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Looking to the light

& How to work like a Trojan

Getting out of your PJ brain

It’s not just you.

All over the planet, people are struggling to get motivated not only to get out of their pajamas , but also to contribute any meaningful work to our society. A combination of social isolation and the uncertainty work in the future is a toxic combination for our grey matter. We’re quite simply lacking in the dopamine that social situations bring to the party.

What can you do to bring it back home?

The human mind is, needless to say, a complicated piece of equipment which even prominent thinkers such as Daniel Dennett don’t necessarily believe is fully equipped to understand ourselves. Nevertheless, no matter what happens our survival instinct is still intact, which is the main facet that’s brought us this far. So the rest, so to speak, is in the future. Your future.

Every dog has its day

Sometimes Fate, or whichever Greater Being you may believe in, doesn’t have it in for you, but positively signposts where to go and how to get there. For instance, when one of my clients emailed me with what looked to be a chainmail but was actually A Poetry Exchange, I was delighted to receive some very worthwhile lines – that is, after dusting down an LP from my teenage years to send on the immortal words:

“Let it go, release my pain /Let it go, Let your love be rain for me /Let it go, release your pain /Let it go, Let my love be rain for you.”

from Dan Reed Network‘s Iraq war era album, The Heat to a chosen few.

In what surely an unfair bargain, in exchange for those early 90s pop/rock lyrics an old schoolfriend of mine sent on his favourite verse; which was in Latin and therefore even more worthy – and timeless – than the words of former rock god and prominent meditator Dan Reed:

Stat sua cuique dies; breve et irreparabile tempus
Omnibus est vitae; set famam extendere factis, Hoc virtutis opus

OR

Each man has his allotted day.

All life is brief and time once past can never be restored.

But the task of the brave is to enlarge his fame by his actions

The Aeneid

In other words – even more loosely translated – despite everything else that goes on around you, your work can indeed be your salvation. It’s your chance to be a hero. After all, no-one else can do it for you.

The moral of the story

Whatever the weather, what’s always worthwhile – whether there be an existential /worldwide crisis or not – is getting into successful people’s heads the old fashioned way – by reading their autobiography.

Autobiographies are a bit like a school assembly or a training course; you probably won’t enjoy every minute of it, it’s pretty unlikely to change your world but you’ll always pick up – or more likely be reminded of – at least one useful and salient point. After all, everyone who has had their story published has been successful enough to do so!

This last week, I’ve been putting the finishing touches to reading the Welsh language autobiography of Welsh international footballer, former drunk-driver and by-now successful sports pundit Malcolm Allen, which can be neatly boiled down to one sentence for those in need of a quick & usable solution to their work quandry:

Never question your talent, always question your effort.

Malcolm Allen, international soccer player.

Work to the best of your ability

This week I’ve also been reading more about Immanuel Kant, a great German thinker. He can be a bit dense – in the complicated sense – but like your muesli in the morning, it pays off in the long run. Try this for starters:

Kant’s practical philosophy is not at odds with our ordinary consciousness, which is marked by the hope that if we work to the best of our ability, we will at least get closer to the realization of our goals.

Étienne Brown, Kantian Review, forthcoming [June 2020]

It may be a simplistic attitude, but if you keep your ears open and your eyes on the pages that happen to land in front of you, you’ll do OK. After all, be it emails, books or articles, someone has sent it to you with some purpose, so (as Willy Wonka might say) get busy, do not delay.

photo : @dailingual

In these uncertain times, we simply must concentrate on what’s in front of us – and it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re putting the right things into focus. Remembering – especially as we can’t be close to all our family and friends during these troubled times – that in nature, every day even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant flowers turn to the available light to the make the best of every weather.

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