Reimagining Landscapes With A Cacophony of Soundscapes

Photo by Michael Competielle

“The final question will be: is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control, or are we its composers and performers, responsible for giving it form and beauty?” 

― R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World

As my writing exercise is winding down my experiences from the experiment has charged my creativity. The next 100 day series of challenges is moving into compositional sound recording with the added element of composing to an image and creating visual soundscapes.

The exploration of finding content in which to use to make a connection of our sense of sight and hearing is nothing new. From the days of theater or musicals through talkie films and modern-day media, sound to visuals has gelled together well. We have learned to feel a connection to a character’s emotions by using sounds of music to stage the scene as we are lured into the content.

Our minds can make connections to our emotions independently to our conscious thoughts bringing us to a place where we are immersed into the body of others, feeling what they are feeling. The spoken word isn’t required to toy with sadness or despair. Often a single reverberant piano note will bring us to a place where we feel pain and suffering.

There are many, many nouns for the act of looking — a glance, a glimpse, a peep — but there’s no noun for the act of listening. In general, we don’t think primarily about sound. So I have a different perspective on the world; I can construct soundscapes that have an effect on people, but they don’t know why. It’s a sort of subterfuge -Walter March

Hearing Emotion

The classical composers recognized by varying the connections of musical notes compositions could envoke emotion. By altering the individual notes in a phrase or chord, alters the feeling of the composition as our feelings are along for the ride. 

When we actively participate in focused listening we begin to hear the subtle nuances in sounds. Winds and rain have tonality that can paint a visual painting that takes us to that place. Rolling waves, babbling brooks to crashing waterfalls are all movements of water, however, they all have a unique audible sound that paints the picture. 

Whimsical sounds will place us in a happier mood unlike the dissonance felt from fingernails on a chalkboard. The subtle nuance of sounds of we listen closely is meditative and educational.

Intellectuals favor instrumental music as it will allow the imaginations under the wild as we define space and time. Our minds will listen for the clues and begin to develop a spatial perspective. 

Wind and leaves mean trees. A Forest? Moving water could identity a creek, stream or an ocean. The timber and intensity of the sounds become our clues. Crashing water could be oceans waves or a waterfall. 

As we listen to sounds intently we begin to spark our brain to make connections to the visual. Like an expressionist painter, we paint shapes and colors as we build the landscape from the elements of the soundscape. Our minds make the connection as we visualize the scene like reading brilliant literature. 

Supporting Gender Equality Within Plain Site

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts Cartoon The Girls Always Played And Usually Won

Photo by Michael Competielle

Charles Schulz began drawing the Peanuts cartoons back in the 1950s when gender roles were being disenfranchised after the World War II “We Can Do It” women workforce was becoming discouraged in lieu of full time “homemaking.” While the country had been at war women stepped up to prove their ability to compete and even surpass their male counterparts in manufacturing and industrial trades.

In the post-war women were forced out of jobs and treated as though they were incapable and incompetent as they were encouraged to focus on finding a husband and prepare for motherhood. While it took over a decade for the female movement to gain speed one cartoonist helped plant the seed. 

Photo by Michael Competielle

With his cartoons published daily in over 2,500 newspapers, Charles Schulze’s Peanuts reached millions of readers globally. Based on the main character Charlie Brown and his pet dog Snoopy the cartoon touched on politics, sports, relationships, and gender equality.

While Charlie Brown was the main character he was often the butt of jokes and tormented by a dominant female character Peppermint Patty who was quite the athlete and would entice Charlie Brown and friends into playing male-dominated sports such as baseball, football, hockey, and basketball.

That never stopped Charlie Brown from having females on his team and it was commonplace in the cartoon to see equality in the splitting up of the sports teams. Ironic that during the tumultuous times of the past few decades a multibillion-dollar franchise helped plant the seed into the minds of generations of adults that equality should be accepted. 

It’s was through suppression that females were made to appear inferior to males in the workforce and sports and we should be thankful for Charles Schulz’ Peanuts for prioritizing the indifferences and helping to pave the way towards an equalized society. 

Practicing Mindfulness While Exercising Long-Term Thinking

Photo by Michael Competielle

Changing the world for the better begins with individuals creating inner peace within themselves.

