Monthly Archive 2018-03-30

Byrobaston

Sleep Well

It’s well established and well documented that one of the key wellbeing and performance boosting activities is…

Sleep zzzzzzz

It’s also a powerful Zoom-Out enabler in that it takes a cognitive effort to Zoom-Out and if you are tired, then your ability to do this is diminished.

Sleep could also be a “keystone habit” because when we have had enough sleep we:

  • have more mental energy – important for Zoom-Out activity
  • are more likely to exercise
  • have greater self-discipline – so tend to eat better for example
  • get less frustrated by setbacks in the day (higher resilience)
  • find it easier to get through a demanding day – one that demands mental/physical energy and alertness

Sleep as Antidepressant

Not only can sleep boost happiness, it can be more effective in some cases than antidepressants. Consider this  quote from the book “Lost Connections”

Irving and Guy realized—using these, the real figures—they could calculate how much better the people on antidepressants were doing than the people on sugar pills. Scientists measure the depth of someone’s depression using something named the Hamilton scale, which was invented by a scientist named Max Hamilton in 1959. The Hamilton scale rages from 0 (where you’re skipping along merrily) to 51 (where you’re jumping in front of trains). To give you a yardstick: you can get a six-point leap in your Hamilton score if you improve your sleeping patterns. What Irving found is that, in the real data that hadn’t been run through a PR filter, antidepressants do cause an improvement in the Hamilton score—they do make depressed people feel better. It’s an improvement of 1.8 points.

Irving furrowed his brow. That’s a third less than getting better sleep. It was absolutely startling.

– Hari, Johann. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions – Bloomsbury Publishing

So getting better sleep in some cases can be three times more effective than anti-depressants. It should be noted that Hari does point out that individual cases do vary and that anti-depressants also have a short-lived but potentially powerful placebo effect and can in times of crisis provide a useful role. But the point here is to highlight the relative size of the impact of getting a good nights sleep.

Jordon Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Actually, this paints a one-dimensional picture of a fascinating person and increasingly cult figure. He also draws upon philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology and religion. He’s also the only member of the research-oriented Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto that also has a clinical practice.

In Peterson’s latest book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”, he describes how important sleep is for mental health. In the following extract, from “RULE 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back”, Peterson is talking about keeping anxiety at bay – or more generally, walking the line between Order and Chaos – a key Peterson theme in this book and his other works.”Erratic habits of sleeping and eating can interfere with its function <keeping anxiety at bay>. Uncertainty can throw it for a loop. The body, with its various parts, needs to function like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Every system must play its role properly, and at exactly the right time, or noise and chaos ensue. It is for this reason that routine is so necessary. The acts of life we repeat every day need to be automatized. They must be turned into stable and reliable habits, so they lose their complexity and gain predictability and simplicity. This can be perceived most clearly in the case of small children, who are delightful and comical and playful when their sleeping and eating schedules are stable, and horrible and whiny and nasty when they are not.It is for such reasons that I always ask my clinical clients first about sleep. Do they wake up in the morning at approximately the time the typical person wakes up, and at the same time every day? If the answer is no, fixing that is the first thing I recommend. It doesn’t matter so much if they go to bed at the same time each evening, but waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity. Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer has unpredictable daily routines. The systems that mediate negative emotion are tightly tied to the properly cyclical circadian rhythms. The next thing I ask about is breakfast. I counsel my clients to eat a fat and protein-heavy breakfast as soon as possible after they awaken (no simple carbohydrates, no sugars, as they are digested too rapidly, and produce a blood-sugar spike and rapid dip). This is because anxious and depressed people are already stressed, particularly if their lives have not been under control for a good while. Their bodies are therefore primed to hypersecrete insulin, if they engage in any complex or demanding activity. If they do so after fasting all night and before eating, the excess insulin in their bloodstream will mop up all their blood sugar. Then they become hypoglycemic and psycho-physiologically unstable. 22 All day. Their systems cannot be reset until after more sleep. I have had many clients whose anxiety was reduced to subclinical levels merely because they started to sleep on a predictable schedule and eat breakfast.”- Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Penguin Books

That last sentence is worth repeating, considering it comes from one of the worlds leading clinical psychologists and practising psychiatrists:

“I have had many clients whose anxiety was reduced to subclinical levels merely because they started to sleep on a predictable schedule and eat breakfast.”

