Every day you wake up you must find meaning for your life.

Our purpose is to find our true path in life, and then summon the courage to walk it.  I believe deep inside ourselves we all know what our life’s purpose is, but we don’t always have the courage to follow it.  We then hide our purpose from ourselves with distractions, limitations, and doubts.  Some of us then spend a life time trying to pick our way through the barbed wire, trenches, and minefields we laid to keep us from pursuing our life’s purpose.

I am all men and no man
floating through space and time
looking to connect with those

Who want to connect, to know
another human being in this
soul sucking society we call civilization

Gone are the shackles
but slaves we still are

How clever, do you deny it?
I deny it everyday
but the fact remains

I am a slave who wants to be free
free to know you, free to know me
free to be who I want to be not

Like the men on TV
or like my father
or my father’s father


What do you know about freedom?
I once fought for freedom
sacrificed myself so you could be

who you want to be
yet you still choose to be a victim
a slave to the system, like me

you let the beauty of the day
pass by your way without a smile
when did you last see the colours

of the rainbow mixed in a bowl
mingled with your soul and my soul
fragile and tender

I long to be you; I long to be me
our destinies intertwined,
laced with co-dependency

Our names whispered in the wind
written on a half forgotten dawn
I’d like to know you, be you, be me

Our souls dancing naked in the wind
naked and free to dance
through eternity

I am going on Robert McKee’s 3 day intensive Story seminar this weekend. I want to use the seminar as the jumping off point for launching my serious pursuit of learning and mastering the art and craft of storytelling. I read his book and learnt a great deal from it, mainly how ignorant I am of what storytelling is all about and what makes a good story. But where I was blind, now I can see. And my hopes for this weekend is that I will be able to see with even more clarity and come away with a rock solid understanding of Story

In the spirit of screenwriting and storytelling, I thought I’d go through my mental cataloged of favorite movies. Of course this list would probably change on any given day, but here it is as it stands right now, my top 15 movies (no particular order):

1. The Matrix – I love all the underlying philosophical questions.

2. The Last of the Mohicans -  the lone warrior against all odds has been a favorite motif of mine since my teenage years when i was enamored with Conan the Barbarian and the whole sword and sorcery fantasy genre.
3. Shakespeare in Love – The Bard is a personal hero of mine plus I like the film’s treatment of the love and joy of writing.

4. Crossroads – this the greatest blues road trip movie, if you love the blues, you can’t help but love this movie, some great harmonica playing and blues guitar.

5. Empire Strikes Back – the enigmatic nature of The Force is a big draw for me, Zen goes to the movies.

6. Platoon – when i first saw this film I was a cadet at West Point, i went with a bunch of other cadets and when we left the theater we dumbstruck with the realization of our chosen profession.

7. Wall Street – some great hardcore one-liners…’money never sleeps pal’…’lunch is for wimps’

8. Trading Places – Eddie Murphy at his best.

9. Point Break – the sea, the surf, living free…’it’s not a tragedy to die doing what you love…’

10. Beverly Hills Cop – Eddie Murphy at his funniest.

This year I have been doing a lot of work with leaders on leadership. One of the core principles of leadership is around values and creating shared values with the teams you lead. We don’t often think about our values or articulate them. We know intrinsically when something we value is threatened, but when asked what our values are, most people hem and haw and struggle to articulate precisely what they value. I think having a strong sense of what your values are helps you to live on purpose as oppose to haphazardly being blown from one thing to the next. As Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

I thought I’d share with you my values, which I have organized around 3 core principles:

Treat people with dignity and respect. supporting values: honesty, fairness, compassion, and humility.

Take personal responsibility for my actions and my attitide. supporting values: individualism, self-improvement, self-development, discipline, and risk-taking.

Operate in a spirit of togetherness. supporting values: family and community.
I have these written in the cover of my notebook so that I can reflect on them daily.

What are your values?

I’ve been away delivering a week-long training course. I wasn’t able to sort my mobile broadband connection partly due to laziness and partly due to the flawed procedures 3 Network has in place. Despite that, the week was successful. I ran into a couple of old friends, one on accident, the other by design.

Here are some excerpts of the week from my offline journal (one of the nights, I went out and took photos of the estate):

7 Apr

Met up with Chantal in the evening at The Mermaid for an open mic jam session night. The house band was Steve K, a decent blues, rock, jazz fusion band. The open mic bands were also good. It was nice to see Chantal, although I never seem to be able to have a sustain conversation with her because she’s like a fluttering butterfly always on the move never stopping for more than a few second before moving on to the next topic or texting or whatever.

Inevitably we end up talking about life and what we want to do with ourselves. I half-joked with Chantal to just tell me what to do with next 40 years of my life. She got me to imagine that I was 80 years old now and asked me what would I look back on and regret not doing? The only answer I could give, the truthful answer is i would regret not having a body of published work that people read and read again. The only other thing would be not to have spent a year or so traveling on around the world in true vagabond style. That’s about it really. I was just remarking how hard it is to sit down and face a blank sheet of paper every day. But that what writers do and have done forever.

