Posted by: Dr Churchill | November 7, 2014

State of the Heart

William Butler Yeats said it best: We all get lost in the noise and bubble of our busy lives and then wonder how did we come to be that way?

Yeats solution was simple. He went to live in a whorehouse and wrote Great poetry in the Bordello loved by many women of good to great repute… all the while remaining faithful to his one love…

Yeats’s friendship with aptly named Lady “Gonne” persisted, and, in Paris, in 1908, they finally consummated their relationship. “The long years of fidelity rewarded at last” was how another of his lovers described the event. Yeats was less sentimental and later remarked that “the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.”

Same goes for our present day confused Intercourse with Life and each other right now.

But am asking this of us right now…

How did we come to be that way?

And what can we do about it?

Because we can’t all very well get up drop everything and go live in the whorehouse. Logistically there are not enough bordellos around to accommodate all of us Yeats wanna-bees and secondly we don’t all have the flair for the dramatic he had in opening up the feminine side of his.

So how did we get to this state of being where we consider anachoritic lifestyle and anti-social behaviour as salvation for what ails our modern life?

How did we create a world in which we have the desire to drop it all and go live in the monastery?

How did we create a world where our things own us and we have more and more useless goods to service, full of distractions and busy-ness, with far more work to do in order to maintain this useless lifestyle, as slaves to the machine?

How did we come to have less and less time to truly Live, and to majestically thrive in our humanness?

How did we come to have literally no leisure, no time for reflection, no time for friendship, no time for community, and no time to just sit?

How come we have no time to just be?

We have more things and less substance.

We’ve got busy lives, busy-ness, we’ve got the unexamined life.

Yet Socrates taught us that “The unexamined life is not worth living for someone considering themselves fully human.”

So how are we going to reconcile the impossible? How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully functional humans when we are so busy that we have no time to think?

This disease of being always “busy” — let’s call it what it is — the dis-ease of being busy and unable to focus, is mentally, physically, and spiritually destructive, to our health and wellbeing. It also destroys our communities and our families. It destroys our companies. It confuses our vision and obfuscates our mission. It saps our strength and diminishes our ability to be fully engaged, fully present, and fully functioning, with those we love the most, within our families, and within our societies. This disease of always ON, always connected, always busy, keeps us from living meaningful lives, prevents us from following our purpose of being here, and distracts us away forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

Since the second World War, we have had so many new technological innovations that if they worked as advertised, we were promised, and accepted the premise that they would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have far less “free” or leisurely time today, than we did six decades ago.

For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Smart phones the size of i-pads, and seriously Boolean laptops on the ready, we execute busy-ness all the freaking time. We can run a server from our laptops and a business on the go. We travel the world and in the airplanes the ubiquitousness of wireless internet makes unable to even watch the feel-good movies we so much wanted to. We miss all the rom-coms up in the air at twenty five miles high because we fear of missing out on some business and communication jungle tom-tom message that needs to be answered back urgently. Air stewardesses now tell me even the “sky high club” has now become defunct. Nobody hits on them, to join the club these days flying the unfriendly skies with crowded airplanes, bitchy staff, and less time on us for “cherchez la femme” in the clouds.

We run from conference to conference and complain that we can’t get time to be even more busy back behind the desk. And even if the conference doesn’t keep you adequately busy, like the WebSummit in Dublin that had no Internet… we still complain. The Irish Irony of the Internet Summit having no functioning Internet is not lost on me…

Yeats would have been proud. George Boole whose two hundred years celebration we attended last night, albeit too late to hear the Prime Minister’s speech and hit the bar — would have been furious at the singular lack of Boolean Logic. But James Joyce would have been smiling outright happy about the dark irony of our predicament in the “wake” after Wi-Fi, adding more juice to Finnegan’s Wake, because of Paddy’s short term thinking.

Go Figure.

A really techy WebSummit without functioning Wi-Fi, and thus No Internet, for me the Father of Wi-Fi was actually a dose of Reality affording me a healthy respite from the Busy state of being to a more genuinely human and far more attentive and meditative state of being. It allowed me to hear Mark Pincus, and Peter Thiel carefully when they shared their insights, and it gave me a fresh perspective on greeting the really really short Bono of U2 fame and Joshua Tree album sold to Apple’s Tim Cook for a shitload of money so then Apple can put it on the smartphone free for it’s consumers.

But this lack of Wi-Fi allowed me to think and it also led me to remember the reason why I named this Internet up in the Air thingy: “Wireless Fidelity”. Wi-Fi for short was naked that because although it was wireless it had absolutely no fidelity> It would drop you like a hooker drops a John after the last hurrah and “God Save the Queen” paeans of primal screams upon the joyous release of our precious man juice.

But I still called this Infidel Wireless Internet thing “The Wi-Fi” because this was the best way to market it. And market it I did: From giving the software and technology for Free to Apple and Steve Jobs back in the day, when he had just gotten back to lead the broken Apple company away from the abyss, all the way to Bill Gates of Microsoft in order to build the first campus wide wireless local area network inside their Redmond headquarters in Seattle.

So to offer poetic justice — I called this tart of a network, “Fidel” and hoped for the best — even though horns started sprouting from your head the moment you started turning on the wireless router back in the early days of the Wi-Fi revolution.

Same like Yeats called his own infidelities and glorious lovemaking “The sacking of Troy”:
“My arms are like the twisted thorn
And yet there beauty lay;
The first of all the tribe lay there
And did such pleasure take;
She who had brought great Hector down
And put all Troy to wreck.”

