a new year is always near for someone…

“…it is likely that there are at least several dozen, if not hundreds, of examples of cultures and civilizations that have recognized the new calendar differently throughout history

🗓A new year for who?🌎🌏🌍👀

1st January 2023: the first day of the new? For you maybe, but not all. Many civilised people do not mark this day as the first of a new year. I knocked on the door of my new friend, ChatGPT, and asked it how many alternative dates the New Year can be, “…it is likely that there are at least several dozen, if not hundreds, of examples of cultures and civilizations that have recognized the new calendar differently throughout history“. At least several dozen! Wow! And with a little coaxing ChatGPT offered many examples. You may be interested in the vastness and the range: I have roughly divided the answers – listed ancient and modern – January to December. It is to be noted that a new year is always nearby for someone…

ancient civilisations

  • Aztec calendar – February – sun god, Huitzilopochtli.
  • ancient Mesopotamia – spring – festival of Akitu.
  • ancient Rome – March 1 – the festival of Anna Perenna.
  • Persian calendar – Spring – Nowruz
  • Maya civilization – August -the heliacal rising of the star Sirius.
  • ancient Egypt – September – marked by the flooding of the Nile.
  • ancient Greek calendar – September – the goddess of agriculture, Demeter.
  • Inca calendar – December – solstice.

here and now

  • Chinese calendar – January 21 and February 20 – depending on the lunar calendar.
  • Vietnamese calendar – January or February – Tet
  • Korean calendar ~ February – Seollal
  • Tibetan calendar – February or March – Losar
  • Baha’i calendar ~ March – first day of the month of Naw Ruz
  • Zoroastrian calendar – March or April – Nowruz.
  • Hindu (Ugadi); Buddhist (Songkran) – April: Thai (Songkran); Telugu (Ugadi); Punjabi (Baisakhi); Tamil (Puthandu); Marathi (Gudi Padwa); Bengali (Pohela Boishakh); Cambodian (Choul Chnam Thmey); Burmese (Thingyan); Lao (Pii Mai); Nepali (Bisket Jatra); Sinhalese (Aluth Avurudda)
  • Islamic calendar – first day of the month of Muharram (July 30, 2023).
  • Coptic calendar – September 11 – (Nayrouz); Ethiopian (Enkutatash)
  • Jewish calendar – September or October – Rosh Hashanah.

2023, and still seeking to be

A new year, and a new view. Learning perhaps from past years and wiser heads. The ancient few are now a scholarly many, but the settled answers are fewer now than ever. Listening to a podcast via Plum Village last night, reminded me of the simplicity of insight. Simply a matter of listening keenly, looking more intently, and holding onto nothing. Or at least nothing more than knowing there are other points of views. These teachings too are all far from original – originating many times from many places – but I am still necessarily and constantly reminded of this anew.

How many times is this said but not heard? I read it often via Socratic origins – for he knew well enough the little he knew. An enlightened other gave the first of eight Buddhist noble paths as the Right View. In my own university training I am warned of post-hoc fallacy, e.g., mistaking causation when there is only correlation. Yet here I am, presiding over my PhD claims to know conflict and dispute, as if it can be a truth known only to the few. How many times more will it be said, “know only that you know nothing“? How many more times will it be said, but still without my attention to the why. Said with my looking only at the who, or the how? 2023, a year of new learning, and much more yet to undo.

What then, am I so sure about? So sure that I cannot be wrong? This will perhaps be my New Year task. One to uncover, bring forward, unmask. Yet even here, by what measure has the last year now past? Dare I look so far in, to knock at the cultural foundations from which I now build from at last? Still so unsure I am worthy of that task.

Firstly, I am now sure I was wrong. Or had at least needlessly strayed too long from my path. Building a career, and a home, but to no end. I now have no career. I am selling my home. I seek better understanding by degrees. Perhaps I was right, before. I lived moderately enough. Served a purpose, even if it was not my own. Managed conflict by doing, not sat in my study. Safely contained within a white-collar community. Perhaps the better way is indeed revenue growth, paid service, and that predictable security.

