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Is this a nightmare or an adventure? Sometimes it's a fine line. The more prepared you are the more likely you can treat it as an adventure, it's like wearing a different pair of glasses that admit more light because you are no longer scared and apprehensive.

Instead of being scared you can actually learn, improve, develop. Steep learning curves are where it is at, and steep learning curves are to be found some way out of your comfort zone...

The adventurer seeks new challenges- which is when we are most open to learning. Recent research into brain growth shows we are most receptive and our memory best when a situation is novel, shocking or we are deeply focused. Better still if we 'into it', then our brains really suck up what we are trying to learn. Anecdotal evidence of this abounds- the child who can't learn a single maths equation but has hundreds of jokes and pop lyrics off by heart- because they are not 'into maths'.

I'm a writer by trade and this blog is here to pass on some of what I have learned through adventure, travel, life and writing. It has 500+ articles relating to travel, personal development, adventure, smarter thinking, mastery, polymathy, and writing. 

Much of the blog entries spin off from the 10 books I have written, all available at Amazon among other places. 

Thursday
Apr162015

perpetual motion in life

In 1150 the Hindu astronomer Bhaskara mentions a perpetual motion machine made with mercury and slats that contain and direct its motion. In the 1200AD Arabic manuscript of Ridwan there are six perpetual motion machines described and illustrated. By 1235 the idea had travelled as far as Europe, and we went crazy about them. Making perpetual motion machines became a widespread fashion, a sort of mechanical and legitimate parallel to alchemy. By the by, all kinds of developments were made in gearing and levers- but most of all in precision. It was the gradual increase in precision that led to accurate clocks and measurement and the successful mechanisation of cloth manufacture, armaments and wind, water and ultimately steam power. The childish and captivating dream of perpetual motion- an endless quest format – succeeded in supplying us with machines far more incredible, and certainly far more useful, than the original concept. The Greeks had already discovered steam power – Hero’s engine – but without precision transmission it was useless except as a toy- and toys only captivate us for a while. Perpetual motion supplies a far more compelling story- something miraculous and free, forever just out of sight.

In parallel with this introduction there have been esoteric ideas introduced by Arab writers that work like the perpetual motion machine. They engage and intrigue and set in motion an endless quest, and the ultimate effect on refining and extending human potential is far greater, and more life affirming and astonishing, than the magic and seeming miracles initially promised. 

Thursday
Apr092015

one way to progress

For various reasons Captain Cooke did not think particularly highly of the research that showed the anti-scurvy qualities of limes and lemons. It was obviously ahead of its time. But he knew there was a problem. What he did was to combine all the anecdotal evidence available, all the cures that seemed to work, and enforce them rigorously- sauerkraut, lemons, fresh meat and vegetables, clean dry clothes and bedding- and it worked- not a single man went down with scurvy on his ships.

If we suffer an ailment or problem try everything that seems to limit it in some way. This is like the strategy for making the boat go faster. You don’t need a reason- if it works- use it.

Later you may come up with a good scientific explanation, or, you may not.

Wednesday
Apr012015

passion or money? Take a cross-over path

You hear it all the time- especially on self-help blogs- go after what you are passionate about and money will follow...er, right, but what if you're skint?

I have said similar stuff- my solution, for myself, was to work for money at weekends or downtimes and use my primetime- the day- to do my own thing.

But what if you have a family to support? You can't do that easily working a couple of nights.

You need to be both self-supporting and also, preferably, on what I call a cross-over path.

If you earn your bread at a call centre and spend your free time doing what you are passionate about the passion will probably fizzle out. You'll be so pissed off you'll want to spend your downtime doing other stuff.

A cross-over path is one that earns money, reasonable amounts, but allows you to cross over more and more to what really interests you. Journalism is a good cross-over path to writing and film making. Think of activities that are congruent with your ultimate ideal way of earning a living/spending your days. Take a long term approach. Look for other people who are doing what you want to do and see what cross-over path they used.

 

Thursday
Mar192015

the simple and the subtle

Broadly speaking, formal, ‘public’, or, if you like, ‘modern’, life presents things as significant the louder more shocking and in your face they are; it also presents things that are super complicated as being more significant than that which is very simple. 

But I wonder if the opposite is true: that life is better appreciated by looking for, and showing a preference for, the simple and by being better attuned to the subtle.

When people start aikido they quickly get into very complicated discussions about foot placement and angles and such like. The real masters tend to say the same things again and again: it’s all about stance, for example. After a while you realise it isn’t the actual words that matter so much as the importance you attach to them (if that makes sense). The better you get at aikido the more importance you attach to something seemingly very simple that is ignored by a beginner who prefers more complicated (an by implication, truer) explanations.

Becoming more aware, building awareness builds an appreciation of subtleties. All wine tasters know this. Having the courage to stick with the simple also helps. I wonder if a preference for over-complication is a dry intellectual substitute for subtlety.

Monday
Mar162015

Arabeye Media Monitoring

I have been most impressed with this new service reporting on arab social media and focusing on somewhat overlooked news http://www.arabeyemedia.org.uk/

Saturday
Mar142015

New Statestman review of Prank book

This came out this week in the New Statesman...somehow I never get around to saying how much I love public pranks- Virginia Woolf dressing as an Abyssinian Prince and visiting a Royal Navy battleship comes to mind, as does Jaroslav Hasek sending fake science reports full of learned references to the Czech version of Nature. Private pranks are practical jokes...which aren't as much fun for some reason..maybe because the crime is never victimless- or the victim is us- or the joker is a self-righteous git...not sure, anyway here is the article:

Click here

Friday
Mar132015

nano adventures

My esteemed fellow adventurer Alastair Humphreys has made a great job of popularising micro adventures, yet only the other day I thought- some times the day is so short there isn't even enough time for a microadventure! Of course it's largely psychological, one should make more time, de-stress, take it easy etc etc...and yet- sometimes all you need is a nano-adventure. This is the tiniest possible division of adventure possible- there is none smaller. A nano adventure is so potentially short, time doesn't really come in into it- it is pure experience. Here are a few I've had: walking across Corfe common knowing it was Enid Blyton's choice for Kirrin Common in the Famous Five books; brewing up in the lee of an outdoor loo in a storm using an M kettle (I know, it takes all sorts); nightwalk from Chapman's rocks to pub in Worth Matravers; climbing a dartmor tor in the snow wearing inappropiate and very slippy DM shoes; spending two hours at midnight in a vigil reading the Kasidah at the grave of Richard Burton on the 100th anniversary of his death; circumnavigating Portland Bill on foot; sit on top canoeing through rock arches near Salcombe; sneaking under a locked door at the bent Pyramid at Dahshur; finding a horned viper 3km from Cairo's ring road; fishing for grey mullet using a hazel stick and a bent pin and bread paste; locating a standing stone on a map and finding it; driving through flooded roads with water coming in under the doors; tickling trout; running the undercliff at Lyme Regis; walking across stepping stones on any river you choose...simple stuff that takes less than an afternoon- start looking for potential nano-adventures in your life!