My cousin Charles is a psychologist who helps people with Chronic Pain. The pain that doesn't go away. It seems to me we are mostly wired to take action. To come up with a plan to get from where we are to somewhere better. Charles says a big part of what he does is helping people accept the pain. By acknowledging the pain, you are able to give it the necessary attention. But no more. It reminds me of the Hulk when Iron Man is trying to irritate him into getting mad. He says he has learnt a trick to control it. You assume it is a trick to remain calm. But no.
'That's my secret Captain. I am always angry' Hulk
One of the things I have to work on the hardest is to just listen. I am a talker. When I go into meetings with a conscious decision to just keep quiet and listen, it almost never works. I have a buddy who was a little like Iron Man. He liked to poke. He used to get great pleasure out of listening to me planning a strategy for silence, and then just before the meeting whisper something like, 'but you wouldn't be you if you kept quiet'. Inside, I am always talking.
The talking comes from a bubbling of ideas of how and what we can do to defeat all the challenges in the world. The 18 year old idealist in me doesn't seem to have realised he has doubled in age. I have met lots and lots of equally passionate people. Everyone has something that gets us going. Something that sparks us off to rage against the world. Something we desperately want to change.
Yesterday I was wiki-walking through various philosophers. It turns out one of my favourite authors, Ursula Le Guin (The Earthsea Quartet) has written a book about Lao Tzu who another of my favourite authors, Josh Waitzkin, regularly talks about. So that will be my introduction to Taoist philosophy. I did enjoy one famous Laozi saying I found, 'Try to change it and you will ruin it. Try to hold it and you will lose it.'
It seems some of the big challenges in the world are pains we need to acknowledge rather than fix. Some require more listening to solve than action with big ideas. I said yesterday that happiness, for me, is a combination of a question and a practice. The bit that is missing there is the acceptance. Some things are what they are.