Sleep and loneliness

Did you know there’s a link between loneliness and sleep patterns? Returning to Johann Hari’s brilliant book, Lost Connections, one of the connections we have lost is effective and meaningful social connections. He talks about how the Internet came along at a time when society was becoming increasingly fragmented, increasingly about the individual and with less community (i.e. after the 80s and for decades before that). So the Internet appeared to provide a solution, to help us become more connected again. Hari writes:

“As I researched this book, I kept coming across this apparent contradiction: I was traveling across the world learning about how we had become profoundly disconnected—and then I would open my laptop, to be shown that we are more connected now than we have ever been at any point in human history. A huge amount has been written about the way that our mental migration into cyberspace—our spending so much time online—is making us feel. But as I began to dig into this, I realized that we have been missing the most important point. The Internet arrived promising us connection at the very moment when all the wider forces of disconnection were reaching a crescendo.”

“Before the Internet addiction, they had felt lost and isolated in the world. Then the online world offered these young people things that they craved but that had vanished from the environment—such as a goal that matters to you, or a status, or a tribe. “

“The Internet was born into a world where many people had already lost their sense of connection to each other. The collapse had already been taking place for decades by then. The web arrived offering them a kind of parody of what they were losing—Facebook friends in place of neighbors, video games in place of meaningful work, status updates in place of status in the world. The comedian Marc Maron once wrote that “every status update is a just a variation on a single request: ‘Would someone please acknowledge me?’ ”

“After all his years studying loneliness, John Caccioppo told me the evidence is clear: social media can’t compensate us psychologically for what we have lost—social life. But more than that—our obsessive use of social media is an attempt to fill a hole, a great hollowing, that took place before anyone had a smartphone. It is—like much of our depression and anxiety—another symptom of our current crisis.”

– Hari, Johann. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Bloomsbury Publishing

Back to the connection between loneliness and sleep… Hari also writes:

“There’s one neat way to test it <loneliness> . Anywhere in the world where people describe being lonely, they will also—throughout their sleep—experience more of something called “micro-awakenings.” These are small moments you won’t recall when you wake up, but in which you rise a little from your slumber. All other social animals do the same thing when they’re isolated too. The best theory is that you don’t feel safe going to sleep when you’re lonely, because early humans literally weren’t safe if they were sleeping apart from the tribe. You know nobody’s got your back—so your brain won’t let you go into full sleep mode. Measuring these “micro-awakenings” is a good way of measuring loneliness.

– Hari, Johann. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Bloomsbury Publishing

So if you feel in any sense lonely, by working on face-to-face social connections, a dominant happiness booster in it’s own right, you are likely to also improve the quality of your sleep. And the better you sleep, you are likely to have more energy for life and cultivating your social connections. So this is a potentially positive reinforcing loop.

Sleep as a Zoom-Out power tool

As mentioned in the opening to this article, proactively Zooming-Out and Zooming-In in a helpful way requires cognitive effort. This effort can vary a lot too depending on how challenging the situation is and how familiar a particular Zoom-Out or Zoom-In is to you. A good way to ensure you start the day stocked with a good supply of cognitive energy is to get a good nights sleep.

Sleep is also a powerful Zoom-Out tool as well. I often speak of Hot and Cold perspectives. Hot ones are those forged in the furnace of high emotion – often negative emotion. This is common in conflict situations for example. Literally “sleeping on it” to “cool off” is a great way to get a broader and more balanced perspective. Better decisions can be made before taking action, thus avoiding rash and unhelpful action that may make us feel good at that moment but in the bigger picture do ourselves and others more harm.

How long is a good nights sleep?

Short answer = 7 – 9 hours for an adult

The amount increases as you decrease the age. For teens it can be up to 10 hours and increases quite a lot as you go further back in age.

So it does vary with age and per individual. It makes sense to aim for the higher end of any estimate and if you wake up before, awake and refreshed then get up.

I hope you sleep well.

Further Reading:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_sleep_the_most_important_happiness_habit

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/advice/a18465/happiness-project-sleep-well/

https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Byrobaston

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the Zoom-Out team!

We hope you and your family have a wonderful break!

It doesn’t look like we will be seeing much sunshine this Easter and some parts of the UK are expecting snow! So here is a little sunshine from us.

Byrobaston

The Greatest Gift

What’s the greatest gift you can give to someone? The greatest gift you can give to everyone you know and everyone you meet? A gift you can give anytime without any preparation? A gift that costs you nothing?

I wish I had realised this, or been told about this ‘gift’  this when I was young. I would most certainly have lived a more effective and fulfilling life to this point. My relationships would have been enhanced enormously, not just with friends and family but with everyone I work with or meet. I’ve actually been aware of some people that are naturally good at giving this gift and perhaps you are one of them.

