REVOLUTION in the PlayGrounds

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It is recognised that coronavirus is low risk for children. The highest risk groups are the over 70’s especially those with underlying health issues. It may have made sense for these highest risk groups to have undertaken a self-quarantine for the duration of the peak of the virus, and then gradually get back to being in the world again, socialising and seeing grandkids once the peak was over and enjoying their twilight years.

The UK government actually downgraded the coronavirus on 19th March 2020, but that news was largely ignored by the mainstream media. It was no longer considered a High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID).

It is curious that Japan had a death rate of 1000  due to coronavirus and the UK had one of around 40,000. Japan has double the population of the UK making this discrepancy in figures even more curious. They also have a very large number of elderly. Japan didn’t do a lockdown by the way and kept many businesses open. Though they did go full-on with the mask wearing and they did close the schools quite early on as well as being more stricter with flights into their country. Perhaps if we had adopted a similar approach, we could have avoided destroying our economy and had a similar outcome. Consider also that despite locking down – the ‘death rate’ attributed to coronavirus still seemed to rise and rise.

Despite this, in its wisdom to save us all, our politak-crats placed everyone under house arrest, ordered all schools and shops closed. It also made life more challenging for families with small children by closing all soft play areas, zoos and museums. This I can understand, but it went further and shut all the playgrounds.

So I wondered, just what exactly are families with small children supposed to do? Especially if they live in an inner city flat with no private garden.

By doing so, they took away one of the few safe spaces for children to play in – ie playgrounds. For toddler-age children in inner cities, who do not have the luxury of private gardens, local playgrounds are invaluable. Playgrounds are usually gated, so parents can relax while their small toddlers can run around, use the climbing frames, slide, swing and not disappear off out of sight or be at risk of cars on the many roads.

Here are some photos of our local playground:

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Interesting slogan: “Together…”

And just to make sure the message is clear, the local Kouncil placed chains around the gates.

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The message is clear: Playgrounds are DANGEROUS. They must be closed.

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Everything is always “For your Safety”.

By the way, it is summer time, the death rate due to corona is dropping and there doesnt seem to be any flu-like illnesses going around – coronavirus or even the regular flu (if you can remember that it still exists), and yet the parks are still closed.

I have noticed two side effects of this policy. Firstly, with no playgrounds, nurserys or pre-schools and no friends or elderly relatives allowed to help out (lockdown rules), young babies, and toddlers are watching more TV than is healthy.

This lockdown also places more strain on already tired parents who now have to entertain their smaller kids without a break when they are bored of watching TV, and are somehow supposed to do home schooling for older kids. Lest they end up playing video games all day long.

Secondly, when you did go out for your one time/one hour of allowed ‘exercise time’, kids now have to play on the streets and local grassy areas which have not been closed off. There are some downsides to this. On grassy areas, you have to watch out for dog poo constantly because many idiot dog owners let their dogs crap everywhere and just leave it.

Also ‘social distancing’ becomes a joke, when you have a small toddler who wants to run where he wants to. You have to constantly keep your child away from other people. You can see the mental and physical tiredness in other parents with toddlers who don’t want to have to police their child’s movements, but are obligated by the social distancing rule to keep their child away from others (lest lives are lost).

You also have to watch out for cars. As there is less traffic on the roads, people are speeding more. I wonder if traffic accidents have increased?

I wondered if by forcing this lockdown and social distancing rules, other problems have occurred as a result. Like how in the Chinese revolution, Mao ordered the killing of the sparrows that were eating all the crops in order to increase grain production. However, this led to an increase in the numbers of locusts, which ate all the crops anyway, as they lacked a natural predator (the sparrows apparently), causing an even worse grain shortage.  The law of unintended consequences.

Fun alert

My local Kouncil went crazy in the way they closed off the playgrounds. They were not taking any chances. In one park, they actually put large fences around all the fun areas. Here are some photos:

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This is a large metal fence around the zipliner. Behind, there are fences around the swings. I assume this is because touching the swings and zipliner can spread the virus and hence is DANGEROUS. Unlike pin card machines, door handles, the poles in buses or even shared computers at work. It appears that Coronavirus likes metal surfaces or rope exposed to sunlight and ultraviolet rays.

Here is another zipliner chained up. The Kouncil really hates zipliners.

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Then there are the slides. Deadly harborers of infection. This fencing took some creative effort. Our glorious Kouncil actually put a fence all the way around this slide, which is on a slope:

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They also fenced off the skateboard park and chained up the tennis courts. We hereby declare that PLAYTIME is BANNED! Get back to your CELLS for your LOCKDOWN Small little prisoner people. Go and watch some more TV and eat your sugar.

And the tire on a rope chain. Alas no more swinging:

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Fortunately, in their compassion, our glorious Kouncil left the children this medium-sized rock to play with. Ah bles-sed are the small mercies. This rock was not fenced off. Though, I  do wonder if the Kouncil had thought about putting one around it.

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Perhaps this means that coronavirus cannot survive on rocks.

However, the kids had had enough. Lacking the regularity of school, haircuts and fun for several week, the children eventually went feral. They organised themselves into gangs and roamed wildly across the land. And then a few weeks later…

They tore down the fences!

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Anarchy in the Playground!

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The skatepark and tennis courts had also been un-officially re-opened. However, I didn’t take any pictures of it because there were lots of teenagers in there, skating, playing tennis and roller skating and I didn’t want to incriminate any of them. Particularly as none of them seemed to be practicing social distancing.

As far as I could tell they were having fun in the sunshine instead of being at home watching Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel and eating sugary snacks, where they would be safe.

But, do you know what…?

No one died!

There has been no outbreak of coronavirus in the kids in the local area. No teams of hazmat wearing doctors brought into my local area setting up field hospitals with helicopters whirring above. No people dropping dead in the street like those videos from China. No mass graves being dug on the football field nearby. Although there were some other visitors there.

No none of that. Just kids having fun.

BUT WHO DID IT?

I investigated and discovered that a small gang of local teenagers was responsible for breaking the lockdown and tearing down the fences. Here is a picture of the local gang from the Guardian newspaper:

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I met with one of the local gangs of kids who were responsible for tearing down this fence and  interviewed their leader Ralph.

Me: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed Ralph. Can I ask, why did you tear down the fences around the playground?

Ralph: The fence around the playground was symbolic. We tore down the fence because, it represented a prison. It sent a message to young children to get used to living in a mental and physical prison state from now on.

Me: But what about the risk of the virus. Isn’t there a risk of infection when kids are touching the swings and slide, or when kids are breaking the social distancing rules?

Ralph: What infection? I don’t see anyone around me coughing or sneezing. Do you? I haven’t seen anyone sick for weeks and it is the middle of summer. Besides I thought that is what our immune systems are for – fighting off viruses.

Me: But the rules are there for a reason, if anyone started breaking down fences, or breaking the rules of the lockdown and social distancing when they felt like it, there would be anarchy. Society could not function. Is that what you want?

Ralph: We do not want anarchy. But there needs to be a balance of risk. No one can live in a bubble for ever. Eventually, we must face difficult things. If we spend our lives fearful of all viruses, disease and death, we end up losing the point of living or damaging ourselves in other ways.

Me: Thank you Ralph.

DISCLAIMER: The views of Ralph and his gang are not shared by the author of this blog and website. The interview is presented for informational purposes only.

Update (June 2020): The fences were put back up. I feel there is a metaphor here.

Social Distancing in the UK

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Social Distancing Newthink

During the Great Corona Virus Pandemic of 2019/2020, one of the rules mandated by the UK government was ‘social distancing’.

You must maintain 2 metres (6’6″) between you and other people who are not immediate family.

This is especially essential in parks, where people might be tempted to break the rules. It’s called Robin Hood syndrome. Where people hide away in nature, build their own communes and escape the rules of the state.

And just in case, you didn’t know how far 2 meters is, the local Kouncils helpfully drew pictures on the footpaths to show us:

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The Kouncils also put up signs to remind us that maintaining 2 meters between us and our fellow man, woman and child SAVES LIVES.

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And this rule also applies to DOGS. You must keep your dog 2 metres away. Also only one walk a day was allowed.

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Footpaths are not usually 2 metres wide, so some people actually walk on the road (the area where cars drive) to maintain the social distancing rule when they pass someone.

Personally I think its safer to keep on the path at all times.

By the way, if you travelled to Europe, you may only need to social distance 1.5 metres (Germany and Poland) or 1 metre (in Sweden and Norway). If you went to Australia, its 1.5 metres. In the USA, around 1 metre (6 feet). I don’t think they even did social distancing in Japan which had one of the lowest rates of Cor*na virus deaths in the world.