Secondly, I am sure I am now right. Even in knowing I do not know, is affirmation to which I have no sight. Yet here I sit, seeking to gift myself more time at that wheel. Reading other peoples’ best work, and learning that skill as a more critical task. Seeking less solutions but better ways to ask. My platform is being reset. Doing things I had long-since categorised, and designated as regret. If I am to knock at my grounding now, that is closer to my foundation stone — but founded on something unmet: something unknown.

That is what 2023 is to me. My ongoing attempt to change for the better, whilst enduring such endless dissonance. Seeking to know I do not know. Yet still seeking to empower and do. Learning new ideas, new skills, applying them all endlessly. Am I now on the right path? Was I better off, being richer but less well? Who knows? Why even ask? That question seems well beyond me…

Leading by example

Winning hearts and minds

We are about to turn a European country into a guerrilla buffer zone. That seems to be the (lack of) plan. Pretty despicable by all sides, and the worst-case outcome for Putin who I assume still favours that outcome to an overt NATO alliance war.

SWIFT may be a symbollic gesture. It is still a more meaningful gesture than the symbollic words and bluster offered so far. All nationalities weighing up economic priorities are sharing the shameful hesitation that Putin was counting on. And denying the early moral support “swift” action would have offered to the people of Ukraine.

This is the overt and globally supported economic action. Whatever is covert as forces and weapons on the ground is not what is putting hope into hearts and minds. SWIFT is the tangible actions that fearful Ukrainian people can see. Ironically slow is this response.

Enough of the powderpuff words that us armchair patriots desire. Time to test the hypobole of contingent planning, not just the rhetoric of resolve.

Original LinkedIn comment here

Is distraction good for you?

Distraction as an action, not a reaction

I am constantly distracted, when I want to be. My early years school reports concluded it was a trait to tame. But these days it is quite intentional. Or at least with my adult brain, I kid myself the same. Because we are each distracted whether we like to be or not.

As I continue to stretch my understanding of projects, and of people, and the paradigms that connect them both, so the distractions constantly bombard my mind. Not that I am unusual. It is the natural tendency of all of us. Part of our innate complexity, the brain’s counterpoint, constantly optioneering. It is only the awareness of this fact that we get to change.

We can train a warrior-like discipline. Learn to control urges and withstand pain. But there is more to this than will-power, at least if we want to be more than just a summation of sub-routines to repeat and engrain.

This is what we can do when meditating. We are taking interest in distraction. Even if that interest is just intending means to not be distracted. Or, we may be learning to positions ourselves behind distraction, sitting along-side it, or taking perspective from it. We may simply be learning to confront it, or finds ways to calm it. Both ancient practices and modern science are informing us we need to spend as much time outwardly focused as we do inwardly aware.

This is also what we do when we communicate. We invite, or attempt to initiate, distraction. We are presenting new perspective to another. We are receiving new perspective from another. We may be sharing or discovering new perspectives with each other. Meditating is one example of an active means of understanding this. Communication is an active way of doing much the same beyond our individual minds.

A distraction reaction, in action

By way of example of this in practice, I offer an observation I wrote in passing in a post on LinkedIn today. At the time, I had been reviewing some documents for work. On my mind were preparations for exams for my MSc in January. Yet my eyes and hands conspired to click onto LinkedIn. Subconsciously, my brain was asking for a dopamine hit to feed the addiction that now claims us all. So this was itself a distraction from the tasks upon my desk.

This is most pertinent to those who say yes too much. It’s important to find yourself doing so, and consider why. If being helpful is your curse, consider what you are not able to do because of all you have agreed to do. Crucially, check if the things you cannot now do are actually more important. Even more importantly, be honest with yourself and challenge your answer. Because behind all of this may be fear of that bigger thing. The more important thing. The thing that is harder to say yes to, maybe closer to your goal. Being busy serving others without clarity of why this is your best path, may be taking a heavy long-term toll.

Chances are the one thing someone has asked you to do that challenges you the most, is the one thing you find reason to say no to.

Saying no more often is step two. Step one is saying yes to those rarer opportunities that you doubt you can do, and that people less regularly request.

