Category Archives: Books

The Antidote

 

“Failure is everywhere. It’s just that most of the time we would rather avoid confronting that fact…

Our efforts not to think about failure leave us with a severely distorted understanding of what it takes to be successful. An openness to the emotional experience of failure can be a stepping-stone to a much richer kind of happiness than can be achieved by focusing only on success.”

The phrase “failure is the mother of success” didn’t come from our predecessors for nothing – they knew the meaning and value of failure, something our society seems to be rediscovering – thankfully.

The Little Things That Add Up

“Movies are made out of darkness as well as light; it is the surpassingly brief intervals of darkness between each luminous still image that make it possible to assemble the many images into one moving picture. Without that darkness, there would only be a blur. If you could add up all the darkness, you would find the audience in the theatre gazing together in a deep imaginative night. It is the terra Incognita of film, the dark continent on every map. In a similar way, a runner’s every step is a leap, so that for a moment he or she is entirely off the ground. For these brief instants, shadows no longer spill out from their feet… These tiny fragments of levitation add up to something considerable; by their own power they hover above the earth for many minutes…

We fly; we dream in darkness; we devour heaven in notes too small to be measured.”

-“A Field Guide To Getting Lost”

But we could use the power of mindfulness to pick out all the terra Incognita in our being. Then we might be able to get a taste of that elusive heaven. For there is infinity within a moment, and all we have is each moment.

Creating The Past

“It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.”

– Man’s Search for Meaning

Reading this, I hope to see my impending leave from this place and life in a new light.

Yes, I will probably not experience life as a student again. I may not ever have as much time with and by myself. I might not have as much time to reflect and think and ponder in the rush of work and commitments and social obligations.

But, all those hours I have invested doing these in the past years – would have contributed to my being, to the person I am and will be.

And wherever I work, serve or practice – the insights and knowledge I have gained will make their presence felt. I can tap on them, their accumulated presence in my mind and life, to be the best I can be in every moment I have. They have not been wasted, because they have Been.

“Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.”

Terra Incognita II

“Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t – and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.”
-“A Field Guide To Getting Lost”

Reading this, I immediately thought: “that’s me!” The person who’s always worrying, the one who’s always fretting over what we do not know. Although I think I have calmed down over the years and have learnt to cap my worries over certain things, I know I still worry, especially when it comes to the “bigger” things. Not that it makes a difference. If you don’t have control over it, you don’t have control over it. It makes no difference whether the thing we’re worried about is big or small.

Worry is a place in relation to the terra Incognita in our lives. It is a response to the unknown, uncharted, unseen, unexplored. Because we are so used to knowing, we feel helpless when we are faced with something we cannot know, and worry is a way to cope with what that helplessness. To “pretend that you have knowledge and control”.

If we could learn to embrace the terra Incognita in ourselves and in life, accepting the terra Incognita for what it is: an unknown place, beautiful because it has yet to come and pure because it has not been touched or tainted by the present – we would not feel the need to imagine the worst to cope with the need for knowing.

I need to embrace the terra Incognita in my life right now.

Terra Incognita

“Between words is silence, around ink whiteness, behind every map’s information is what’s left out, and unmapped and unmappable.”
“… Terra Incognita spaces on maps say that knowledge is also an island surrounded by oceans of the unknown. They signify that cartographers knew they did not know, and awareness of ignorance is not just ignorant; it’s awareness of knowledge’s limits. To destroy false notions, without even going any further, is one of the ways to advance knowledge. To acknowledge the unknown is part of knowledge…”

– “A Field Guide To Getting Lost”

These paragraphs on terra incognita and the nature of the unknown have captured my imagination and fantasy and thoughts associated with these 2 words.

Terra Incognita.

Growing up and living in a world where knowledge bombards, where not to know is frowned upon, where admittance of not knowing can be a source of shame – terra incognita suggests a world so refreshing and light.

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In the world of terra Incognita, it might be more accepting, more embracing of ambiguity. Of the need for exploration, both externally and internally. Such a world might view learning for the beauty of it, rather than learning as the means to an end. The lack of knowledge, and the awareness of lack of knowledge, being acknowledged as a form of knowledge in itself. Being liberated from knowledge.

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Terra Incognita.