Category Archives: Social

There is nothing positive about India

Glad the headline grabbed your attention.

India is a rich country.

People there have the single most powerful weapon that matters.

Not nuclear weapons.

Not money.

Not petrol.

Not even tea & spices.

The unbeatable, sincere, wide smile.

[…]

During my 3-week trip in India, my Indian friends were asking me whether I’m having a blast, where I’m going next and whether I need any help.

Meanwhile some of my dear European friends were asking me whether it is really THAT dirty, whether I have diarrhea and whether I have already had a mosquito bite, because malaria is a very dangerous disease…

To alleviate (to coin a phrase) the “ill-curious” and their suffering:

Yes, there is poverty around every corner, there is garbage and I saw children throwing bottles in the sea instead of pebbles.

Misery exists all around. Of course, if that is what you’re looking for.

As to the diarrhea, I’m happy to inform you I fully enjoyed the fantastic Indian cuisine.

My trip to India was a trip within myself. What would I really see?

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, as The Fox advised the Little Prince.

Indian heart

Indian heart

Ok, but are most buses really without windows?

Yes! What a major inconvenience! Once you are on an Indian bus, the lack of windows would be your smallest concern. In other words, evangelists should really think about preaching in the Indian buses. When you see the manner of driving, you immediately start praying. 🙂

And did you see people peeing on the streets?

Yes! And you know what… they actually seemed truly relieved after peeing 🙂

Unlike the “rich” Western travellers who were coo coo-ing about a ‘proper WC’, ‘Oh my Gosh, it’s disgusting!’ They seemed very tense.

So did Indians share any recipe for happiness?

Western folks just love mindless recipes and formulas 🙂

But I think I can shed some light on that matter.

The Indian people I met along the way have just surrounded themselves with amazing colours (I have hardly seen any black or grey colours: the corporations’ favourites).

Also super intense, joyful, emotional music with the weirdest lyrics possible (because they don’t care what others think. They want to have FUN!)

And let’s not forget about the chaotic dances (because it’s important to grab the moment with your friends – without airs and graces).

Finally: the bargaining! True pleasure and art! It’s just the daily hobby.

Trade is art

Trade is art

The secret sauce? I guess it is staying true to themselves that makes their faces radiant and their hearts glow.

Do you think I am exaggerating? Maybe you’ll label it as the ‘post-travel, romantic effect’. But I have evidence 🙂

Working in the creative industry, I’ve learned to research.

My personal brief for this trip was to smile at everyone. No matter how hot it is outside, no matter how unfriendly some people might seem, no matter how many mosquitos or rats are around me.

I got a 100% response rate. To spell it out: A hun-dred per-cent.

Not a single person did look me as if I am crazy for smiling ‘without a reason’, ‘without asking for anything in return’.

Not a single person did look worried, because don’t forget the beginning of this article: Indians are rich in smiles. It costs them nothing to smile back. They don’t think twice about it.

How about the driving? Is it as bad as Youtube videos show?

Haha, yes! Maybe “worse” when you (hopefully) live it!

What happens on the Indian roads is a mystery to the foreign traveller. It’s some kind of live magic performance under the music of hundreds of sound horns.

The cultural difference here is that Western people use the horn to curse somebody and to show general annoyance and impatience. While Indian people use the sound horn as a communication tool, just saying “Hey, I am here, I am passing.”

Long live road symbioses in India!

Ok! But are you SURE you didn’t get the Delhi belly?

Convinced. It must have been really amusing to the restaurant staff that I was sweating over a portion of butter chicken, which an Indian Friend of mine defined as “sweet”… Wherever I have had my meals, I’ve encountered acceptance of the fact that I am a foreigner. I had the freedom to clean my utensils before use, I have been asked for my spice tolerance, and I have been checked on during the meal and after it.

Indian food is a celebration to the palate.

India is a celebration to the soul. If one takes everything as it is.

India

The insights

A bus without windows is less scary than a face without a smile.

Eating without utensils is less worrying than a heart with no sympathy in it.

Malaria is less dangerous than indifference, negativity and envy.

I am happy I shared my Indian truth with you. Have you been in India? Please share your experiences below. I promise: No judgment, only acceptance!

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How do we go from “I” to “we”?

Prerequisites to the change of the personal pronoun

I fell in love about 4 years ago. As the song goes, with time and experience, I was falling in and out of love. This is something natural. Every day is different and you cannot feel the same emotions continually for 4 years. Thankfully.