All makes perfect sense to me.

If there was a correlation between the length of social distancing and numbers of infected or number of deaths or cases, then in theory the UK should have the lowest number of cases and deaths as we have the furthest social distancing (a whopping 2 metres). And in theory Japan should have the highest number of cases and deaths. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case at all. The UK’s death count is over 40,000. Japan’s is around 1000.

And if you ever felt paranoid that people might be crossing the road when they saw you coming. Well now its true.


Disclaimer: I do not condone or support breaking the social distancing rules. I personally follow the guidelines. However, I do question the sense behind them.

It is also not clear to me whether these ‘rules’ are actually enforceable ‘laws’. According to the ITV website in an article called ‘Police in England told they do not have power to enforce social distancing‘, it was written:

Neither the original Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 from March 26 nor the amendment enacted at 12:01am on Wednesday state that keeping two metres apart is a legal requirement.

This basically means to me that social distancing is not the law. So what is it?

 

 

 

Local BLM Protest North London

My biggest regret of 2020 is not writing a diary and recording more of what is going on around me, along with photos. These are unusual times and it is becoming aware to me more and more that historical changes are occurring in the UK.

In nearby leafy Muswell Hill, a small Black Lives Matter Protest was held today, 14th June 2020 in the town square (if you can call it that). There were two black women speakers, who spoke about racial issues and discrimination with a degree of intensity. Some names were mentioned of people, who I assume had been discriminated against in the UK. Some people held up signs with these same names on. I was not able to record the names.

The protester’s, who I assume were local residents listened intensely and respectfully went down on their knees when instructed for what seemed to be around 10 minutes (must have been uncomfortable for some). A few people held the ‘black power’ fist aloft. It was a peaceful protest.

I would describe Muswell Hill as a Middle Class, high income area, with many professionals, and many of its young being university-educated. It is predominantly white. As far as I am aware the Liberal party has a lot of support here. It is a very pleasant area with a high amount of politeness and respect toward others. There were two police officers, though they stayed far at the back, out of the way with refreshments. It was highly unlikely there would be any trouble in this area.

The protest lasted around 30 minutes and then the small crowd dispersed. There was a mix of old, middle aged and young adults. Some wore masks. Some practiced social distancing, but due to the limited space, it was not really possible to maintain the full 2 metres. (So I suppose Corona’s gonna get some). Here are some photos:

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Taking the Knee…

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Disclamer

I do not share any particular affiliation or support for BLM or any other political organisation or protest group. I simple show this for historical purposes only.

 

The Hong Kong Flu 1968

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The Hong Kong Flu

In this article, I will highlight a few curious parallels between the 1968 Hong Kong Flu and the current – Great Corona Pandemic of 2019-2020.

What was the Hong Kong Flu?

As per its namesake, Hong Kong Flu emerged in Hong Kong and is said to spread worldwide, lasting from 1968 to 1970, with an estimated 1-4 millions deaths attributed to it. (Source: Britanica.com). It emerged in two waves, with the second wave said to have caused more deaths than the first wave.

There were differences in its effects on countries. For example, in Japan the Hong Kong Flu affected a smaller number of people, but it was more widespread in the USA. The symptoms were of a typical influenza infection – chills, fever, muscle pain and weakness. Symptoms lasted from 4 to 6 days. The highest mortality rates again were in the very young and the elderly. A vaccine was created, but only became available after the peak of the pandemic.

It is worth mentioning that only 10 years prior, there was also the 1957 Asian Flu Pandemic. A curious ten year gap between the two pandemics. Again that started in Hong Kong and spread around the world. So here we go…

Some similarities between Corona and the Hong Kong Flu:

1) Both started in Hong Kong/China

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Yes, I know that China and Hong Kong are separate countries with different languages and cultures, though it is more or less the same region. It once was one country during the Qin dynasty (221–206BC), and may become one country once again. And a unification may have been underway, if not for the Hong Kong riots of 2019, which the government could not suppress. Taking a cynical standpoint, it was quite helpful for the Hong Kong government to suddenly have a great big virus appear, enabling them to shut down all these protests in one swoop.

You do have to wonder why China/Hong Kong/Asia is a hotbed of viruses. Is it really because they like wet-food markets and eat bats? If so, how is it that anyone has survived up to now? Surely China should have become another Easter Island by now.

2) Possible prior warnings given by a doctor in both pandemics

In 2020, the western media covered a story of a Chinese doctor whistleblower called Li Wenliang, who warned the world of this new virus emerging in Wuhan, published on a social media site called Weibo. He was warned by the government to stop spreading false rumours. He then came down with symptoms. He tested negatively a few times till eventually testing positive and then died.

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He does have a rather intense stare at the camera, when taking his own picture. I dare you to try and take a selfie of yourself whilst intensely staring at the camera. How does it feel? Does it seem natural to you?

Then I saw this newspaper clipping from 1968 and I thought deja vu. This Headline reads: “Hong kong doctor alerted world”. Unfortunately I can’t get a clear image of the text:

1968 Hong Kong Flu montage copy

3) Use of Masks encouraged, though more so in 2020

It used to be seen as a quirk of the Chinese and Japanese wearing face masks and Westerners would make fun of them. So I was really surprised to see people wearing face masks on the street on London streets. Now everyone is wearing them. I even saw a supermarket worker wearing a visor.

 

Mask wearing may have happened in 1968, but I don’t think it was very common. There is this clip from 1968. The text reads:

Masks to Stop Flu

Atlanta, Jan 3. About 1000 University of Florida students will wear surgical masks on the campus this month in an effort to combat an expected outbreak of Hong Kong flu…

1968 Hong Kong Flu montage copy

I did ask my father about the Hong Kong Flu. He was a young man at the time. I asked him whether people were wearing masks at the time but he said he did not remember anyone wearing masks.

He also said, – ‘if you take a picture of a few people wearing masks and then people see that later, they might think that everyone was wearing masks at the time’.

Zoo or seaworld mammals susceptible, but not birds in the sky

So in 2020, bizarrely we had stories of zoo animals becoming infected with corona. For example, a tiger at the Bronx zoo called Nadia tested positive for Corona. A further 6 cats had symptoms.

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And then in 1968, was this headline: “Even Whales Catch HK Flu”:

San Diego, Saturday. Three whales at the Sea World aquarium came down with the Hong Kong flu yesterday and had to be dosed with antibiotic pills concealed in mackeral.

Dr David Kenney, veterinarian for Sea World, said the three – Shamu, Kilroy and Bamu – were sluggish and grumpy, The whales, which are mammals and subject to the same disease as humans, had blood samples taken which showed a flu virus.

Dr Kenney said Ramu had the worst case and was getting 375 pills every six hours – UPL.

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So then if Corona can spread from animals (bats) to humans and then back to animals again (tigers), logically, we should assume that pet dogs and especially cats are at risk.

And yes, there were reports of pet dogs and cats getting Corona. But apparently it was not severe in pets and also the media did not hammer this fear too much, otherwise, we’d have a whole new market for dog masks. Oh wait…. We do.

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By the way, did you ever wonder why zoo animals/sea mammals getting the flu (but not birds in the sky) seems to make the headlines, despite how bizarre it sounds..?

It’s so they can shut the zoos.

Johnson and Johnson: The two Johnsons

By strange coincidence President Lyndon B. Johnson of the USA in 1968 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK in 2020 both succumbed to the virus and needed to go to hospital.

1968 Hong Kong Flu montage copy

The clip above reads:

Johnson is Recovering

Washington Dec 19. President Johnson remained in hospital today recovering from an apparent attack of Hong Kong influenza now sweeping through the United States. The 60 year old President was admitted to the Beth.. Naval Hospital yesterday with a temperature of …. (can’t make out the rest)

Then in 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, went into intensive care with severe symptoms. Fortunately, he survived and that week, along with the usual ‘Clap for Carers’ – (a weekly event on Thursday at 8pm, where households would clap or bang pots and pans from open windows or on their doorstep in honour of frontline healthcare workers), instead a ‘Clap for Boris’ was organised. Though it did not seem to be as popular.

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The Dreaded Image of Corona

Finally, Did you ever wonder where they might have gotten the image of the dreaded corona virus from?

Here is an image of the H3N2 strain, said to be the cause of Hong Kong Flu (taken from Wikipedia), magnified 100,000 times:

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And here’s the Corona virus image:

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Both look very similar, The Corona image, which I assume is computer generated, is polished and more sinister looking.