Dalai Lama

Circadian Rhythms and Regenerative Thoughts

Every day as I writing I’m researching to find meaning and purpose in my thoughts and philosophies. When words or topics reemerge I’ll gravitate towards the concept and close the loop in my mind. My world has become connected by following the great minds that spent their time contemplating the problems of the present to share in the future.

Last year I was reading an enlightening article by Zachary Crockett The organization building a 10,000-year clock funded by Jeff Bezos. The article explains how a group of brilliant long term thinkers is working to create The Manual for Civilization Begins with a 10,000-year clock and library. The group called The Long Now Foundation established itself to develop long term thinking to solve what appears to be unsolvable problems by thinking long term and planting the seeds for balancing our modern societies’ shortsightedness.

“When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”

Daniel Hillis

The Long Now Foundation was developed in 01996 (the five-digit date added the extra zero to solve the deca-millennium bug that will appear in 8,000 years). An assemblage of some of the world’s greatest minds is paving the pathway to thinking and creating for 10,000 years into our future.

Imagine if society had to reset itself within this moment back to the beginning. The Long Now is preparing a library of essential books that will help bring a new civilization up to speed. With donations from many scholars, writers, and artists, it was the donation from Brian Eno, a Long Now board member and my beloved pseudo mentor, that helped me make the connection to the concept of Long Term thought.

With Eno’s philosophies of Generative Music and Art such as 77 Million Paintings we look within the mind of one of our most brilliant thinkers. Brian’s thoughts are often on works that will regenerate themselves or use mathematical analytics to develop nearly infinite possibilities of creations. More so than any artist could ever produce in a lifetime.

As I look at my most treasured inspirations I’m beginning to see the connection to the universe based on their recognition of long term thinking. From Nikola Tesla with Polyphase Electric and Regenerative Power Generation to Steve Jobs‘ Infinite Loop to Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns and aforementioned Eno’s Generative Art.

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. 

Ray Kurzweil

Long Term Thinking Within This Moment

Writing about the present with my focus on being mindful does not mean I’m avoiding the future. Staying present in a moment allows us to maximize the experience and not waste the resource of this moment. By being present we become connected and absorptive to what powers life can present us. Being present in the moment does not mean we are thinking in the short term and can clearly have the opposite effect.

Modern-day life has most of us thinking about life and situations for the short term. As we engage with each other, watch films, or view art we want to feel good at this moment as we are constantly rushing to the next great thing. The future of our experience and decisions is often overshadowed by rush we get within a moment.

It’s moments like this where the practicing of mindfulness comes into effect. How do you feel as you engage in conversation or connect with a film or works of art? As we learn to become emotionally present we often feel as though we are active in short term thinking however that is untrue.

Mindfulness For Our Future

Most decisions I make I feel are for the long term while I keep my mind in the present. The foods I eat and products I’ll consume are each given a conscience review prior to the purchase as I hold sustainability and necessity paramount in the decision process.

My thoughts and philosophy has become fine-tuned as I’m focusing far out into the distance of my goals. I’m continuously pushing the bar farther away as I continue to learn and develop. As literary and artworks are preserved and curated we need to cherish the generous thoughts of those who felt it necessary to preserve our past to learn in the present about our futures.

The Long Now Member 10800

Stepping Outside Ourselves and Connecting The Dots

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

― Steve Jobs

Yesterday I was speaking to an artist that fully agreed we must continuously put ourselves out there into the universe and the rewards shall follow.

Each day I photograph, write music, design spaces and post articles that at present may have little to no meaning.

My works are mounding and my creativity is stifled by only time and resources. I’m becoming consumed with my works and quest for knowledge and therefore without daily immersion and stimulation, I die on that day.

Through self-assessment and reflection, I see where I veered off course as I fight to regain control of the speeding train, destination unknown. Particles of thoughts are strewn around inside my mind as I attempt to connect the dots that are creating this new lifeform.

Inspired by self-development, teaching, learning, creating and experiencing my days become focused yet exhausting. When I feel comfort and expertise I take a goose step forward and feel around for connection. Each item I touch or thought I have I’ll struggle to remember as space in my internal hard drive of a mind is limited.

Wasted time and efforts are thrown into my cranial trash as I defragment the information I no longer feel is relevant nor pertinent. Old inspirations and loves make more sense as I develop them further while removing the static of misdirection we are fed in everyday life.

