Sitting in the domestic terminal of the Bali airport with excited children frantically swiping at Ipads and bored adults staring at flight information displays seems to be the perfect situation to reflect upon the flow of thoughts that have been dancing through my mind over the last 24 hours. I was meant to leave Bali for Jakarta yesterday and spend a day there before continuing my journey back to North America to see friends and family I haven’t seen in almost a year. Instead I am leaving today. Why? Well, embarrassingly, because I made a mistake that I almost NEVER make. In fact I have only made it once in the last 14 or so years, despite a myriad of opportunities to do so. Not that avoiding this mistake is something to brag about. It’s a situation that reminds me of that Chris Rock bit where he jokes about people bragging when they pay child support. It’s just something that you do.
I’ve been traveling since I was an infant. I’ve traveled alone frequently since my teenage years, and in that time I’ve only ever missed one flight. I am a very organized person, and make good use of the technology at my disposal to keep my affairs in order. The first thing I do when I make a commitment is put it in my schedule, which is synchronized between between my email, my computer and my Ipod. I’m alerted to any event in my schedule two days before it is set to take place. Once an event is scheduled I will be aware when it nears. The mistake I made? I entered the date incorrectly.
Rather than fret over the 70 bucks this mistake cost me, I’ve chosen to take it as an opportunity to analyze the energy flows that influence the directions in which my life moves, and the actions that result from those energy flows. The impetus for this analysis is the eye-opening conversation that I enjoyed with a close friend during my last night in Bali; a conversation I wouldn’t have engaged in had I not made this mistake. I’m going to share a few of the more valuable insights I gained from the ideas we exchanged, and I sincerely hope they can inspire you as much as they have me.
The Value of My Mistake
Having a background in business, I instantly considered the value gained or lost by missing my flight. I decided that our conversation was easily worth 70 bucks. In retrospect, I would’ve intentionally missed my flight if I knew how much there was to gain by doing so. However, I know for a fact that had I scheduled my flight correctly I would’ve left on time without a second thought, unconsciously robbing myself of an invaluable experience that dwarfs the value of 7 pieces of red paper with the face of a stranger printed on them.
The Management of Attention
I’ve read a lot about time management in the past decade. It’s a subject that was brought up frequently during my education in entrepreneurship. It’s a fairly straightforward concept to me, and I find it pretty easy to recognize and evaluate how effectively I’m managing my time. Acting upon that recognition and evaluation to manage my time effectively? Well that’s a whole ‘nother story; one for a different article.
Only recently have I been introduced to the idea of attention management. The reason why I made the aforementioned mistake was because I mismanaged my attention. What I mean by this is that I was clearly distracted from the task of entering my flight time into my schedule. At this current moment, I am struggling to remember the exact details of the instant when I booked my flight and put it in my schedule. However, knowing myself pretty well and the way I often manage my attention, I can conjecture pretty confidently how the mistake took place.
Rather than focusing exclusively on one task, I was definitely listening to music (which I was also probably creating playlists with), likely gleaning information from at at least one website, and perhaps as many as five or six. On top of that it’s a definitely possibility that I was thinking about what I would do on my trip. While there are certain advantages to having multiple creative canvasses and sources of information prepared for activation at the same time, particularly in Bali where the internet can be, shall I say, unfriendly, at times, there is one major disadvantage that I am beginning to understand.
Bringing My Attention to Depth
When I focus on a single activity at a time, the labor bears bigger, juicier, healthier fruits. Information sinks deeper into my memory, seeds of idea get the chance to flower into mature entities of beauty and strength, and my energy flows in a more balanced way. When I multi-task, particularly on the computer, I can get more shit done, but sometimes those things are exactly that; shit. On the surface, making an incorrect entry into my schedule would appear to be pretty shitty. However, the unintentional consequences of that mistake were far more valuable than the intended consequences would’ve been of performing that activity correctly, so to speak. It makes me think…
That Energy Might Have a Bit More to It than I Previously Thought
One of the topics that was broached during the conversation I had with my friend was about being protected. I won’t share any of the specific details of my friend’s experiences, as I haven’t asked him if I can do so; I will talk about my own though.