So basically, it’s a round ball with little sucker-like protrusions sticking out of it and looks creepy. The perfect villain. But then again they do kind of remind me of the Tribbles ( the furry like creature) in Star Trek, which are not so creepy. In fact they are cute pet like, otherwise Lt Uhura wouldn’t have brought one on board the Enterprise

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Perhaps they are not actually tentacles. Instead, it is a kind of fur. Would that make corona virus less scary or more?

Hong Kong Flu – never heard of it.

So if this was such a big pandemic back in the 60s and 70s, why had I never heard of it until I came across it by accident? I asked my father about it, and he recalled it, but it did not leave a big impression in his memory.

I certainly never heard of it in from my mother. No one seems to talk about it. My school history text books always had a short mention of the Spanish Flu, but never the Hong Flu.

Fortunately a few people around the world do recall the Hong Kong Flu and also the difference in attitudes back then compared to now. Here are some examples:

The human rights activist, Craig Murray of Mori Momento wrote this about the attitudes towards the Hong Kong Flu compared to today:

There was no massive panic, no second by second media hysteria, over Hong Kong flu. Let me start being unpopular. “Man in his 80’s already not very well from previous conditions, dies of flu” is not and should not be a news headline. The coverage is prurient, intrusive, unbalanced and designed to cause hysteria..

What worries me about the current reaction to coronavirus, is that it seems to reflect a belief that death is an aberration, rather than a part of the natural order of things. As the human species continues to expand massively in numbers, and as it continues casually to make other species extinct, it is inevitable that the excessive and crowded human population will become susceptible to disease.

Momento Mori: Unpopular thoughts on Corona Virus

Reggae

Heck, back then they even had musicans and reggae bands making songs about Hong Kong Flu. Way way better than the TikTok Dance videos in 2020.

By the way, the B side of the single Hong Kong Flu, shown above by the Ethiopians is a song called ‘Everything Crash’!! Wow, prescient or what? First you have the flu, and then next you have the economic crash.

These Lyrics in Robb Jarmain’s song above – Hong Kong Flu, would probably be considered racist today.

I’m telling you, you’ve got the Hong Kong Flu

Everybody’s got it, even Fu Man Chu

Conclusion

There is of course one notable difference between these two pandemics; In 1968, the whole world was not placed under house arrest into a prison-like ‘lockdown’, simultaneously destroying millions of jobs, livelihoods and the economy.

But here in Hong flu, we do see a model, a pattern. Writing this in April 2020, can we expect a second wave of Corona, possibly in autumn or winter, just in time for the usual flu season? Will that second wave have an even higher death count attributed to it, just like the Hong Kong Flu’s second wave? Will be see lockdown again over Christmas effectively shutting down Churches again in time for Christmas – the same way Easter was shut down in 2020? These are just speculations. If this is the case, I would recommend that people continue to stock on long-life foods, Turkey, Macdonalds, and dare I say it – toilet paper. I also recommend that people get torches and other emergency supplies.

Corona does not need to come back each year now. Only the fear of it does to change society. It may, even be like the eerie Sylvia Browne prediction, from ‘End of Days‘ where the Corona pandemic appeared in 2020, causing a “severe pneumonia-like illness” and then suddenly disappears, only to reappear in another ten years time; enabling the next set of lockdowns, stringent measures and other changes to society. By then the so called ‘New Normal‘ will become the ‘New New New New New New Normal’.

References

All the newspaper clippings of 1968 headlines came from this collage on the South China Morning Post Website:

1968 Hong Kong Flu montage

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Fear of the Coronavirus makes Everyone a Prepper

A side effect of the current apocalypse/pandemic/zombie virus/asteroid is that it seems to make everyone need to poop more.

On the plus side, people are making sure to wash their hands thoroughly after and even sterilising them.

I found this out when I went to Tescos yesterday to get our usual stock of baby wipes (for our one year old) and was met with this:

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There were a few left over – the more expensive ones. which I’m not buying.

But it made me wonder – are mothers stocking up on baby wipes (after all – they are quite valuable), or are general shoppers buying them up to sterilise doorhandles and wipe their hands/phones etc? Whichever – it’s a real bugger. Can’t people just calm down a bit?

Fortunately, I usually buy in bulk so I still have a stock. But it’s kind of ridiculous.

My wife’s Mamma friends also shared their photos of shopping at Tesco’s:

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Dried pasta and spaghetti… mama mia
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flour… stripped bare
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Baby calpol sold out

Human psychology is fickle and easily influenced. If you see shelves like this, it makes you start to think you need to stock up too, and so you start to panic-buy too. This is the real virus. Not corona. It’s fear.

We are all already screwed anyway. If food supplies ever did get cut off. We’d run out of food surely enough. After all, few are able to grow and stock their own foods. We all rely on the food suppliers.

I already wrote here – my opinion on this virus. The only  real panic is the hype stimulated internationally by all the media outlets. That is the real fear we face.

Just imagine if there was a real crisis? Like food or water was cut off? Or if people really were dropping dead in the street like those early videos from China or that movie Contagion? How long till we revert to cannibalism, witch-hunts or pitchfork mobs?

Is our supposed human civility and society merely a shallow veneer? Easily shattered when we face hardship.

If so, our highest point of civilisation must have been during the second world war – a time when society did not break down when faced with great dangers and in fact pulled closer together.

I don’t think we are made of the same stuff anymore. But then, back then, they had to impose rationing, otherwise people would have stocked up and sold the excess on the black market. The same is already happening today with facemasks and hand sanitisers sold at inflated prices on Ebay.

And it’s not just the UK. It’s happening everywhere – where-ever there is this entity called ‘mainstream media’, there is panic buying and virus porn.

Here are some videos by Daily Rant Australia showing it happening in Australia particularly with toilet paper and soya milk:

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Making Difficult Decisions: Listen to your Heart

Sometimes we are faced with choices. These may be choices to change your life course. Or to move someplace new. Perhaps start a new job, or relationship.

Choices can lead to big changes in your life. And so it is normal to be a little anxious. Most choices require an active decision on your part. Do you take the new path or stick to what you know? What is the right choice for you? What to do… What to do?

How to make a decision

One time, when I had to make a big decision, I spoke to a colleague who advised me to make a list of all the pros and all the cons of the possible choices, and then make a decision based on that.

This idea of running through the pros and cons seems sensible. It seems logical, but it doesn’t work for me. On that occasion, even if I did the list and decided that one of the choices was better, I still found myself second-guessing and pondering again on my choices. I would basically keep changing my mind. Not good.

I think that human life is not always logical. Certainly not the way I live it. I prefer an intuitive approach.

This made me think of something the British philosopher Alan Watts once said when making decisions. It went something like this – ‘you spend hours and hours going through the pros and cons of a decision, and then finally when the time comes to make a choice, instead, you make a snap decision based on how you feel’.

Yes, this sounds right to me.

Listening to your internal advisor

The advice that really speaks to me came from the Russian author Vadim Zeland, in his book series called ‘Reality Transurfing

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Vadim says that if you have to really convince yourself to go ahead with a particular decision, then this is the heart speaking to you that it is not right.

He believes that your heart knows on a deeper level what is right for you and what is wrong.

I have learnt that if you feel any unease deep in your heart over a decision, or you have to convince yourself to make a decision a certain way, then it is not the right path.

I recall something my driving instructor once told me many years ago, when I was learning to drive. She said, ‘when you are at a junction and you are not sure whether you can go, then don’t go’.

One example from my own life was the choice to move to a different part of the country for work. Though logically, it seemed a good choice to take. I could never shake the feeling that it was wrong for me. There was a lot of doubt in my heart and mind.

In the end, I overrode my heart, and chose what I thought was the logical decision. I moved but it didn’t work out. Even after making the decision, I could never shake the feeling that it was the wrong choice. Numerous small obstacles came up. My family was unhappy. In the end, it didn’t work out, and I ended up backtracking, but I lost time and money doing so. Fortunately in the end, I also learnt from this experience. I learnt that I had to trust my heart and intuition more and listen to it, when making big decisions.

The alternative space

The Russian author Vadim Zeland talks about the ‘alternative space’ – a different dimension or reality, which your heart is tuned into. This means that your heart (not the physical organ) sees the different possibilities, realities or future behind a choice.

On the other hand, the mind (which we tend to use when making decisions), attempts to use logic, but probably more likely operates on past-conditioning when making decisions. The mind may also operate from a perspective of fear or survival and can override any messages coming from the heart. You can think of the heart as intuition. Also what we call the ‘gut feeling’.

I believe that if we can follow our heart, it can lead us to a more fulfilling and prosperous experiences in life.