Step three is finding your own yes. Then its other people that think twice about saying no, to you.

My observations on LinkedIn 22 Dec 2021

This was my response to a poll on LinkedIn, asking “are you a “YES” person? How often do you say NO?”

It was only from responding to this post, and then returning to a specific query I was fielding, that brought both items together. The recurring project problem I was looking at was one part feeling obliged to say “yes” to even more formal reporting, when their better perspective could be offered by doing more, and reporting less. Which therefore required them to find constructive ways of saying “no”.

Learn how to channel your distractions

This is what we do in every moment of every day. We manage distraction, demands of attention, but in doing so we encourage a lateral connectivity. Each brain is wired slightly differently, nature makes this inevitably the way. We are the aggregation of our experience, and no two are therefore the same. The machinations of experiences creating happenstances that a more mechanised and optimised singular focus would not.

We also have much going on within the brain that is intentionally acting without our awareness. There is no conscious decision-making in temperature control or heart-beat, but nor is there is cognitive function of reading, or recoiling from something hot. We may not even need the brain at all to regulate the gut. We are however, a rarity of biological sets of processes to have some illusion of awareness at all. It is this awareness that enables each of us to compare. To be situationally aware. And by our abstraction of the real, both mull over internally but also externally share.

This is where much of the psychological, philosophical, and neuroscience debate still rages on. There is still plenty of room too for the debates of ethical, moral, theological, and physical. Objective, subjective, or existential.

For me, these are each fascinating discussions and debates. Some have been ebbing and flowing for 2,500 years. It is the cause of much of the distraction I now welcome every day. For it is this awareness of the perspectival, the conflicting, and the nuanced, that keeps me at my desk. Typing away.

Relate better to your distractions. Learn when to say “yes”, and when to say “no”. It is just part of the happenstance we may invite but not intend, in our human way.

Excuse my ignorance

Einstein’s curse

My meditative practice this morning turned into a lingering abstraction over breakfast. A trap of thought I needed to write down in order to unwind. As a release of tension, or as indigestion. Both may suit. Consider this a musing. A diary entry or placeholder. A journal entry that escaped.

That he was almost right. Almost complete. But his schema fails at the boundary cases of his paradigm. Space and time, or more correctly spacetime.

The Big Bang sits as a beginning. A paradigm that sits within itself. From which spacetime emerges and is contained. It is the beginning of change and of matter. Dynamics. The temporary. The paradigm of the transitional.

Physics now wrestling with the remainder. The parts of the indivisible whole that remained when we categorised what is beyond categorical. The whole. Or the hole. The subset of a meta physics, that which has relative place in time.

Infinities of possibility. Itself an analogy of the paradigm within which we are trapped. A hint at the boundary case we cannot escape. But within which we are thereby condemned to have or to be.

To even ask what is beyond is to fall back into the trap. To not ask is to be blind to possibility. To ask what sits amidst us in the dark. Or what pulls our light in. Or what is parallel to all universal norms. All notional paradigms each informed by the limitations of our constraints. Of course we fall with Newton. A course outlined by Galileo. Our relativity necessarily coordinate and squared. Why would subatomic reality care for our boundary case of space and time? Revealing one or other but never both. The coordinate translation is our prison. And ours alone.

But that is fine to work with. I’m not sure I understand the fundamentals of anything at these extremes. Nor is it my place in space or time to download all preexisting code and add a few lines of my own. I’ve tried, and failed – so far. I’m asking much more limited sets of questions. Contained within a prison of one mind, amidst a sea of others. Each translating one to another our singular experience in shared space but across a human expansion beyond one experiential time. A unique gift to one repeating closed system that connects to others. By memory and abstraction. Change is our construct. Whether intended or not. I’m just asking the simple questions within that one paradigm.

And with that thought I feel ready to spend a day or two with Heidegger, Vygotsky, Popper, and Jasper. Starting with Being and Time. And the pollution of all these musings I have uttered, which I now need to unwind.

