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Positively Wyrd

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  Positively Wyrd

 

CONTENTS


Acknowledgements
Introduction

1  LIVING IN THE DARK
"There's a whole in my bucket..."


2  A WEIRD KIND OF FATE
In the hands of fate
A subtle hint of weirdness
Weaving a different world


3  THE SENSES TAKER
Choosing not to choose
Avoiding emotion
Beliefs, feelings, senses
A habit of choice


4  EVERYONE IS TO BLAME
"You can't get there from here"
Tyrant and victim
Who's to blame?
No-one is to blame


5  I AM WHAT I AM
Whose life is it, anyway?
The 'silliness barrier'
The 'tall poppy' syndrome
Strengths and weaknesses


6  AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
The curse of belief
An affirmative habit
Into action


7  WANTS AND NEEDS
What do you want?
We all want more money
What do you need?
What do you want from me?
What do you need from you?
"I'm a substitute for another guy..."
Take aim...


8  CONTROL AND OTHER MYTHS
Fear is a four-letter word
I want to be powerful
A different kind of power
New Age, new illusions?
A time to trust


9  TIME TO LET GO
Non-attachment, non-detachment
"Nobody's perfect"
Let go of knowing
An end to suffering


10  ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR
Riding the roller-coaster
The hall of mirrors
Walking the tightrope
Bring on the clowns!


11  ONE STEP AT A TIME
A state of survival
Facing frustration
Panics and priorities
Re-accepting self
The process of change


12  WEAVING THE THREADS OF WYRD
A web of connections
The ordinariness of wyrd
Do what you will But be sure that you will it!


13  MY WORD IS MY BOND
Choosing your words
A question of commitment
Doubt and discipline
The role of religion


14  IT'S ALL IMAGINARY
Real or imaginary?
Invisible images
Watch the details
Real imagination
Inventing the real world


15  DIVINE COINCIDENCE
Cause and coincidence
Everyday weirdness
As above, so below
Prediction and paradox


16  DANCING WITH OUR SELVES
Stance and dance
A dramatic gesture
The flow of the dance


17  THE ART OF EMPOWERMENT
As the muse takes us
The art of listening
Drawing our visions
Words on the wind


18  WE'RE BUSY DOING NO-THING
Allowing ourselves to notice
When less is more
Time to slow down
Do it consciously


19  WHICH 'I' IS ME?
What or where is 'I'?
Caught in the web
A choice of boundaries


20  STRETCHING THE BOUNDARIES
Reclaiming the balance
The export of blame
Facing fear
A world without walls


21  SELF AND OTHERS
The sound of silence
Being selfish
Being self-reliant
A web of choices


22  RELATING
Soul-mates and cell-mates
Happy families?
Friends and other allies


23  WORKING IN A WEIRD WORLD
A world of connections
A world of confusions
A world at work


24  IT ISN'T EASY BEING GREEN?
A sense of value
A sense of place
A sense of healing
A sense of trust


25  A WYRD WAY OF LIFE
Wyrd
Self-exploration
Philosophical perspectives
Fiction

This book is no longer available in print


Positively Wyrd

Harnessing the chaos in your life

Tom Graves


Introduction and
Chapter Six: Affirmative Action

 

INTRODUCTION


Life is weird. It has a habit of presenting us with weird tasks, trials and tribulations no matter how much we'd rather not face them. So for many of us, we try to resolve the issues through 'personal growth', as something we undertake in the hope that things will get better, that we'll regain some kind of control over our lives. And things do get better: though rarely in a simple, linear sequence of improvements, and sometimes not even in a way that we would at first understand as 'better' the process is far more weird than that. There is indeed a deep joy and a deep sense of meaning to be found this way; but it would be unrealistic to say this without also saying that the path, always a personal one, can at times be intensely lonely and intensely disturbing. It's that confusion that makes the process hard: but it is part of a process that does lead us to enjoyment, to the full, of every aspect of our lives a joyous involvement in life as it is.

The reality is that the path we each take is weird, and often doesn't seem to make sense: we get launched into new experiences, or seemingly trapped in loops time after time. And the whole process can not only be tortuous, but at times torturous, a sense of being tested again and again almost yet never quite – beyond what we can bear. As to why it should be so, we can only answer 'Yes'. In some cases there probably is no 'why': it is – and that's all. If we're to work with what Reality Department cares to hand us, we first have to accept it for what it is: the 'why', if any, can come later.