Anxiety and Fear

A choice to do something new or different can be scary. It is natural to feel some fear when embarking on a new endeavour. But you have to distinguish whether this fear is just the normal kind of anxiety a person can get from doing something new, or whether it is a message from the heart telling you that this is the wrong choice for you.

A sense of fear and anxiety when doing new things is normal and will help you to grow if you overcome it. On the other hand, a sense of unease about a decision may well be the heart directly communicating to you from the ‘alternative space’, that this particular decision is not right and can lead to an undesirable outcome.

Fear or Heart?

If decisions scare you, you should judge whether this fear is because you are being challenged or stretched in a way that you are unfamiliar with, but which may be good for your development. Or is it fear, because your heart is communicating with you that it is the wrong decision?

If the heart is communicating to you that it is a wrong choice, the feeling will be heavier and tied in with a sense of foreboding. The choice simply feels wrong, regardless of whether it would be best for you from a logical standpoint. It may also be a choice that you have to continuously persuade yourself to do, or one where you can’t stop having doubts about it, even after making a decision.

Signposts

I also believe that life throws us small signposts or synchronicities when you embark on a new life or path that is in tune with your spiritual and life development. These are signs from the universe that you are going the right way. So just keep going.

These signposts may be things like meeting a new person that you totally in tune with. Or even obstacles simply disappearing from in front of you, making the path smoother. It may even be money flowing to you, to encourage you on your way.

On the contrary, when you are not in tune with a decision or choice, you may find many small annoyances or obstacles keep coming up. For example, you may meet more annoying people, who just keep turning up in your life. Or perhaps if you move somewhere new, small things keep breaking down – and you have to deal with them. It may seem coincidental but I don’t believe such things are. They are negative synchronicities.

When a choice you make is in tune with your heart, then the decision will make you excited even if it will be difficult. These feelings are good indicators that it is the right path and is likely to lead to all sorts of interesting experiences in life.

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Courage and Taking New Paths


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References

Reality Transurfing Steps I-V. Vadim Zeland. 2016

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Courage and Taking New Paths

Courage Thumbnail Shamo

Sometimes in order to move your life forward, you have to put yourself forward. You have to make decisions or choices that stretch you. It may be going for a new type of job, or promotion or creating a new business. Or it could be training in a new field, for which you have little experience in previously. It may even be moving to a new city to escape a place where you were stagnating. Or it could be writing that book or creating something to put out there for others to gain from.

It’s something, we have to go through

It is likely that in our lives, at some point, we would have had to done this already. For example, the young man or woman, embarking on a new career early on, would have required courage to do so. It may have been scary and challenging, with some difficulties early on. It also would have required meeting a whole load of new people from different backgrounds and getting on with them. However, if you passed through these challenges, you would develop confidence and sufficiency at this new work. As well as self-belief. It is at this point, you are actively learning and growing as a person. As we all need to do.

Once a person becomes comfortable after passing this stage, one of the pitfalls would be to stop growing and be content with where you are. In the past, some people would be able to stop and stick with this level of development for the rest of their lives. There is nothing wrong with that. But in this age, where jobs and work are less secure, it does not hurt to stay hungry.

Staying at the same place can also get boring. For example, my father has been a gardener for the last 40 years. A few years ago, he started to tell me how he was getting bored of his work and wanted to do something different. So he started to invent a new design of seeding tray. Perhaps, if he’d had the same thoughts 20 or even 10 years previously, he would have come up with a lot more different ideas and opened up a new type of life and work for himself. Still, better later than never.

The easiest option for everyone is to stick to what you know. But some people would like to do something different before they get too old to do anything new. And if you embark on something new, you may just find a re-emergence of those feelings of fear and anxiety. The same kind of feelings you may have had as a young person starting off in a new job. That is what it is like to be young again. Do you remember it? Youth is about exploration. Don’t get old too early. As I wrote here – youth is as much a mental state as a physical one.

A friend told me this:

My only advice to guarantee prosperity and contentment is to go where the risk lies. Unless you are extremely uncomfortable, nothing will change.

The path of courage

It is the path of courage. And it involves taking a leap of faith sometimes. To do something new, may require you to move away from the path you know well and to do something different. You may have done well for yourself the last 20 years. Perhaps in a job, where you know everything in-and-out. You know all your co-workers. They know you. Why would you want to start doing something new and scary again? The answer is – to grow of course. And maybe even to find something you are really good at.

Leap of faith

I think the best analogy comes from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There is this scene where Jones enters an underground cavern. He comes to a ledge overlooking an abyss. He needs to get to the other side, but there is no way across. Not even his trusty whip could be used.  As he looks down, all he sees is darkness and a likely drop to his death.

But this abyss is one of several tests to reach the holy grail. For this particular test, it is required that the challenger must take a ‘leap of faith’. There is no other way to cross. He must take one step into the abyss and into certain death.

Jones closes his eyes and takes the step. He expects to fall to his death, but something happens. His foot finds a step. It was there all the time, hidden in plain sight by the darkness and by optical illusion. It first required an act of faith on his part to find it.

Another scene that fits, comes from the classic movie – The Matrix. Neo must leap from the building and jump to the other side. This test is different. In order to make the leap, Neo must believe in his own abilities. There can be no doubt in him, otherwise he will fall, which he does the first time.

These are analogies from popular movies. But I think the same applies to real life. Obviously I’m not talking about leaping from buildings, but I am talking about getting started on something new – something, that you really want to do, but have never gotten round to, because life got in your way. Here’s a hint – life will always get in your way. The challenge is to make time in your day to work on something else.

And I think that once you get started, you may find that the path was already there – just waiting for you, but hidden. When the flow in your life starts moving, you may find new doors open up for you that you never imagined were there.

And whilst the sensible and most comfortable thing to do in life, is to continue on our everyday path, doing what we already know; If you are one of those types of people agitated by feelings of – ‘I really want to do this before I die’, then now is the time to get into it. Those feelings, are your heart communicating to you. The heart operates within the realm of possibilities. It does not operate from the same calculated and logical decision-making processes that the brain operates by. Instead, the heart, knows what is good for your soul. So listen to it when it whispers to you.

Sticking to dead-end lives

Many years ago, I was stuck trying to survive, doing minimal wage jobs in hospitality and hotels, just to pay the bills and rent. I was putting my acupuncture business on hold because I thought it was more important to pay just to live.  I figured that paying bills was the priority in life and that I could build my business in my spare time. However, there was no spare time. There was never any spare time. Or energy. Or motivation. I wasn’t even at the level of the mouse in the mouse-wheel. It felt more like I was a rat in a sewer tunnel, running round and round in a circle, in muck.

Low income jobs are traps to suck your time and energy and keep you on the mouse-wheel. They never pay enough for you to do anything else, and you always get treated like a disposable object.

One night, I’d had an especially bad day at work, and something snapped in me. ‘That is enough!‘ I said to myself I will not do this kind of work anymore. Instead I will focus on my acupuncture business, even if it doesn’t work. Even if I go bust, I don’t care. As long as I do it.

And that is what I did. I quit those jobs and threw myself into my own business. I  found a place to work from. I made flyers and handed them out in person. I made a website and listed it on several different online directories. I met and trained with fellow acupuncturists and other therapists. I volunteered for an acupuncture organisation. I threw myself out there.

And things got harder financially. Even, when I was working my low-income jobs, I had often struggled with bills. Now I’d stopped doing that, there was even less money. It put a strain on my relationship and we needed to take a break for a while. I had to leave my apartment and move into a shared house.

No regrets

Looking back, do I regret it? No definitely not. It was hard at the time, but it eventually brought me to where I want to be in life.

This time of struggle provided an opportunity to redefine my objectives in life and what I really want. While I was no longer having all my time and energy sucked by a dead end job, I had the chance to consider my life purpose and self-exploration of other potential talents. This time gave me the mental and physical space to start writing. I have always been writing, but it really took off in this period, and has never reduced.

There are some things I wrote back then – such as my ‘How to Start a Complementary Therapy Business on a Budget‘ which is still being read today. Some people even buy it as a kindle book, even though it is available as a free PDF.

Sometimes such choices are necessary for growth.


complementary therapy business


Release the stagnant, invite fresh flow

By releasing this one thing that wasn’t working in my life, I invited fresh energy and a new experience into my life. Gradually, my practice started picking up. I was renting space at a local clinic on an adhoc basis and I was getting more and more inquiries. The business manager mentioned on a few occasions, how I was always calling them to book rooms several times a week. This was a good sign.

