mixed mind salad

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Category Archives: Journey of Life

poker without cards

I have made numerous attempts to write a review of Poker Without Cards and have come to the conclusion that it is a task much harder than I first anticipated. I will, however, make another attempt in the hope that this will do it justice as I feel that anyone who reads it will benefit greatly! But please don’t take my word for it!

A Joseph Matheny (Is he real?) has written the intro to Poker Without Cards and is of a different opinion.  To quote the final line of the introduction: “Since you have gotten this far I suppose you are going to read the transcript. Far be it from me to try and stop you.”

I failed to follow his advice and did read it. In fact, I have so far read it 4 times and always found it difficult to let go of it.

Have I been infected?

The first time I read it I was somewhat bewildered and baffled at what this particular transcript was all about and yet I found it difficult not to carry on!

The format of Poker Without Cards is a transcript of the recording of a conversation between a Dr William Fink and a Howard Campbell, which takes place during 7 sessions in which Dr Fink is trying to understand what led his patient, Richard Wilson (Bucky) to be admitted to his mental hospital!

Well, that is the very basic of it and is really nothing more than the skeleton. It is the content of the conversation that takes you on what I can only describe as a “Mind Journey” and if you manage to read the whole book without giving in to the urge of googling certain stuff then you have done far better than me, who failed that part miserably. To take that a step further, I compiled a reading list based on the stuff referenced in Poker Without Cards (Call me insane!)………..

However, had it not been for this wonderful book I would never have read Viktor Frankl, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert M Pirsig, Robert Cialdini to name a few but then again perhaps I have indeed been infected by reading this book. In other words, I have woken up and there is no going back to sleep.

Is it time for you to wake up too?

I’ll let you make that decision for yourself and if you decide you want to experience it for yourself pokerwithoutcards.com is the place to go.

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A new experience

Last Friday was spent in a meeting with my team of colleagues which is  a monthly occurrence, the prospect of which usually fills me with dread.

However, this one was slightly different. On Monday my boss announced via an email that instead of the usual format we’d combine it with a day out as she felt that we all needed a break from the pressure of work. Her suggestion was that we’d hire a narrow boat for the day and sail up and down the river.

My initial reaction was…well.. the word joy wasn’t part of it!

We were all allocated things to bring to the event; Some of us were in charge of food and some in charge of drinks, which to me meant more stuff to think about and deal with. I know I can get into a very negative spiral sometimes.

I spent the majority of the week trying to come up with a good enough excuse for not going and the only one I could think of was phoning in sick Friday morning before the meeting which was far too obvious, so this morning I went off to the meeting point with the level of eager similar to a trip to the dentist.

I have never been in control of a narrow boat before and I made the assumption (yes I know!!!) that because I am one of three males in our team it would be down to us to control it…I should have known better not to assume and was proven very wrong in my assumption!

I was picked up by a colleague and on the way there we talked about how we’d both prefer to be at work instead of having to waste a day pissing about on a river. He’d been in charge of some of the food and based on the size of the bag there was enough food in it to keep us on the river for a week or two and based on the quality of it I would have happily stayed! (I did take some home

The rest of the team arrived and we headed off with enough food and drink to cater for a small wedding or similar.

We were allocated our boat and were then presented with a demonstration on how to control it as well as various safety precautions. He then proceeded to tell us that on our journey we’d have to navigate through a weigh bridge and two locks, at which point I was ready to call it a day and go back to the car! It all just seemed too daunting and overwhelming for me and in my mind a big step outside my comfort zone.

We set off and luckily one of my colleagues took control at which point I realised how wrong my earlier assumption had been!!! In fact had it not been for her expertise in steering the boat I am inclined to think we’d still be out on the river.

About 15 minutes into the journey we approached the first weigh bridge and myself and a colleague had been nominated to deal with that particular obstacle at which point I am beginning to feel rather anxious and my mind is presenting me with images of how badly wrong this could all go!! It didn’t though! We both managed to get off the boat, lift the bridge and then get back on the boat as if we’d done it hundreds of times before.

After that, anxiety just vanished and I started to really enjoy being on the river, surrounded by nature and just loving the slow pace at which we were moving.

A few other people had a go at the steering part, resulting, on one occasion, in gathering enough bits of a tree branch to start a fire and on another getting stuck!

After this we left the steering to Jackie, who then became known as Captain Jack Sparrow! And what a Captain!

None of the things I had feared in my mind happened. I didn’t fall in the water nor did anyone else. We didn’t have any accidents other than the branch cutting affair, during which I had to duck on the floor, and we navigated all the locks with flying colours!

In fact it was a very very enjoyable day and a great experience. An experience I would have lost out on had I come up with a good enough excuse not to go.

Perception

A few weeks ago I had a phone conversation with a friend I have known since I was very young. We both grew up in the same street in a small village, went to the same school, had similar interests in terms of taste in music, hobbies etc.

As we grew up and entered adolescence the circle of friends had grown into a much larger group of people and stronger bonds were formed and some were lessened or lost altogether.

From adolescence we entered the scary world of being young adults trying to find our own place in the world and the childhood group of friends slowly started to dissemble.

I pursued an education in engineering and mechanical design, convinced by various people that this would be the right thing to do, while my friend pursued an apprenticeship to become an electrician.

Neither of us were ever to utilise that education though.

He went into the army and was posted in the former Yugoslavia and I emigrated to the UK.

After his time in the former Yugoslavia, he came back a changed person.

A person that most of our teenage group of friends wanted to distance themselves from, I suspect through a lack of understanding of his changed behaviour.

At times, I too felt that maybe I needed to distance myself further but that was purely because I felt I had to in order to remain accepted into the group of friends who had decided that he should no longer be a part of that group. But one question that kept creeping back was why did we see or perceive him differently? Why was he no longer worthy of being part of that group?

I have no concept whatsoever of what being in a war zone may do to the human psyche and thankfully I probably never will. But I forgot the fact that he had lived and functioned in a place of war and destruction, seeing things that I will never see. Things that he’d have to somehow deal with, with no understanding from the people closest to him.

I am grateful for the fact that I did not conform to the demands of the group and I am even more grateful for the fact that I can still call him a friend today.

The friendship has grown beyond my wildest imagination. I can have frank and honest conversations with him without the fear of being judged about topics I assumed he would have discarded as being complete nonsense. I am not referring specifically to the conversation I have had with him tonight but the conversations I have had with him for the past number of years.

Had I conformed to the voices of the masses I am pretty sure this post would never had seen the light of day but even more importantly this friendship would have been a forgotten memory.

I am humbled and proud that he still refers to me as a friend.

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