It’s All Made Up

EvolutionaryTreeofReligion

I love me some infographics!

I think the whole idea of an infographic is really keen, and I enjoy learning in a visual way. I makes it quite easy for me to draw relations for the information and fit the data into context.

I came across one the other day that is right up my alley.

This infographic shows (to the best accuracy of available information) the distribution of religions in the world population. I found several things in it that ran contrary to my assumptions. Some religions I thought were smaller. Some were larger. For one, I thought Buddhism was a much bigger fraction of the world’s religions.

As I studied the graphic I realized something was missing.

Where was my own personal (most of the time) religion, Discordia? (Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!)

Where are the Pastafarians, the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Bless his noodly appendage!)

Where were the Jedi? In 2001, in the England and Wales census, 390,127 respondents declared their faith as Jediism. That’s over three times the number of Zoroastrians in the world, according to the chart. And, 523 times more than the listed number of Samaritans!

Where was the Church of the SubGenuis!!!

I scanned back & forth across the information searching for some mention. I realized that they were not including “made up religions.” I could not figure out why they would do that. Then it hit me. Square in the pineal gland. (Sorry. Inside joke. Very, very inside…) They weren’t including the so-called “made up” religions because that would give up the game too easily.

What’s the game, you say? Well, here it is: They are all made up. Some more obviously than others, and some with tons of poetry wrapped up around their inspiration, but when you come down to it they are all made up. In all cases, women and men sat down and created these things. Even if you buy the idea of divine inspiration (which I sometimes do) it still comes down to humans taking the notes & practices and then propagating them.

However, with the march of years and the persistence of generations, these particular religions became engraved in our contextual and cultural souls. We have come to accept them as given parts of life, if not facts. We have taken them as “real.”

To a degree they are real. They are as much of a part of our world as taxes and cleaning. What is making them real though, in this case, is our acceptance.

So, what makes the “made up” religions not real is just a lack of acceptance. If we took that on board then we would have to face that all the religions of the world, big & small, venerated & ridiculed, are viewed the way they are only on our say so.

We would have to face up to them all being made up.

Personally I find such a notion liberating.

The Slack of Scheduling

slackscheduling2

I’ve been a productivity geek for a while now. One of the suggestions that is often made is to create a schedule for your day.

The trouble is I am more of a slack geek than a productivity geek. So, I have always balked at the idea of being tied to a schedule.

Recently though, I have been working with a coach, and he too has made this suggestion to me. So, I finally swallowed my objections and went for it.

I now schedule out, literally every second of my day. It has been an eye opening experience in several ways.

First, holy crap do I get more done!

It’s pretty obnoxious actually. Over the last week I have found myself routinely having days where I get three, or fours times the number of things I used to get done. I am also poking away at long standing projects that are very non-critical, but still present. My plate is squeaky clean most days, and my pantry of projects is getting that way too! It’s awesome.

Second, I had some wrong headedness about schedules that it took me trying one out to see.

This complaint that I had been holding on to went something like, “Schedule? No way! I worked hard to get out of an office gig! Ain’t no way I am going to let someone tell me when I need to do what!” You see the problem there? By scheduling myself, I am the one telling me when I need to do what. It’s a beautiful thing. I get to plug work time in when I know I have my most productive hours. I get to schedule in reading time too! I am getting so caught up on my reading it’s ridiculous! When you schedule yourself, you don’t have to hold to anyone else’s expectations. Want to tackle that blog piece at 2am? Go for it! It’s your schedule!

Third, I get to schedule in more than just work.

Meditation time, exercise time, super ample amounts of sleep, and did I mention reading? The reading part is pretty great. I also have a special part of my schedule for the evenings. I put in blocks labeled, “Fuck it.” These are times when I do whatever comes to mind. Catching up on video games, or TV series, or more reading, or catching a movie with a friend, or whatever. I am a big fan of the work of John C. Parkin, and his book, F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way.

Fourth, and this rolls into the whole “fuck it” thing, I find an enormous freedom and relief in my body, mind, and soul at the end of the day.

Having had a day where I know I achieved things, and where I know I am set to do the same the next day, I get to let go and really relax and do whatever. It’s a subtle, but powerful feeling.

There are a couple of tricks that go into the way I run my schedule which might be helpful.

To begin, every single moment is scheduled. However, this is not so that I have to be stuck doing X at time Y, no matter what! Rather, these are time blocks I have chosen to dedicate to a certain activity, and that activity dominates my effort during that time. I allow for transition time by making the blocks ample in size. If interruptions come in, that’s fine, I just get back to the scheduled task as quickly as possible.