One of the first things that made me realise I am in love not with Love itself, not thanks to the hormone of happiness and not with a projection of my Loved one, was the way I had started to respect independence. Till then, I thought love is the clinging behaviour of doing everything together and mumbling words of tenderness permanently.

Then the grand plans step in – marriage, children, purchase of a house/flat. All these are great phases in Life and all are so unnecessary to plan. It is a public secret that I am a firm opponent of planning.

Most of all, because planning makes me apprehensive. Planning means I would easily get disappointed.

After some time spent in beautiful Malta, I got tired of asking the question “What is your next goal?” as I knew the answer. It was not a surprise anymore. It is a behavioural pattern in Malta: From your parent’s house, you need to buy your own home and get married.

Society and religion – the world’s greatest adventure killers.

The change of the personal pronoun

I enjoy going to weddings. But I cannot see myself fitting in the frame any time soon.

For me, wedding is the pompous declaration of love that is meant to be a very intimate feeling. It is funny how people think you are not sure in your love, should you decide not to display it in a public kind of way, aka a wedding.

I have the opposite belief – are you so unsure about your love that you need to invite 100-200 people and say “I do”.

“I do” happens when I look into His eyes and He sees sincerity.

“I do” happens when I tell Him what I did wrong and ask for forgiveness.

“I do” happens when we hug each other recharged with new stories & experiences to share.

“I do” really happens when we keep our to “I”-s separately to make our ‘We’ blossom.

There are still friends of my Man whom I have never met and vice versa. This phenomenon is called ‘personal space’ and lengthens life. No matter what ugly description gets labeled to it “What are they hiding?” “Are they ashamed of one another?” “Do they dislike spending time together?” the simple fact is we have entered the pattern of being aware he and I will love each other every now and then, but forever.

I do not think of ‘personal space’ as ‘freedom’. Freedom means I am captivated, imprisoned in my time with Him, which simply is not true.

He and I love travelling together and apart. And no, we are not travelling apart just to keep things spicy and we do not have the need to miss each other.

Those are the desires of the ‘I” that the other person respects. They do not stem from fears, deals and bargaining, “Please let me go for 2 months and then you could also go.”

Yes, compromise is there in some form, but Love, as I see it, is the ability to fly.

I adore my time alone, exploring a new place and I fly because wherever I am, my Man is behind me. I talk to him mentally and I smile at what he supposedly replies to me.

The reason for this post is the change of the personal pronoun.

I have recently talked to a childhood friend of mine and asked how he was. The answer was: “We are feeling OK, things are going well, we are leaving to XXX soon.”

My problem being that I asked about him. Logically, being my respectable self, I would have inquired about his girlfriend (a wonderful person) as well. But the “WE” has been already soaked deeply into his mentality and his life view. I meant ‘their’.

The other thing that really bothers me is the hilarious statement “We think”.

A person whom I know from many years has told me they think art is a real blessing. The truth is this had never been true for my friend, but now “We think it is great.” This is not to say that people cannot start sharing their other half’s interests. However, pretending you liked something all your life, is an outright lie.

And I think lying does not go hand in hand with Love.

You would try to confront me – “Angie, don’t you use ‘we’ in sentences?”

Of course I do. But I see it slightly different, let me visualise it for you.

I and Iwe

These are two I’s that lean towards each other, trust each other, stand up for each other and make compromises for each other, without moving away from their personality and becoming one all. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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Why working part-time or how to be quicksand-proof?

Have you noticed that Big Fish like General Motors are creating more and more part-time opportunities within their company? Have you heard all the talks about pension benefit cuts? Is the shift from the full-time economy to a part-time economy apparent enough to all of us now?

The assembly line was just the beginning of automating human labour. But thankfully certain things like imagination and communication cannot be automated.

With this in mind, I decided to slowly get out of the quicksand-like economy. Although one is not advised to move fast when trapped by quicksand, it was about time for me to leap.

Being in an office with people I loved and a job I liked has been amazing and I am very lucky to have found stickee. But my insatiable feeling for exploring the world was taking me over week after week. It would not have been right to stay there: gloomy, pensive and absent-minded. Dangerous mental uprisings crept in: ‘Why stay at one place when I could work from every place in the world?’

‘Why booking my personal time for 25 days a year? If life is really that short, is it not much more normal to own 365 days a year instead of 25?’

Reading ‘The Leap’ By Robert Dickie, I realised I only did a very mini-leap towards my personal freedom. Besides courage, the journey to my self-directed future depends on my faith, continued focus and actions.

