Monday, 14 January 2008

Year 2, day 14 - the celestine prophecy

I finished reading this book for the first time recently.

It had been sitting on my shelf for an age gathering dust, but finally I got around to it. Strange that it took me so long.

For a 3 year period in the late 90's, the Celestine Prophecy was the best-selling book in the world.

People either read it and say 'this is a load of bulls**t', or they put it down and say 'that book has changed my life'.

It was one of those books that I bought on my year out. I must have read a book a week last year - it was so beautiful just knowing that a book was the priority and not just an underlying feature of life. It made reading properly possible again, for the first time since school holidays. Even though I am now living life on my own terms, things have sped up a bit in 2008, so it's now back to grabbing an hour reading whenever I can, as opposed to finding a friendly tree to sit under and laze away a whole afternoon.

Anyway, it was finally time to read the Celestine Prophecy,

The book is based around the '9 insights' listed in a mysterious, ancient, possibly Mayan, manuscript that the Peruvian government and the church are trying to destroy.

For the most part, and to me, a dedicated follower of spiritual gurus from India to Africa to the US, from Castaneda to Lao Tzu to Deepak Chopra, in 2008 the insights now read like an amalgamation of many ideas of others. Or to followers of more recent trends such as The Secret or What the Bleep, again the messages will not seem too original... But although we are familiar with these things, people 14 years ago when the Celestine Prophecy was published were in a very different spiritual landscape to the world we are in today. Quite simply, the self help / personal development / popular psychology boom had not quite happened.

It happened because of books like the Celestine Prophecy. For me, this book, published in 1994, was a key tipping point for the spiritual revolution that took place over the next 10 years.

The author, James Redfield, sets the 9 Insights, or spiritual teachings, against an Indiana Jones style adventure story line, which makes it easy for the reader to follow - and to buy into. There is a hero, many villains and much double crossing, with the church painted as the source of much of the evil in the world via misguided intentions... Which all sits rather well with me. But the narrative serves to bring the various spiritual messages to life with the same mainstream appeal as The Secret did for positive thought.

What I loved most about it is that it connects the world of science, spirituality and nature.

When I was traveling last year, I spent most of October in Peru and I think Redfield is spot on with how he views the critical role of evolution and nature in the future of mankind. My experiences there taught me that mother nature is the true host of humanity, and while we may be abusing her bountiful nature, she will be here, firmly in charge, long after we are gone. Some of what Redfield spoke about in the book really resonated with me because if my own time in Peru experimenting with various plants such as Ayahuasca.

I'm willing to bet that 'the manuscript' represents some other piece of knowledge that Redfield held back from the reader - something to do with mother nature and something with very real powers.

The book's insights around coincidences (take a minute to think about how absurd the concept of coincidence is), historical awareness, energy, flow, meditation, children and conflict, whilst not being totally original to the author, are enlightening.

I enjoyed it hugely, even if some of the action scenes are laboured and repetitive.

Every now and again a book or film comes along that brings together all the experiences and lessons of the author and creates a generation defining opinion or awareness which millions adopt.

The Secret is the most recent example.

The Celestine Prophecy was 10 years prior to that.

I say let go of your cynicism, dare to believe, and read it now - but you probably already have.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Year 2, day 12 - being present / the power of now / living in the day etc etc, sigh.

I'm back in England after my african excursions. I was over tired on the plane as I wrote goals and to do lists for the coming quarter, and just felt so out of my depth at the prospect of it all.

But somehow I got to a space of real clarity - I could just 'be' with the mountain of work that needs to be done.

Balance will be integral to this year being everything I want it to be. The little things that drag me out of the zone simply have to go. So I am entering an eight week booze sabbatical as of today... dear oh dear. My mission over these next few months is to remain totally at peace with wherever I may be right now.

I keep having so many realisations around what it is to be 'present' at the moment. I get that excellence is just the same as being present. When I let go of all desires and attachments and all the meaningless ambitions, I can just excel at being me, right here, right now. And I get that who that person is, is exactly a result of what I was doing yesterday, or a minute ago. And who I am being right now is the best possible investment in the future I can possibly make. What I do right now is the producer of who I will have become in 5 minutes time, or in one hour or 10 years. It's all about right now. There is nothing else! Nothing else even exists!

I think this is one of the underlying messages in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, when the treasure turns out to be in the shepherd's andalusian hills where his journey started - it was right with him, all along, in the present moment - he always had it, he just needed to realise it.

The treasure is right here, right now. It's the present.

So I choose to be here, and I get that all there actually is, is the here and now.

So why do I always feel as if there's somewhere to get to, something to 'make happen'?

There's nowhere to get to, no need to 'make it'.

But it's a neat trick ingraining that in our psyche. Taking time out surely helps, but as life speeds up again, it's a bigger task to stay unattached, in the day and free.

But I know at least I have a chance this time. Solid foundations are being built.

I'm rambling - but if we can't ramble on our blogs, where can we?

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Year 2, day 10 - guguletu township, western cape, south africa

This is the first of many blogs which I will write as I travel this year, visiting the places in which my charity, Cycle 4, will be active.

Today I visited Guguletu, a township of around 250,000 people 10km from Cape Town.

The cold reality of the past 10 years for South Africa is that real poverty has almost doubled. Promises have been kept, such as clean water and electricity for all, but at the expense of other rather important national attributes... stuff which we all in the west would deem absolutes.

I left the leafy suburb of Somerset West where I am staying in a shiny Toyota hatchback I have on loan, a real feeling of adventure coursing through my veins. I was off to visit a real live township, and even more than this, I was bringing help - potentially the answer to many problems.

As I drove past the airport on the immaculate motorway, I saw the sign for Guguletu, framed by the majestic Table Mountain in Cape Town, home to a gazillion dollar-rich tourists at this time of year, and turned off, full of hope at what my meeting may bring.

I soon had a very cold reality check, as I realised that life 100 yards from the freeway was of a very different nature to what is visible in the tourist busses between airport and city centre.

Not too dissimilar to how I imagine Compton circa 1980 to have been, the street corners were inhabited by loitering gangs, the playing fields by drunks and homeless: the general atmosphere was one of zero opportunity... not to mention danger.

I struggled to see a positive side, or a positive hope - sadly role models were not too evident on a hot afternoon in January. I strained to see a real life version of the famous boyz'n'the'hood scene where Lawrence Fishburne, playing the male father figure Furious Styles, maps out his own view of how young men can take control of what the future holds for the black population in modern america. But instead of this fanciful, idealistic fantasy, the visible impact of hip hop culture was everywhere.

I realised quickly that I had better close the sunroof and windows, and concentrate very, very hard on my directions.