Tabloids and propaganda don’t matter and never make it into the safety of my memory banks. Each file of thought and experience I’m continuing to revisit and relabel and organize. My mind will regain order in the chaos.

Each day of my self-discovery I process and save while I share the highlights that I’m hoping will nurture further developments and connections.

My mind a box of hundreds of puzzle pieces I’m finding similarities that I can use to excite my emotions and creativity in a positive manner.

Live, love, learn, process. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Reducing My Ego While I’m Focusing On Self-Reflection

Photo by Michael Competielle

“The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.”

Deepak Chopra

Awards, accolades, claps, and likes mean little to nothing to me. Acceptance from others is no longer a priority as I work on developing my ability to self-reflect and generate my own happiness. Hollow is the day in which I don’t learn, explore and make new connections. Looking at my phone I can immediately tell if the day has been a success based on the number of photographs I’ve taken as I photograph my experiences and inspiration for further research and connection.

I’m comforted in handing over the reins to others and see what they can produce. My only judgment of their works is understanding how they feel after having completed their goals. The correlation between creativity and emotion is mesmerizing and the topic of my own self-assessments.

My comfort zone expands with each word I read, or write and hear as I’m like a giant sea sponge absorbing and learning from the inspirations of others. I’ve begun to recognize the genius within everyone and work to help those who haven’t recognized it yet.

Learning has expanded my mind and made new pathways that hadn’t existed before. Neuroscience has become an integral part of my self-discovery and has expanded my thought process as I’m constantly stimulating my medial prefrontal cortex.

This area of our brains is strengthened as we work on self-reflection. Understanding and recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, we can determine what triggers certain emotions and work towards minimizing the impact they triggers have on us. When we self-process our interactions with others we will begin to see patterns of who or what aggravates these receptors.

As I spend my time working on introspection and how my actions interact with others I’m developing tools to continuously return myself back to my happy comfort zone.

My ability to recognize lazy and disingenuous people has enriched my life as I’m no longer focusing on how to correct other people’s insecurities. As I recognize the faults I take stock in knowing I control how I return to my euphoric state through my understanding of self and ego.

By practicing mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection, I’ve become deeply connected to my inner self and my ego is kept away at arm’s length.

“Midlife is the time to let go of an overdominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.”

 Carl Gustav Jung

Finding Connection In The Age Of Connectivity

Photo by Michael Competielle

“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket. Nikola Tesla 1926

We have never been more connected than we are in the present day. From cellphones to social media our connected world has brought us into the experiences of our friends and peers like nothing we have ever witnessed before. As we read through the Twitter feeds and Instagram photos we feel a sense of connection without having to actually be there. A pseudo world of connection and connectivity. 


We all possess feelings of connection that power us through life. I’m certain I’m not the only one that feels that the spirits of the beloved deceased are watching over us, sharing in every situation we find ourselves in. What is saddening to think is the reality that they really are no longer with us and condensed down to a feeling we have or a hope that the connection isn’t lost. 

As we look back to our connected world we feel that likes and retweets are the same as human connection though we are mostly devoid of the interaction of conversation, feelings, and emotion. Our visual bond as we look into another’s eyes and feel a connection to their mind, body, and soul is lost as we look at the pixels on a screen. Do we still have these connections or better yet do we still have actual human interaction?


The other evening I was in a health store purchasing some supplements. I needed to exchange a product I had mistakenly purchased with another similar product. The cashier understood my mistaken purchase and told me where to find the replacement and then offered to walk and show me. 

I didn’t feel I needed the assistance and walked to the rear of the store to find the correct product. I noticed the price was a few dollars more and assumed we would exchange one for one. As I stood before the cashier she looked at the price tag on each product and did the math to determine the difference of $1.80. She rang me up for the difference and hand wrote on my previous receipt the exchange. 

She explained not only the new product and its benefits but also the exchange process which left me with an understanding smile. The store didn’t have scanners or automated cash registers. It was a retail experience designed to maintain interaction with customers and products. It later dawned on me that being it’s a health food store the knowledge of the staff is essential and the connection to the consumer’s needs is their business. 

Why Are We Disconnected

All-day every day I walk around through my day interacting with people. I make it a priority to connect with people and understand how they are feeling. I manage people based on their emotions more than on the actual work. When they are stressed or anxious the work suffers. Help to remove the source of anxiety and the work becomes simple. 

