Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands.
Sometimes I wonder what this blog is about. Actually, quite often I wonder what this blog is about. It all started with the question I asked myself in 2010: “do I have the courage to sit down and write down what is real for me in that very moment and publish without editing, without the tiniest bit of self-censorship?” For me it was and is a practice in honesty and courage but also in discipline and speed. I can ponder on words for hours and am a boss at procrastination. Initially my assignment was to write for an hour but I admit that most of my posts take longer nowadays. But normally 2 hours is enough.
There is reasoning behind it. The day my ego fell apart I could see how the image that we hold of ourselves and that we call our identity is an illusion and how we continuously confirm that illusion in all our communication. The story that we tell ourselves is the story we tell the world. “I am good”, “my choices are justified”, “I can’t help it”, “it is not my fault” and “I did my best” to name a few. I found that the opposite is also true and finding that inconvenient truth felt like integration and ‘becoming whole’.
To prevent myself from falling back into a state of unconsciousness the best thing I can do is to choose a path of continuous unveiling. In Dutch we have an expression that goes like “to mop with the tap open”. That is how I feel: on the one hand side I am always making an effort to remain open, on the other hand side there is my unconscious nature that keeps making efforts to keep me in the dark. The only good thing that seems to have come out of it is that I have a lot of experience with the stubbornness and stickiness of the ego and therefore a lot of compassion towards our resistance to change and growth. In other words I am saying: I often feel that I am making zero progress, that it is Groundhog Day every day and that I have to start anew every day.
Then there is the other side. Something I really learned is that my commitment to truth and sharing has paid off. A couple of days ago I was looking at the traffic of this website because I want to make changes: I average on about 8000 visitors per month. Nowadays 150 visitors per day is a slow day and around 300 is more of less average. That might be not a lot of people if you want to fill a stadium but it is a lot if you have to make them lunch. Most of those people find me because of my most famous post “12 Things Every Guy Should Master To Become A Real Man” and I have a couple more traffic generating posts. I could argue that I owe the traffic not entirely to what I have to say but to accidently choosing titles with words that show up in Google. But still; sometimes my work strikes a chord although always quite unexpectedly (to me). The beauty of that is that I have found a way to transform the negative or the difficult into something beneficial to the whole. Only two posts ago I wrote how I apparently disappointed somebody (an anonymous participant had complained about my work to a friend that I work with). I used my blog to process my experience and wrote “My Ego Pissed Somebody Off (And That’s Ok)” only to find out that once The Good Men Project reposted it more than 11.000 people read it in the first week. Not only did writing this make a uncomfortable experience into something valuable, it also compensated a lot of procrastination.
But this ‘success’ brings up questions for me. It proves that sometimes people are interested in what I write. But should I therefore be more considerate about what I write? It is not that I want to hold back thoughts or feelings and would like to try to be political correct or something. Today for example, I had a pressing feeling in my stomach because I am a bit nervous about my near future. I have asked 2 very talented friends to help me with strategy, art direction, brand identity and positioning. It is a very big deal to me and working with them feels like a brilliant move but somehow I fear rejection and disappointment. I fear they will say that Basic Goodness as a brand is not interesting or mature enough and that they send me back to do homework that I will hate (because I will feel inadequate) or that a much bigger, richer and challenging client finds them and I feel left behind once again. At the same time I am also very excited about the super inspiring episode that I hope this cooperation will bring. I can easily fill a post with untying that knot. But I also just read an interview with a drone operator who suffers from PTSD after having killed 1,623 people during his time in the air force. Regardless of his sad and gruesome ‘accomplishments’ he is not even considered a real soldier to many people in the army. In the article I found an interesting piece of information regarding the changing perception of what PTSD is. It says: “For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.” Writing something thoughtful about that would probably reach more people and possibly reach psychologically or spiritually wounded people who could really use some healing. I know I can do it. Do I take up that responsibility? Is it wrong if I write about something more mundane? Both topics are on my mind right now, they are both just as real. And then I am not mentioning the fact that I also found out that my posts about the gym and my body transformation get a lot of traffic. I could even choose to write about weight lifting and my current struggle with motivation (and a sore shoulder).
I just ordered another cappuccino (I recently went from café latte to cappuccino, one day I will drink my coffee black like a real man, perhaps in a next life) and took a pee. During the pee I reached my conclusion:
- I should just go to the gym and pay my dues to the heavy steel. I promised myself a new body for my 42nd birthday and that is in 2 weeks from now. This is not the time to moan.
- You should read the article “Confessions Of A Drone Warrior” and let the implication of “moral injury” sink in. To me it means that academics are getting closer to proving that our souls want us to be aligned with life and love and doing hurtful things to our souls damages our lives. As a race and a society we treat our souls very violently. If we don’t care about the souls of others, perhaps we should at least care about our own souls. Selfishness, greed, hate and ignorance does not feel good to the soul and therefore we should conquer those. Honoring our hearts and souls will connect us to our innate basic goodness. Even the tiniest compromise will make us miss the point.
- I should continue my quest for meaningful expression, with or without help. It doesn’t feel that I have choice anymore anyway. But I still hope my creative friends will come up with something awesome. I will muster up some courage, face my fear of rejection and ask them about our next steps.
It feels good to be clear. That would be all for today. Thank you for reading.