National shame – but it will happen again

It could have been worse

If England had won the European Cup Final in 2020, people may well have died. So says the findings of the Baroness Louise Casey report into the events surrounding England fans shameful scenes around Wembley stadium last year.  BBC article here. What a sentiment that is. Conclusions based upon “up to 6,000 people planning to storm the stadium at full-time to celebrate as the gates opened”.

The report suggests there were preparation failures. Failure to plan for “foreseeable risk”. Indications that additional strain on resources from Covid19 related issues played a role. But ultimately concluding that a large number of people’s behaviours were fuelled via externally sourced chemicals (alcohol and cocaine I assume), not internally generated excitement for an event. No great surprise there, perhaps. At least not to anyone who has visibility of what normal is deemed to be for many revellers in 21st Century Britain.

The report’s recommendations are mainly behaviourally focused:

  • Empowering authorities to act more strongly
  • “a sea-change in attitudes towards supporter behaviours”
  • Better communication between agencies
  • increased awareness of the unique challenges of such major events

My own view on these recommendations is they represent a misunderstanding of social psychology. They also mistake unpredictability of behaviours and the possibility of control. In this mis-placed behavioural assessment, I think we just invite rhetoric without real change. Much as other reports into other incidents fall into this same trap.

Three of these recommendations are based upon the temporal interface between prior planning and real-time adaptability. Visibility of a plan is best supported by the shared nature of its creation. This is communication in advance, the sharing of expected range of possible outcomes, and the collaborative nature of what is to be implemented. The empowerment element here then offers a change to the constraints, or better awareness of what they are, and what the systems of control are thereby intended to manage.

But none of these measures are relevant unless the planning is backed up by training and practical empowerments at ground level in real time. This is what the High Reliability Organisation (HRO) reflects. Increased visibility of the bigger picture based upon clarity of goals, clarity of roles and responsibility, and empowerment of those closest to the situation to act. It is also empowerment to act whilst accountability remains at the senior positions that have overseen the development of both plan and the control environment that contain all. Itself an expectation on leadership to serve, be authoritative rather than just have authority, and a shared understanding that pushing upwards rather than demanding more downwards, requires more understanding of layers of leadership intent on serving, not being served.

The “sea-change of attitude” of fans is a nonsense. It is a wishful remark with no actionable end. The only attitude that can be managed is the attitude of authority to be more cohesive, collaborative, and accountable for the functionality of control. I am all for addressing wider changes of attitude. But this is a societal level aim, and cannot possibly be targeted simply in the name of an event.

Projects of control to support change

These same sentiments can be examined at other scales. I look at the Grenfell aftermath with the same concerns for what is now being challenged. I look at the sad, sad, story of Arthur Labingo-Hughes. Sitting alongside a ridiculous fiasco of failed safety controls behind Alec Baldwin’s “it just went off in my hand, guv” defence.

We can always find someone or something to blame. But for me we keep coming back to a failure of control. A failure to adequately contain, and the permission of authority to look away. Not because of the event, but because of the manner of constraint, empowerment, colloquial interest, and evasion of accountability by those not motivated to think beyond themselves.

Every single one of us fails this test each time we look to an individual entity to shoulder the blame. If we are serious about a “sea-change of attitude” that puts us all in the frame.

I think we should be expecting more challenge to the infrastructure of control, when it is shown to have failed. Otherwise, what trust should we have that controls are now better placed to adapt. We should be asking “what is now different” so that it will be better contained, when it inevitably happens again…

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Daily meds

A daytime moon. My unblue moon

A blog to present a glimpse of 12 minutes of my day.

A metta[1] start to the day for me. 

I performed this practice “eyes open”. I now know this to be a less unusual practice than I had thought (see this article). But this morning was my first attempt. Prompted by the moon. It was pitched in my vantage point and it seemed a waste to deny its call.

Seeking to extend loving kindness was a pleasure against this view

A morning view, but many perspectives

As I finished I took this picture. I am reminded of how different one’s perceptions are in mind, compared to the static picture. All I had in my view was a brightly shining moon. Yet, it is but a spec in this photo. What also caught my eye were planes that crossed the sky, and a steady stream of birds all heading the same way. Both do make a showing in this picture, but each will take some effort to find.