Also a new opportunity to work in a paid position as an acupuncturist in a hospice came up some time later. This came about, because I had more time to volunteer doing acupuncture for a healthcare charity. This was something I could never do, while I was spending all my time in a low income job.

After a while I was able to get a new place for myself – small but mine. As I became more satisfied with my acupuncture work and who I am, my relationship resumed and became much stronger than before. Now I have children. A break is not a bad thing in a relationship, particularly if things get a bit stagnant.

When I look back at this time, I am truly grateful to the universe for allowing me those opportunities and experiences, even though, sometimes, they were difficult things to go through. Yet, none of this would not have been possible, without a leap of faith on my part in the first place. By releasing things that are not working for you, it enables new energy and flow to come into your life. You must close one door to open another.

Disclaimer

By the way, I do not advocate quitting your job to start a business! There are much easier and smoother ways to transition into something new. If you have obligations, bills, mortgage to pay, or dependents, then you have to be responsible, possibly even delaying your actions. The important thing though, is to get started, even in a very small way. For example, starting a new part-time course, or setting up something in your spare time. it may be applying for a new job, or aiming higher in your current work. I also strongly advise against taking on debt to finance it. However, if you don’t have anything to lose, then you can be more gung-ho about it.

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The Master’s Way: Become more Rounded with Hobbies and Interests

Woman taking down notes in diary

A few years ago, I was hugely into 9 ball pool. I went to a pool club on days off and would play or practice for 3 hours straight. Sometimes I’d do it for 6. This was in Japan and pool halls in Japan are great value. It cost me 1000 Yen for 3 hours, playtime (about £8). 

My pool hall was in Kamata, in a kind of downtown area of Tokyo. On the way to the pool hall I would walk through a somewhat seedy district full of pachinko parlours, Chinese restaurants and hostess clubs. It was great.

I still sucked at pool, but over the weeks and months, I started to improve and made some good friends at my hall.

Be more interesting

The point of this article is that hobbies and interests have benefits to our mind and bodies. They make us more rounded as people, but also as practitioners. I think we learn things through hobbies that can help us achieve mastery in other things. Especially in my case, something like acupuncture. I believe that having interests in life, makes us more interesting as people. It gives us a perceptible glow that others can pick up on. A kind of internal passion that is attractive.

Health

Though, I spent hours in a darkened, smoky hall, away from fresh air and sunlight, playing pool provided me with certain health benefits, not least being temporarily shaded from all those other hard-nose-to-the-mill salaryman, rushing, careering, cramming the rush hour trains on their way to offices, meetings and oppressive workplaces. I suppose I was a slacker, but it was fun. My pool partner Kikumaru-San was an accountant, though he seemed to spend more time playing pool than working.

All the bending, stretching to reach shots and moving around the table keeps you thin. You may notice that most snooker players are usually quite lean. There is actually a lot of energy expenditure and movement in pool. It helped keep me relatively flexible.

Pool is  a game of concentration and emotional balance. You have to focus on the shot. You also need to develop patience and focus to practice shot after shot, over and over again.

Emotional training

And you have to learn not to get too emotionally upset when losing to someone, as happened often. One thing I learnt is that you can occasionally beat a superior player to yourself, if they lose their composure but you keep yours. Hint: Don’t drink alcohol.

When people lose their composure, no matter how good they are, they start making mistakes, which then turns into frustration and tension, even anger. This causes them to miss shots they would normally pot 10 times out of 10. And if you keep your composure and can pot, then you can win games, when ordinarily they would destroy you in minutes.

This is not to say, I was a high level player. I was mediocre. But I did have my moments.

Minerals 

And pool hall usually have bars. Bars sell Guinness, which contains minerals and b vitamins, which are good for you. Case closed.

Some pool halls in Japan even allow smoking (banned in the UK). So if you are reminiscent for the past, with its smoke-filled cafes and pubs, then go to Japan. 

Rounded interests

I think that hobbies are things that therapists, in fact anybody, can and should do – whether it be dance, yoga, martial arts, drawing, painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, singing, deep-sea diving, acting, flower arranging… the choices are many. 

All of these hobbies and interests make a person broader and well rounded. They also give a person balance. 

Martial Arts

I think in Japan, acupuncturists are quite balanced in their interests. My colleague in London, Eitaro, a Japanese acupuncturist is a black belt in Aikido.

One of my earlier acupuncture teachers, Mr Honda also has a black belt in aikido. He taught three classes a week in Yokohama.

One of his acupuncture students – Ishimaru, was a karate guy and came from Osaka.  He could be cheeky and made fun of me at the beginning, basically because I didn’t understand Japanese and didn’t have a clue what the teacher or anyone was talking about (nothing has changed since), although I later became friends with him. 

I have met many acupuncturists over the years, but these two stood out. I think it was their interests and hobbies, which made these particular individuals stand out more for me. 

Another good example of this is Mr Taniuchi.

Mr Taniuchi

In 2016, I visited Japan and went to Mr Taniuchi’s acupuncture clinic. Mr Taniuchi is a blind acupuncturist and member of the Toyohari association. I interviewed him for my book – The Tradition of Blind Acupuncturists in Japan.


Blind Acupuncture in Japan


What really stood out for me is that despite being blind, Mr Taniuchi had a huge interest in building strength and physical fitness. Before he went blind as a young man, he was into judo. He had to give it up when he lost his eyesight. However, this did not stop his love of exercise.

2016-03-27-08.26.58.jpg
Mr Taniuchi teaching at the 2016 Toyohari Workshop in Tokyo

Exercising at Work

Before meeting Mr Taniuchi, I had heard from another Toyohari member that during breaks, Mr Taniuchi would lift weights in one of his treatment rooms.

Mr Taniuchi came to London, to teach in the European acupuncture seminar. During the group meal afterwards, Mr Taniuchi initiated an arm-wrestling match with all of the Toyohari members, and subsequently beat everyone. He easily dispatched all his opponents with a cheeky grin on his face.

His interest in arm-wrestling had begun when he beat one of his patients at an arm wrestling fight. This patient then invited him to his arm wrestling group. Mr Taniuchi went along and got really into it. 

Mr Taniuchi is not a big person but he showed me how you can build real strength and bone and muscle density with regular weight training.

Though, I don’t think any of us pasty-faced, limp-wristed acupuncturists provided him with any real competition. 

The lesson was actually quite straightforward and very relevant to people who work with energy. As we focus on the energetic aspects of life, Don’t neglect to focus on the physical. We need a balance of yin and yang.

Hobbies add to us

Perhaps, Mr Tanuichi’s armwrestling is not directly related to his acupuncture or healthcare in general. But it does make Mr Taniuchi a more interesting person. It also means that he can relate more wider to people. Especially young men who feel that strength and fitness are important, would be especially inspired by his interest in arm wrestling. 

Also, I am sure there are crossovers. There will be things about his arm-wrestling that would make him a better practitioner. Not withstanding, the general health benefits that regular weight exercises has the body.

Miro and Diving

Another example is my friend Miro Baricic. He is an acupuncturist with an interest in diving.  This is one of the most physically demanding activities that a person can do. Swimming into the depths of a lake or body of water requires strong muscles, stamina and lung capacity. There is no doubt, that this will have positive effects on his health in years to come. 

