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March 2016

Picking Intention: Intensity & Aggression

Motivations come in all shapes and sizes. When times are rough, intensity and aggression can be used as a quick switch to get going again.  It’s easy to turn to these emotions/ideas at times like these. We’ve all felt them to a certain extent at some point.

Both words echo similar meanings, but in certain cases they cannot be further from the same.

Aggression, in its purest form, is short-lived. It is a destructive force that will run out eventually. It can rely on certain emotions (anger/hatred) that can be often misdirected, under the purpose of some “greater good.”

Simply stated, maintaining a high level of aggression to accomplish a task is not sustainable. If your emotions were an engine, could it really afford to run at full speed every minute of every day?

Consider a demolition site. There is a wall that needs to go down (Berlin and Pink Floyd aside). We have two options: blow it up in one fell swoop with dynamite, or we pick up a sledgehammer and chip away.

It seems reasonable to side with dynamite. Who doesn’t enjoy a good explosion from time to time? But if I had more walls than I had dynamite, I’m setting myself up for doing more work than I really should. What if the dynamite isn’t enough to tear down that wall Mr. Gorbachev? What if the dynamite is a dud? Now I’ve suddenly given myself some bigger issues. The only plan I had hasn’t worked and I’ve compromised everything around me.

If I pick up the sledgehammer, I can be a bit more methodical with my work. If I know the design, I can start and end my work in the most efficient way possible. Every single strike has intent. Of course it only works with plenty of energy behind it, but at least each swing I’m taking counts for something.

Approaching situations or events with dynamite instead of a sledgehammer in our hands can make all of the difference in the world. The dynamite will only last for so long; it’s a quick, concentrated and violent effort at addressing the task. Anger, hatred, spitefulness, can all perhaps fuel the aggression we use to accomplish something. But for how long? Our dynamite will run out eventually, and even if we managed to tear down every wall before, we just now have to start to learn how to use the sledgehammer.

The sledgehammer can be our saving grace. Yes it will be tiresome, require more attention, and no we won’t bear witness to things that go boom-boom. What we will see however, is that we can have a better say in what each swing will accomplish. We can persevere, adapt, manipulate, and be in better control of the outcome instead of leaving it to chance that one explosion will do the trick. Intensity can be the purpose and drive behind every action that can go far beyond simple emotions like anger.

The long and winding road leads to this: aggression can work, but not for long.  Managing intensity can accomplish the same task, and be better sustained.

Speaking from personal experience, living life with aggressive intentions produces more harm than good. It isn’t long before you take on self-destructive tendencies in blind fury; you forget why you were approaching everything that way in the first place. I can control intensity. I can control intention. I can control purpose. This (as of now) has been much more efficient and fruitful.

All of this isn’t to say that aggression should be completely avoided. Sometimes it is definitely needed. As will be explored later, it may be necessary to have that occur in order to get somewhere. But for now, all I can say is this: when approaching a wall, stop to think, does this call for dynamite or a sledgehammer?

(DISCLAIMER: I have never been an enthusiast/user of explosives or have had extensive experience in demolition. These images come from my twisted and sardonic mind to be taken with multiple grains of salt. Any invitation to an enlightening demolition session will be gladly received.)

 

Photo cred: http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/chinas-mountains-of-construction-rubble/?_r=0

Dancing With Chaos

dancing with chaos

This series of words was very specifically chosen. Each one brings something unique that when it is all put together, hopefully gets across a message bigger than just the phrase itself. It is a little easier to understand however, if it is looked at in reverse order first.

Chaos:

This is in reference to the world we find ourselves in. Any event is really just a human interaction with either nature or another human. Every effort can be made to control these events, but ultimately all that falls within each individual’s control is what s/he thinks, speaks, and then does.

To try and predict it all would be a lot of wasted effort. Patterns arise and events repeat themselves, but ultimately there are way too many wild cards to effectively guess which way everything is going to go.

“Chaos” refers to the crapshoot that each of those interactions can be. Hopefully we are lucky enough to run into more positive than negative ones. Wishful thinking? Maybe. The way those interactions go down lead well into the next word.

With:

Together. In unison. Cooperative (in a sense). An acceptance of the situation as it is. There is no higher or lower ground; one of the things we are good at doing as human beings is thinking we are always correct (we can’t all be right, right?). If we are getting pushed one way and always try with all our might to push directly back in the opposite direction, burnout and fatigue will kick our asses every day that ends in “y.”

I’m not advocating for being passive or submissive. What I’m saying is, rather than fighting a straight line of force with another straight line of force, look to redirect and turn, always looking for another way to manipulate that force working against you to work in your favor. Our egos, knowingly or not, may be in the way of letting us realize that there are other options besides ours that would work for us.

Dancing:

Rather than meeting brute force with brute force, you move around it. Twist, turn, jump, duck; all movements that when put together well, can be some of the most beautiful sights to see. It’s unlike a straight sprint, to see how fast you can get from point A to point B. It’s methodical, reactive, and graceful. The dancer takes the vibrations in the air and lets them guide, but s/he ultimately has the final say. The dancer finds a way to put the environment into the deepest part of her/himself and redirects that energy back out to let the world see that there is nothing too great to get in the way.

Dancing with chaos is all about recognizing the situations around you, and finding a way to manage it all without losing yourself in it. Grabbing onto every little thing and telling it where to go because that is where we want it is a sure fire way to make daily life a pain in the ass.

All we can control is what comes from within. If we try to stick our hands in other people’s being, or forcefully resist what the world has thrown at us, then we are meeting force with more force. One day, either one of these forces will win outright. Win as many battles as we may, our day will come when we lose control. At that point, we don’t know what to do. All we ever knew was how to sprint, never how to dance.

Each day is a blank canvas. The artist can choose to make with it whatever s/he desires. Each step is a stroke of the brush, a reflection of what the artist sees/feels and the response to it. If we make every step unique, our dance, our art, becomes magnificently unique. Each day will be different, each day will bring a new painting. If we can dance with chaos, move around the flame instead of into it, we can make each day our masterpiece. (Shout out to Coach Wooden)

Photo Cred: https://fitrlife.wordpress.com/

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