I was meeting a prominent local Dr and Reverend who leads the fight for equality, the struggle against poverty, and for awareness around HIV in these parts.

What inspirational people Dr Xaphile and his colleagues turned out to be.

They showed me first hand what could be done by the actions of human beings. The JL Zwane centre in Guguletu is a beacon of hope, a venture born solely from the hearts of good people, and it shines like a tower of integrity in a sea of confusion and upset.

The people that run this centre are highly educated, highly intelligent agents of change - people that could have chosen their careers in any city, in any country in the world.

And they chose this.

This oasis in a desert of harsh, cold, windswept misery and destitution is what they have chosen to do with their lives.

I realised that they chose something worth living for, and I feel so proud to have met them.

There was something totally different about these people. There was no air of resignation. No tiredness - despite the mid afternoon heat reaching 40 degrees. No suspicion of the outsider.

They were vital. The glowed with purpose and assuredness.

I am proud to say this - but it was just so obvious that everyone was there for the same reason. To make change happen. The integrity was immense.

And I cannot wait to show my new friends what is possible.

In South Africa, billions of dollars are currently being spent developing a dozen national stadiums in which to house the 2010 world cup, while politicians idly dismiss the socio-economic problems of the country as a systematic result of 100's of years of oppression. A situation that will simply take generations to correct.

I can see clearly that true wealth and freedom cannot exist with this abject breakdown in our back yard. It's always there for us - the knowledge that these places exist, and that this level of existence can be tolerated in a world of such immense wealth.

Soccer stadiums, for god's sake, are being built that can seat 100,000 people, within 5 miles of Guguletu. They may take 3 years to build and rob thousands of people of the most needed of futures, but whose to say we can't match this disgraceful expenditure with the same numbers in terms of real change?

The internet brings the capability to do this.

I made a promise to myself, as I sped out of Guguletu. Having had a meeting the likes of which I used to dream of - a meeting where I was emotional within my business life - a meeting in which i gave a professional presentation which actually moved me and those around me - I made the promise that I would cause exactly that, with the team of people that I am building around me.

A team of people that are prepared to do one thing that I have always sought after - to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and know that the work would be done.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Year 2, day 7 - spooky everyday notes

I received this earlier today, and thought you may enjoy it:

"You're in time and space for one reason: to thrive. There's no 50/50 about it. You are OF the Creator, BY the Creator, and now a Creator yourself, alive on a stage YOU designed for your own adventures. You were not an afterthought and you didn't design it to just eek by. All of the elements are beholden to you; you summoned them, you dreamed them into place, and now they conspire endlessly in your favor. "On a dime" your life can improve for the better with the slightest effort on your part, no matter how insurmountable the odds, nor how futile your thoughts and deeds may seem. You are "the prodigal child." In a heartbeat you're welcomed back into the fold. In an instant you can be carried along by life's current once you stop struggling against it. And for all of these reasons, and more, it's therefore as if your positive thoughts are 10,000 times more powerful than your negative thoughts. 10,000 times more in alignment with the magnificent tidal wave of energy that you are. 10,000 times more likely to become the things you want than the things you don't want, when you know these truths and you act on them. Yeah, coolness. The UNIVERSE"

If you enjoyed that as much as I did, i.e alot, sign up for 'notes from the universe' at Trust me when I say they are spookily awesome.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Year 2, day 5 - interesting last words

Taken from Kurt Vonnegut's last press interview, for what it's worth I disagree with his views on America, and I think a lot of Americans are too hard on themselves about recent world events:

Q: In the process of your becoming, you’ve given the world much warmth and humor. That matters, doesn’t it?

KV: I asked my son Mark what he thought life was all about, and he said, “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” I think that says it best. You can do that as a comedian, a writer, a painter, a musician. He’s a pediatrician. There are all kinds of ways we can help each other get through today. There are some things that help. Musicians really do it for me. I wish I were one, because they help a lot. They help us get through a couple hours.

Q: “A lack of seriousness,” you wrote, “has led to all sorts of wonderful insights.”

KV: Yes. The world is too serious. To get mad at a work of art — because maybe somebody, somewhere is blowing his stack over what I’ve done — is like getting mad at a hot fudge sundae.

Q: So what’s the old man’s game, then?

KV: My country is in ruins. So I’m a fish in a poisoned fishbowl. I’m mostly just heartsick about this. There should have been hope. This should have been a great country. But we are despised all over the world now. I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature. That’s why I served in World War II, and that’s why I wrote books.

Q: When someone reads one of your books, what would you like them to take from the experience?

KV: Well, I’d like the guy — or the girl, of course — to put the book down and think, “This is the greatest man who ever lived.” [Laughs.]

Friday, 4 January 2008

Year 2, day 3 - wear sunscreen

Too good for words.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Year 2, Day 1 - inspiration and resolution

I think new year's resolutions are important. They are, if nothing else, a useful thing to look back on as we consider where our lives are going. They can enhance our understanding of who we think we are and what actually exists for other people, is what I mean.

Which is always a good thing...

I read a quote today that really inspired me. I've been wondering what I should blog about at the beginning of this year and thanks to this quote I now know - it totally resonated with me.

It was made by Bilawal Bhutto, who is the son of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan who was assassinated last week. In the wake of this senseless killing, Bilawal, who is 19 and studying at Oxford, was elected as head of his mother's political party. He wrote this on his Facebook page:

'I am not a born leader. I am not a politician or a great thinker. I'm merely a student. I do the things that students do like make mistakes, eat junk food, watch Buffy, but most importantly of all... learn. My time to lead will come but for now I'm the one asking questions, not the one answering them. People have asked why I want to partake in a future that will put my life, and the lives of those around me, in constant and critical danger. People have questioned why a person of only 19 years of age feels he has the ability to achieve greatness for a nation in turmoil. I can say this in response: They are the right questions to be asking. These questions are the foundations of democracy and a free society are built on. The important thing is not to stop questioning.'

When I read this, I can see very clearly how a 19 year old can save his country, and play a huge part in saving the human race. This guy has lost his grandfather, mother and two uncles to political assassinations... That must be a record. But do you feel how strong he is?

That sort of strength can only be achieved when a human being takes a stand. It is the most empowering thing in the world - it cannot be beaten out of us.

I think Bilawal is lucky to have inherited such strong lineage to take with him on his perilous journey... Of course he will be accompanied by much personal pain, but like many great leaders he will use this pain to fuel his resolve when the days are dark, as at times they undoubtedly will feel...

When I read this quote I see far more than just a student. I see a prosperous, free and fair Pakistan. I see a world leader.

I see peace in the middle east.