OK, so what is this gift?

This is the gift of attention.

To give someone your complete and undivided attention.

This applies to your friends, family, your kids, your work colleagues and friends, your stakeholders, your boss, the person driving the bus, the person at the checkout, the person checking your ticket on the train, well, you get the idea – everyone!

Attention control is power

Zoom-Out Principle #06 states: “Attention control is power”. We are not talking about the power wielded by some dark overlord over their minions – “Kneel before my mighty attention! WHA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!”. No. Not that. No, this is the power to optimise your reality. The power to lead a more effective and fulfilling life.

Attention is at the core of Zoom-Out. It’s about paying attention to what we pay attention to. In this case, paying attention to people and paying attention to if, when and how we pay attention to people.

Cultivating finer control over what you pay attention to and proactively controlling your attention is an incredibly useful skill. Perhaps one of the most useful human skills of all. To get philosophical for a moment, this touches on the topic of ‘free will’. Whether free will is real or an illusion – and some of the greatest minds on the planet are convinced it’s an illusion (e.g. see Sam Harris on free will) – the more control we have over our attention, the more control we have over our lives – control over our personal reality. Whether that control is real or illusory, I would propose that in a pragmatic sense, it’s incredibly helpful.

People are the universe’s gift to you 

A Universal / Social Zoom-Out is relevant and helpful at this point.

When I step back (Zoom-Out) and ask myself “What’s the most important thing in life? The thing that makes it all worthwhile?” – it’s people.

That most certainly includes the workplace. One of the things I focus on as an Agile Coach and Happy Work Coach is that people are the most important aspect of any business. Focusing on (i.e. giving attention to) results at the expense of people is completely self-defeating. It’s people, and only people, that produce the results!

On a personal level, if people are the most important thing in life, how much of my day do I intend to focus on people? People instead of writing that report? People instead of process? People instead of tools? People instead of doing my admin? People instead of entertaining myself with a book or a movie? This is a good question to ask yourself when planning out your day.

Friend or Foe?

Another useful “mind hack” here is to aim to view everyone you encounter for the first time as a friend and not a potential “Foe”.  Our ancient brain and instincts can trigger defensive reactions in us. Even territorial ones. Being mindful of this and counteracting the effect is another useful skill. How much attention we pay to a person and particularly the type of attention we give, can be very much influenced by the frame through which we view them – “Friend or Foe?”. Like our legal system, aim to assume Friend (innocent) until proven otherwise.

Types of attention

Following on from this, pay attention to the type of attention we give to people. In the modern, digital, always-connected age, it’s very easy to give people attention via text, instant messaging/chat, email, social media, etc.

But there is nothing more powerful and valuable than face-to-face attention and interaction. (For any Agilists reading this, it’s interesting to note here that this is an explicit part of the Agile Manifesto!).

I am guilty of this quite a lot. I can be on an instant messaging system typing away, communicating with a colleague who is sat two desks away from me, or even next to me! OK sometimes, it’s being respectful of not demanding their attention back, so they can respond in their own time, and this certainly can be the best thing to do.  But often,  it would be far better to stand up walk over and give them my full attention, face to face.

There are countless articles written on the topic of effective communication and how to greet someone. They often point out:

  • Eye contact is key – maintaining eye contact with the person but not in an overly intense way – a soft gaze not a glaring stare!
  • Body language – by aware of your body language – face the person full on – be open, inviting and non-threatening – no crossed arms (unless their arms are crossed – see Mirroring next)
  • Mirroring – from NLP and other sources, this is matching the other person’s tone and volume of voice, their rate of speech and body language. This tends to put people more at ease and feel good about the interaction and your attention.

Cultivating attention control

Attention control is at the heart of Zoom-Out. It’s also foundational to Mindfulness. So including some mindful meditation in your life is a great way to not only cultivate mindfulness, it’s a great way to boost your ability to Zoom-Out and Zoom-In in a helpful way. I will write an article on this topic soon.

Leadership style

One of the topics that really fascinates me is that of Leadership Style. I am a trained Coach and it was interesting to learn and realise that Coaching is a leadership style as much as it is a tool. Underpinning coaching is the act of giving someone your complete and undivided attention (part of the coaching presence). Truly and fully listening to the person. Listening to understand. Switching off the voice in our own head. Paying attention to the person in front of you and not formulating what you are going to say next, waiting for your turn to say something. Immersing yourself in that person’s reality as much as possible, not your own. And this approach is not confined to a “Coaching Session”, it’s style of leadership we can use to great effect much of the time. We can use this in a work setting – with people that report to you, with your boss, with your boss’s boss, with colleagues. We can also use this outside work, with our kids, with our friends, with anyone. It’s simply a way of ‘being’ with a person. Giving them the gift of attention.