There are many perspectives one could take from just this one picture. Was this a full moon? No. It was 97.65% visible. A waning gibbous. Sitting 405,483.58 km away. None of that was known until just now. Details here.

As I prepared to begin my practice it was not the distance of the moon that my mind was bringing into view. Instead my metta practice was overcoming my inner critic that wanted to flag some jobs. In response, I was first to receive some loving kindness – this always starts at home.

Hose not away
Birds need a feed
Late Nov – parasol now an insect hidey-hole

Each of these critical views in perspective, my metta continued with Second – directed towards my closest other. Third – directed toward a neutral other. Fourth – a friend or loved one with reasoned opposition in view. An enemy (if one has any). Fifth – the reach to others as far as one may go. This last was the real change – now without eyes wide shut.

Moon (L) – in plane sight (R)

I typically have friends, acquaintances, remembered strangers and places in mind from far away for my fifth level of directed metta. New Zealand and Australia. USA and Canada. Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil. Turkey, Jordan, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan. And many places in between. My carbon footprint has much to explain. Today however, my fifth were the ones sat in aeroplanes. Strangers passing across my moon.

To whom my loving kindness was aimed perhaps matters little, but technology offers a retrospective helping hand.

Welcome from Miami
Okay from JFK
Or leaning in from Pisa

And then what of those high flying birds? What were they and where were they going? Crows, magpies, jays, wood pigeons, buzzards could be claimed as normal fly-by guests. Woodpeckers, gulls, sparrow hawks less often but regular too. I assumed them to be crows, but this picture suggests a smudge of something passing through.

This is the spec in the top left, which I thought to be dirt upon the window but zooming in is perhaps a migrant on the move.

If the continent is cold we may see Waxwings. That seems unlikely on this temperature review. More likely something arriving from the north, but I have no real clue.

I really only touch upon the photo surface with this perspectival ebb and flow. But hopefully the point is made well enough, that it is from changing context that perspectives can be remade. These are insights to be taken into everyday practical use. This is training, not escape. In time the brain connects these perspectives with stronger firing neurones. Pathways that build. What fires together, wires together. And therein each mind can grow.

May you be safe, happy and healthy. May your mind be at ease.

[1] Per mindworks.org, “Metta” comes to us from an ancient Indian language called Pali, and it translates as loving kindness.  From my novice perspective it is my means to bring my mind to attention of my place in the world, and extend an empathy and benevolence as far as I can reach.


About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

visibility | b | t

Law abiding citizenship

Do a bit, see a bit more. Seek a bit more, see much more. This is a brief blog, highlighting sources of information we may wish to explore.

Many more blogsites have come to my attention since I began blogging. Here are two of note.

Increased visibility by looking more

visibility | b | t

Reliance on media feed seems our collective default. However, blogsites with specific interests and specialism are everywhere. It seems to me a more effective means to see more of what needs to be seen. One less filter between the subjective viewer and the objective reality they are trying to see.

v | behaviour | t

But of course there is new bias to reflect upon. It becomes more demanding of the viewer to seek out these better questions. Be more present to the issues. More vigilant to the need to seek out more. Not be overwhelmed by the task of finding the sources that the media headlines do not.

v | b | trust

This then becomes a new form of trust. There is necessary need to trust yourself. To have honed your own ability to seek answers to new questions. To self-determine the validity of the source. Take more care in the degree of trust in the source.

Being present

I have explained this in the language of enquiry I now use. Directing my interest in intended change – as a project. The sources we accept, are our own projects of information gathering. Something we are pre-programmed to do. Something we are minded to make efficient and easy. But not always therefore with necessary interest in what is truly true.

Hope is at hand

The good will of the masses is what I think sits near at hand. The doing actions of those motivated by truth. Their version of truth, but still a better truth, a more visible truth, than what media commercialism has become. I am grateful for finally finding some new windows to look through.

What is immediately apparent is just how much we do not see. What is not reported. What is not of interest to the filters. This is said with no grudge. It is just a commercial reality of life. This is not conspiracy, this is behaviour. Giving us what we want, or what is easy to see. As consumers this is our vague trust. Our happy distance from the real. I see little merit in blaming the media moguls, when it is we the public who can at any moment dictate a different tone. Dictate what it is we intend to see.