But we can all take a stand like Bilawal. We can all find something that touches, moves and inspires us and then simply make that choice: This is what I stand for.

My own stand, as I have blogged about before is 'Abundance for all'. I am so angry at the concentration of wealth on this planet, and so angry at the poverty gap. Working to decrease these two things really gets me out of bed in the morning. We live on an abundant planet which can provide indefinitely for all mankind. As long as we respect and love and look after it, it will evolve and serve us for thousands and thousands of millions of years (this is why I love my stand - it is so juicy, it spreads into all sorts of areas and I don't feel sidetracked at all).

But anyway, this blog is not about my stand... It's supposed to be about my resolution, I think. Or maybe it's about Bilawal Bhutto now. Or poverty. Hell, I'm not sure. But I am enjoying writing this.

Just don't get me started on the definition of abundance.

I can see something else in Bilawal's quote, which is, in a round about way, bringing us to my new year resolution.

What I see in Bilawal is a profound relationship to what actually 'is' in his life. And I really get that he is kind of at peace with what exists right now. And that he has a huge confidence for the future and in his abilities. And he is very aware of his own destiny.

I believe that each of us has a destiny, just like Bilawal. We just don't know it like he does - we don't have it mapped out for us.

And we are always being told we are in control of our own destiny.

Maybe we are, maybe we aren't, but one thing I do know is that I spend too much of my life worrying about my future and my destiny and trying to control it. Too much time beating myself up for stuff I haven't done today, or stuff I could have done better. Too much time wallowing in procrastination or anxiety.

So my new year's resolution is: To be at peace with where I am right now. To trust that great things lie ahead for me. To be thankful for what I have and who I am. To invest in my future by staying in the present moment. To stay true to myself and to what I have right here, right now, and to realize how damn lucky I am. To lead by doing what I know is right. To have the courage to follow my heart.

To support people like Bilawal and try and take some of the pressure from his shoulders, by simply being a leader myself... A leader in my own lunchbreak if you like.

To just stay here and now and to know that here and now is already whole and complete.

That's it, I've got it in... 8, I think.


Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Day 365 - a year in summary

I've managed to take some time to reflect on what my year out has brought me.

I took a long walk yesterday and had a few moments to make some notes... And after my soberest new year's celebration ever, I was up early this morning for coffee and breakfast at a beautiful little coffee house nearby. Out came the notebook again...

It was extremely positive reflection.

A year ago I was a fully paid up member of the proverbial rat race. I am now, in my own mother's words '99% a different human being'. You know it's gotta be serious...

And now, what am I? A traveling writer, non-profit pioneer, warrior of light, philosophizing happiness expert...? Actually that's not quite it, but it's close.

My first thoughts were that a year is just a decent length of time. You can really get to grips with all your 'stuff' in the course of a year. A sabbatical, a mini retirement, a rest cure - whatever you want to call it, substantial time out from one's career is just a great period in life.

It has undoubtedly been the greatest period in my life to date.

Just to reclaim the joy of living life on my own terms has been truly liberating. Or probably gain it for the first time if I am being truthful.

And rather than leaving this period wistfully behind, I believe the remainder of my life will be more of the same - because what I have done is lay real foundations for my life.

I have some great gigs on professionally - freelancing roles which could really grow into something... I have my own charity launching imminently which will completely change the way we give... I write about what I want to write about every day.

In the last week, while enjoying my current holiday in southern africa, I realize that one really enormous thing I have done is reject everything that I consider to be, for want of less primitive expressions... bad... wrong... and evil.

I have these things down to an absolute minimum in my life now.

I really have managed to release my attachments to most things material, financial and superficial. Which feels amazing.

More to the point, it feels amazing to know that this is actually possible. When we are in the corporate world - in the matrix - we find it difficult to believe that an existence outside of 'accumulation' can possibly lead anywhere but destitution. This is one of the establishment's most elaborate hoaxes. When in actual fact, the process that I have gone through could seem no more natural or prosperous.

Freedom to pursue our own paths each day, to pick our gurus and teachers, to use and speak our own mind each day, to follow our heart, to FIND WHAT WE LOVE, these are priceless gifts. And they are yours, if you would only give yourself the time for peace and the time to realize it.

It is of little wonder to me that the world we are in is in such a giant pickle. 95% of us are suppressed and trapped in a delusional cycle of accumulation, competition and self-absorption.

For the most part, this will lead us to a best case scenario called 'survival'.

But the answer is so close by. Indeed, it is within us all. But so great have most of the external forces become that our inner voice often gets drowned out. The thought of taking a year out is laughable to most.

Anyway, I have broken free of this cycle and it is just so beautiful to know that another world exists out there. A world of camaraderie, love, trust and contribution. A world where dormant forces really do come alive and help us out on a daily basis.

A world that responds to passion and energy.

This is the world I live in now.

It is possible to make a great living in this world - from a hammock on a beach. To lead by simply doing what you know is right. To create your own universe entirely. And I believe that people are ready to start to opt in. I see it everywhere. Eventually the 'powers that be' will simply have no subscribers left. They will be a laughing stock - a powerless group of under achievers who bought the biggest con of all.

One thing I am sure of now as I was the day I was born, is that the Truth will set you free.

It is a life free of politics and corruption. A life which knows of no limits. A universe created by nothing but my own perception. A life that enables me to live quite literally as free as a bird.

I get that everything in life is a choice. I choose not to live under the corrupt leaders of this world. My existence is entirely independent of them - a life under my own banner and the banner of those I respect, love and follow. A life where I exercise my rights and where no one can keep me down. I am living my own life - on my own terms.

It is not without it's challenges, and the need for improvement is evident each day.

But at long last I am on my path, for which I am most grateful.

At the end of this most wonderful year, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist:

'The boy reached through to the soul of the world, and saw that it was a part of the soul of god. And he saw that the soul of god was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.'

Monday, 31 December 2007

Day 364 - the end of evil

I am one day away from completing a whole year out.

Feels good.

I am spending today walking up the Helderburg Mountain in Africa, where I intend to contemplate the following question: Is the world ready for the end of 'evil'?

I think it might be. More to follow later.

In the meantime, here are 9 little films for you to enjoy as the year ends:


Thursday, 27 December 2007

Day 350 - seeing the silver lining

A few years ago I would not have batted an eyelid at a distant political assassination. I was your standard boys boy - a city dealmaker on the fast track to nowhere.

But taking time out has greatly enhanced my awareness and empathy for world affairs - and today I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Benazir Bhutto has been killed in Pakistan.