Skills

According to Dickie one should start from their ‘God-given’ design: skills and passions. We must pursue a career that is in total alignment with our skills – this is like swimming in a river with a powerful current. For me this is writing in its various forms and applications.

Direction

When leaping, it is dead important to have a direction. To visualise it better, imagine Google Maps. Where are you? Where do you want to go? Which route would you choose?

And while the route is optional, the starting point and the final goal are pre-determined by your own capacity, talent and discipline.

The deathbed moment

Another important question is: ‘How would you like to be remembered?’

I like advertising. It is about finding a playful and creative approach that leads to measurable results. I think it is a great way to communicate brand/social messages and reach out to the world. But fast-forwarding to my deathbed, I would not like to be remembered with that great Coca-Cola campaign I did (as a cog in the system). It simply would not have added value to my life.

I would rather be remembered as the person who wrote books, shared insights and spent quality time with their family. Somebody who made people smile and contributed to peoples’ lives positively by telling stories, showing love and sharing harmony.

Banal but beautiful, right?

Several months later, after attending Vipassana and after a very enriching trip to Sicily, I still have some fears when it comes to writing. ‘ The Leap’ made me identify these ‘anchors’ clearly:

The mental anchors

Mostly self-imposed. Why according to me things would not pan out? I highly recommend writing down all the reasons you think would prevent you from reaching your goal. Some of them would definitely make you laugh at a later stage. Then work on dismantling each of them. Dickie talks about two types of locus – external versus internal. The former is all about the external circumstances that would affect your accomplishments (passive stance), while the internal is focused on actions and self-coaching (‘I will do it if I work hard & smart’)

The financial anchors

All sorts of debts or a lack of a freedom fund (savings). Be debt-free, as simple as that.

The physical anchors

“There is no special pill that can undo a lifetime of bad habits” so taking care of yourself comes first. Surely the best way to stay healthy (which I know) is doing sports.

The spiritual anchors

Faith is the firmest foundation one has. Whether one is religious or simply believes in their own powers, faith means strength. Since The Leap would consume all your energy, it is vital to give your aim every ounce of faith. No one else can or will do it on your behalf.

The heaviest and the rustiest anchor is this of regret. One could not live a life sitting with their back turned to the future, looking at the rearview window. Start from the deathbed and carry on to forming your daily tasks towards the big goal. Having a long-term plan is advisable, although I would personally like to call it a sketch, a vector. As Mike Tyson said: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’

How many punches in the face do we need to start acting?

*** For more inspiration on similar topics, please visit http://smilyanp.com/?cat=9

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The invisible jury

It is sad how important the opinion of the others seems to be. Regardless of what we think about the way we look, talk or dance – the others have the final say. The others are the invisible jury at all times.

You disagree?

How many times have you made the same joke that had fallen flat 2 times before that? Have you worn the dress they think makes you ‘a little bit’ fat? Do you feel uneasy when you want to quote something wise but can foresee the stream of judgment swiping you away? The others always find a way to control our lives, because they are more than just I. Millions of jury members and only one I. We have become people made of other peoples’ eyes – the way they see us – defines us. But all of a sudden: a doubt, an insight springs to mind: What if they are all wrong? What if it does not matter what they think of me?

Inspired by a beautiful morning in Bologna, I took my writing pad and went out. I saw a sunny bench, sat down and started writing. Shortly after, a man approached me, stammering: ‘Mmmmay I draw you?’

‘Me?’, I responded glowingly.

‘Yes, you.’, he confirmed (thankfully)

He sat next to me and started preparing. I carried on writing but was not even 1% into it. I was intrigued, I thought “I am somebody’s muse. I wonder how he sees me.” The man fished in his scruffy bag for some time. He took out a regular, lined pad. Nothing like a professional drawing paper.

“Maybe he is a fan of cubism or something. Or maybe it is a new art movement. Ok, wonderful, no need to worry – I am still his muse.”

I write shit. All my attention is engrossed in the outcome of the man’s painting. How do I look according to him? I fought the temptation to peak. Only with one eye. Only half an eye. Just a blink?

After five minutes of inhumane effort to defeat curiousity – that’s it.

And this is how I look like according to one of them.

The others

In this very moment I did hope art is subjective.

After attending Vipassana, it became crystal clear that attention should not be sought from the others, from outside. It is something we are all so attached to and thus when it is not there, for one reason or another, its lack causes suffering and misery.

The others would always be there, sometimes commending us, sometimes scolding us. Ultimately, it is not their fault we cannot accept criticism, or cannot live happily without their praise.

“There is no good or bad, only thinking makes it so”.

fresh pair of eyes

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The bare reality

After 2 years of fears, assumptions and excuses of all sorts, I have finally attended a 10-day Vipassana Meditation course.

What is Vipassana? I will simply use a recent life situation to explain.

A month ago I was about to leave the island of Malta, where I spent a beautiful year and a half. A badminton teammate gave me a stuffed donkey as a goodbye present. It was very unexpected. I started jumping up and down, making squeaky sounds of happiness. He was looking at me, quite perplexed.

‘Why on Earth are you reacting like this?’

‘I never expected a gift from you! It’s a sweet, fluffy donkey! Thank you so much (hugs and ear-piercing sounds again) Which means… I made an impact on your life!’

‘It’s just a donkey.’

‘No, don’t say that. You bought me a present because I meant something to you, I’ve made some kind of impression on you….!!!!’

‘Haha, I don’t understand. I just bought you a donkey. It is just a donkey.’

I ended up being disappointed – so the donkey is just a donkey that does not mean anything?

This is Vipassana. Seeing things as they are. Not as you would like them to be.

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It is an ancient meditation technique, which originated from India. The idea behind it is to observe the sensations within the framework of your own body and not react to them with craving (if the sensation is pleasant: subtle vibration), or aversion (if it hurts, itches, pulses etc.) The whole ideology of Buddha is based on the premise that you should only believe in what you experience, this becomes your own, tested reality.

Anapana is the so-called kindergarden of Vipassana. It is simply focusing on your own breathing, as it is. Natural breath is always with us, daily. No special arrangement is needed to practise Anapana. It is not a breathing technique (like Pranayama). The first 3 days we were observing our normal breath, as it is. Buddha chose the area below the nostrils, above the upper lip, for the sake of concentration. The smaller the area our attention is concentrated on, the more sensations we could feel, as the mind becomes sharper. By the third day I could feel the very touch of my breath, as I exhaled.

From Anapana to Vipassana

Sensations similarly to material’s properties (flammability, toxicity etc.) that occur during a chemical reaction, have the characteristic of arising and passing away. Then arising and passing away again. This means that if it hurts, the pain will eventually disappear. Impermanence is the law of nature.

On the fourth day of the course we were introduced to Adhitthana sitting (meaning strong determination): Not changing our position or opening our eyes for an hour.

We were asked to do this three times per day, an hour each.

We had to observe objectively every sensation that cropped up from head to feet and vice versa- and not react to it.

I have never felt such gross pain or itching. It was extremely difficult to remain equanimous and analyse different unpleasant sensations without ‘argh-ing’ or ‘phew-ing’ when they are over. Equally, it was curious to explore the mind pattern of craving and clinging to pleasant sensations, thus becoming irritated in their absence.

At the beginning of the course we were asked to undertake the following 5 precepts:

Abstain from killing

Abstain from stealing

Abstain from sexual activity

Abstain from telling lies

Abstain from all intoxicants

The above were very easy to keep, provided food was served, men and women were segregated, and there was a 10-day noble silence, so we could not tell any lies. 🙂

The only occasion on which I found it hard not to break two of the precepts was on the eighth day. It was during the last meditation for the day when I felt an awfully strong itching sensation on the top of my head. But I remained calm, tried to observe it, determined the areas where itching was stronger. Interestingly enough the centre of the itching was constantly moving. I had to open my eyes when I felt the itching sensation literally fell off my head.

It was an earwig. Happily marching its way on my meditation blanket, taking full advantage of my peace and harmony. I could not scream or talk. I could not kill it either. So I just gently removed it off my blanket and directed it to the fellow meditators. The one next to me has just opened her eyes as well. She was terrified but did not utter a word as well. We were both engrossed in the earwig’s movements. After a few minutes the earwig moved to the very front line and got under the blanket of another fellow meditator. Then we could both rest and sigh: Vipassana works – everything is impermanent 🙂

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The course is not a vacation. Not even close to a prison either. It is very hard work: work in isolation, without consolation and requiring systematic effort every day, every hour. No communication for 10 days with any of the other meditators, no smiling, no reading or writing, only hard work with one’s determination, discipline, past, future, sensations, miseries, joys etc.

It is extremely important to follow the rules from the Code of Discipline. But it was equally important for me to smile, without breaking the rules:

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Procrastination

While cutting tomatoes, I think about work.

I am back from a client meeting, I think about going to Japan.

I am in Italy for a short excursion, I dream about working in the wine industry.

Sadly, I talk to friends, while I think about my parents.

When I am with my parents, we talk about the past.

People often relate their happiness to the presence of another person, to some prerequisites (travelling, higher income, free time) and live with the future promise to become happy. One day – WHEN… IF…

Songs, articles, social norms, routine, movies, they all scream: ‘I wish YOU were here.’

And certainly one day we get to that point in life, when we utter, silently, almost scared to say it out loud, to ourselves:

I wish I were here.

The marketing, political and economic spheres benefit vastly from this lack of clear inner voice. When confused, people could be easily cornered. Manipulated.

Interesting revelations became apparent while reading through Seth Goddin’s post on happiness:

‘The question worth pondering is: are you seeking out the imperfect to justify your habit of being unhappy? Does something have to happen in the outside world for you to be happy inside?’

‘Marketers spend billions of dollars trying to create a connection between what we see in the mirror and our happiness, implying that others are judging us in a way that ought to make us unhappy.’

It is damn interesting how we perceive time and location. It rarely is ‘here and now’. The mind leaps to ‘there and then’. We postpone living, as if we could afford doing it forever. Surrounded by precious items, comfort-ensuring statements and a pile of plans, we proceed to the illusion we own something else but this very moment.

We own this moment. 🙂

We are rich.

However, every time we lose focus on ‘here and now’, we go spiritually bankrupt.

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God and the nail polish

I wasn’t interested neither in the price, nor in the quality. Just entered and asked for a French manicure. I had just started a new job and I had some serious qualms about my performance. My previous job was a total nightmare.

It was just when she grabbed my hand to start the procedure, when I realised I am in a gypsy beauty salon, in the very heart of Sofia. It was crammed with people, so there was no room for prejudice. Religious icons & amulets were hanging all over the place.

The manicurist caressed my hand and said ‘God… he knows his business well’.

‘Sorry, what?’, I replied startled by her words.

‘I see you’ve suffered a lot… but you must forgive.’

‘Maybe’, I reluctantly agreed to put an end to this inappropriate topic. I though ‘Great. Just got rid of the religious fanaticism in Malta to experience the new wave of Gypsianity in Bulgaria.’

‘I know that God exists! For example… I have a client who went to the US. She suddenly thought  about me and bought me nail polish. It turned out that there’s no such nail polish all over Europe! It is an ultra, mega quick-drying nail polish. And then tell me there’s no God! Of course he exists. He pointed her to choose this particular nail polish out of all that were available. And I thank Him!’

‘Yeah… maybe God is busy with other.. a bit more serious deeds.’

‘Oh, no, He takes care of the small things, and the big things, too! Two years ago He saved my mother from cancer. And I thank Him for that!’

Suddenly an elderly lady approached and told me, ‘It’s true, God exists!’. Then she pinched the manicurist and the two of them started laughing and exchanging some internal jokes.

‘This is my mother! And I thank Him. He saved her, so that we can tease each other!’

‘I really doubt this was his exact aim’, I thought to myself.

One hand was ready. My eyes were still tearing up with anxiety.

‘You must forgive. Who has hurt you was a bad person, but you surely can’t live with rage.’

I started hearing her. I thought I must be completely desperate and insane to even consider taking religious advice from a gypsy manicurist.

‘But you must look for God. He’s a gentleman, he won’t impose himself.’

‘You talk about Him as if you know him… personally.’

‘Of course I do. I sing in the church choir, I watch religious TV programmes, I even read the Bible once.’ She started jotting down some book titles and religious materials which she insisted I must take a look at.

I felt really sad I had to go. Although I was derisive at times, the manicurist did make me feel better. The focal principles in which I believed were all mentioned – the hope, the forgiveness and the ability to open one’s heart when one had been hurt. I smiled at her with understanding.

‘How much do I owe you?’

 7′ 

I paid.

While I was putting on my jacket my eyes ran over the price list.

‘French manicure  5′.

I went out of the gypsy beauty salon laughing out loud.

Maybe the price list only showed the basic price, minus the religious advice. God really watches over the nail polish & the French manicure……

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Shrinking of the Big Idea

Advertising agencies have always craved for the precious Big Idea: The point of differentiation which would lead them to award or client winning. The treasure hunt is fierce since creatives never speak about small and negligible ideas. And so the Big Idea is a single-minded message that could run across a handful of media channels – outstanding, disruptive and memorable. If it were big enough, then it would be rather neat and straightforward one-suit-all-channels-strategy.

