Dreams of Past and Future

I dream a lot at night, and I quite enjoy it. I recently realised that I also dream a lot during the day.
Imagine you can cut down the present moment to an infinitely small instant.  The quantum of a Nano second. Not „now“, it’s already over. „Now now“, as they say here in Africa. With a blink of your eye, a million „nows“ have already passed.
We can assume that this „Now“ really exists. Let’s take that as a working hypothesis. Otherwise everything would be a dream.
I am sure I am not the only one: While dreaming, I have no doubt that it’s real. My brain is sending me all the signals of the woman I always wanted to meet or the boss I never wanted to meet. When I wake up, sometimes I am happy that elephant-sized mosquito did not bite me; sometimes I wish I had been that smart, rich, and beautiful guy. My brain realistically produced both things during sleep.
We acknowledge easily that a night dream is a brain fiction. We talk about it openly. Can you imagine? Last night I dreamed I was flying.
But the brain does also a good job in creating daydreams. We dream about all those times, an infinite sequence of quanta of nanoseconds. These moments are not the present. They are either in what we call the “past” or the “future”. 

The “past” of our ever-so-important self-centred story is made of so-called “memories”, which are nothing else than what our brain keeps accessible in the present of our emotions of the past. The brain is just like a network server. I am currently installing one. It does its job, more or less. It keeps what I think is worth keeping.
Folder 1: “Health”. Sub-folders: “Bad health”, “Good health”, “Trash folder”.
Folder 2: “Career”. Sub-folders: “Success”,  “Failure”, “Pension fund”.
Folder 3: “Relationships”. Sub-folders: “Success”, “Failure”, “It was complicated”, “The best sex I ever had”.
Folder 4: “Friends”. Sub-folders: “Best friends”, “good friends”, “loose friends”, “assholes”. A similar folder for “family” has recently been automatically merged because it contains the same sub-folders.
Folder 5: “Money”. Sub-folders: “When I had none”, “When I had some”, “The day I will have a lot” (the latter is also accessible from the Server “Future”.)
Folder 6: “Values”. Sub-folders: “Religion”, “New Age”, “Politics”, “Humanism”,  “Why I am really better than others” (often read error No. –X50.394832.IM)
Folder 7: “Trips”. Sub-folders: “The good ones”, “The bad ones”, “Trips that were only espensive”.
Many other folders and sub-folders fit on what is still the most powerful server on Earth, the human brain. Based on what folders we had unconsciously told the Server to create and what algorithm we instructed it to use, the server is constantly feeding the dream of our past story.  Me, for example, I recently “thought” about “That was the best job I ever had” and “The worst investment I ever made”, and about the “Idiot who knew nothing and insulted me”. It had nothing to do with reality, but all to do with the dream of my past story created by my Server-brain.
Just like for the past, the Server-brain does the same powerful job for the future. Folders and sub-folders exist such as “The 101 thing I want to do before I die”; “my perfect wife”, “What I will do with one million US Dollars”, “What I need to be happy”. While my dream story of the past is stored and processed, the dream story of my future is already in the making. I had a bad relationship in the past; therefore I will do this and this to have a better relationship in the future.
I don’t know if you have a computer server or a large hard disk. I do have both because I am an IT freak. I find that I have a lot of not very useful information on it. I don’t blame the computer because I unknowingly told it to do what it is doing, and I am unconsciously using the information it is providing me. To be honest, I was not quite sure what it is storing and providing, sometimes multiple times, but had I read the user’s manual, I would have known.
There is no user-manual for the Server-brain. What I learned empirically is that as powerful and maybe oversized the human brain-server is, it is not Me. It is a just a tool that me, my real Self, can use like other tools. Unfortunately, the brain-server is confronted with tens of thousands of individual impressions every day, ranging from a bad feeling to a picture on an advert. It’s an awful lot of information to summarize to the client.
The Server-brain is immediately feeding the Ego, the story of my Life, past and future. “I was a victim”, “I will be a hero”, “I am driving a bicycle not a Mercedes”: I am or do something that other’s don’t. There is some eternal justice feeling in the brain-fed Ego.
Here is the point.
It’s a dream.
The past, and the future. It’s fed by our brain-server, that we configured ourselves.
It is not recommended to switch off a server, because it is always synchronizing and transmitting. As for the brain-server, it is also not recommended, because our heart would stop beating. 
But it is possible to go into the settings and stop being considering for real what is a dream.
I’ve got a thousand legally purchased movies on my Mac server. Sometimes when I watch a movie, just like in a dream, I confuse it with reality. That’s generally a good movie, because it creates a realistic dream.
But contrary of the dream of past and future stories of my life, I try to recognize it sooner or later as a dream.
It is possible to be in the Now and be Self, and recognize those Ego-stories of past and future, acknowledge for what they really are: Dreams.
It’s not a problem at all to have dreams. It’s just important to know when you dream.

I believe the key to happiness is to be able to do the same with our Server-brain: Recognize that it supplies Ego with dreams. We can wake up from those permanent day dreams just like we can wake up from night-dreams.
The only moment when you don’t dream is in the Now.
Now, in the present moment, in the quantum of a nano-second, what is really your problem? You are mourning about the loss of your mother; you are angry with your boss. But is it really a problem now? Now now? If you have toothache, you have to do something about it immediately. Go to the dentist. Just do it, as Nike says. Don’t make a story about it..
Because if you make a story out of it, it is likely to be one of those wrong dreams.

Ten Principles to Live By in Fiercely Complex Times

We definately live in such times, and I found some good advice on FastCompany. These ten principles are worth reflecting on. For the full explanation, click on this blog’s title. This is the short version:

1. Always challenge certainty, especially your own.
2. Excellence is an unrelenting struggle, but it’s also the surest route to enduring satisfaction.
3. Emotions are contagious, so it pays to know what you’re feeling
4. When in doubt, ask yourself, “How would I behave here at my best?”
5. If you do what you love, the money may or may not follow, but you’ll love what you do.
6. You need less than you think you do.
7. Accept yourself exactly as you are but never stop trying to learn and grow.
8. Meaning isn’t something you discover, it’s something you create, one step at a time. 
9. You can’t change what you don’t notice and not noticing won’t make it go away.
10. When in doubt, take responsibility.

On the last one: It’s called being an adult. 

Desired things

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.”

Desiderata (Latin for “desired things”), Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

This is to have succeeded

“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

All the wisdom of this world in one song: Baz Luhrmann – Sunscreen

This song has a lot of meaning to me. One of our wise Belgian employees in Afghanistan played it one evening in the ICRC guesthouse in Mazar-i-Sharif. I could not handily read the lyrics as in this video, so I listened to it over and over again. Finally, I came to the conclusion that all the wisdom in a human lifetime is contained in this song.
Sorry for those, who like complicated things. I like simple things.




My favorite lines, which are almost all…

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as

effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday. 


Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind… the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your 
life… the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.


Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary… what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. 


Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. 


Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future. 


Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.


Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

I will not die an unlived life – by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.