True meaning of reality can be found in silence. Thoughts from my retreat in the forest.

There is that house on top of the hill in southern Poland. It towers above the village, yet it remains hidden in the embrace of the forest. The branches of nearby trees stretch above its roof, as if nature is crawling back in, to reclaim the land that once belonged to it.

Although this scenery seems like from a gothic story this house brings the emotions which I will always associate with peace, harmony and respite.
My family owns this place, it has become our holiday retreat, and for me personally; a sanctuary.

Each day, just at sun dawn I would run into the woods behind the house, climb up the hill, off the beaten path and sit on the grass.
I would close my eyes.
And breathe.

Photo from authors library

This is how I remind myself of what is real.
This is how I remind myself of those grim times when the urban life has entangled me and brought me down to the brink of depression. When I was burned out, when toxic work environment and “startup way of life” got me immersed in pointless masquerades.
I remember, those times well, when I got lost in the crowd of new humans, and almost lost view of the reality.

In this age of abundance of information the most scarce resource is the Truth

Quid est veritas?” – asks Pilate.
What is truth? he ponders, while the Truth stands right before him.
I can’t help but to think, that today it is the same for us.

What is truth? What is real?
As we delve deeper into the flashy distractions of modern “culture” and entertainment we lose the sense of what is real. Those things that make us human, that define human experience, that rawness of reality is something I have to rediscover deep in the woods.
Those precious moments can be seen and heard only in silence.

Chop wood, plant trees, cut grass, gather mushrooms, shoot a bow, take my kids for a hike through the woods, teach them to walk in silence and show them how to observe the wildlife. Drink some coffee with friends from the village; old-fashioned people who value work of their hands, who toil in the fields, who have not yet been immersed in the noise of the Metropolis.

I see the dichotomy, the growing rift between those people and the ones whom I met when living in Big Cities such as Berlin, Paris or Dubai. It is almost as if there are two species living in parallel worlds.

There is the homo sapiens, and there is this new human.
The first one is of the old world, the latter is of the Brave New World.
The new human is not taught to create but to consume.
The new human trades elusive goals of long term effort for pleasures of immediate gratification.

Nurtured by fabricated food, educated by video entertainment, kept in darkness through constant exposure to blinding lights.
A new human thrives when facing a screen and navigates effortlessly through digital jungle yet remains helpless and lost when confronted with real life.
The new human is stripped of his identity, cut from his roots, detached from his legacy, even from biology.

The new human unlike the old one is not forged by constant values, but constantly morphs with ever changing trends and fashions.

The history of a new human is not written in stone, not even in paper but in wikipedia. The new human does not belong nor rely on a family, his sense of safety comes from an omnipresent embrace of the welfare state.

Family and marriage are redefined, blurred are the axioms, nothing is normal and everything is normal. You can’t observe reality for what it is, because you would become guilty of a mortal sin of being judgemental.
When everything is questioned, nothing is real.

But the Truth, has this one miraculous property that It always emerges, eventually.
And it leaves naked, those who try to suppress it.

All these thoughts ran through my mind as I was listening to the wind hustling through the tree branches, touching the moss, smelling the soil, cherishing the view of the bright blue sky above.
How foolish I was to ever lose sight of it?
I myself, came so dangerously close to becoming new human.
Thankfully, I was given that time of blessed silence so I could see what is real and what has a meaning.
I could step back and breathe again.

As C.S Lewis observed:

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.


Note: Burning pages is my attempt to capture some elusive thoughts and observations before they turn to ash.  Call it a journal if you want. 

Flame in the Schell

(Not so)Secret knowledge to get better understanding on what is happening right now. #covid-19 #riots2020

I admit that, I tend to overreact a bit when I accidentally see the news.
Or when I look at those herds of good natured people blindly following (again) some trendy trend on social media, changing their profile pics into all colours of rainbow (including the newest addition: pitch black).

I can’t help but to draw conclusions which are usually, vastly different from what the mainstream is telling us.
As a result, some people (not to say most of them) find me in a striking similarity to that nice guy from “Pacific Rim”, who has been immortalised in the famous meme you can see below…

But you see, there is reason for my specific stance.
And I tend to believe it is a good one.

The Author of this blog casually explaining over a coffee, the real message behind mainstream media broadcast. Credit: Warner Bros.


Long time ago, I wrote master thesis on the methods of influence and manipulation of masses, the ethics (or lack of thereof) behind them, their genesis, their philosophical and psychological basis. I had a privilege of having a tutor who is a specialist in Greek philosophy.

And so what was an unavoidable consequence under such guidance, was the necessity for me to confront such abstract concepts as the morals, the good, the evil and the truth.

