Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thoughts from a Long Time Ago

Adele and I are back in Madikwe.

It has been a very busy week but looking back it is actually quite amazing how many things we 'ticked off our list'. Even though it was 'leave' and this normally goes hand in hand with some sort of relaxation, this time we were busy every single day. We only took one week off, compared to the normal two, and in between all the wedding arrangements, which all went pretty well, I also got time to update all the Photo-Africa websites, upload a lot of new images and also finished my book but more on all of this later.

This specific post was not planned and, as you can see from the above image does not really concern wildlife, it was only when I received an email from a friend that I thought I just had to post this.

In a previous lifetime, that is how long ago this feels, Adele and I worked on board the Queen Mary 2 where we managed Fitness, Nutrition and Rehab for the Canyon Ranch Spa. It was an amazing time during which we met great friends and saw a great deal of the world. Will I ever do it again?


The ship is a strangely wonderful place which puts bizarre demands on strains on you. You can either learn from this and get to know yourself better or you can crack under the strain. The industry in which we find ourselves now is similar, though not as intense. At least here you have nature around you which helps a great deal.

On the ship you can go for months without seeing trees and grass.

Anyway, a good friend emailed and forwarded me a piece that I wrote during out time on the ship. To be honest, when I read the email I could not remember it at all but then as I approached the end I remembered.

As with anything in life people will influence you and that is what I was writing about at that stage. So here goes with a bit of a flashback which, in a way, still holds true today.

* * *
Each of us, over time, develops our own understanding and sense of purpose of the work we need to do and where we want to go in life.

In the same manner we each construct our own mental map of the world which includes huge blank areas to be filled with experience. Given enough time and using the opportunities that life presents us we have the potential and possibility to fill this map with solid connections, meaningful relationships and fulfilling achievements.

Whatever your belief system and approach to life, any internal framework will, on a long enough time frame yield acceptable results towards your final goal. Whether you are training for a sporting event or working on your financial situation; if you keep going at it long enough you will get better results; you will make more money.

Working in a confined, protected environment for an extended period of time can either make you fulfil you potential and get you closer to your perfect mental map or it can crack things open and make you realize that yours is not the only mental map around. People with different backgrounds, different experiences and different levels of education will never see the same mental map.

Some people are happy just to go about their everyday life activities, stay in their comfort zone and not attempt to get involved in other peoples decision making processes. These people never challenge themselves mentally, physically or spiritually. This carries with it the certainty of never having to carry out a lateral shift into an entirely different framework.

A different group of people are quite happy to operate from their own mental map which, being all they know, forms the platform from which they attempt to influence others, attempt to lead or convince people that theirs is the only way of doing things. Through self-reinforcement these people convince themselves that they are correct in their way of operation and thinking. They are not open to change as their mental framework does not allow for this. This way of thinking will eventually, and probably regularly, lead to conflict.

It is very unusual (and quite refreshing) to find someone who is confident and believes in their own mental map and yet is able to really listen to, intellectualize and ultimately attempt to understand and experience someone else’s framework. Is this what makes someone sociable? Is this what makes someone a good leader? Is this makes someone easy to talk to or a good listener?

Working together in a confined and emotionally charged environment requires a certain amount of resilience.

You share the same experiences with many people yet the way people interpret and react to these experiences ultimately gets decided by each person’s internal framework. How do you see the situation? How do you react in that situation? Can you accept someone else’s way of dealing with the situation without compromising your own mental map?

On the ship people are all put into a position which requires a certain
mental framework. A lot of the time people can deal with it for a few months, a few contracts or in some unusual cases a number of years. During this time you almost have no choice but to accept the environment around you and comply with any challenges that this might make on your own way of seeing things. Is it not plausible that a confined environment will start affecting your framework and the way you perceive life in general?

Some people, when faced with such environmental conditions get comfortable by not having to challenge themselves anymore. These people might relish the small world they find themselves in and try to act out a framework that they have created for themselves and try to reinforce this by acting the part they would like to portray. They start defining themselves by what they do and not by who they are. They hide behind their job. They hide behind their friends. They hide behind the positions that they have been given and now define who they are. They hide behind the world they are in, even though it is fake and temporary. The thought of leaving this fake world and returning to a more normal life is frightening as this would require a complete shift in framework and a reassessment of who they truly are.

If a person is open to the environmental influences on their way of doing things, yet confident enough in their own personal framework not to be affected by it they might walk away with new rewarding experiences and lessons learnt that will not only strengthen their belief and conviction in their own mental map of the world but expand it as well. You do not need to be defined by what you do or by what your job description is. A cleaner might be able to teach you more than a manager if you are willing to listen and learn.

Bach did not need to understand the churches underlying doctrine; he only had to understand how to make music soar. We are not expected to understand everybody else’s mental maps or framework under which they operate; we are only capable of being true to ourselves and our own experiences.

All of our conceptual worlds are definitely not created equal.

Small worlds may offer a safe haven for small lives, but they leave little room for exploration by the more adventurous.

* * *

There you go. My thoughts from a few years ago. It was a great time and we learnt a lot about ourselves. This is also where my passion for photography really took off (with Glen who will be visiting for the wedding in less than three weeks!!) and I learnt a lot about the basics! Did not do any wildlife back then, no grass remember, and am sitting with a huge number of portraits, city landscapes, ship images, abstracts, etc that I still need to get uploaded to some or other website. Any suggestions?

I reckon to sum it all up in one sentence you could say "Live for the moment but plan for the future." I still feel that this holds true and even though we get 'let loose' more often than on the ship it is still an interesting thing to see how different people deal with and define themselves by what they do. Anyway...

As we settle in back at Tuningi we only have three weeks before heading back to Johannesburg and then on to Namibia for the wedding. Starting to get excited now! :)

I have already pulled off this weeks High Five images and will probably post this either later today or then tomorrow. With so many new images having been added to the Photo-Africa Stock Library it is kinda difficult to only choose 5! Check back tomorrow for the Weekly High Five!

As always I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for all your support!!

Until next time!

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