professional coach?”
“Where do you go?”
“I go to lots of schools and also clubs.”
“Do you coach professionals?”
“I have done. They are professionals now though they weren’t professionals at the time I coached them. They were just a few years older than you are now.”
“So why have you come to OUR school?”

Just for a moment I felt the jaws of the lion about to close, yet with the speedy reactions of a spooked impala, I leapt back and to the side. In the real-time context of the Club, the question and the players waiting for my reply, there was a moment of complete suspension. Time stood still – tumbleweed rolled through the empty streets blown on the whistling frontier breeze. And in that moment I recalled some of the other times I’d darted away from the “jaws of the lion”, by responding with total authenticity.

“Because I want to give YOU ALL a chance to enjoy some cricket by playing, and to help you and show you how to get better at it, so you can enjoy it some more. Which is why we’re all here today – isn’t it?”

Shock, Shocking and After-Shock

In the face of such a leonine attack, for me – the Impala - it was not so much ‘fight or flight’ but rather duck, weave, and counter punch. So maybe I wasn’t being Impala at all! Maybe it was more like “wise old bird”.

However, there is a bit of a delayed shock for me, as I reflect in the comfort of my own mind.

For the questioning child to ask why I should choose to go to THEIR school, there has to be a deeply felt opinion by them about the nature and culture of THEIR school and their place in it. And that opinion contains elements of cynicism, sarcasm, criticism and more than a hint of apathy bordering on depressive despair.
It would easy to think:
“How on earth can my simple message of learning through the fun of playing cricket compete against such a raft of powerful AND growing beliefs in the mind of a 10 or 11 year old.”
For one hour a week they encounter my message, and for the remainder of the time their growing beliefs are reinforced by all the other inside and outside messages that bombard them on a daily basis.


It would SO easy for me to throw in the towel, by pointing a finger at the apparent collective culture of the playground of this school and say “enough is enough.”

However, I am “wise old bird” who has, I’m pleased to say, been lucky enough to have worked in some pretty tough and challenging schools – in pretty tough and challenging neighborhoods. For me, also, I am grateful for what I have learned about the psychologies of perseverance and non-reaction and why certain people, at whatever age, do what they do.

So cricket – and its wonderful message – goes on regardless. The choice for those who don’t like what it is doing for and to them is “Quit and Sit” – rather than “Stay and Play”.
For when we play, we can forget where we are, who we think we are, and just be totally engaged in the fun and the activity. 

So next week we start again with a clean sheet, a blank canvas. The struggle of their culture versus mine that took place at the water-hole this week is a thing of the past. We have each learned something through that struggle. I know and understand what I have learnt and will use it, going forward. 

They may already see their world in a slightly different way as a result of the struggle – and it would be wonderful and rewarding if that were to be so. For however desperate or hopeless any culture may seem to those caught or trapped in it – we need to be and remain aware that a culture, any culture, is only perpetuated by failing to engage with it.