We do always come out stronger, more able to enjoy life, and more able to face our personal issues after each of these apparent tests, as long as we face them and what they show us of ourselves: that seems to be the reason for it all, and is certainly what makes it all worthwhile. And although this process of growth at times is hard, is painful, is lonely, it's always based in our choices. We always have a choice; yet there's also always a twist. Those twists are where the weirdness lies: the effects of our choices ripple out into the world at large, and then echo back to us in a way that we can only describe as weird. A weaving and interweaving of life and lives: a sense of connection, a sense of choices, a sense of subtlety, of something we can never quite control. Within those weird twists of our lives are subtle, hidden choices: it's up to us to make use of them.

It's to this weirdness in the process of personal growth – accepting the weirdnesses of our lives, and working with them rather than trying to fight against them that this book is ad dressed. It's also addressed to the realities of the process and its often uncomfortable twists and turns: as such, it develops a rather different view of the sequence of the changes in the process of personal growth. In particular, there's an emphasis on some intermediate stages that are often missed out in existing descriptions: the stage of 'everyone is to blame' that must be moved through, for example, before the well-known concept of 'no-one is to blame' can be reached. And there are also some guidelines on how to work with the bad times and how not to get lost in some illusory 'good' ones.

You may find the writing style that I've used a little strange at first, but it's there for a reason: the way a book is written is a crucial part of its message. The impersonal third-person mode preferred by most psychology texts, typically referring to examples as 'case studies' or 'client experiences', may make intellectual under standing easier, but can actually block experiential understanding; while the second-person ("you should do this") mode popular in 'New Age' books often seems condescending and patronising. My choice here has thus been to use, where possible, a first-person or 'I/we' conversational mode, framing the text as if spoken by an imaginary narrator a composite (whom I've named 'Chris Kelley') drawn directly from many people's personal. and real-life experiences. So although this introduction is somewhat formal, the rest of the book is not. The stories the narrator tells are highly personal, and illustrate clearly the intensity of feeling of many of these states – so if you find yourself in the same kind of emotional spaces that this imaginary 'I' describes, you'll know you're not alone in that experience. We've all been there too: that fact alone can be a great deal of help in some of the darker times...

But since nothing changes without ourselves choosing to be involved in the change, there's also a strong emphasis on the practical: examples to put the concepts into practice will be found on almost every page. These typically consist of a personal experience that illustrates the point being made, followed by some suggestions, and questions about the resultant experience. (There are no set answers to these questions: in this field, the only valid answers for each person are their own.) All of the examples have been tested in practice, most of them independently by myself, friends and colleagues as well as many others, and often over long periods of time: they work. Whether they work for you in the same way is up to you to decide, and to experience: but you won't find out unless you try!

The four sections of the book develop a sequence of observations and changes, starting with the self, and moving outward to the world at large. Be warned, though, that the sequence is not always obvious in the usual sense: the apparent repetition that occurs throughout the book, for example, is intentional, and is not simply due to poor editing! And in particular, the early part of the book may seem to dwell on the darker emotions more than you might expect: the reason is that unless these are faced early on, they continue to block progress indefinitely. So the first two chapters 'set the stage', using a typical experience as a start-point, and comparing the sense of fatalistic gloom that often accompanies it, with the subtle freedom to be found from a better understanding of the original meaning of 'weird'.

The second section, consisting of roughly a third of the book, looks at the kind of pressures that get us to limit our choices – especially as we grow up – and builds some analogies and suggestions as to how to break free of our habits and conditionings. We learn to watch – and use – the way in which old issues keep looping back in one form or another until they are resolved; we gain a peculiar – yet very real – kind of freedom by working with the twists and paradoxes of life, in a way that moves past the fears that drive our need for control. And we recognise that we always have choice, we always have responsibility – although at times it's neither easy to see nor to accept.

The next eight chapters – also roughly a third of the book – discuss ways to work with and consolidate this new freedom in our own lives. We do this by watching, listening and, especially, acknowledging what we feel; accepting ourselves for who we are, from moment to moment, whilst still maintaining some kind of overall aim. A delicate balance: we learn to trust and to let go, yet without letting go; we learn the subtle – weird – difference between doing nothing, doing something and doing 'no-thing'; we watch the ways in which our own choices echo back to us from the world around.

In the final section we start to move out into that wider world – and recognise that in some weird way it is also always a reflection of ourselves and our choices. The sense of being separate from the world, and at the effect of its forces, is to some extent an illusion: our choices are part of the weaving that makes up the world we experience, 'inside' or 'outside', 'self' or 'not-self'. Our relation ships, our work and our interactions with the world at large all have the same weirdness in common: there's always a choice, there's always a twist. And the choice, and the responsibility for that choice, are always ours: it's up to us to build the world we need.