Additionally, he found an ancient sword in a deep lake Norway and made the news!

~~~~~

Miro sword


What has 9-ball pool got to do with acupuncture?

To finish, I will answer – how does a hobby like 9 ball pool make you a better acupuncturist? Or any hobby?

The answer is that there are skills we develop which can be transferred to our acupuncture practice. Or any practice we take on. 

Here’s how:

Precision and Intention

9 ball pool is about precision and intention.

Before you even go into the stance, you must decide what shot you are going for. And you must decide where you want to position yourself for the next shot after.

Acupuncture is also about precision and intention, (especially in a system like Toyohari).

Before treating a patient, you must position yourself in the best way to reach your patient and that allows a better flow of Ki in your wrist and arm.

Accuracy

In pool, you pay special attention on your stance, measuring the shot and taking aim.  Even the pause before you strike has great significance.

This is because you must hit the cue ball at a very specific point on the ball. If you hit over centre, the cue ball follows after the target ball. If you hit under centre, the cue ball will spin backwards after hitting the cue ball. If you hit dead centre, the cue ball stuns and can stop dead on a straight shot. Hitting to the right or left of the cue ball also causes it to follow a different trajectory. Hence why precision is so necessary. You want to aim to position your cue ball in an area ready for the shot after. If you don’t do this, the cue ball will end up somewhere you don’t want it.

Like the cue ball, when needling the acupuncture point, you must find the correct location of the acupuncture point or you can miss it and not get the desired effect. 

Here is an extract from Shudo Denmei discussing his teacher’s accuracy when locating the correct acupuncture point:

Some practitioners locate points by rote and thereby fail to take the time to examine the area around the points carefully. My teacher practiced the Sawada style of acupuncture which puts great emphasis on locating acupuncture points where there is some palpable reaction. He was very particular about point location, and at certain points would press the skin with the head of a match or the end of a blunt pencil to find the tender spot. When he examined an acupuncture point carefully, he literally looked for reactions one square millimetre at a time. As a result, I learned to locate points with special care. When I am looking for a point, my fingertips are constantly on the move feeling for differences…

Generally speaking, the skin surfaces at acupuncture points on meridians with imbalances is less resilient than the surrounding area. Sometimes a tight band of tension of a knot-like induration can be palpated in the subcutaneous tissues with the fingertips. In other cases, the patient may feel tenderness when these points are pressed.

Shudo Denmei – Japanese Classical Acupuncture, p168

Delivery and Action

In pool, the drawing back of the cue, the pause and then striking the cue ball is the crucial moment. 

Your aim must be correct or you may miss the shot. You mind must be calm and focused. Your breathing as calm as you can make it no matter how pressured you feel. You learn to maintain calm though hours of practice. It is like a form of mental training or meditation.

When taking a shot, you must let go of tension, breathe normally and avoid holding your breath. If you feel any tension or worry, you can miss even easy shots. Likewise you must not feed any negative feelings like anger, frustration or fear. This can occur easily if you are losing to someone.

All of the above applies to acupuncture needling (again especially in Meridian Therapy).

Needling focus and intention

With the needle, you advance to the skin and insert it with intention. Your needling technique must be correct or you can miss the spot. You learn to do this through years of regular practice. To be calm and focused on feeling and connecting with the point and the patient. You must be relaxed and yet alert. Your touch must be soft. Holding the needle firmly, but not gripping with force.

The Chinese acupuncture bible, the Huangdi Neijing places importance on the sensitivity of needling with this quote:

In order to reinforce the deficient activity of the organs, it is advisable to insert the needle as carefully as a blind person handles things, inducing the vital energy, and then withdraw the needle as swiftly as a mosquito or a horsefly flies off as soon as it has landed, and as a taut string of a lute is broken suddenly.

HuangTi Nei Ching Ling Shu, The Cannon of Acupuncture – Ki Sunu. Page 33

Needling is not something you just do, like slapping paint on a wall or slopping a few bricks down in a hurry. A painted wall or brick wall can be created with beauty and care and be appreciated for it. Or it can look like a bodge job and noted as one.

The technique itself is a part of the treatment, not just the end result

In the West, Medical doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can learn acupuncture in a few weekends, learning point prescriptions for specific conditions like knee pain, back pain, stopping smoking or nausea. Acupuncture becomes a kind of Oriental painkiller. Ki does not exist. It is explained with endorphins and so on.

With such an attitude, the delicacies of technique are discounted.  All that matters is sticking the needle in without connection, without care. The famous Japanese acupuncturist Shudo Denmei writes this:

According to Yanagiya Sorei, forcing the needle is akin to rape, and if all we do is stick the needles in people, we are nothing but needle stickers. These words are really to the point. The secrets of acupuncture are no different from those of life itself. We need to pay attention to all we do. Qi is gathered around the point by stroking, brushing, and pressing the point. When the preparation is good, the area becomes slightly reddened. When the skin is ready to receive the needle, all one has to do is place the needle tip on the point and the needle practically goes in by itself. 

Introduction to Meridian Therapy, Shudo Denmei. Page171

Conclusion

My overall message here is to cultivate other interests and hobbies. It will make you more rounded and there is a crossover. No matter what you do, you can find parallels with your profession. Like with my example of 9 ball pool. 

Taking the time to learn something new will help you develop discipline, patience and an appreciation of the small details. Such things can help you in other fields of work. 

Improving by Observing Nature (& art, sports and movies)

Traditional Chinese medicine is based on Taoism, which is based on the observation of nature. Observing nature does not just mean observing animals, seasons or the cycles of the sun and moon. It is also about observing the daily activities that humans do. Yes, 9 ball pool falls into this category.

It may be the reason, why the Japanese put so much emphasis on perfecting the art of flower arranging (Ikebana) or Calligraphy, or even perfecting the air conditioning unit in a car.

Take a look at their electronic toilets to see how precision and beauty can be applied even to something like a toilet. If you can’t get to Japan to see it, you can always try and visit the Japanese embassy in London to see one. There seems to be an innate desire for perfection in all areas of life and work. And yes, even things like going to the toilet. A philosophy where the minute details are just as important as the overall outcome. 

The act of doing is as important as the final result

Even the process of learning a new hobby is part of this process. As a beginner you suck. But as you practice more, you gradually develop your ability until you become fairly capable.  You start to get recognition from others. As you improve further, you become more experienced and may even be able to guide others. There is beauty in this full process. We always admire the final product, but what of the full journey?

Another example can be felt when walking up a mountain. Why do people want to walk up mountains? It is extremely tiring and your legs ache for days afterwards. It is so much easier to go the gym, instead of getting bitten by bugs and overtaken by elderly Japanese walkers wearing their hats and fanny-packs.

When I have walked up mountains, I remember feeling satisfied when I got to the top , but then I would suddenly feel at a loss.

‘Oh, Ok, I’m here, now what should I do?’ I’d think. And then as soon as I felt rested enough, I would start descending again.

I realised that it is really the journey that gave me the pleasure. Not being at the top. The top is just for taking Instagram selfies with my selfie stick.

The act itself is as important as the result

This is the real application of being in the now. Every weave of the flower stem in Ikebana, or stroke of the quill as in Calligraphy is important in its own right. Every moment, every act is a frame in time. It all leads to the end result, which when that point comes, could be said to be dead, because it is finished. It is a metaphor for life.

It is not the final result, but the journey that gives life meaning. Which is why, when people have accomplished something great, they then start to seek the next challenge. This is because they recognise that life is about motion. To sit back and enjoy your successes leads to stagnation.

The famous Japanese aikido teacher and author Koichi Tohei in his ‘Book of Ki‘ talks about ‘always extending your Ki (energy)’ to be healthy. Once you relax your Ki, you can grow stagnant, slow down, old, even get sick. Here is an extract from when he returned from fighting in the War in 1946:

The day I returned, I began farming. My mother recommended I take a month’s rest at a hot spring resort. I said, “No, mother. I could endure hardships like sleeping on the ground because I did not relax my Ki. If I slack my Ki now, I’ll be in trouble. I’ll start farming in order to keep my Ki strong. I’ll visit friends and relatives after I get used to it.” After a week, I began visiting. I did not get sick at all. I heard later that some returning soldiers went to the spring and died since their Ki weakened. I again realised the importance of filling myself with Ki.

Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life. Page 86

Perhaps it is the same way, a person who retires after working hard for many years, looking forward to a life of afternoon pub, daytime TV, cruises and general relaxation -finds himself losing his energy, becoming bored, dull and gets really sick for the first time in his life. It is because he is no longer projecting his Ki.

So always project your Ki. Keep on moving until you truly reach a time, when you feel ‘it’s enough‘; Now is the time to sit back and observe the others on the mouse-wheel.

Practicing a different hobby may even give you a new perspective on your other work. Having wider interests in other things that are different to what you do for a living can make you a broader and more rounded individual. It will make you more interesting as a person. Life is short, just a few decades at best. Just enough time to master one single act. 

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If you Become a Dog, Look for the Joy in Sniffing your Own Butt