To give is to receive

As the saying goes, “To give is to receive”. So as well as this being the greatest gift, it will also benefit yourself enormously. At times it can take a lot of effort but it will be worth it. It can make you feel really good too!

Why not reflect on this and think about the people in your life and how much attention will you give them? And what form will that attention take?

Byrobaston

Read Obituaries

When I was young and living at home with my parents, we had the local newspaper delivered every day. I was once a “Paper Boy” myself to earn some extra pocket money – it was also a rite of passage in my school days.

The daily ritual of reading the paper would invariably end up with either my mum or dad declaring that someone famous was now dead. I would often complain, stating that is was very morbid to be poring over the obituaries every day. I just thought it was very dark and a bit weird at the time – hardly entertainment!

Like many things when we grow older, we begin to appreciate behaviours in our parents we once thought odd or unfathomable. Reading obituaries, as it turns out, is a very powerful and inspirational tool – who’d have guessed? As well as the focus on death as a reminder of our own mortality, it’s also a reminder of a life lived, often to the full.

I was re-reading one of my favourite books on creativity recently, Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work” (sequel to “Steal Like an Artist”) and he has a chapter dedicated to this topic. He writes:

One day you’ll be dead. Most of us prefer to ignore this most basic fact of life, but thinking about our inevitable end has a way of putting everything into perspective. – Austin Kleon, “Show Your Work” p25

That sounds uncannily like a Zoomologist – almost verbatim how I have written before. Austin goes on to write – and I love this – about near-death experiences and not being so brave:

Obituaries are like near-death experiences for cowards. Reading them is a way for me to think about death while keeping it at arms length. – Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work”  p27

As I write I just remembered my time working at the BBC on a new version of the BBC homepage. This had an “obituary module” which could be activated by editorial to link to the obituary of a famous person when they died. These obituaries were pre-written and ready to go at a moments notice. I used to wonder how famous you had to be to have an obituary written about you while you were still alive!

I think this is a great Zoom-Out tool – even better and more accessible than “Cemetary Walking”. In Austin’s own words:

Try it: Start reading the obituaries every morning. Take inspiration from the people who muddled through life before you – they all started out as amateurs, and they got where they were going by making do with what they were given, and having the guts to put themselves out there. Follow their example. – Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work”  p29

Why not bookmark one of the obituary newspaper columns now – for example:

https://www.theguardian.com/tone/obituaries

And how about this for starters:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/stephen-hawking-obituary

If your life’s journey is a creative one, I can highly recommend these two books. They are simply inspirational and bursting with life and practical advice.

Byrobaston

The Blue Marble

This image literally caused the whole world to Zoom-Out.

The Blue Marble is an image of the Earth made on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft travelling toward the moon. The photograph was taken at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 miles) from the Earth’s surface. It is one of the most reproduced images in human history.

Byrobaston

Attention Bubble

UNFINISHED

Life often demands that we give our attention to unpleasant things. Like smoke that contaminates the air we breathe, sometimes the best strategy, when we can’t avoid it, is to contain it.

WHY do it?

When we need to deal with a prolonged and potentially unpleasant matter, the extent to which this triggers negative emotions and negatively impacts your life is strongly influenced by the amount of attention we give to it. For example, consider doing your critical admin or accounts, moving home,  looking for a new job, going through a divorce, etc.

It also depends of course on the type of attention we give it – the perspective we hold. Here we are concerned solely with the amount of attention and limiting the extent to which that impinges on the rest of our daily life. In this way, we maintain balance, optimise our performance and maximise our wellbeing, day-to-day.

In summary: “Minimise the blast radius.”

WHAT is it?

The notion of an “attention bubble” aka “Zoom-In Bubble” is that we place bounds around our attention to a particular thing. Bounds in time and space. So we decide when and where we should be paying attention to it. The rest of the time we can free our minds and attention to focus on other things.

Attention is like breathing life into something. Deprive it of air and it’s not alive. Like a flame that burns, deprive it of oxygen and the flame goes out.

HOW to do it

Here’s how to put this tool to use.

1. Be clear about the goal

First of all be clear about the goal. The goal may evolve but you should have a strong sense of how important it is, any time constraints and the approach you need to take.