Image

Much like Hemingway’s fisherman, who commenced his journey in the sea with the only aim to come back with a really Big Fish, advertisers place the Big Idea on a pedestal and chase it as if it is the Holy Grail. When ultimately, the fisherman caught a truly big marlin, on his way back to shore, sharks ate his catch and he docked his boat with the marlin’s skeleton left only.

When accounts discuss ideas with clients and then creatives fight for the bigness of their ideas with accounts and then competitors get to know about this certain creative twist that could turn the market upside down and eat our Idea like sharks ate The Marlin, are we left only with the Big Advertising idea skeleton during the brainstorming process?

Certainly, at least the skeleton of a big idea is also big.

But big became outdated. Also as an adjective it gives away quite limited information. It tells us nothing about quality or effectiveness or flexibility. Books are not judged upon their thickness. Otherwise, haikus would have been destined to fail.

Eastern philosophy also speaks of thin trees – they withstand the storms because they are able to bend over. Big idea is solid as an oak tree. It looks solemn but it’s not flexible enough. And how could one ignore agility in today’s fast world context?

When powers shifted to consumers through social media empowerment, big lost its greatness.

Attention span is scarce and should be deserved in social media channels. In the era of earned attention, still money can’t buy us customer’s love or long-term attention. Advertisers need another pair of ears – to be able to listen to the customer’s voice and respond with relevant and consistent creative strategy.

Once upon a time, David Ogilvy asked a question to determine how big the idea is:

‘Could it be used for 30 years?’ 

The only problem with this question is that now we need 30 small ideas for different communication channels to be able to keep up with the market not for 30 years but for a single one.

Long-term plans are obsolete, as they can’t survive in an innovative and fluid market.

Smart, relevant and flexible is the new big. 

Decisive perception

At the beginning of the class we were asked what we expected to learn in those English lessons. We all wrote unnecessary long list of demands just to stand out – ‘grammar’, ‘improve our listening skills’ etc.

Then our teacher read us a story. Two people were going to Athens. On their way they met a man and asked him about his opinion of Athens. He told them it was unpleasant, noisy and rather dirty. Not a very encouraging description, the two people thought. Further down their way, they met another man and asked him the same. He elaborately depicted Athens as the best possible city one could visit – full of history, spirit and beauty. The Athens visitors-to-be were confused by those polarised opinions. Luckily, they encountered a third person on their way to this Athens mystery. The wise man told them: ‘Athens is what you expect it to be.’

Momentarily before my eyes emerges the concept of ‘The dip’ by Seth Goddin: Being in an abyss where there is the strong probability for your things to pan out if you play your cards right. The Dip concerns relationships, jobs and everything worth doing, of course at the expense of a little risk, a lot of patience and a bunch of very well-developed guts – for the sake of the gut feeling. The latter needed for the daily decision-making when you are in the Dip.

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Is the Dip like the Athens moral story – what we expect it to be? Sure, it does depend on outer factors as well but essentially, when we are in a sort of abyss, do our expectations influence the longevity of our Dip residence and its successful exit?

I think yes.

As discussed in the book, corporations aim premature quitting: not at the right time but in the middle of an either seemingly hopeless crisis or at too late a stage. We are encouraged to give in during the process. It is also a human reflex to let go of something/somebody when it hurts.

However, expectations could beat logical arguments and reflexes at their own game. When one expects the abyss is only a step, a cradle to success and an obligatory gap between start and mastery, the whole misery factor collapses. When one accepts reality and starts dealing with it, rather than chaotically fighting it back, depressing or panicking: The Abyss turns into a Dip – and suddenly there is a way out. One relocates their resources from investing them in various cul-de-sacs into the beneficial energy depot. The high water river of misdirected energy gradually becomes a channeled stream.

My insight from contemplating on the Dip, the Athens story and general decision-making is that the perception of right and wrong could sometimes catch us off guard. Exactly what happened with me and one of my English language students the other day.

We were discussing the difference between present simple and present continuous lying mainly in the progressive action, happening at the time of speaking. After a lot of theory and exercises, I gave my student the following sentence for her to determine whether it is right or wrong:

‘Look! This man over there tries to unlock your car.’

My student told me the sentence was wrong. Immense pride suffused me. ‘So I’ve managed to explain well, and she knows it should be ‘is trying’ – present continuous. Alas!’

‘And why do you think so?’ I asked to fully enjoy this moment of glory.

‘Because it’s wrong! Obviously it is wrong somebody else to try to unlock your car. This is a crime!’

The Dip is what you perceive it to be.