This senseless murder of such a great woman - the first woman to be elected as prime minister of an islamic state - twice the prime minister of Pakistan - imprisoned for 5 years in solitary confinement on bogus charges - returning recently to her own country, where her own father was executed, of her own accord and under the threat of an assassination which has now been mercilessly fulfilled - has me fighting off feelings of helplessness about this world that we live in.

Here I am writing regularly about a global shift in consciousness... And then something like this happens. I feel many emotions right now, but mostly I feel despair at religion. Who could possibly sanction such action other than the most twisted of extremists?

I read a quote the other day, I forget who from, but it was something like: 'All that is needed for mankind to progress is for us all to realize we are in love with the same god.'

I agree with that. And I believe Benazir Bhutto did as well.

I believe in God wholeheartedly, but am not religious in the slightest. Although on days like today, I find myself wondering how such things can happen.

God moves in mysterious ways I guess.

I am sure Benazir Bhutto will be remembered as one of the greatest martyrs of all time.

How inspired I am by her life. What a stand to take - to invite responsibility for an entire nation - indeed for all islamic women. She was everything a leader should be, and her death has got me thinking about leadership and all it entails. Honour, love, knowledge, commitment above and beyond personal safety. Integrity (so key in all leaders, and yet so rare nowadays as to be unrecognizable to most).

I am reminded to focus on the good people that we have seen in this world.

And to remember Benazir Bhutto under the banner of 'Leadership'.

So today I have permitted myself a short period of mourning, and will now focus on the silver lining of life, observed by the leaders of the word past and present that inspire me, and who remain the beacons by which I guide my own raft toward where, I hope, lies salvation.

- Aung San Suu Kyi

- Nelson Mandela

- Mohandas Ghandi

- Muhammad Yunus

- Winston Churchill

- Martin Luther King

- Che Guevara

- Helen Keller

I can recommend any or all of these leader's life stories as more or less divine sources of inspiration - each of them has enabled me to connect with my higher self, and thus been instrumental in helping me grow, for which I am eternally grateful:

I believe Benazir Bhutto belongs firmly among these leaders, God bless her.

PS: Sometimes, I wish I could press 'pause' on the whole world, and invite people one by one to step outside and view the whole thing objectively. Truly, if we could only recognize what a giant pickle we are in, that would be something. For now, we carry on blindly, with just a few blessed souls carrying the flickering torch for the others.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Day 346 - santa claus? read Buffett and Gates...

Last night I was on a plane to South Africa, overjoyed to be escaping freezing London for a 30 day 'time out' in and around Cape Town. After watching the excellent Rescue Dawn, which I firmly believe to be on a par with The Deer Hunter, I flicked over to watch an interview in which Nebraska University students asked questions of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Watching these great people respectfully and patiently answer questions from students was a true lesson in life.

Out came the notebook...

These aren't exact quotations by any means, as I was scribbling to keep up, but it is what I 'got' from the film:

WB (3rd richest guy in the world): 'Your inner scorecard is always, always more important than your outer scorecard.'

BG: (richest guy in the world): 'I get a million emails per day. Seriously.'

WB: 'I tell my guys to make every decision as if an unfriendly reporter from their local newspaper is in the room, who could instantly destroy their reputation with colleagues, family and friends. We got all the money we want - we can lose money. But we can't afford to lose reputation.'

BG: 'I model much of my existence on Robin Hood.'

WB: 'The day I die I will have done a full days work because I genuinely love what I do. I never want to stop. I only found out how much I earned in my first job at the end of the first month - there was never any need to ask as I was absolutely clear that this was what I was supposed to be doing.'

BG: 'I would like to extend my lifetime and read faster. I love being corrected by my wife.'

WB: 'Dynastic fortunes are not what America is about. My kids will have enough money to do whatever they want, but not enough so that they can do nothing at all.'

BG & WB: '99% of our fortunes will go on philanthropy - towards making the world a better place.'

And lastly, in response to the question 'What is your definition of a successful person?', Buffett responded: 'If you die surrounded by people who genuinely love you, you are a successful person.'

What an awesome legacy, and what a great message for people to hear at Christmas.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Day 345 - a christmas carol

I met with two friends of mine for lunch today - a christmas tradition that goes way back.

One of them, a successful fashion buyer, told me a story that warmed my heart. Her story touched me because she told it authentically.

On a heady night out recently, Mandy had been attending one of several parties and jumped into a cab a bit worse for wear.

She awoke later that morning and noticed that her watch, a diamond encrusted Cartier, was missing.

In a hungover panic, all the worst thoughts crossed her head. Had the maid stolen it? Had the cab driver realized she was drunk and slipped it off her wrist? Had one of her 'friends' taken advantage of her?

Anyway, she reported the unsolved crime to the police and put in the insurance claim.

Thing is about Mandy is she is one of the finest people I know. Privileged, but immensely grateful. Troubled, but not self obsessed. Beautiful and stylish but kind and intelligent. Above all, I believe she consistently puts others before herself.

Around 4 weeks later, Mandy received a call from the police.

Believe it or not someone had handed her watch in, having found it on the street. On picking it up, Mandy realised that the clasp was loose and it must have slipped off her wrist.

The watch is worth a hell of a lot.

And I don't know if it's sad indictment on my own take on human integrity, or a reflection of how bad things have gotten in society, but the fact that someone handed it back in having picked it from the street, renews my belief in the human spirit.

Either way I loved hearing this story at Christmas.

I think it was Lao Tzu who said that anyone can observe the Tao while solitary in the himalayas, but keeping such behavior in the midst of a hectic city is true strength.

The lady who returned the watch was called Charity, and Mandy sent her one of London's largest floral dispatches in recent years.

Beyond this, I really got that problems like ours really pale in comparison to the rest of the world's. But I got that everyone's issues are relative. And that if we can only ignite the human spirit to the extent that Charity showed, the world would be a much, much better place. I know that each and every one us has the ability to do this - for me, it is time to use it.

That is what my life is about.

I wish you all my love, and many, many happy wishes for the holiday season.

Ben x


Thursday, 20 December 2007

Day 344 - brando's take on things

Marlon Brando said:

“People say, 'What did you do while you took time out ?' - as if the rest of my life is taking time out. But the fact is, making movies is time out for me because the rest, the nearly complete whole, is what's real for me. I'm not an actor and haven't been for years. I'm a human being - hopefully a concerned and somewhat intelligent one - who occasionally acts.”

This quote sums up my feelings about taking time out.

It is what I want to say in the future when I look back on what I have done - whatever that was.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Day 343 - abundance for all

'The vision comes from every citizen of this planet. My fame came from lending $27 to 42 people. You couldn't get smaller than that. And look at the effect it had. We can all do it - but we don't know.'

Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, talking at the launch of the Elders, 2007.

Why don't we know? What holds us back in life? What stops us believing we can have the same effect on the world as Professor Yunus?

I am interested in this. Passionate about it. I believe we can all change the world - I believe it and I know it. Imagine if we were all set free to this way of thinking, what could be caused and how quickly it would happen. No limits, no boundaries, just endless, unpolluted possibility and potential - a world full of idealistic, child like leaders.

That is what I am up for. I am publicly declaring my stand as 'abundance for all' - abundant life on an abundant planet.

'It's our world and we are going to build it in the way we want it. And we will make it happen.' Yunus finished.

I am with him all the way.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Day 342 - corporate governance or corporate governments? who cares? the wheels are in motion.

Taxi talk commented on my post yesterday that 'corporates own the world'.

It got me thinking. It could be true. Corporates may well own the world right now, and governments may well work for those corporates, and this and that and blah blah blah.

I wonder if any of us will ever know the truth about this?

One thing I am sure of is that each of us can change the world - whatever is in place right now doesn't have to be in place tomorrow.

It is the ordinary members of society that refuse to believe in the world as 'a lost cause' hold the key to a free, abundant future for all.

Log boats (as in giant rafts made of logs tied to one another) on the Mississippi River used to carry hundreds of passengers downstream. When they reached a bend in the river, it took the simplest of things for the whole boat's trajectory to turn sharply to ensure it did not collide with the banks.

It took one guy.

One guy standing on the corner of the boat, thrusting a piece of wood into the mud bank and hanging on with a firm grip.

And the boat would start to turn, changing the course of the journey for all those people.

I believe the world works in the same way. It's not quite as individual a process, but it starts in the same way - one person taking a stand. And as others realise that stand will benefit them and their children, they start to gather around the individual and he becomes a team.

Until recently, this type of progress has been slow.

But one thing, I believe, now renders the corporations powerless: the Internet.

The Internet gives anyone acting with integrity the ultimate shop window. Just one little guy can set up shop online and, as long as they practice integrity, can connect with an audience of millions, and empower them into changing the world into what they want it to be, not how the corporates dictate it to be.

Even the most suspicious of corporate sects like the Bilderberg group ( must be able to relate on an emotional level to the almighty mess that the world is currently in. Surely they know it to be inescapable for their families as well as the families of the gullible consumer. And these guys can be brought to account and turned upside down by the little guy, now that the Internet is here. Groups like Bilderburg, after running the world into the ground for so many years, must be running scared at the tides of change that are currently underway. I mean, we need to look after the planet for goodness sake. Even they must be able to see that they are creating a giant sauna for their grandchildren to frazzle in. A world ripped apart by religion, poverty and conflict. Unless of course they don't even care about their own grandchildren.

The shift in global consciousness toward the collective over the individual points to a freer, better world. Surely these corporates are aware of this and are not sitting round a table drinking brandy and discussing ways to screw the rest of us over?

I don't believe it.

The people have a voice now - they have a place to say what they want to say - the Internet.

Bilderburg and co must now be scratching their heads in survival mode, as opposed to running some racket more commonly found in a Bond movie. Unless of course they too are not immune to the global shift, and are figuring out ways for us all to find what we love doing and live long, fulfilled lives...

Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know - but at least we don't have to take it lieing down anymore. 

Here's to the blogosphere.

Power to the people.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Day 341 - courage, belief and detachment

There comes a point with 'projects' when things get... big. Perhaps, even, too big for me.

In fact, I hope it becomes too big for me.

Background developments are occurring with Cycle 4 that could see it become the force for change that I have always proclaimed it to be.

Forgive the dramatics, but the feeling is that constellations are shifting and energetic forces gathering to take my embryonic charitable project, the culmination of my first year out, and blow it up into something that will have a profound effect on the world.

And while I want to guide this project to reach it's full potential - it's not like I can really do this alone from my flat... I feel it will soon be time to relinquish my attachment and give the project over to the universe.

We are often afraid of dreaming really, really big.

As Emerson says in my quote section: 'we are ashamed of that divine idea within us'.

But these past few days, ever since the dust settled on Cycle 4'S first projects in India, Nigeria and London began, I have found myself freed of 'early stage thinking'.

And I see that it is only this type of dreaming - outlandish, out of control fantasy thinking - that will accomplish the work that needs to be done on this planet.

My head is in the stars, my heart in my mouth, and I am walking on air - and I am making every effort to stay there. Because I am present to forces emerging to help, now that we have taken the first steps. I wish I could blog about them, but I am keeping quiet for now. I am present to no one having any idea where this world will be in 5, 10, 20 years time.

And that it is you and me, the guys on the ground, the guys in amongst it, who have just as big a say in what is possible as Nelson Mandela, or Al Gore, or Hilary Clinton... or George W Bush. I swear to you that is true.

Poverty, violent conflict, AIDS, malaria... They can all be dealt with.

The input of people with moral courage, integrity and no vested personal interest, thinking freely, is what will consign these diseases to history.

Integrity, responsibility and generosity will end it all. These things will make possible bountiful, great life for all. Abundant life on an abundant planet.

All that it takes is for everyone to believe this like I do - for people to take off the blinkers that hide their infinite greatness and their giant capability to manifest change - and we will be there.

Because today I believe AND know, that this journey I have taken, is going to have the maximum possible impact on the world. And I have only had one thing on my side that many others do not - just one - and that is self belief.

I just cannot wait to see how things unfold.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Day 340 - as if by magic

Things are happening in my life right now that I find hard to explain.

The overwhelming complexity of the universe, of energy and of hope, seem to be manifesting physically in my work on a daily basis...

Carl Jung, when asked in a television interview whether he believed in God, said: "I don't believe - I know".

That is very much where I am at.

More to follow.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Day 339 - living like water

As you can tell by some of the pictures in this blog, much of my time out was spent traveling to the great rivers of the world.

Lao Tzu said:
"The highest excellence is like that of water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving, the low place which all men dislike. Hence it is near to the Tao."

And also:

"Living like water is to flow around obstacles, not confront them."

I recently read a great review by Tom Butler Bowdon of Hesse's Siddhartha:

'Siddartha concluded: "The only thing of importance to me is being able to love the world, without looking down on it, without hating it and myself - being able to regard it and myself and all beings with love, admiration and reverence."

It is the river which helped Siddartha arrive at this. He listens to the 'thousandfold song of the river', which sounds like life in its unceasing movement towards goals, its strivings, sufferings and pleasures, yet which also moves as one. Existence, though it may seem a bewildering and fearful tumult of separate people, places, events and feelings, is like the river in that it is really all one current. And in its oneness it is perfect.