What’s the value of achieving the goal?

What’s the impact of not achieving the goal?

How will you know when you are done?

Writing down your goal with a set of “success criteria” or “done criteria” is a really good way to check and help get clarity.

This will ensure it only gets the amount of attention it deserves. And ensure it gets attention in time if there are time constraints.

2. Identify steps, especially the first step

….

3. Create the Bubble – constrain your attention to a time and place 

…. Pick and create an effective time and place to pay attention to it.

… Timebox to a time each day or week or whatever works.

4. Protect your Bubble

… Don’t allow any other distractions during timebox.

… Outside timebox forget about it.

5. Maintain your Bubble

… Set a reminder so you don’t forget.

SOCIAL & DIGITAL MEDIA

Be mindful of your email, chat and social media usage. Might they pop your attention bubble? Email and social media are slippery attention slides… they can easily distract us and take us off down rabbit holes when we would rather not.

Here’s a tip for email for example.

In gmail (Google mail), you can create a label to represent a bubble, e.g. “House-move”. Then you can create a filter to match any emails relating to this topic or from associated people, and set matching emails to be labelled with “House-move” and also crucially, to bypass your inbox as they arrive. This is paramount to bypassing your attention – at least until the relevant time. Hey presto, you don’t get distracted by these messages when checking your inbox for other reasons. And when you are in your “House move” attention bubble, process the emails under this label and deal with them there and then only.

Byrobaston

Martian Postcard

A writer friend of mine recently gave me a sheet of A4 paper and said, “Here, read this martian poem”.  I expected to see some script in an alien dialect with undecipherable characters.

What was written on the paper was the brilliant poem by Craig Raine quoted below. This turns out to be one example of martian poetry. A visit to the planet Wikipedia reveals:

“‘Martian poetry’ was a minor movement in British poetry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which everyday things and human behaviour are described in a strange way, as if by a visiting Martian who does not understand them. Poets most closely associated with it are Craig Raine and Christopher Reid.

The term Martianism has also been applied more widely to include fiction as well as to poetry. The word martianism is, coincidentally, an anagram of one of its principal exponents, Martin Amis, who promoted the work of both Raine and Reid in the Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman.”

Here’s the poem that was my first ‘close encounter’ of the written ‘3rd kind’:

A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings –

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside –
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone’s pain has a different smell.

At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves –
in colour, with their eyelids shut.

– Craig Raine, 1979

Byrobaston

Pale Blue Dot

The greatest selfie ever taken? From a Zoom-Out perspective, certainly. Also the greatest distance – you’d need a very long selfie-stick indeed to beat this one.

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometres (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU), as part of the Family Portrait series of images of the Solar System.

In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight scattered by the camera’s optics.
Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of astronomer and author Carl Sagan.

… in case you missed it…

Carl Sagan’s Lecture

During a public lecture at Cornell University in 1994, Carl Sagan presented the image to the audience and shared his reflections on the deeper meaning behind the idea of the Pale Blue Dot:

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

— Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University, October 13, 1994

Sagan also titled his 1994 book “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space” after the photograph.

Byrobaston

Out of Time – a Zoom-Out Parable

A Zoomologists tale…

From up here, Jim could see for miles. In fact, as the cliche goes, he could exclaim, “I can see my house from here!”. Well actually, he could see every house he’d ever lived in. The terraced home in London that he lived in until the age of eight when his dad landed a job at a chemical company in Germany. The house in Dusseldorf where he stayed until the age of sixteen. Every house in fact, until the very last where he lived to the grand old age of 92. His final dwelling place and resting place. For Jim died peacefully in his sleep at 3:33 am on February 24th. That’s a few moments ago by the way. Although time is now not what it was. Or wasn’t what it is now. When you are out of time, time takes on the ultimate significance. Undeniable. When you are out of time, time loses its meaning. When you have both run out of time and stepped out of time, there’s no more time and time is no more.

Time is now an echo of a life once lived. But a life lived to the full. A life forged by the person that lived it. Not a passenger. Jim was up-front, grasping the controls, driving the vehicle of his life’s journey.

You see, Jim was a ‘Zoomologist’. No matter which house served as his residence, he recognised that his reality was largely of his own construction. That he resided within his own personal reality and that he was completely responsible for the furniture. Obtained not from Ikea but from Idea. From the raw material of thought that occupied the space between his ears.

Responsible for the layout, for the clutter, for who and what he invited in, for its upkeep. Responsible for the windows and curtains. Responsible for how much light he allowed in.

A Zoom-Out Parable