Sunday, 21 June 2009

The course is nearly what...

I am coming up to the very last week of my course and what an amazing four months it has been. It's been a challenge especially as I have been doing most of it alongside my Landmark training which has made these few months very intense. And now it is all about to end and I am asking myself the question 'what is next'. There are very few jobs out there for journalists and having come to the end of this course am not at all sure that I want to have a staff job on a magazine or newspaper. There is lots about journalism that I admire but there are also aspects of it that don't feel comfortable. I take people very much at face value and don't look too deeply beyond what is said to me. This was a fault with my interview in that I didn't look for 'what is it that this person doesn't want me to know', what am I not being told the truth about'. I don't like this way of working and yet I know that on the spiritual level the identity is always so clever about hiding what doesn't want to be seen and I have no problems at all with seeing this and recognising it when I am speaking to people about matters spiritual. I pick up immediately on the identity resistance and am compassionate to its meaning. Unfortunately this does not translate to normal interviewing.

This creates a dilemma for me in that I don't feel having completed this course that I am cut out to be a journalist. This is a shock and not what I expected but I think it proves that being a writer and being a journalist are different things. Being competent at one does not give automatically, the qualities needed to be the other. But I will try my hand at pitching some ideas as a freelance journalist. I have the comfort of having had two of my articles published in a health and well-being magazine and I will continue with ideas for that but the main idea I had about looking for a staff job on a magazine is not something I am going to pursue.

I have understood so clearly this weekend that the only life there is, is what we create. There is nothing imposed on us, just what we create. Regular readers of this blog will know how I have struggled with things of the computer. On Friday I had my design and sub-editing exam and I was dreading it. The design package was one I always had trouble with and I thought that this with the stress of the exam would make the experience a nightmare. I called a friend just before the exam and she asked me to list out what my concerns were around the exam, I rattled off that I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do what I had to on the computer, that I would delete stuff and not be able to get it back, that I would panic and throw the whole lot to hell. She listened patiently to my rant and then said, OK they are your concerns, what possibility are you going to create. Suddenly and from nowhere I had a strong intuitive thought and I said 'I am creating the possibility that me and the computer are friends and we are there to help each other and I'm going to have fun with this exam'.

A few minutes later I was in the exam room and we were told to turn on the computers and log-on. Horror of horrors when I typed in my password and saw those dreaded red letters 'incorrect log-in'..Whaaat... incorrect login, that's been my log in since the beginning of the course. My mind raced with options for what to do and I was amazed at how calm I was about it. I looked again at my screen and saw that there was a number there for technical support. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was 1pm - this is lunch-time for most office people but I created that someone was going to be there and I was going to get this sorted. With gritted determination I called the number and couldn't believe it when there was a human voice at the other end. Very intentional I explained that an exam was going to uploaded to my account and I couldn't log in and I needed it to be sorted immediately. She looked up the account and said the embarrassing words 'your account has expired because you didn't change your password'......duh....I dimly remember seeing something about having five more logins but thought 'that's going to be plenty'.....obviously not..... Anyway, five mins later and all is sorted with so much freedom and ease.

I pick up the exam from where it has been uploaded and set up the screens that I want and then something absolutely amazing happens, the computer starts doing everything that I ask it to. I find ways of looking at things and moving between things that in the past caused me no end of worry and stress when I couldn't get them back again. This time, there was none of that. From this I really understand that I created it like this, the same as all the times in the past when I created that the design class would be stressful. I created it and so it was. The difference is that this time I was conscious of what I was creating, all the other times I wasn't. I have often heard the words 'we are masters of our own destiny' and even the Landmark training which is solely about how we create our lives and then learning the tools by which to create powerfully and consciously but I never really understood it. I still thought that I was at the mercy of some benevolent force. The experience with this design exam has shown me that there is nothing but me and what I create, the same as there is nothing but you and what you create. A better more sustainable world can only come about by people taking responsibility for and owning the life they are creating. If this was an idea that was taken up seriously it would sound the death knell for religion which is all about attributing the life you have to mysterious forces and would bring in the new world of spirituality which is about being powerful creators in our own right.