When people feel happy and confident they can complete tasks easily. They become attached to the work and ultimately me as the manager on a connected level. People don’t like to let me down as they have recognized our connection is based on our connection instead of workload. 

I fight against the use of metrics and focus on accessing their emotions. If you have an angry disgruntled employee you need to find the source of the angst and fix that issue. Focusing on connecting with the issues helps to resolve the controversy. 

Finding Connection

Yesterday was a bright and vibrant day. Issues from the day before had almost corrected themselves and actually be determined they weren’t actual issues but someone else’s lack of following procedure.

Warm greetings from an artist friend lead us into a deeply connected conversation of warmth and interpersonal self-discovery as we each motived ourselves in the engagement of conversation expressing our emotions. An interesting conversation with an employee was had in which he had an empathy and understanding of why I felt it was paramount that he was proud and loved his work byproduct.

Photo by Asia Popinska Copyright 2019 Used by Permission

Later in the day, I met with my favorite photographer Asia Popinska whom I share a close metaphysical relationship with. Our connection is through understanding the science of our emotions and feelings and how we put forth ourselves in our art. Her works inspire emotion and introspection that I’ve connected with.

How To Connect

Lose yourself in the moment and forget the distractions of the outside world. Hang on to every word, statement, and thought you hear in a moment. Show your love and affection for others and remind them that they are indeed special. Be honest and exposed. When conversations are deep and well-articulated you will witness the body language of the other person change and your bond will gain strength.

Practicing mindfulness and emotional intelligence we can enhance our connections to others. Positive and honest thoughts will yield a stronger understanding of not friends and peers as well as ourselves.

I walk on a cloud of air, elevated above the angst and anger of others. I’m focused on understanding how others feel and with each passing interact my connections to the outside world have strengthened. The ambiance of a room feels warm and powerful as I find compliancy is communication and connection.

Today is the Perfect Day to Regain Control of Your Future

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.”

― Richard Paul Evans, Promise Me

We all make promises we don’t keep. Sometimes those promises have the best intentions that never pan out but many promises are little white lies we never plan to keep. 

If we look at vows like really big and well-articulated promises such as never smoking cigarettes again or refusing to buy certain products, we can see the importance of our statements. When we are honest with ourselves and take a vow we really should enforce our promises. 

Learn From Wrestling 

My son as he was growing up loved to try out playing new sports. He played baseball, football, basketball, and lacrosse. When he was younger and just learning a sport he would over analyze the game. More like a referee or a commentator than a player he always knew what everyone else was doing wrong. He lacked the ability of introspection and therefore was advancing in his sports at a slower pace. 

After a tough football session where he spent a lot of time on the bench, we talked about him trying a new winter sport. I suggested wrestling as a friend of mine who happened to be one of his football coaches was the head coach of the wrestling team was familiar to my son. 

I explained to my son that we play football and play soccer and play lacrosse but we never play wrestling. We just wrestle. One on one, mono e mono. 

As my son began to learn the sport and began to develop he recognized it was him against his opponent. No one else to blame. His success and failures were something he would have to take full responsibility and action for. 

What we learned

The life lessons he learned from wrestling was the power of introspection and self-assessment. As he learned how to read an opponent and size up a situation he knew how he had to tackle the situation. His confidence improved as he experienced successes in winning and knowledge from his losses. 

He ended his wrestling season not only with metals and accolades but with new knowledge of how to perform self-reflection. He was becoming a brilliant athlete as he understood his abilities, his strengths, and his weaknesses. Hitting the lacrosse field that flowing spring was an entirely new kid. His confidence and lack of fear were clear and evident. 

One afternoon I was talking to his coach who was extremely impressed with his development. He asked had we sent him to a lacrosse trainer in which I responded “Nope. He just learned to wrestle.”

Shocked the coach and I discussed how my son was the second-fastest kid on the team and had become the teams go to when the needed someone to climb into the pack and just simply get the ball. My son could, not once but every time. 

After the game, I told my son about the conversation with his coach and how proud I was at him. The second fastest on the team is a decent statistic. My son’s reply has changed my life forever when he stated “I may be the second fastest in a one-off race but I’m the fastest when you look at how I’m consistent the entire game. I can maintain my speed the entire game. When I feel like I’m slowing down I know it’s only me that can push myself harder”.

Brilliance. He had learned his strong point and was harnessing the power. When he recognized he was losing speed he knew when to push himself into overdrive. 

