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Cosmos – The Science and the Spirituality

Becky and I have been watching the new version of Cosmos an it’s led to some amazing conversations. For those that aren’t aware of the show it’s a new version of the classic Carl Sagan series that aired in 1980. Neil Degrasse Tyson is the host this time around.

The show is such an amazing combination of science and imagination. Specifically I was blown away by the Cosmic Calendar that says that if all time from the big bang to now was one calendar year human existence would be the last couple of minutes of the last hour of Dec 31st.

I have two very distinct feelings when I think about that fact. First I feel so insignificant, small and unimportant. There was a time when I would have spiraled into feeling depressed, like what’s the point?  Not this time, after feeling small and insignificant, I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’m amazed and grateful that I’m living at a time and in a place where I have the opportunity to bear witness to the vastness of life.

I feel genuinely connected to life and appreciate my place in it. Of course my mind struggles to grasp the scale of it all but my heart swells and the feeling is joy.

Who would have thought watching a show about science would be a spiritual experience.

Here’s the original Cosmic Calendar with Carl Sagan from 1980.

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What’s Your Story?

When I was a kid one of my favorite things was reading Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would not put the book down until I had every possible adventure. If I made the wrong choice and ended up in the pit of snakes or whatever horrible end I met, I would usually cheat and say to myself “oh wait I meant to go the other direction” and I would live to fight another day. Wouldn’t it be great if real life was like that as well? You could just say “Oops I meant to:
• Take that other job
• Marry a different person
• Order the salad instead of chicken fingers 😉

Well we can!

There are very few decisions that we make in life that can’t be corrected by choosing a different set of actions. The problem is that so often we get stuck regretting the actions we have made. When your vision is clouded by regret it’s impossible to clearly see a path to action, we are hung up on a story we tell ourselves that keeps us stuck.

This happens to me all the time. I make a mistake or a bad decision of some kind and I get stuck in a loop of what I “SHOULD” have done (I will write more about SHOULD another time) or how I’m not good enough to make the right choice or complete the task correctly. This cycle does nothing to help me fix the problem; it mires me down in negative self-assessments about my abilities and self-worth. What’s my story when I have a break (mistake, bad choice etc).

Well my story might be that I missed a deadline. That’s an assertion, a fact, it’s what happened. However my story doesn’t end there, my assessment (opinion) is that I SHOULD have met the deadline, if I was better with my time it would have been fine. I ALWAYS miss deadlines; I’m NEVER going to get that promotion because I’m a fraud who doesn’t DESERVE to have good things happen.

That my friends is typical story that I tell myself all the time, I’m sure most people can relate to this, how many times have you told yourself a version of this exact story.

So how does my story help me fix the problem of the missed deadline? It doesn’t, all it does is create feelings of shame, guilt and anxiety. Just the mood you want for creative problem solving!

What if my story stopped at the assertion (facts)? I missed the deadline. From here I have a wide open slate of possibilities to choose from.
• I can speak with my Manager to discuss how to make up the time elsewhere
• I can ask for help from a peer
• I can address it on my own
Regardless of the action I take, I’m now on a path of resolution, not stuck in a loop of suffering.

Stopping to ask “What’s my story?” when a breakdown happens is the same as a do over in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You have a breakdown and from there you have certain actions you can take, some work out, some don’t, but you won’t spend time blaming yourself and wishing you could cheat and flip back in the book and make a different choice.

I may not be Indiana Jones’ Assistant anymore but my life is definitely an adventure regardless what choices I make and I know I’m excited about the adventures that lie ahead for me!

jb

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It’s not what’s missing that matters…

Before I start I have a Confession, I love the commercial on CBC for the Paralympics and it is the inspiration for this post.  I should also confess that this won’t be my only post based on the tagline of a commercial (I’m lovin it… just kidding)

I’ve been watching the Paralympics in Sochi and I’m so inspired and amazed by the athletes.  It occurs to me that I relate more to the athletes in the Paralympics more than I do to the athlete in the Olympics.  I always assume that the athletes in the Olympics are “gifted” and possess mysterious physical attributes that are not available to me.  I guess I feel that if an athlete with a physical disability can be successful that maybe I can to.

That got me thinking about why?  I’m not physically disabled, but I do feel like there is something missing and that’s where I relate to the Paralympian.  I feel like I don’t have all the tools that everyone else has and that like the Paralympian I will have to “Overcome” to be successful.  Well at least that’s how I used to feel.

I realize that the elements required for a Paralympian to be successful are the same as it is for any high level athlete.  They need the insight to learn technique (language), they need physical practice to perfect the technique (body) and most importantly they need the strength to be immersed in failure.  The vulnerability an athlete needs to be willing to fail is key to their success (emotion).

This is where I get stuck.  Nothing scares me more than vulnerability.  The idea of failing at anything, especially failing in public is enough to prevent me from trying at all.  For years I joked by saying that instead of no pain no gain I was just going to stick with no pain.  This was more telling than I realized.  I can’t say that I have overcome my fear, far from it in fact, but I do acknowledge my fear and I’m more comfortable to step into it and be willing to fail.

As I’m watching these athletes I’m not focused on their disability, I’m seeing more and more the courage they display by being willing to fail so that they can succeed.

This is the lesson for me.  It’s not what’s missing that’s important, it’s what’s there.