Throughout my life I have been guilty of rushing to action without thinking situations through. Sometimes, my actions have been abrasive, and consequently harmful to other people, and myself. Upon reflection of some of these events, I have hypothesized that perhaps I may have come out of certain potentially disastrous scenarios less scathed than the odds of this world would perhaps normally dictate. In other words, the consequences haven’t necessarily matched the actions.
Why is this the case? Why is it that I can survive a reckless attempt at climbing a 5300 meter high mountain in the North Indian Himalayas with no guides, no climbing gear, and not nearly enough food for 14 hours of climbing, while some people have died from crossing the street without looking both ways first?
I’m not a very religious person, and I’m just starting to connect with my spirituality, but the possibility that, for whatever reason, in whatever way, I have been protected by unknown entities, or energies, is starting to seem legitimate.
So the question that comes to mind next is; if this is true, why me? This is where, I believe anyways (and this might just be a projection of my ego), my unique, individual energy comes into play. Throughout the course of my life I have acted in ways that were hurtful towards people. I won’t deny this. I feel regret, and even shame for a lot of these instances. At the same time, I believe that my motives and actions, for the overwhelming majority of the time, have been inspired by generosity, kindness, and a desire to do good.
I like to help people, I like to share the abundance of gifts, both tangible and intangible, that I am starting to truly feel grateful for receiving in this life, and, most importantly, I direct a lot of my energy into projects steeped in these positive qualities. The majority, I would say. All the energy that I am able to summon has been provided to me by forces I don’t understand, regardless of whether they are created by evolution or divinity, and perhaps when I direct this gifted energy into altruistic actions, I am rewarded with returned gifts in the form of protection in times of danger. Essentially, this is a similar idea to my understanding of the concept of karma, which is a limited understanding. What I’m interested in now is how I have been influencing my own karma, and how I can manage it more effectively through the way I direct the energy that I have control over.
Where Am I Directing My Energy and How Am I Directing it?
At this precise moment I’m pouring it into this article. Though some of it is splashing into the music I have playing in the background. It might serve me well to write without music, yet in my current state of existence I find pure bliss when Roots Manuva is steady flexin’ with some next type of motion in my ear while I work.
I’m directing my energy with the clear intention of sharing insights and ideas that I have and believe may be valuable to whoever might read my words. To me, this is an effective direction of energy into a positive place. It would be ideal if I put all of my energy into these sorts of projects in this manner. I choose to do this more, and my goal is to one day direct every infinitesimal shred of energy that I own into positive entities in a conscious, efficient, present manner.
At this moment I’d like to offer you the chance to ask yourself questions that I have asked myself while writing this article :
Where am I Directing my Energy?
Am I Directing it into Places, People, Interactions and Endeavors that are Serving me and those I Love?
How am I Directing my Energy?
Would I like to Experiment with Directing my Energy Differently?
I really Hope Roots Manuva hasn’t gone Bananas Because He’s My Favorite Artist of All Time
It’s Time to Figure Out How to Turn A Block of Marble into David
When I focus my energy into the right places, in the right way, and I feel perfectly aligned with my thoughts and actions, I know I can sculpt a masterpiece out of raw materials. What that exactly is I’m not entirely sure of yet, but the excitement bubbling inside of me from knowing that I am beginning to acquire and refine the tools and knowledge I require to create my chef-d’oeuvre is positively invigorating.
At the same time, when I ineffectively direct my energy yet am rewarded with something as powerful as the conversation I had last night, it makes me wonder if perhaps it was simply coincidence. Either way, I feel profoundly grateful for my situation and to whatever forces influenced it, whether they be divine entities enacting karmic retribution or chaotic vortexes within which I can only hope to experience a sliver of happiness and maybe love whilst being sucked through.
I deeply hope this article has been an effective direction of your attention and energy, and invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, visions, and masterpieces in progress in the comments section.