8 Apr

A bit of an epiphany this morning lying in a bed at Bricket Wood. I am approaching 40, which if i go by the average expectant lifespan of a modern man, i am at the halfway point, so i am entering the second half of my life. I want to go into this half with a clear purpose, a set determination, and focus on getting what i want. I also want to focus on building wealth for the later years in my life when i won’t want to go out and work in the mill. The fact that i want to be an important writer means in essence that i should be able to write right until the very end, but i would like to be in a position to not have to work if i don’t want to.

Something that interest me at the moment is the life-scripts I run automatically, where do they come from, what purpose do they serve? what triggers them?, what do i need to do to change the scripts i run? Imprints I think anton wilson and denise leary called them. from a Buddhist’s point of view what are the illusions that i govern my life by?

Like right now, on delivering this course, I want these people to like me, to believe that i am credible, to respect me for what i know. this is making feel self-conscious and unsettled because i am worrying about (imagining them doing the opposite) and acting as if it’s happening now. This I can change. I can change it by changing my focus.

I admire people who do what they do for their family. Let me restate that. One of the guys asked the group what their values were or why did they come to work or something like that and this person replied that he wanted to provide security for his wife and child. I admire people who are driven or motivated to do what they do for the good of their family.

10 Apr

Coming to the close of the course. We had a nice bonding night. I’ve had some nice indirect feedback from the group. They want to come on my future courses. They’re using words and phrases from my sessions, a number of them have said this has been the best week of their training so far. I’ve seen the less experienced managers grow in confidence.

A lesson for me: don’t let myself down by not living up to be the noblest person i am capable of being. Be a person of strong character.

It snowed last night.  I woke up and everything outside was covered in a couple of inches of snow.  If it was December or January I would be thrilled; as it is April and Spring, I am not. This time it is true; April is the cruelest month, as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Wasteland.

But as fast as the snow came, it was gone by the afternoon, proving once again that in England you are more likely than not to get four seasons in one day.

I found myself getting annoyed this morning, mainly at myself.  It took a few minutes to figure out why.  I think it’s because i feel like DOING something i.e. I want to be out mixing it up with the world doing something really exciting.  Perhaps that’s a long way to say I am bored with sitting around being a domesticated primate.  I’m a couple of keystrokes away from running off and joining the French Foreign Legion.

my problem is i want to do everything at once, i want to run, dance, sing, paint, write, make love, and be a misfit all at the same time.

I need a wealthy patron to fund my vagrant meandering literary mishaps.  We can call it my “Inspiration Fund.�

Photos from my wanderings yesterday:

So this is what it’s like to be dead.  Well not dead exactly, more like I don’t exist anymore.  Yesterday I was thinking of re-inventing myself, but somehow I went a little too far and erased myself right out of existence completely.  That’s the trouble when you think too much, you start asking too many questions and then wham, you ask the million dollar question that invalidates your whole existence.

Look what happened to Job.  He asked so many questions that God had to come down out of Heaven to shut the boy up before he made the whole system collapse. God was furious over that one.  He kept muttering to Job to gird up his loins like a man and justify why he felt qualified to question God’s ways.  Job was lucky; he got off with a warning.

Descartes tried it too.  He locked himself in his room and decided he was going to figure this whole idea of existence out, maybe even prove that God did in fact exists and that the only reason nobody had seen him since Moses was because he was on holiday in some far off corner of the universe.  Descartes nearly erased himself as well.  He asked so many questions that the only thing left in existence was him on a tiny island, no birds, no trees, no ocean, no sky – nothing.  He would have done it too, but at the last minute he suddenly remembered an important meeting he didn’t want to miss.  He rescued himself by uttering, ‘I think; therefore I am.’

For me it started out rather innocently.  It was a nice day.  Unseasonably warm according to the weatherman, so I decided to take a walk down to the little stream in the woods behind my house.  The woods were quiet, peaceful even.  It was the kind of quiet that almost begs you to stop and think.  And that should have been my clue to turn around and go home, but I lingered on.  I saw a rabbit basking in a patch of sun.  With the purest of intentions, I simply wondered out loud, ‘what is it like to be rabbit from the rabbit’s point of view?  If I could talk to it, how would it describe reality?’

Then like poking a hole in a damn, more questions followed.  What is reality? How do I know these woods and that rabbit are real?

I took out some loose change in my pocket; is money real?

I looked up at the sky; what are space and time?

Am I dreaming or am I awake?

And it went on like that for hours.  Question after question I asked, and for every answer I came up with, more questions followed.  I became obsessed with questions.  I walked home and questioned everything on the way back.

It was then that I made the fatal mistake.  I looked in the mirror and asked the one question that has ruined many a good man:  Who am I?

Whoever said that ignorance is bliss was right.  I wish now that I had heeded their wise counsel, because who I thought I was turned out not to be who I am.