Desert Time

One of my resolutions for 2018 was to take a solo silent retreat. I’m a bit late, but better late than never. This morning I left for the desert. For a week. Alone. Off the grid. No work, conference calls, client contacts, appointments, emails, internet, television, newspapers, blogs, Twitter, phone calls, or stock trades. No intentional or voluntary distractions. None.

I’ve never done this. It’s appealing theoretically; however, I really have no idea what it will be like in reality. It could turn out to be a really bad idea. I hope not.

I have no goals for the week. It was tempting (I seem to need goals, which is part of the problem), but I thought better of it. I decided it would be best to relinquish control and leave my goals and expectations behind. And to focus on mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. With no distractions or preconceptions.

I suppose this trip to the desert is part of my quest for greater awareness and acceptance of reality, freedom, unshakable contentment, and unconditional happiness.

Put differently, I want to be as well as possible. For that to happen, I believe I need to break the spell of being distracted by mindless, uncontrollable thoughts, senseless concerns and worries, and false perspectives. In short, I seek greater freedom and deeper contentment. In order to flourish.

What freedom do I desire? To be free from expectations. Demands. Biases. Prejudices. Judgments. Falsehoods. Illusions. Delusions. Disappointments. Worry. Frustration. Desires. Guilt. Despair. Projections. Labels. Attachments. Insecurities. Fear. Uncontrollable thoughts. Boredom. Rumination. Resentments. Insomnia. Compulsive eating. Stress. Dark thoughts. And suffering.

I’ve come to understand that, for that to happen, I have much to unlearn and many insights to gain into how and why I think and feel the way I do. I need to become more aware and see reality more clearly. And not be a slave to my mind.

“Time spent undistracted and alone, in self-examination, journaling, meditation, resolves the unresolved and takes us from mentally fat to fit,” according to Naval Ravikant.

Stillness is the word that comes to mind. Not doing. Just being.

Will a week alone in the desert help?

I guess I’ll find out.

Tired of the Games

Naval Ravikant is always worth listening to in my opinion. I recommend checking out his recent Periscope talk on Twitter.

Naval is a techie but also a modern-day philosopher. He said something in this talk that was timely for me. He said he’s “tired of the games.” That’s how I feel.

Consequently, he’s living life one day at a time. For people like me, that isn’t always easy. We’re goal oriented. We respond to challenges. So getting up without goals, and simply living in the presence, can be disconcerting at times. Yet I am so tired of the games and, at this point, have no desire to return to the games. The pursuit of money and achievement is no longer sufficient motivation.

I’m reminded of this when I’m speaking with clients who are consumed by their work: increasing prices, improving efficiency, improving margins — often through rationalizing (a fancy word for laying off people). I hate the way people talk about reducing their workforce. The lack of humanity is so profound. I recoil at what the pursuit of money and status has done to us.

More fundamentally, though, I’m not looking for more things to do. Yet I’m very much stuck in the future. It’s hard for me to live in the presence.

Yet that’s where I want to be. Need to be. It’s where I can find the deepest happiest. But it can be boring at times. Yet the alternative no longer holds appeal.

I’m tired of the games.