Mirror mirror on the wall

So our mirrors are our gateway into minds. Standing in front of your mirror who do you see? Is this the best version of yourself? Have you made promises to yourself that you failed to keep? What happened to that diet? How about that run you were going to take? 

Don’t worry they were just empty promises you made just like you promised you’d call the old classmate from high school and would get together again. 

Forget promises. Stand tall in front of a mirror and take a vow. A promise to yourself that under any circumstance you will keep. Don’t shatter that mirror standing in the shards of broken promises. Take a vow to regain control of your future. Small vows that we continue to keep our big accomplishments. The more trophies we win for ourselves the further we will develop. 

We must design our futures. Taking steps by vowing to make our dreams a reality is the first step. Small steps will yield large rewards. Take a vow and stick with it. 

This weekend will be 15 months of being on a plant-based diet. It was a vow I took that is a daily decision and become a part of my lifestyle. April 1st will be 11 years since I quit smoking cigarettes. Every day I look in the mirror and I see that new me I created, one morning by just taking a vow. 

Developing Our Relationships by Decoding Emotions

Photo by Michael Competielle

If I asked you “How do you feel?” how would you answer. Understanding that if your immediate answer is “fine” you aren’t trying hard enough. Take another stab at it. “How do you feel?”

It takes a bit of soul searching and being honest with yourself. Do you feel complete? Are you happy with your life decisions and are you working on self-development?

Looking in the mirror and recognizing the truths behind how we feel and why is a key step in self-improvement. I’ve practiced the concept for years and recognize I rarely blame others for my unhappiness or displeasure. Actively I work on understanding cause and effect and what triggers emotions I find unsettling.

Understanding Our Emotions

  • Anger- a strong feeling of annoyance
  • Sadness-a feeling of loss or disparity
  • Anxiety-a feeling of nervousness
  • Hurt-a feeling of physical or mental pain
  • Embarrassment-a feeling of shame or awkwardness
  • Happiness-the feeling of happiness

Relationships amongst people are the way in which we connect and behave towards each other. Our relationships can be with family, friends, acquaintances and romantic. If we work on our relationships with others by paying attention to how the other person feels we can improve our connections.

The Emotional Spectrum

If we look from one emotion to another we can understand why we should try to regulate ourselves by balancing on one emotion while we try to minimize others.

More importantly than just having a positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that comprises living a good life, with a sense of meaning and purpose. For most of us, it’s happiness that we are trying to obtain and maintain.

For most of us, we try to go about our daily lives in a positive mood while feeling happiness. We will attempt to surround ourselves with happy positive people as we maintain our happiness.

Our homes will be decorated with items that make us happy. We dress and entertain ourselves in an attempt to keep ourselves on the path to happiness. When we make connections with positive and happy people the feeling can be contagious.

Chemistry Class

Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins, and Oxytocin are the quartet known as the happiness chemicals. As we find ourselves in many situations these neurotransmitters are triggered that create our happiness. When we learn to recognize what makes ourselves as well as others happy we can regulate happiness.

Dopamine will help motivate us to reach our goals while we realize the feeling of pleasure. Completing small achievable goals releases small yet frequent releases of dopamine that will maintain our happiness. By continuing to establish new goals and working towards accomplishing them we can live in a state of euphoria.

Serotonin will be released when we feel important and noteworthy. Our feeling of connection with others will release serotonin. We can help the release of serotonin by reflecting on past achievements and pleasurable experiences.

Endorphins are released to elevate pain and as a response to stress. They can be released during a time when an athlete needs a second wind or while laughing.

Oxytocin is the glue that holds together happy and healthy relationships. It creates intimacy and trust and is also released during orgasm. The simplest way to help release oxytocin is a simple as giving someone a hug.

When we recognize what conditions help ourselves and others release these happiness chemicals we can focus our efforts on maintaining heightened levels.

Relationship Nirvana

Nirvana is the perfect place of peace and happiness. When we find nirvana in our lives, relationships and experiences, we continue to release the four happiness chemicals. When we get into a perfect rhythm of flow, our connections to people, places, and situations keeps us naturally happy.

Emotional intelligence is to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle relationships with empathy.

By spending time learning what triggers our partner’s happiness and our connection to them we can help keep our relationships in nirvana. When we lack emotional intelligence we may miss the subtle cues that will help us recognize how others feel.