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If you become a dog, enjoy it.

At some point in your life, you may lose things that are important for your ego in society. Your status, your money, your job, your home. Maybe even friends or lovers.

So if it happens, just accept it and say F*** it. If you do your best, or made what you thought were the right decision, yet still lost status and face, well F*** it. Shit happen. Don’t beat yourself up too much or blame yourself and see yourself as a useless human being. Life is full of decisions and forces out of our control. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes wrong. But just keep going.

Our wellbeing is often tied into our perception of status and how (we think) we appear in the eyes of ‘society’.

But who is society? People around us – friends, work colleagues. They are busy worrying about how they look to others. We are all worried about how we look to others. What a neurotic world we live in.

As a woman at a job used to say some mornings when she came in: “Good morning Fellow Slaves”. I told her, “It’s too close to the truth”. We become slaves to the perception of status.

Society is status orientated

We’ve all had this – meeting someone at a party – the ‘what do you do?” question. For several reasons, its a pretty pointless question. Or you are asked to fill in your occupation on some kind of registration form. Those are worse, because the answer you give in the moment can define you generations later, when your descendants look at those papers (and judge).

Those of us, with a less ‘straight and narrow’ approach to life may change their occupations many times at various time in their life. In that case, what do you write?

“Shop worker, office worker, manager, driver, teacher, actor, farmer, therapist, writer, unemployed, gardener…”

Or what do you write, if you are one of those guys that electrocute battery hens to death for a living? Or inject tumours into lab rats. Awkward.

“So what do you do?”

“Well, I torture and kill animals for profit.”

And that is why we invented fancy job titles.

What you do can change from week to week, month to month, year to year. You may do many different things in your life. What exactly is the true answer?

Uusally this question refers precisely to salaried work? Not everyone does that.

Answers are usually graded. Top marks go to doctors, lawyers accountants, corporate workers. Mid range marks go to clerks, admin, sales, nurses. Lower marks get graded to services – (even though arguably they are more essential to society and may often have more money than mid range marks) -e.g builders, gardeners, plumbers, pest control.

Booby marks go to those unemployed or with suspiciously (non work-type) professions. That sometimes includes acupuncture – depending on the type of party.

Overall its all pretty much pointless. Because if you going to rate someone, you may as well rate them on income and their wealth, rather than on a job title. This may sound materialistic, but jobs and job titles can be temporary and always changing. Whereas wealth pretty much stands for itself. and that is all anyone really takes notice of anyway.

So at a party, when someone asks “And What do you do?” Just answer, “I have a net worth of £110,000, how about you…?”

Pause… “Oh… Erm… I have a Tesco club card!”

‘Keep Face’ Book

And you may be surprised but a lot of people that look good ‘on paper’, ie with status, professional careers, fame, or big houses new car etc – may actually be insolvent, carrying lots of debt and that includes mortgage debt.

You hear often of bankrupt celebrities. They get lots of money, but either they overspend or some unscrupulous accountant or business partner rips them off. I think that true wealth probably doesn’t reveal itself too much. It comes in the form of people wih modest lifestyles, simple appearances, second hand cars and simple diets. Basically saving more than you spend.

Ultimately it is all pretty much unimportant and the reason for that is very simple. No one cares about you. People only care about themselves.

All that matters is you are satisfied with what you are doing. You are happy with what you are doing in life. If you truly are happy with your path, than you will greet everyone in that party exactly the same manner whether it is the garbage collector or the surgeon. Everyone will be interesting in your eyes.

Most people don’t do this. That’s why they play the point system.

Jewel in the Rough: Where else can you find one?

One of the most interesting guys I met was whilst working in a factory, in my hometown in my early 20s.

He was a man in his 50s, fit, and with a positive zest and enthusiasm for life. He was friendly to everyone. At the time, I was a temp, after having just dropped out of law school and was suffering with recurrent gut health problems (colitis). I was feeling pretty miserable. Even more so working in that factory.

But this guy told me his story. He wife had been suffering from cancer. She died a few years earlier. He had to stop working. And after her death, it hit him hard.

But, his tragic story became a story of inspiration. He decided he was going to learn karate, which he did so with enthusiasm and passion. He practiced regularly. He became a black belt. It made him fit and strong, both mentally and physically.

And though he worked in a factory with low pay and inherent instability, he had a positive vibe around him. His positive attitude livened up all the other factory workers – these middle aged women. He sometimes taught them karate moves. He taught me one. He was friendly and engaging with everyone. Including me, on the very first day I came. He shared his story openly and I was glad he did as I was only given one shift there.

He was even considerate towards a young female worker who suddenly felt faint as she had missed out on her breakfast to lose weight. Not a good idea when doing physical labour.

Lifelong impressions

Could you imagine being the kind of person who leaves a lifelong impression on someone after only a 30 minute conversation? We all imagine that celebrities or Presidents have that kind of power. But I think it can come from anyone potentially, with an interesting life.

Though brief, he left a lifelong impression on me. From a status point of view, he’d be down on the scale. As a human being with a life of interest, he was way up there. For a young man, hearing a story of how someone went through an extremely difficult loss, but maintained a positive frame of mind by taking on a mastering a new hobby was extremely inspiring. It made me question the issue of status and how imprisoned I was by its power over us.

‘Important’ People

On the other hand, being from a law family, I frequently met ‘respectable’ people, at the ever-frequent and torturous ‘dinner’/house parties I was subjected to from my mother.

One of the worst people I met was the owner of a law firm. He had the wealth, the status, the fancy car and clothes, but he was a dick. The only time we spoke, he was rude and antagonistic to me. At the time, I was young and naive, but usually very respectful to any elders I met. Big mistake.

He was one of most repulsive people I’ve met in my life, and left me feeling lousy about myself. He was also quite out of shape, which may be a reflection of his internal mind. No doubt he had some issues, which material success can only make worse.

This is not to say all people with humble jobs or high status jobs are like this. There are cool people and dicks everywhere.

It is healthier to idolise a rock than Ariana Grande (or insert celebrity name here if it is not 2019)

The worst thing to do is idolise or pedalastise people based on their status in society. They could be the worst people ever. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Celebrity worship is even worse. Worshipping celebrities – basically worshipping a fantasy is naive. The person we see on the screen in a favourite movie is not real. It is made up. You may as well worship a piece of wood on the ground. Celebrities are a story. Some are like a blank canvas, so we we can fill in our own worshipful story for them. But they’re all fake.

All except for Stephen Segal, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course.

Points

If you are dissatisfied or playing societies’ game of one-up-man ship, it means you are playing the point system. Unfortunately the point system imposes limitations on us, by keeping us stuck in the game. Even if you are at the top status wise, you can still be just as insecure as someone lower down in the system. Even more so.

Forever Home Improvements

Perhaps that is why there is so many shows about renovating your kitchen. People have to look for new ways to impress, to keep up, to portray your status. Perhaps people are looking for fulfilment by improving things they can improve on – like their kitchen, or building a loft renovation. Or buying a 4×4, SUV even though you live in the city, and the closest you come to nature is when you drive past some cows along the motorway.

Or you could buy a Tesler. Thats the current status symbol. It used to be BMW’s or porches. But now every Jack and Bill is driving one.

Down Dog

So what happens when you become a dog? In other words you lose your status. You lose something that is essential for the ego.

There are three possible paths.

One is the downward spiral. Your psyche is broken. You see no way out. You drop into that deep black pit. In its bleakness and pain, it is strangely enough, warm and comfortable. The longer you are there, the more you want to stay. This path imposes limitations as it means you are effectively in ‘stopping time’. You are withdrawing from life. At worse, it leads to extreme decisions. Even suicide.

The other is the Rocky Balboa path. You play Eye of the Tiger on a loop. Fight! Push hard! Struggle, suffer and dig your way out of it. It makes for an interesting story later on. You take on the role of the hero – fighting against reality, to bend it to your will. And overcome it with success or be crushed. And if you succeed you can relive your glory by telling people your rags to riches story. Even better, you can sell it as a program and make money.

A third path, is to fully embrace it. Enjoy being a dirty dog. Own it. Absorb it. Let go resistance. It could be as the Buddhists call it – ‘the middle way’. Embrace it with humour. See the irony of life. Perhaps yesterday you were flying high. But today you are a dog. Tomorrow you may be a dog still. Or maybe you’ll be flying high again. Doesn’t matter. Either way laugh at it and enjoy being the dog.

Debt

Perhaps you are stuck in debt. Massive amounts of debt.

I met some Americans some years ago at a seminar. They talked about the kind of debt students were getting from university fees at acupuncture college. Another person talked about her medical bills. These debts ran into the tens of thousands.

I thought to myself that this kind of debt is unpayable. At that point, you might as well stop stressing about it. Just accept it and say “Fine. I’m an indebted son of a bitch. Bite me.” At that point, there’s no longer any point in getting stressed about it. Instead, just figure out how to live daily life without it inconveniencing you too much.

A country cannot indebt its citizens to this ridiculous extent without there being a consequence in the future. Is this the modern version of indentured slavery? I think it is.

