Hi 👋. Here is this week's Saturday Blueprint.
🤔 Quote I’m thinking about:
Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands — a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world — Sidney Lovett
This is a beautiful quote and really captures the power and stillness that comes from nature. In many ways he’s also expressing that the root of mindfulness is in just looking. Just noticing. What results is a feeling of connection with nature, with the universe. And with that deep connection how can you possibly feel alone? The connection is already there of course - you are already part of the universe - but you need to look to notice it and to feel it.
A walk or trail run on Dartmoor is my happy place for feeling and noticing this connection with nature and the universe. The gorse, the tumbling brooks, the moss, the wind-blown rocks. What about you? Where would you go?
🎵 Musical philosophy
There is a power and beauty in music. I like to find snippets of lyrics that resonate with me. Another of my happy places is (of all places) doing the washing up and listening to music. I don’t need to think and I can just get lost in the music and the moment.
I’m aware that music preference is like marmite - but here are some lyrics (and artists) I heard this week that I’d like to write about, with a theme of hopes and dreams.
“Everyone I used to know
Left their dreams by the door” — My Wrecking Ball by Ryan Adams
I love a bit of Ryan Adams. Great acoustic Americana. This lyric on dreams makes me reflect over this cup of coffee - where are my dreams, hopes, desires? In fact, what are my dreams even? I alternate from the Stoic position that dreams are attachments and thus should be discarded to find peace and freedom. Any desire is a chance to practice strength of will and moderation (or temperance to use one of the four cardinal Stoic virtues). But then I’m also a dreamer and sensitive soul who wants to strive, to have it all, to feel. And navigating that dichotomy is philosophy in a nutshell I guess! At least this cup of coffee in my hands anchors me to the present.
“But take your time, think a lot
Think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow
But your dreams may not” — Father and Son by Cat Stevens
If you’re a father, or a son, or both, the lyrics to this song tug right on the heart strings. It feels like it captures the dichotomy of my life in one song. And this snippet is a message in mindfulness and gratitude if ever I’ve heard it. On a daily basis I take so much for granted: my health, my family, the roof over my head, the country I live in. Tomorrow will likely come, but my dreams…? Well… I’ll settle for thinking about everything I’ve got for the time being…
Music has meaning. What music resonates (no pun intended) with you, and why?
🪢 Perception vs Reality
How we see the world rarely reflects what the world is actually like.
You don’t need to dare to be different, because everyone is different. Just be yourself. No one can out “you” you. Or, in sketch form:
So I can't draw sheep, but I do enjoy creating these sketches. Here's an offer - give me a concept or idea and I’ll create a sketch note for you - just drop me a message or email.
🖋 Creative writing and melancholy
I'm an engineer, but I do find writing a worthy outlet. Here is a short story I wrote on growing old - a little piece of creative writing.
It’s been really nice letting out my creativity to balance the very analytical nature of my job as an engineer. Yin and Yang I guess and having a creative outlet makes me a better engineer, or at least a better person.
The emotion behind that short story is one of melancholy, and it's probably the emotion I most connect with. I’m not a depressing person, but somehow melancholy stirs me to my core. It connects me to the topic of death but in a poignant way, in a way that makes me care about life. It makes me care about choices and time spent with loved ones. It makes me be present - whether that's bouncing on the trampoline with my kids or walking my kids into school.
Melancholy is sadness, it's true. But it's a thoughtful sadness, and there is a beauty in sadness. It’s the hidden hope of the underdog, the downtrodden. It’s the unnoticed heroism. Melancholy is a nice and familiar friend. Pleasantly wallow in gloom, huddling under it's blanket; warm, lonely, but safe. Reminiscing of the good times, with tears of joy or sadness or both. For me, it's evidence that at least I can feel. That at least I’m alive.
By the way, the TV series "This Is Us" does an exceptional job of capturing the melancholic feeling for me - it's a great, great show.
During autumn / winter last year I wrote a haiku a day for 100 days. Haiku are short poems (three lines). I loved the creative outlet. It was also a bit like a mini diary too.
🙏 Breathing mantra
Here's little mantra I use to anchor to the present, relax a bit, and be grateful:
When I breathe in I smile; when I breathe out I relax.
💪 100 press up challenge
Next week I'll have finished my 100 press ups a day 28-day challenge. Results will be in!
It’s a pleasure writing to you. Have a great week. 😊