Honesty and trust are established in meaningful relationships. When we share with others whom we trust, we make an unwritten bond that helps build the foundation for a lasting relationship. Letting those we trust know when we feel angry, anxious or sadness they can help lift us out of our slump by helping them focus on the joys and happiness they have known in their lives.

Listen to the people with whom you have a relationship and find their sources of happiness. Be warm, kind and nurturing as you listen and learn how they feel and how you can help them maintain their level of nirvana. And most important all, ask people “how do you feel”?

The Time To Start Anything Is Right Now

Photo by Michael Competielle

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time” is to say “I don’t want to”.

Lao Tzu

One of the most powerful tools we have is our ability to learn through reflection. By learning to reflect we can check in with ourselves from time to time and perform a self-assessment. Are we still on track for our goals? What have we learned over the passage of time and how will we use this knowledge to continue on. 

Life is the journey without a definitive destination. If we feel we have reached the end what makes us continue on? For me, it’s the one variable in which I can not control. The passage of time.

It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

At what point did Steve Jobs recognize our most precious resource? At the beginning of his quest or and the end? Had he relieved he was at the end of the journey and out of time? Was he reflecting back on his life and wishing he hadn’t wasted those precious moments that he will never get back?

Everyday, I perform a self-reflection. Most days I don’t have the time for a full reassessment of my entire life and so, therefore, I perform an abridged daily assessment. Am I still on target to reach my goals? Have I maximized my day and lived it to the fullest? Did I learn anything new and most importantly was I present in the moment? 

Being present in the moment is the practice of mindfulness. The meditative qualities of being present and fully immersed in the moment maximizes the experience. If we are mindful we are focused on this exacting moment in time. Time stands still and it’s only then when we have total control. With complete focus, we can overcome the passage of time. 

By taking a mental photograph of this finite moment and recognizing every detail we can overcome the obstacle of time by forcing it to stand still. Checking in with our feeling and emotions and recognizing what experiences make us feel good we begin to learn how to get ourselves back to this euphoric state. 

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. Albert Einstein 

Image if everything happened in our lives at once. Every amazing moment was overshadowed by our darkest of days. We would be standing in the eye of the storm watching life’s events whirl around us in a cyclonic fury. 

Which moment do we capture? What photograph do we take to remember this moment? It’s that blurry picture that we have to delete. 

Time is Linear

As the blocks of time pass us by we have the opportunity to learn for the past to design the future. We can’t go back and so therefore as time continues on the separation of events allows us to ride the waves of emotion and experiences. If we don’t use the power of a linear timeline everything will happen in our lives at once as we worry about the future by living in the past while missing the present. 

Stopping time in this exacting moment and reflecting we look to see where we have been and right to see where we are going. Okay, so what happens right now? This is that moment where we have complete control. What are we doing right now?

Right now I’m writing an article about time. Time hasn’t stood still as I just looked over st my clock however I feel as though it has. The past 30 minutes has generated hundreds of words of text that will be about maximizing my time. The past a faded memory and the future is how long can I write before I’m going to be late for work. This moment is the only moment that matters as I furiously type to articulate my thoughts.

This moment in time is mine. The outside world remains outside and that cyclonic fury is a distant blur. For I’m sitting in the eye of the storm like a lotus. Present in my moment and ignoring the distractions. When this moment in time passes so will the storm. The wreckage it has left behind I can not prevent. It’s within that moment I can only focus on how to repair from the damage and continue on my path.

Leaving the Wreckage Behind

When all we have is this moment and we see that the wreckage of the past has poisoned our present and will modify our futures we have to overcome the wreckage by leaving it all behind. Standing up we dust ourselves off and continue on our journey. Destination unknown as we travel on. 

That storm is in the past in which we can reflect on. Learn from the experience as we concentrate on this moment. Time is ticking yet each moment in time matters. Our power of being present and in a mindful state will maximize our life’s experiences. 

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

George Orwell

Mindfulness is the total control of the Now. The present moment in time. Our past is behind us and her lessons we have learned and extracted the fabric of our future. We have planted the seeds of our destiny in which we plan to live. The future is in our control when we take control of this present moment. Focused and understanding the meaning of the passage of time and how we can slow it down and accomplish our goals and live our lives to their potential. 