Own your enquiry

Blog-sites are everywhere. They just need to be unearthed. Then assessed for quality, bias, and reliability. But if you have the time, or the inclination, there is more than social media click-bait, derived from headline grabbing media feed, waiting for you.

I am learning this only now. Maybe you can learn this too – without having to become a blogger just to take in this view. I began this blog by highlighting two blogsites of note, to get you on your way. The upholding of law is a place where hidden behaviours are exposed. Where trust is questioned. Tested. Sought to be proved. And if so inclined, visible to us all.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

CoP26 – cometh the hour

A quandary of Leadership

If you are democratically elected to serve a community, how can you not? Yet if that service is set in the now, and the future need is not what is on the minds of the electorate you serve, what to do?

This is the quandary of every government official at all levels of leadership or management at the CoP26. My own view is we need diplomats not warriors to unravels problems that we attempt to share and solve in times of peace. We have tough discussions ahead but also need of time spent listening, learning, empathising, and understanding. Bringing our best expectations of representation and respect, and expecting the same in return. But with that comes a need to be strong in action, not words. To take the strain and persuade those that you serve, that they should take the strain too.

v | b | t

visibility | b | t

That starts with clarity of goal, vision, or simply visibility of the whole – by the quality of our enquiry not just the easy factoid to bend into truth. This clarity comes from the ground up, and from the top down. It comes from being seen to be acting as one would want the other to you.

v | behaviour | t

As leaders we then have behaviours in mind, and the manner of control. As directed by motivations. Addressing attitudes that are not fit for the purpose at hand. Addressing the goals of others so that goals are then shared rather than required by coercion or force. We take on the hard, because we know we should.

v | b | trust

That is where we build trust. By our actions and set against the better path. This starts with each of us, as self-control. By what ends we seek to choose, and with the other party’s needs not just our own. Knowing the path ahead may have unknowns. Leaders making decisions from being present to the task, and not simply to keeping decision-blame at another’s home.

This is why I become ever more determined to find better ways to bring projects into one space. To bring more collaborative effort and cooperative ideals to the more difficult challenges ahead. I found my self somewhat bemused at several LinkedIn exchanges this week. From leaders who seem intent on being anything but. I will return to all in due course, but the below reflects well enough why we need leaders who can find hope, and not simply share their own impotent despair.

Below: A written response (not addressed to me) from an MP who seems to have decided there is no point in being present to the challenges we all face.

Philip Davies MP

Screen shot from a third-party LinkedIn post

The above letter has been a news item and general social media fodder for a week. This MP has allegedly responded with encouragement to circulate it further on the grounds it represents the attitude of many of his constituents. It has legitimacy as a perspective – all Members of Parliament are voted for as the representative voice of those they serve.

My quote opposite was made on LinkedIn. The position expressed by this MP one I found to reflect all who seem to have taken to despair. But equally, I reflect upon this sentiment being a very human response, that I think many will hold true. We are after-all programmed to act in defence of our own communities first. But what is democracy to do when the popular and easy comes face to face with the harder position to take? On the basis of looking after your own first leadership, this attitude can become the default and convenient position for all.

One observational riposte

It’s refreshing to at least see a defeatist elitist open up. “It’s too hard. It’s their fault not ours. Why should we if they don’t?”
Bonkers to think this counts as leadership or even representation.
We [UK] are the 5th biggest economy in the world. We have historic connections to more of the planet than most. We hold the guilt of past endeavour to hold and overcome. But we also have means and a presence on the world stage. We are the persuaders, and the influence. The diplomats. And when needed the front foot accountability demanding bureaucrats.
I don’t see much Churchill, Nietzsche, or Ayn Rand here. “We will fight them on the beaches; or spite them with our meekness”
“The will of power (naps)”.
Maybe he reflects the real darkest hour…the hour we chose not to choose. Reneged on service as leaders of more than one flock. Instead counting cash in a vault and doubling the locks.
Be present, and be leaders. Or give way.

LinkedIn feed

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: