Schermafbeelding 2011-07-22 om 10.26.11

Knowing where you’re going…
In our world, ‘certainty’ is very much considered worth pursuing. ‘Knowing were you’re going’, is what that game is called. Whereas ‘uncertainty’ or ‘not knowing where you’re going’, means danger. At least, this is what we’ve been told from a very early age. For example, let’s take a look at the classic Andersen tale of Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel are left alone in a remote forest.

That’s fine, because Hans is very good at the game of knowing where you’re going. So he came well prepared and left a trail of bread crumbs to find the way home. But, oh no! A bird ate all the bread crumbs! Now they are thrown in utter uncertainty and, having no other option, they start walking – not knowing where they’re going…
Surely they walk straight into the hands of a witch who at first seems nice. In fact, her cute little house made out of candy makes them believe they are in heaven. But as it turns out, the witch wants to eat them for lunch. Yeah, scary. Fortunately, on their turn, they manage to throw the witch into a blazing fire and escape. Great! So what’s the message? Even a 4 year old can do the math: not knowing where you’re going equals potential death.

Not knowing where you’re going…
The message of pursuing certainty is brought to us in many ways. From bed time stories to choosing a career. Our parents, schools, the media, society as a whole: we are taught to know where we’re going for it will lead us to certainty. But what if you don’t know where you’re going? Are you really in danger, like Hansel en Gretel? Well, to begin with, no you’re not. It’s very unlikely you risk being eaten, so relax. But still, having this feeling sucks. We all know what it’s like to feel lost. If only for a moment, it can really make you feel alone. As if everyone else is playing the game well, choosing direction and you’re not. You are: uncertain.

So now what?
Let’s look at it in a challenging way and turn it all around. What do you think happens when youalways know where you are going, what to do and what to say? When you have the answer to every question and never get lost. And you never feel uncertain because you know the outcome of everything? Though comfortable at first, it would turn your life in complete and utter boredom! There wouldn’t be any surprise of any kind whatsoever! For example, reading a book is useless because you already know the ending. Watching a football game is no fun since you know who’s going to win anyway. An unexpected visit from a long lost friend means nothing: you saw that coming miles ahead! Same goes for the scenario where you get the job, the house, or find the love of your life: it wouldn’t be special at all. Everyday, you would wake up knowing exactly what’s going to happen, when, how, why and what to do about it.

Besides the fact it’s boring, ruling out uncertainty would also be the end of certainty, as it would become ‘standard’, the only thing that can be. And who wants to live a standard life? It’s uncertainty, that makes our life exciting, mysterious and challenging. Sure it’s ultimately about finding a balance… But keep in mind that whenever you you don’t know where you’re going and feel uncertain, it’s exactly that what makes your life interesting.

Happily ever after…
So let’s go back to Hansel and Gretel. Because as their story continues, it turns out the witch has a cellar full of silver, gold and diamonds. Not bad! They both take as much as they can, find their way home and live happily ever after. So what’s the overall message?

Ultimately, the road to certainty is uncertain. Even if you come well prepared, things may not go the way you had planned. Things may not go as fast as you wish. At that point it’s all about how you deal with that. In the case of Hans and Gretel, they began walking even though the did NOT know where were going. They took a chance, embraced uncertainty and finally were rewarded in ways they could never have imagined!

Alright, enough about Hansel and Gretel – let’s just start walking.
Knowing or not knowing where you’re going, it’s all part of the journey.

July 6, 2011 by: | Category: column |
    • Daring to be vulnerable gives you power to be

      People are vulnerable as individuals and as a species. And fighting vulnerability is useless. No matter how hard you try. Simply because you can’t control everything and so your life can turn upside down at any moment of any day. You may be the King of the World, the Smartest Woman in the Universe or the Sexiest Man Alive; it won’t help. You can however hide from it. And most of us do. Behind a fancy job title, nice car or house. Interesting friends, a busy agenda, designer clothes or healthy hipster life style, but sooner or later vulnerability will find you. So what can you do? Well, it’s simple.

      Simply face it and embrace it. Because when you embrace it, you no longer need to fight it. You no longer need to run or hide from it, by keeping up appearances and putting energy in this hopeless attempt to avoid the discomfort of feeling it. You can now be as you are, vulnerable, instead of pretending not to be. The way I see it: vulnerability is indestructible. So by letting it in and become a part of you, in a way that makes you indestructible. Daring to be vulnerable gives you power to be.

      Vulnerability becomes a Strength

      Are you alive?

      From time to time it’s good to ask yourself: “Am I alive?” Because it’s not uncommon to just be busy doing what you’re always doing. To be caught up in a routine. And that routine may very well result in hours, days, weeks, months or even years of living, without actually being alive. Because there’s more to living, than just breathing. Imagine someone in a coma and it becomes clear… I recently attended a re-birthing workshop and I experienced the difference between A) normal breathing: a mostly shallow, kind of mechanic and unconscious way of getting the bare minimum of oxygen ‘shots’ and B) breathing with full awareness, in a rich flow, organic and fully open to receive life’s energy in all it’s splendor. It let me experience the meaning of the phrase: “Just because you breathe, doesn’t mean you’re alive”. And so I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to wonder: am I  really alive or mostly just busy breathing?

      Just because you breathe

      Who am I… or rather, what am I?

      I guess you’re familiar with this sensation: one moment you feel great, and the next… well not so great. I sometimes feel like I’m nothing and sometimes I feel as though I’m everything. It’s a really fine line, much like it is with being crazy or brilliant. John Lennon had a nice way of putting it. He said: “Part of me suspects I’m a loser. The other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty”. I wrote a post about that one too. Anyway. A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the “I, a universe of atoms…” quote by the American physicist Richard P. Feynman (1918 – 1988). And it’s stuck in my head ever since. Because to me his words are both mind blowing and heart warming. The thought of “I” being a tiny, stand alone atom – and an infinite, whole universe at the same time, blows my ego off it’s socks. Because “I” isn’t (only) the ‘earthly me’. “I” is a single atom and an entire universe, completing one another. Think about that when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. So yes, it’s a quote I gratefully meditate on. It’s so simple and yet so deeply profound. It makes me feel humble and larger than life at the same time – it’s liberating. Look at us humans. Look at you, look at me. We are both nothing and everything. Again. That’s just… wow.

      I, a universe of atoms

      focusNjoy #122: Stop searching, start finding

      Imagine you’re looking for something, but you can’t find it. Annoying. Yes. Very. But then, maybe you’re not supposed to find it. Or maybe you’re just looking in the wrong place. Or maybe… you already found it, but you don’t realize it yet. Whatever the reason is, you might want to stop searching. Why? Well think about it: as long as you’re busy searching – you’re not… finding!

      Stop searching, Start finding

      A fresh start for focusNjoy

      Dear friends, it’s been more than a year since my last post! Honestly, I needed the break but a lot of good things have happened to me in the meantime. Apart from a great time at Eyeworks Netherlands, where I worked as a Senior Creative with some great people at the Program Development Team, it were exciting times for me personally as well. Too much to tell you in one post. But I will share more in the coming months, because it’s been truly transformational.

      I’m planning on a brand new start of focusNjoy at the end of April. And this time, I intend to actually make some money haha – because running an ad-free blog is great, but from a financial point of view it wasn’t a success and one of the reasons for me to get back to television. Later in 2014 I intend to finally start with my workshops in Amsterdam. I’m super excited about that but let’s see how things develop. Anway – I’m back and I’m feeling fresh. Hoping to hear from you – always feel free to send me an email and say hi!

      Love, Stijn.

      focusNjoy back 2014
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