The message of Siddartha is that we should not try to withdraw from life to have a superior feeling of holiness, but to throw ourselves into things; as Joseph Campbell put it, always saying 'Yes' to our universe. Filled with events, thoughts and relationships, life often seems terribly fragmented, but from the perspective of the river bank, it is one, smooth-flowing river of experience. If you can appreciate this unity, you become less wrapped up in yourself and identify with the larger flow of life. What Siddartha finds is that it is only when he gives up finding nirvana that a degree of enlightenment comes to him.'

I really got that.

Throughout my travels while taking time out, I never felt such oneness, peace and vibrancy as when observing, and living beside, our planet's rivers.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Day 338 - your job, or your life?

Whether or not they believe it to be true, most people I know behave as if their job is more important than their life.

Life is a 'being' thing.

Job is a 'doing' thing.

In my experience, things only start to work when the latter comes out of the former... i.e your doing, your work, your legacy, is a direct result of self expression - i.e you have found what you love doing and are happy with it.

There's a key breakthrough to be made here... A fun-da-ment-al distinction.

I wonder... I wonder if I am the guy - to make that breakthrough happen...

Are people ready to see western culture for what it has become - a disease?

Friday, 7 December 2007

Day 337 - living the wisdom of the tao

Taking time out gives us the chance to really choose how we want to live our lives.

How we want to 'be'.

I had the chance to read so much on my year out, and undergo so many different developmental processes.

But without doubt, the most effective teacher, the guru that resonated with me most, has been the chinese sage Lao Tzu.

His magnum opus, the Tao Te Ching, was written 500 years BC. It is a sacred pathway to getting to our true selves, mother nature, the universe and the Tao...

As a member of the star wars generation, I see clearly that Lao was powerfully aware of and connected to the force.

I love one story about Confucius and Lao Tzu - both Chinese philosophers around that time. Confucius had heard of a great and wise man, and travelled to seek his thoughts and advice on the subject of etiquette. However, on learning that Confucius was concerned with such a trifling matter as correct social behaviours, Lao Tzu spurned him and refused to talk.

He was a man after my own heart. What progress would we make if everyone in this world concerned themselves with how best to care for their neighbour, rather than how best to address them?

Lao Tzu was a great sage, and the Tao Te Ching is a guide for being such a sage. Lao Tzu was a man who believed that the Tao was the sole aspect of the universe, that we are all joined, all one, all abundant, all a part of the same energetic forcefield.

2500 years later, quantum physics is proving that this is true.

There are 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching to take in... And over 85 different translations... So how to choose the best one?

Well, I struggled for most of the year with one translation or another. And I drew wisdom from each of them.

One in particular stood out - a translation by Stephen Mitchell. it filled me with the peace of god, and made me more aware of the complex majesty of mother nature than I had been since I was a little boy. I loved nature as a child.

But still there were verses that I couldn't decipher and relate to my life.

Then I was in my local mall one day, quietly muttering to myself about the local kids hanging around cursing, fighting and bullying (very un-Tao of me to complain like that), and I came across a new book by Dr Wayne Dyer called Change your thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. I read the back of it and saw it was a guide on how to apply the Tao to our hectic western existences. Just what I needed, you would have thought.

But my reaction was again very un-Tao. I sneered at it, and with my nose in the air dismissed it as beneath me - an already confirmed scholar of the Tao!!! I retreated to Starbucks and struggled uncomprehendingly through another badly translated verse...

A few weeks later, having made no progress in my pursuit of Taoist ecstasy, I passed the same bookshop and saw Dyer's book peaking out at me again. And this time I nearly bought it, but for some reason I didn't have any money on me.

I returned to the shop the next day, but they had sold out!

Finally, I was breakfasting in New York a few weeks later with a girlfriend / goddess of mine, who came straight out and told me to read this book immediately.

I finally sought it out and bought it, and it has proved a pivotal investment.

I started to read the book as my plane left for a month long trip to Peru, where I was going on a retreat called the magical earth, to generally commune with nature, diet various plants and live peacefully for a while.

I consumed the book piece by piece over the next 3 weeks or so, and it was just beautiful. It has finally infused my life with the Tao. My every action has been affected by reading this book. It has simplified everything. It has reduced my desires, my attachments, my possessions, my whole life. It has increased my appreciation, my presence, my concentration, my love, my awareness of the environment and mother nature.

And I was able to consume each and every word while lazing on the banks of the amazon river, the greatest source of life on our planet, and walking through the peruvian jungle. Under the cover of the greenest of canopies, accompanied by torrential downpours, beating sunlight, equatorial temperatures, dazzling birds of paradise and monkeys playing and chattering. I was eclipsed by the complex majesty of the Tao, manifesting and evolving as our magical earth right before my eyes.

More than anything Dr Dyer's book has completed my belief that there is a greater force at work, caring for each of us, and if left to do its work unfettered, this force will see each of us through. The Tao always carries the day. There are no accidents and no coincidences - everything happens for a reason. The dots will all connect in good time for us to sit back and survey our life and our contribution and say 'I am pleased with what I have been'.

I finished the book as my plane touched back down at Heathrow 3 and a bit weeks after take off.

And therein lies the greatest message - the Tao held the book back until just the right moment.

And Dr Dyer's interpretation of this work is just... seminal. He even chose the translation by Stephen Mitchell that I liked as one of his recommended translations.

And I am finally living the wisdom of the Tao.

Thank you Wayne Dyer, and thank you Lao Tzu.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Day 335 - what 'is'

I had a profound moment of clarity last night.

I was giving a talk to around 45 people, and recognized what was happening around me as a reality I could not only accept, but one I could feel proud of. We were making change happen.

The people were the first to donate to Cycle 4, the charity I am launching this winter. They were a beautiful audience.

Money - thousands and thousands of pounds - was being transferred around the world for the benefit of people that needed it. Commitments were being carried out. Promises followed through. Awareness crystalizing into action. Connections being made that will become lifelong friendships.

Lives were being transformed.

As I spoke, my right knee began to tremble. And it wouldn't stop. My voice was steady, but my whole body was hot. I could have broken down. It was seriously nerve racking - like a reality check, in the best possible way. A profound distinction of what 'is'... What exists.

So much of my life has been 'talk'. There is so much bullshit in the world.

It's awesome to be taking these first steps on the road to change - both in my life and in the world.

Action of this kind feels incredibly vital.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Day 334 - commitment ignites the universe

"Until one is committed,
there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans:

That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one's favour all manner
of unforeseen incidents and meetings
and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt
would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect
for one of Goethe's couplets:


From "The Scottish Himalayan Expedition" by W. H. Murray

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Day 333.5 - launching change

I'm giving a talk tomorrow for the first 30 donors to Cycle 4, the non-profit I am launching.