Of course things have improved dramatically since then for Wi-Fi users and sacked cities alike — but the Vision we had is lost. Wireless Fidelity is no more “Fidel” today than the street walkers of Dublin’s seamy side. Horns start growing out of your cranium today by having to use passwords and unique login identifiers signaling your Ip address and Mac address of your device to ensure … what exactly?

Why can’t we have simply open wireless networks all over and especially in Tech Conferences like the WebSummit employing smart Wi-Fi technology fully available from Day-One? AM talking of open source software allowing for constant “Swarm Architecture” in the cloud of smarms and “human starlings” enjoying basic allocated multiple channel, mixed signal and noise data streams that can have totemic priority access to alloow all of us the reach email and express communication emergencies or ordinary business needs — well before the guys streaming Pornhub at the WebSummit useless sixteen hundred StartUp idol stands crash the system?

Why can’t we have the WI-Fi like I envisioned it?

After all my robust Vision endures today. Connectivity for the people, from the people and by the people. All shared access all the time. All available all the time for all of us. No Passwords necessary.

Let’s knit this Vision together again because Wi-Fi needs a Renaissance since it lost it’s way.

Am also offering up this new WI-Fi vision also as a protection against intrusions of stupid folks trying to take away our Privacy, our Liberty, and our Democracy… We’ve been building wireless Networks with Privacy since day one at the community level. Seattle Wireless was just that in the early days.

So don’t despair about the state of Wi-Fi today because we will do better in the near term if I can help it. And we are sorting this lack of Privacy thing out with our new Social Network eVropa fully built with Privacy in mind. Our software is robust enough and you can get a glimpse at of the coming attractions.

Still Wi-Fi usage yesterday at the Web Summit in Dublin gave you big-ass horns that made you look like the proverbial Rudolf the red nose reindeer. Not to worry with Christmas approaching…

But back at the aforementioned No-Web web summit, the spectacle of horny horned, and desperately busy folks, running hither and nowhere, but being everywhere else but in the present moment and space, was so chaotic and disorienting that all the exits were jammed with people resembling herds of Siberian, Alaskan, or moose, utterly deadlocked and unable to enter or exit through normal size double doors — doors big enough for teams of horses at the Royal Horse Show hippodrome where the WebSummit was held in Dublin’s swanky green and beautiful WestBrit side.

Sorry for waxing rhetorically and stupidly about my travails and travels, but it’s only because am having a head cold and as am nursing this damn cold and coursing through the flu, without benefit of a night nurse, nor a steady bed companion, while traipsing around the world — methinks — am allowed to be cranky and Hunter Thompson like in ignominy.

Am channeling a bit of Yeats, Boole, and Joyce too — so forgive the riposte.

And even now that I am writing this silly bit, seriously in pain, in the cold, rainy, dark, and foreboding Joycean Dublin full of blonde fairies that make my heart swoon every time they hug me with a full frontal breast rub, in the Opium club — am becoming an Irish stud stallion all over again full of health vigour and comedic desires.

It’s all too much and really exhausting, being me… All the time. Sometimes am tired of being a Man.

Did I mentioned that we met a “Mr Ziegfried Strapon” yesterday at the Pub?

I’ll say no more about this encounter, save that it has something to do with Max Mosley’s German nights and a Hong Kong lecture form an anti-government authoritarian German from Belgium… Europe doesn’t get weirder than that. But I better shut up.

Go Figure.

You see how good the lack of Wi-Fi can be for us? We become silly again. We laugh like children all over again. We do humour better than before. We simply get back to our Good State of the Heart. We get back to being fully human again and thriving in connection. We regain our human community connection and get back to simply loving each other without the insularity and alienation pushing us to hide behind our devices and communication protocols.

Yet as the Founder’s Forum starts tomorrow — the third back to back conference I attend this calendar month — it means that there is no longer any division between the road, the office, the hotel, the conference, the airplane, and home. Even in bed amidst heroic embraces and thrusts criminal in several US states, the Irish blonde lashes check their smart phone to make sure they don’t miss the next party invitation or status of their friend’s night stand.

One has to hear the news about the catch of the day… or the thrust of the night as Yeats might have said from his long experiences living in a bordello… and reciting verses in a Fleet street tavern:

“We rode in sorrow, with strong hounds three,
Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
On a morning misty and mild and fair.
The mist-drops hung on the fragrant trees,
And in the blossoms hung the bees.
We rode in sadness above Lough Lean,
For our best were dead on Gavra’s green.”

Reading this makes everything alright with the world again. And it just took a moment of just being… in perfect communion with a long dead poet.



Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

We don’t have to live inside a bordello of constant interruptions and poking and screaming messages and twitching noises and twittering “birds” getting it on with strangers all night long.

We could live differently.

I met a young Arab Doctor at the “No-Web Summit” speaker’s lounge yesterday, and we shared the best human communication insights — speaking simply from the heart.

Khaled reminded me of another old Bedou friend and it brought back to me conversations of Bedouin wisdom and of how in the deserts of Arabia, and even today in many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask people You meet, or friends and family, or even complete strangers — you embrace them and ask them how they’re doing deep inside.

You ask in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

But what is this “Haal-ik” or the “Haal-e” that you inquire about?

It is the cardinal question about how is your heart. How is the condition of your heart. In what condition is the house of your Soul?

What is the ever changing and dynamic transient state of one’s heart is what I want to know. Please…

In reality, what people ask, is: “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?”

So in this secular West, when I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I would like to know.

Except nobody wants to go there…

It is too deep a visit into the rabbit hole of “Knowing Thyself” and people are afraid of the dark recesses of our Soul nesting in the heart muscle….

It’s easier to have a romp in the dark or up in the sky behind the curtain when everyone is sleeping — than ask soulful questions and receive meaningful answers.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.

I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

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