Next, I include an hour for “breakdown” at the end of the “work day.” This time is for seeing to anything that got pushed aside during the day, or for anything I missed (due to an earlier thing running over, or whatever.) This way I don’t have to freak out if the day goes off the rails. I can always put in the effort during the breakdown slot. Mostly I don’t find myself needing to do that, so on those days my breakdown becomes time for a nap, or more reading. (Reading is cool!)

Towards the end of the day I put in a half hour slot for “Review & Gratitude.” During this time I write a daily gratitude list, then I review how the day went in terms of my schedule. How many things did I say I would do? How many did I not do when I said I would do them? What did I do instead? Did those things that missed their time get done at all? (Like, during the breakdown.)

I schedule the next day while going through my “review & gratitude” block so I have a fresh idea of what is working, and what needs adjusting. Early on I found my mornings were a bit too crammed, and being not the morning person I am, things slipped a bit. After two days it became clear an adjustment was needed. The review period allowed me to see that clearly.

In order to keep my work flow on track, and my projects seen to, I use WorkFlowy. If you haven’t tried WorkFlowy, I highly recommend it! You can check it out at, workflowy.com. It’s everything you could want a to-do list and project management tool to be! The tutorials are easy to follow, and it’s terribly easy to use. Best of all, the free version is more than adequate to my purposes. (If you’d like to lend me a hand you can use my affiliate link https://workflowy.com/?ref=122a2725. That way, both you and I will get an extra 250 new items allowed per month. Thanks!)

In my schedule I put in half hour blocks to check on email. I put those right before my work blocks, and I pop to-do’s into WorkFlowy as I go through my email. Then, when the work block starts, I can easily see (and track) what needs doing.

If you are like me, this level of planning might seem a bit intimidating. I totally identify with that feeling! However, once you actually start doing it, it moves along quite well. As I mentioned before, I am now being much more productive, and I find myself feeling much freer and less emotionally burdened. Especially during my nightly “fuck it” slots!

Give it a try! I think you’ll like it! And, please do let me know how it works for you in the comments.

If you are already an experienced scheduler, I would love to hear from you too! Leave any tips and tricks in the comments so everyone can benefit.

Cheers!

Negotiation

Maze

Time for another distinction!

This one comes from a semi-private part of my life. Namely – BDSM.

In case you don’t know, BDSM stands for Bondage-Dominance-Submission/Sadism-Masochism. The “S” does double duty there. (If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*)

This is the lovely, and very broad and varied, realm of alternative sexual practices and lifestyles. Gender options has it’s own acronym, namely LGBT. These two realms can overlap (often!), but do not necessarily do so. Many in the BDSM community are heterosexual.

Like any community, there are ups and downs, and challenges. By far my experiences in the BDSM community have been overwhelmingly positive. That’s my story, and other people have theres.

One of the distinctions I learned deeply in the BDSM community, while I was a more active member, was that of negotiation.

It’s my opinion that every community, and indeed every person, would benefit from learning this fine art.

In any relationship, be it familial, friendship, sexual, business, political, or religions (or any combination of those) there are a great many obligations, assumptions, and pre-suppositions to deal with.

When it comes to BDSM. There are also basic safety issues. These safety issues can be physical, emotional, and/or spiritual.

To address these possible risks the BDSM community has embraced strongly the practice of negotiation. Before an interaction is moved through, the parties involved take the time to negotiate the parameters of that interaction. Duration, intensity, allowed parameters, opening moves, after care, and exit strategies are all agreed upon. This is the ideal, of course, but from what I’ve seen it’s generally the rule with not that many exceptions. (At least among veteran players.)

This distinction can easily be taken into other realms of human interaction:

  • When we take the time to set the parameters for a particular situation we can know definitively when the situation starts and stops.
  • When we know the intended of the situation we can more easily steer towards that outcome.
  • When we know what actions are allowed in the situation we can avoid taking inappropriate actions.
  • When we have an exit plan we can graciously remove ourselves from the situation, if the need arises.

All of this gives a person tremendous freedom within the situation, or interaction. By knowing what we can, and can’t do we remove a measure of fear. We can creatively move within the situation, and it’s particular boundaries. We can also commit fully to the situation when we know that it will have an end. By understanding that we have a way out if we need it, we can avoid feeling trapped.

It’s not always possible to go through a full negotiation for a given interaction. But, we can take the portions that work for that situation. All it takes is awareness that negotiation is possible and the mindfulness to call on it. Even if it’s only setting a start and end time to a meeting, negotiation has been employed and we can get some benefits. We can get even more juice by declaring what will be discussed in the meeting.

The list of examples it endless. Anytime we go into a situation of exchange with another human being, we can negotiate the parameters, and gain a lot of benefits from doing so.

Give it a try! I think you will like it!