Fight the debt

You could take the Rocky path. Listen to Eye of the Tiger, buy all those Dave Ramsey books and dvds (on credit card). Fight your way out of debt. Like slaying a dragon. Some people do it. But there are some who just can’t.

The Dave Ramsey plan still depends on your earning more money than your debt is worth and cutting your spending. But not everyone can take an extra job or even increase their earnings.

No matter how much Eye of the Tiger you listen to, you probably can’t do more than two jobs without going postal at some point. Can you really scrimp and save, as inflation secretly increases and you have a family to support? Sure some can, but many struggle. Are you telling me that everyone who buys a Dave Ramsey book becomes debt free? If so, there would be no debt problem in America.

So if you can’t pay it, just accept it.

Aim to pay it off. Work, budget and manage your debt collectors. Make a plan. But ultimately, there needs to be a degree of acceptance.  Never think you are a terrible human being for being in that situation or that there is no way out.

We live in a time of easy debt, high (and hidden) inflation and stagnant wages. You are playing against the house in the gambling system of a world with funny money. This is the economy, which is really like a small town casino. The house wins. The house always wins. The best you can do, is keep your wits and emotions in check, don’t drink too much and plan to get out of the casino without too much of a loss.

Relationships

So someone leaves you for another Chad or Betty. There are billions of people on the planet. Think on that. Billions of women or men that can F*** you up some more if you want. It is not the end of the world. Be grateful and enjoy your break.

Or maybe you are the Chad or Betty.

Lives can be long and there are billions of people on this planet. Is life really meant to be spent with just one person? Relationships open us up to new experiences and ways to develop our personality. Do you want to play as bonobos or chimps?

Or apes? Treat them mean, keep them keen.

Some matches help us grow at one point in life, but then can suffocate us at another. Some things need to be gone through together, especially raising kids. But then some relationships are just toxic for adults and kids.

Maybe better to just buy a playstation and some woodbines. And cheaper too.

Hitting bottom (no, not spanking – I mean literally)

Anyone can hit bottom. No need to feel ashamed. Why add that extra layer of suffering. Some of the most charming people are those who have hit bottom. It makes a person more humble. It can be a great way to lose your ego.

It’s all part of the journey. Life has ups and downs. When life is up, people think it will always be that way. When life is down, it can feel like the bottom is dropping out of your universe.

I know some of the pain, but there are those that have fared worse. And so much will happen in life for as long as you live. Perhaps it is a training ground for our souls, as some say.

Failure, breakup, loss, money woes, embarrassment, and sickness, has hurt badly, but I notice that each time it happens it causes me to withdraw and go within. To ask myself, ‘is this the time to change my life course again?’.

Feed your soul and spirit

It’s taken years, but the main thing I’ve concluded, is to go put your mind, your desires and goals on doing what is important for your soul. If you have something that makes you tingle. That gives you life, then do it, no matter what. You don’t have to give up a regular job or family to do that. There is always a way to do what you want. Just do it on the side.

Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

Here’s an example from Japanese anime. You’ll learn more from watching Japanese anime than you ever will from watching the BBC. Yes, Eastenders and the news are so enlightening.

Kakegurui is an anime about an elite high school, where the students are not judged on academic acheivement or atheltisicm. They are judged on their gambling skill.

All the students are children of the elite – politicians, business tycoons etc. The status of the student is based on how much money they win from gambling. The people who win have a higher status and more power over the others. The students who lose with debts, become nothing more than servants, or ‘pets’ to the other students.  They even get a pet name. If they are male, they become a dog. If a female, a cat. And they must wear a pet tag around their neck.

‘Mi-ke’ / ‘Mittens’

In one scene, the main character Yumeko loses a huge gamble with the student council and loses all her money. She falls millions into debt.

According to the rules of the school, she loses her status and falls to the level of ‘pet’.

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Her classmates ridicule her for her loss of status, and take satisfaction in planning to treat her as a pet. In her case, a cat.

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Howver, instead of become upset. Or refuse, Yumeko simply gets on her knees and plays the role of cat perfectly. She accepts her failure without regret. She does not care how she appears.

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Her classmates are disturbed by her unexpected reaction.  Instead of bullying her or making her feel bad, it is them that are shocked and want to leave.

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Yumeko places no value on her status or how she is percieved to others. She did not even feel any negativity to the person she lost to. She saw it as part of the game, which she ends up winning later on.

This kind of mindset is extremely empowering. If you do not fear losing status in the eyes of others, it frees you up to live a life of authenticity, as well as to follow your ultimate goals.

The animators make it clear that despite her huge loss, and seemingly weak position, actually, Yumeko has an intense amount of internal strength. This is apparent by the red, almost demonic eyes. This is the Eye of the Tiger.

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Perhaps this approach may seem irresponsible, but what is the alternative. You let it crush you. You disappear and drink yourself into oblivion, and give up?

The Pit.

Loss can hit hard and send you down into a pit. It may be difficult to get out. But I think that the pit has a purpose. It gives you a space to withdraw into. If you can pass through the self-hatred, blame, and other demons of the pit, you have the chance to turn this into a positive journey. It can provide introspection and deep reflection. To go spiritual.

The pit is an analogy to Alice’s rabbit hole.

Descent into the Well

In the Haruki Murakami book ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicles‘, there is this wonderful scene where the protagonist descends into a well in his back garden to escape from his life. Once down there, strange things start happening to his mind. He is transported to different places. Even into the mind of his antagonist. It is similar to the movie ‘Being John Malkovich‘.

It is apparent that, spiritual awakening comes not from how many hours and years you meditate, chant, attend a class, or worship an icon of your favourite guru. It comes from solitude and that dark place, where we all fear to tread.

Hence, why we hear of famed spiritual masters from the past who disappeared into the mountains, deserts, caves or jungles alone for 40 days and nights, or however long it took, for them.

Look at Ekhart Tolle. He didn’t attain his awakening from meditating or postive thinking or even ‘being in the moment,’ which he talks about all the time in his books. He got it from being stuck in weeks and months of an intense depression and sitting on park benches, until finally, it just came to him after an intense period of introspection. He went into the hole. Buddha also did the same.

The dark place, the hole, as I call it, is where awakening can occur. Ever wonder why life seems to throw so much shit at you. One disaster after another. One problem after another. You throw your arms up to the sky and ask why? Oh why me!?

I’m a good person. I do good things for charity. I help people. But this still happens?

Perhaps it is to make you resilient. To toughen you up.  Or to teach you a lesson. Perhaps it your karma. You were one of Stalin’s henchmen in a previous life. Maybe there really is no meaning. Just a random act. Or genetics..? Doctors like using that term.

But what if it is the universe’s way of driving you deep within. Or even your own soul’s doing? Down into the black hole where transformation and awakening can occur. That place cannot be reached in the world of daily life, jobs, holidays, renovating kitchens, SUVs, TV, caring about politics or buying houses.

That whole lot of shit sent your way; it’s purpose is to awaken you. Will you look at it, or turn away? This is the choice everyone will be faced with at some point. And sometimes many times in the same life.

Find your pleasure.

So forget status and how you look. Instead ask – what gives you excitement in life? What makes you come alive? Chase it. And if you become a dog in the process, it doesn’t matter.

Another way is humour. Humour is the antidote to worry and fear. This is the reason why the British are said to be so funny. The British have developed humour as a way of dealing with difficulties in life. Traditionally, they have a dry, tongue-in-cheek humour.

It come from hundreds of years of being exploited by the ruling classes to fight horrible wars and basically being trodden upon in poverty. Think ‘going over the top’ in the trenches in WWI. Life is more comfortable now and we have become horrendously complacent, almost slovenly, but it wasn’t always so in England. Once this was a damp, poor, grim place to live and work. (Wait, it still is!)

To end, a poem

A close friend of mine says that “poets are gay”. He means that in the American high-school sense of ‘uncool’ or ‘lame’ rather than homosexual, and was specifically referring to acupuncturists that write poetry.

Not sure I agree. I would recommend he read some Chuck Bukowski. Might change his mind about poets in general. Though maybe not about acupuncturist poets.

So anyway, I deicided to write a poem. Another gay acupuncturist writing poetry.

Here it is:

When you become a dog

 

The best thing about being a dog.

Is sniffing your own butt.

And not caring what other dogs think.

Because they are sniffing your butt too.

 

The best thing about being a Cat.

Is licking your own crotch.

And not caring what other cats think.

Because they are licking theirs too.

 

Behold Man. Master of them all.

 Man builds Towers. The cats hunt mice.

Man flies to the Moon. The dogs chases balls.

Mighty Man. Looks down on all

 

But alas, a Man will never reach the peaks.

Of the canine. Or the feline.

For no matter how much he stretch and strain.

His butt and crotch, he’ll not reach.

 

The undiscovered country.

Where no man’s nose can meet.

Or tongue can greet. And what’s more

He’ll always care what others think.

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Screenshots from Japanese anime Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

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