This is the start of a long and beautiful adventure.

For those of you that don't know, Cycle 4 is Cycle 4 is a communitarian networking website that connects western professionals with people in the developing world, and facilitates the flow of funds between the two. You can download more information at (we are 100% non profit, we get 100% of your donation in to the hands of those who need it, and no one is paid for their work on Cycle 4).

Our first relationships are off the ground - 27 western professionals have reached out and are improving the lives of 27 people in India, Africa and London. The projects include the funding of IT diplomas, sanitation projects, study scholarships and start up funds.

it's exciting to be causing this stuff.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That's where I'm at.

It feels lucky to have that feeling at 30. Over the weekend I was counting how many of my friends are married now with children on the way, or moving out of town or similar. And I realized for the first time that I had no melancholy around the whole thing. I was happy to be on my own, working on my project in London town, taking the first small steps on this journey of a thousand miles. Now I'm on this path, I feel so settled, so intentional, so sure... Peaceful.

After we go through change and growth, it's tough to communicate to people. I feel the best I ever have right now, but people all around me think I am losing it! Grabbing a coffee or a meal with a friend here and there doesn't really suffice in terms of real communication. So I look at tomorrow as a great chance to have people relate to me as what I am up to in the world, as opposed to how they know me from our youth or otherwise. It's a wonderful opportunity and I'm looking forward to it.

It's interesting we have 27 relationships set up. In 1976 a gentleman in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus, launched a project that leant $42 to 27 families. That project became The Grameen Bank, and last year the bank leant $2.2bn to over 1m families. Oh, and Professor Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I feel like I'm at the start of a similar journey. Every now and again in life, we become present to boundless, infinite potential - possibility in it's truest form. This is how I feel right now.

Without wanting to sound egotistical, which is difficult in a blog which is all about how I am being and what I am doing, I feel the seeds of my legacy have been planted.

27 people helped... A billion or so to go.

Day 333 - creation

Loved this one:


Monday, 3 December 2007

Day 332 - monday morning...

Is now one of my favourite times of the week.

I realize that what I have done is invent a life that works for me - as opposed to the other way around - and it's a life that I really, really love.

I just work when I want to work. And because I love my work, that is pretty much all of the time...

So I arrive at Monday morning, having spent the weekend chilling in all sorts of cool and groovy office spots in west London - having done everything I need to do, and more. instead of 48 hours of doing nothing, I have 48 hours of wonderful work behind me.

And it's been raining all weekend.

But now, on Monday morning, the sun is shining.

Once solely the preserve of 'when will this end' administration, desk clearing and heavy-headedness, monday morning is now peaceful, quiet and free.

I am about to exercise my autonomy.

In what feels like a brazen, revolutionary act of rebellion, I am going for a stroll, a cup of tea and a muffin by the river.

Am taking my notebook in case I develop new global change strategy.

Time out rocks!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Day 331 - decisions vs choices

The benefits of time out are just immeasurable.

Why is this?

Because we are exercising choice over decision - choosing to create a new context for our life that will deliver new content. Deciding to do things, as opposed to choosing, is a by product of the disease that is western culture - otherwise known as accumulation. The need to accumulate removes choice, and in its place comes decision - you decide to do stuff because it will yield the desired result.

But those of us who have the luxury of choice, simply make choices in accordance with what makes us happy.

It was such a huge distinction when I got that.

Think about the word 'decide'... Then think about 'suicide'.... Then 'genocide'... It's all decision making - taking action to cause an outcome.

My life was a constant stream of decisions - good ones, bad ones, off the wall ones. Every decision was dictated by circumstances and consequences.

And the fear about shifting from decision to choice was very real - starting to do things for what makes you happy right now as opposed to what is 'for the best' is a huge leap into the unknown.

But with that leap comes a dynamic shift - choice gets you into the present moment like nothing else - and you realise just how un-present you have been all your life.

And when you're present, nothing is wrong, bad or broken, ever.

That's what choice gives you.

Don't decide on survival.

Choose life instead.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Day 330 - find luxury at the pace of nature

A lot of people I talk to are scared of taking a year out - because mentally they align it with financial scarcity - i.e. they leave their jobs and they have less money.

For the most part this is true. If we stop work, we earn less.

But we need less too.

I always remind people that the purpose of taking time out is not just to stop working for a while - far from it. The purpose is to actually stop all the things that we do inside of our western existence - making plans far in advance, scheduling everything, eating out all the time, hitting the bars and clubs, or doing a 5 mile run 3 times a week. All of these things are designed to keep us 'up to speed', physically and mentally, with a life of accumulation. But taking time out is about reduction, not accumulation.

What these activities do is increase stress - the mother of all our western diseases.

Once we reward ourselves the luxury of time out, we get to see life from another point of view. We realize that although we earn less, we want less. Although our lives seem less full, we are more complete. And as we live inside of this new, revitalizing context, we realize that in our former 'luxurious' existence, we never truly grasped the concept of luxury.

I'm gonna say something radical here: Luxury has nothing to do with handbags. Or suitcases or hotel rooms.

Taking time out gives you the chance to experience luxury first hand - real luxury I mean. Real luxury is taking a long, slow walk through Central Park on a sunny Monday morning, admiring the intensity of nature, the vibrancy of every living cell on earth.

Luxury is to observe dew melting on a cobweb for ten or fifteen minutes, and marveling at the complexity and perfection of Mother Nature.

Real luxury is free.

Luxury is to view these things with a completely uncluttered mind - with not one person to answer to but your true self, to have not one aspect of your day outside of your own choice.

Real luxury is free, and priceless at the same time.

At the beginning of my year out, 11 months ago, I realized that there was nothing that required speed or freneticism any more. Flow became my natural state. I would glide around problems, saunter through my days, open my laptop and close it exactly when I felt like it, and answer to no one.

I simply moved at my natural pace - I slowed down to the pace of nature.

Ironically, what sprung from that period is one of the busiest times of my life... But here's the thing: From the pace of nature, I connected with my natural, true self. I then expressed my true self professionally, which became Cycle 4.

And as busy as I am now, it just doesn't feel like work. I just completed my fourth 18 hour day in a row and I gotta another one tomorrow, and I can't wait for it.

I am currently writing a blog and a book, developing a property, running a freelance copy writing contract for a global logistics company, training 3 nights per week to lead major personal development seminars, AND launching Cycle 4... To expedite global change.

But it's all cool.

Take a year out to slow down to the pace of nature, distinguish ego & identity from self, and automatically find what you love doing.

And never work another day again...

Luxury defined.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Day 329 - creating our environment

'Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us'.
Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus is one of my heroes. His book, Banker To The Poor, was the key inspiration behind my own work in micro philanthropy. His work in micro finance and his ability to empower communities into sustainable patterns of change won him the Nobel peace prize in 2006.

I like to apply this quote to taking time out.

What I experienced during my year out, and the subsequent year out that I am currently enjoying, was a totally new environment.

And insides of that environment, I was able to make many things possible that weren't previously.

Basically, the waking hours of our adult lives are spent at work. Usually working for someone else.

In fact, our entire western school curriculum is geared toward preparing us for employment. But Muhammad Yunus believes, as do I, that our natural state is entrepreneurialism. Context equals content - and it so with our lives. Live your life inside of 'getting to the top of your firm' ensures a life full of mediocre content. Live your life inside of 'anything is possible, let's make a billion and / or save the planet' ensures an exciting white knuckle ride at the very least.

But you'll never discover your contexts and how they might change while you are couped up in an office all hours of the day.

Taking a year out gives you time to re-connect with that inner entrepreneur. Not necessarily to make money - but to create the life that you really want to lead. The kind of entrepreneurialism it awakened in me was social - I want my work to be measured in terms of social change, not money.

By taking time out, you get to view your life from the outside in - to assess where you are at from 'outside the box'.

And what I found is that the contexts in which I was living my life were completely disempowering. My big games in life were 'make a 6 figure bonus', 'buy a Porsche before I am 30' and 'pay the mortgage off by the time I am 35'.

Confused little guy I was.

Taking my first year out gave me time to grow every day. By developing myself, and appreciating the miracles all around me every day, I started to let go of my attachments. I desired less. I loved life more.

My contexts changed to 'heroic global change', 'make poverty history' and 'increase the peace'.

And thus the content of my life changed - everything I do now, every aspect of my life, is geared towards fulfilling my dreams and following my heart.

Cycle 4 continues at pace.

Taking time out, as Yunus says, gives us time to truly explore what we are capable of - and it can be quite scary what we find.

Infinite constellations of potential, mostly...

And then much, much more.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Day 328 - lovin' this clip!

Great friend of mine sent me this - Trey Parker and Matt Stone's views on enjoying the journey:

It reinforces my belief that taking my foot off the accelerator in the years where the 'pedal should be on the metal', was the best thing I ever did.

Don't let this hoax happen to you - it's a music thing guys! Taking some time out will go a long way towards making your dance a good one.

BH x

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Day 327 - eating the elephant

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: Piece by piece.

There is a whole world out there that needs changing. Sometimes that can be daunting.

As a general rule, I consider my game around changing the world to begin the minute I wake up with prayers, affirmations and meditations. But practically, I assert one principle throughout my life that will, if practiced every day, do just as much for the human race as Cycle 4 ever will: 'Do unto others as you would have them do to you'.

This was instilled in me by my father, who used to quote Samuel Johnson: 'The true measure of a man is how he treats
someone who can do him absolutely no good.'

And it's still in me today. From the minute I see my paper guy or the milkman, or the rastafarian who smokes large joints and drinks super strength beer on my doorstep, I just love talking to people. It actually takes people aback sometimes - especially when I am in the UK. Everyone here loves being miserable - we're not up to speed as yet with the US's pursuit of happiness.

That kinda stuff - just brightening up someone else's day - ensures a magical ripple effect... As my friend said when we met for dinner on Saturday 'Man! I could smell your stuff the minute I walked in the door!'

I love that small stuff - it's all part of the big change - just tiny contributions to the shift in global consciousness.

But then there's the big stuff.

Whenever I thing about the end result - of a world of literacy, peace, prosperity and equality, I am inspired.

But when I am actually working each day to make change happen, I try not to let my mind wonder from the here and now. Thoughts around the effect are often followed by thoughts of all the work that needs to happen.

And any thoughts of the enormity of the task are completely disempowering.

It's all related to the disease that is western culture. We are addicted to the end result - the destination. The effect. And in order to get there in one piece, we need to enjoy the journey in order to love the destination. We need to love being the cause of that effect... To be the genesis of that eventuality.

Most people's biggest aim in life is retirement. Fact.

And I wish anyone well who is enjoying a retirement that they have worked hard for. But our generation has a greater opportunity. We can create lives we love out of thin air. All the books say the same thing - find what you love doing and pursue it at all costs. That way you never work another day again. You retire from struggle and strife with immediate effect.

This way, retirement is no longer on the agenda - if you love what you do you want to die on the job, no?

So my message is to enjoy being at the source of whatever you are creating - and stop wasting time procrastinating over whether it is possible.

Anything is possible.

Just don't try and eat the elephant all in one go - it ain't gonna happen!

Confucious said: 'A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step'.

Lastly - it's tough finding what you love doing when your working 12 hour days... I didn't find what I loved doing until I took the time out to find myself first...

Take a year out and let your destiny envelope you!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Day 326 - take time out to opt in

In January of this year I chose to down tools, step off the treadmill and do exactly what I wanted to do, every day for 1 year.

On my lengthy commute across London, and in the mirrored skyscraper where I worked, the voices in my head would echo the same cliche over and over again:

'This can't be it. Surely there's more to life than this?'

So I hit the pause button, and resolved to ask myself a different question - every morning for the next 365 days:

‘If today was the last day of my life, would I do what I am about to do?’

If the answer was ‘no’, I would do something else.

The results not only had a profound effect on my life, but on the lives of many other people too.

I actually found myself - not many people can say that - and then, SHOCK HORROR! I actually did something worthwhile with my life.

Something that was solely for the benefit of other people - people that needed my help.

I chose to accept whatever came woven in the pattern of my destiny. And I have concluded that if all western professionals did the same thing - took time out to make a significant contribution - to themselves and to those they could help - the world would be in much, much better shape.

In fact, it might just start to resemble a level playing field again.

'I have just taken a year out'.

It feels so good to say that. The results were astounding - and unexpected... I am fitter than I have ever been, financially stable, involved in work that I love doing and I have total autonomy. Life is really as good as it gets.

In fact things are so good, that I am taking another year out. A little freelance work here and there is all. I need less, desire less, accumulate less... and I am thriving on it.

This blog is a campaign for other people to do the same - to Take A Year Out. Not to sit back and do yoga and meditate, or go see the world, or take strolls in the park - although all of these things are a part of taking time out.

But to Take A Year Out to actually get involved in the world - to really opt in and take a stand for something good - for the Truth.

It's not about a groovy sabbatical - it's about changing the world.