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

How Practicing Empathy Is Saving Our Planet

Photo by Michael Competielle

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” — Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

Of all the lessons I’ve learned in life, nothing has been more rewarding and life-changing then practicing empathy. Seeing the world through another person’s eyes and understanding their perspective. Recognizing their feelings and emotions while we share in the experience. The development of likemindedness and mindful closeness.

Empathy can be practiced on anything or anyone. From people to animals and from objects to our planet. If we place ourselves into the minds and emotions of others and learn from their perspective. 

Photo by Michael Competielle

Looking at our planet and the impact we have on her future has been the largest and most impactful way I’ve been able to practice empathy. That is not to say I don’t listen to other’s feelings and experience their emotions. What it means is though I can make an impact in that specific situation or relationship the larger contributions are from my daily decisions made on foods I eat, items I purchase, trash I produce and environment I hurt. 

As consumers, we have the power to become informed about the products we purchase and consume. Concepts such as Meatless Mondays or skipping the bag at the checkout have helped pave the way to us making environmentally conscience decisions. Imagine the impact of using one less bag or one less cheeseburger or one less gallon of gas.

Photo by Michael Competielle

My practicing of empathy starts with my morning latte made with plant-based oat milk. It’s been many years since I’ve had animal milk in my diet. Partially for my health, partially for the environment and most importantly for the empathy of the milk-producing animals that live treacherous lives in often horrifying conditions forced to lactate for human consumption. 

Living Life As A Pig

No longer do I eat breakfast meats like sausages or bacon after looking into the eyes of a pig and seeing his soul. Content with his life, happily living. His intelligence and personality were his pride. 

As I visited farms where the animals I consumed almost daily were being raised I began to have a connection to them. Looking at them as a living, breathing being that had feelings and emotions just like I did. Their hearts were beating pushing blood through their veins and each breath made their chests heave. No longer were the animal’s burgers on a plate or slabs of flesh in shrink wrap, they were life. A body, mind, and soul. Who was I to take that life or eat its meat?

Photo by Michael Competielle

Practicing Empathy

As I’ve extended my practice of empathy on animals and our planet there doesn’t seem to be anywhere that we can’t be mindful of others. From the waste in packaging, purchasing of single-use plastic products and misunderstandings of the environmental impacts of our actions, empathy can be used in every scenario. 

Yesterday as I helped destroy the environment all in the name of curb appeal, I thought of the fuel I was wasting in my leaf blower, collecting the leaves to be removed by our town for compositing, only to bring the compost back them in spring in the form of mulch. What a moron I am for caving into this infinite loop of destruction. The leaves are a part of a natural cycle providing warmth to plants and trees in the winter and nourishment in the spring and summer.

Making Decisions

As I would love to tell you that I know the secrets to save the planet I do not. Avoidance of single-use plastics and paper goods is currently almost impossible. I’m still driving a car, mowing a lawn and drinking water from gallon jugs. I’ve recognized my shortcomings and work daily to have empathy for our environment and how to minimize the damage.

Having empathy for living beings has changed my philosophy on my priorities and modified my lifestyle. I research companies in which I buy from as I try to support companies that prioritize their employees as well as the environment. Companies that care for the people who work for them and take an aggressive stance on the impact their products have on our planet are exercising empathy.

Each time I touch a new product I think of the people that created it. Not only the packaging but the message that they are trying to convey. If they are thinking through the supply chain with a mindful consideration of what message they are putting out to the world. It makes sense to listen.

Words are only words until we take action. Action is only valid if we truly can understand the impact those actions have. I’ve vowed to no longer eat animal-based products or their byproducts. My diet is solely plant-based and shall remain as such.

Plants Have Feelings Too

A friend of mine recently reminded me that plants have feelings too. This has absolutely been proven and something I believe. So how do I eat plant-based products while still practicing mindfulness?

The answer is simple. Plants give themselves away without dying in the process. Remove the fruits from any tree. Does it die? Nope. Removed the leaves from any plant. Will it die? Nope. Will these plants drop their leaves and fruits to give to other living things as they continue in the balance of the circle of life. Absolutely. Does the plant feel sadness or anxieties in the exchange? Doubtful.

I’m asking everyone to stop eating meat? No, I asked everyone to practice mindfulness and empathy. You will make your own decisions from there. The planet will only be saved by people understanding the impacts of our decisions and being mindful of our actions.