I'm not saying that there isn't some all encompassing force of which we are a part; however, what I am saying is that as a part of that force we also have the gift of creation, but as part of a ironical game we are ignorant of this. Then life as a human consists of being sufficiently curious and persistent enough to firstly intuit this and then realize it and finally work on becoming conscious and responsible for what is being created. This insight is one of the reasons why my desire to bring the Landmark technology to children and young people is so strong. To give one child or young person the insight so that they experience that they are creators and to take the responsibility this brings with it is to build an empowering world where those young people when they grow up to be adults are so aware of how they are creating their life and opportunities that it becomes so second nature. In this way it acts like a ripple that goes out to everyone else. This is my dream, to see this happen among our children and young people.

But it is a long road and I have no idea how I am going to create it to happen. It is also another reason why I am not going to pursue a job. I have to be flexible to go where this training is going to place me. As a result I am going to promote my book and give talks in a more serious way than I have done before. In order to do this I am going to set up my own business based on my book and specialising in what I am going to call transformational meditation and spirituality. What I have to do is to put together a plan and reasons why someone should come to a talk and experiential evening with me than with someone else. I have to identify what it is that I have that puts me apart from the rest..... So if you thought that this blog was going to turn into something boring and predictable such as life in an office then it's not gonna be that... It's going to be about what happens when the backdoor of a safe job and prospect is no longer there...will I fly or this space....

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Am so...feeling the pressure

On Thursday I had my first shorthand exam. I had been doing the speed tests and was pretty confident. Since finishing my year of Team I have been so focussed. I arrived into the college early and went up to the room where we were to have the exam. There's no other way to put this but I freaked when I saw the tables and chairs lined out in exam fashion. I suddenly realised that it has been almost 20 years since I sat an exam and this awful feeling of impending dread and doom hit me like a rocket. All the optimism and hope that I woke up with that morning evaporated and was replaced by unmitigated terror which showed itself by sudden nausea and stomach cramps. One by one the others arrived for the exam and chose their desks.

At 9am the shorthand lecturer showed up with the NCTJ invigilator who would make sure that there was no cheating going on. We began with an hour of warm up practice at speeds of 100 words per minute. I knew from the number of words I was unable to remember never mind to write down that the result of this exam was going to be a forgone conclusion. However much drilling and practice I had done it was nowhere near enough to get this exam. Dammit, it wasn't too long ago that I finally got the main principle of shorthand how on earth was I going to go from this to being fluent enough in shorthand to glide across the page. Glide....mine was more like a series of stop/starts with more stops than starts. We had a break for coffee before the real exam began and sitting there my only thought was how am I going to get through this next couple of hours. The dictation speeds were from 100 down to 60. It was really important to me to get 60 words a minute because it was the only chance I had. The next two chances are for 80 words and above. My biggest worry is that I would have a shake in my hand which tends to happen when I get really nervous.

We started the first exam which was 100 words a minute and I started to take it down. It wasn't long before I was totally and utterly lost. But listening to the passage I realised how easy the words were. I could do all the words what I didn't have was the speed. It was the same with 90. Then came the 80 and I started off very well. Mid-way through I had the thought 'this isn't too bad'....aagh...with this I lost it so that was the end of the 80. I realised that in all my years I have never put myself into a pressurised environment like this. I don't perform well in such environments. I lose focus and concentration. After this I tried the 70 and finally the 60. After this I had pretty much lost the will to live. Then we had to tell the invigilator what speeds we were going to transcribe. I was green with envy when I heard a couple of my colleagues say there were doing the 100 words a minute. This is what I had declared that I wanted to achieve by the end of this course but it wasn't happening that day. When it came to me I declared 80 but deep down I knew that I hadn't a chance but I wanted to look good as most of the people there had said either 80 or 100. Completely inauthentic of me giving all of my training and the moment I declared it I was disgusted with myself.

This self denigration permeated throughout me trying to transcribe the passage at 80 words a minute. At one point I felt tears of frustration well up from behind my eyes at the utter futility of it all. I finally gave it up and when was asked to hand it in declined and asked to do the 60 words a minute piece. I got renewed confidence when I saw that I could actually read this piece much better than I thought and set to transcribing it with an energy and enthusiasm which was new for that morning. Then I had a thought that I would run out of time and rushed it. I printed it off and with a flourish handed it to the invigilator and left. Downstairs I compared my transcript with another who had also done 60 and to my utter dispair saw where I had left out a complete could this have happened. I knew at that moment that getting the 60 was now out of the question. I looked at the joy on the others faces who had done the 100 and 80 and were confident of having passed and I was gripped with the strongest jealousy. But I immediately recognised this as my identity that was showing me that even though I think I am so highly trained in terms of transforming the identity that it is always there.

Instead of being downhearted about this I welcome it because everytime I can be with these kinds of feelings, jealousy, envy at what another has without reacting then it gets weaker. If it doesn't show itself and is not recognised, how can it transform? I was grateful to this feeling because it showed me that I have still such a long way to go in spite of all the training I have done. The lesson and the learning in events like this is not in the event itself but in what it is saying about me and my reaction to things. It was nothing at all to do with the event, the event is just the springboard from which the lesson emerges. Nothing can get transformed if it remains hidden, operating at the level of the sub-conscious. Transformation and ultimately freedom comes when that which is hidden is revealed. As I write this I have just had the thought of the proverb 'know the truth and the truth will set you free'. What is the truth? For me it is nothing else than knowing the machinery which runs me and in that knowing I can be free of it. To know others is to be intelligent but to know myself is to be enlightened.

In the midst of studying for these exams (which by the way I have another shot at the 80 on Friday and so this weekend has been spent burried with my headphones and shorthand notebook. I will let you know the result next weekend) I have also been thinking about the depth of anger around MPs expenses. In the scheme of things when you look at how much money the banking sector has sqandered it's really peanuts. A couple of evenings ago I heard Stephen Fry say something which I am going to repeat and not plagiarise. He was speaking about the depth of anger and he said that when people were told that it was going to be taxpayers money that was going to bail out the banks there wasn't too much of a reaction because the sums involved were too huge. But take for example an expenses bill to do something with a moat (I don't know the exact detail and I haven't time to be a proper journalist and look it up), where people went to with that was 'I could have used that money to benefit my family'. It is the useability of the sums mentioned that is fuelling the anger. The sums mentioned are all sums which every tax payer could have used for his/her own purposes. The 74 million of tax-payers money by virtue of how big doesn't have the same effect.

We live, as the Chinese say in interesting times. First we had the meltdown of the financial sector and now the possible meltdown of consitutional democracy. It is so important to keep one's nerve in the face of this, and also in the face of the mounting number of swine flu cases. Old wine cannot be put into new bottles. The anger that is coming out in many people has to come out in order to make space for something new and in this is to be welcomed. What there is for people to do is to recognise the anger and take responsibility for it without acting on it. To act and join extremist parties would be to completely defeat the purpose of the process that is going on. The lesson here is to recognise the anger, accept that it is there, don't project it out to anyone or anything and see it as the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness.

I am much freer writing now and expressing my views because we had a speaker who came to speak to us about being sued and she said that 'men of straw' don't usually get sued, it is bigger fish. Because of my inability to grasp anything than what is unambiguous (augurs well for journalism that relies on journalists being able to read into a nod and a wink!) I looked completely baffled until she said 'people who have no money' and I immediately felt this wave of relief because I don't have a bean if I was to be sued, so for me at this moment in time being brassic is no bad thing!

Until the next thrilling installment next week I will sign off by stating again the importance of observing and staying calm and steady...