I delved into mechanisms of controlling masses and how they evolved across the ages. I read through classics like Le Bonn’s “Psychology of crowds”, Machiavelli’s “Prince”, Sun Tzu’s “The art of war”, Schopenhauer’s “Eristics” and Plato’s “Gorgias” to name just a few.
I never suspected that, It would be such a captivating research and that
it would leave me a different man, quite literally.
Firstly it taught me to respect the Truth.
Secondly, it left me with a bit of a burden on my perception.

Never again watching daily news channel, reading newspaper or online magazine was the same experience. I started seeing patterns.

And I see them now.

There is a battlefield, where not tools of mass destruction but tools of mass manipulation are unleashed. And we are all in their range.

Divide et impera. People divided are easier to be controlled.
Order through chaos. Create a problem so that you can propose a solution.
Capitalise on the never-ending fight between the haves and have-nots.
Feed the conflict, justify violence, label ideological enemies.
Victimise certain “classes” so that they can revolt and overthrow the “oppressors”.
Shift the paradigm, redefine the values, so that from the ashes of the old world order a New one can arise.
Replace traditionally established institutions with a “more modern” ones, change language, radicalise relationships in the society, drive people to be in constant conflict with each other.

I can’t help but notice that all those tools and mechanism are set in motion to lead us… exactly, where?

This is a fertile ground for a whole range of articles which I promise to deliver in the future.

But for now, let’s start with an appetiser.

If you would like to start getting better grasp of the events that are unfolding behind our very eyes and on our streets, you do not need to study through a library of ancient texts.

Start by watching a few videos (while they are still on YouTube that is…).
You can get on to Plato later (assuming you haven’t yet).

So here is my recommendation for step one.

Yuri Bezmenov aka Tomas Schuman, KGB deflector teaching Westerners the methods of soft diversion used by Soviet Union. In other words; how to influence masses to push the state over the edge. This is a lecture from 1984, but don’t be mistaken. It is horrifyingly accurate in explaining what is happening in 2020.

I would say enjoy the video, but I can assure after watching it (if you haven’t done that before) it will leave you in a quite grim mood. Knowledge can be a burden.
But if there is one thing I learned from my thesis, it’s the fact that naked truth is always better than a blissful ignorance.
Stay tuned for the next episode.

RadSchell

Keep focus! Tips on how NOT to get distracted & get the shit done.

The successful warrior is an average man with a laser-like focus

Bruce Lee

A decade of experience in project & product management in various organisations taught me a true value of the ability to maintain focus. Sometimes the hard way.
Now in the times of work from home, cutting off distractions might be even more changeling than one would think. With tons of tasks at hand, tough questions from developers and stakeholders, messages on slack spamming every minute, urgent emails, kids yelling in the background and that annoying fly buzzing in the room , a simple task of replying to an email can become a bloodied struggle with oneself. Not to even mention of how one could attempt to write software specifications.

How do I get through such days and make the most out of them?
Firstly I kill that f**ing fly.
And then I apply a few simple rules, that not only help to keep my sanity in check, but also allow me to get the job done.

1. Prioritise & execute

Multitasking is a myth.

Don’t believe me?
Try a simple exercise (credit to my Dad) – write on a blackboard in a row numbers from 1 to 10 in arabic numerals, and then in roman signs. Then do the same but with instead of going with one row till the end, switch between arabic and roman after each sign. See which method will take you more time…

That’s right.
Unlike what some say about the art of management – switching through various tasks makes you actually LESS efficient.
So what you need to learn first is to be able to pick up ONE thing at a time. Ideally the most important one. And get it though till the end (or at least a measurable milestone). Then another. And so on.

The method of Prioritising and Executing has been described at length in an amazing book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. If you ever think of becoming a manager or about picking up on any leadership role – read it please.

2. Put the music on. Keep it on the loop.

I get it – apparently there are people who need silence to maintain focus. I guess those people have a luxury of having silence in their surroundings in first place. I am not one of them – so good headphones and good music are key to my performance.

There is a music for sports, music to sing to, songs for dancing with your wife, there is also a music you need to focus ON. Such music is not recommended at all.

You need the RIGHT kind of music, if you want to stay productive. The music that is not intrusive, that is repetitive so it gets you in the rhythm , that enhances clarity of mind. “De gustibus non-disptandum est” so I imagine such tunes will be different for different people. For myself, one of the tracks that kept me through a lot of usability diagrams and helped through producing some complex documentation was this one.

So find your tune. This will be a soundtrack for you life achievements. So better make it good.

3. Stay fit to keep the mind sharp.

Photo: Author

Balance between your body and mind is paramount, not just to stay productive, but in the long run to simply stay alive. Lack of physical activity, wrong diet & not managing stress are slow killers.

So make sure you do exercise on a daily basis, ideally somewhere on fresh air. You will sweat some toxins out of your body and get bit more oxygen to that precious brain of yours.

Oh and if you happen to do martial arts, here is a bonus tip: throwing few kicks at boxing bag is an awesome way of acting out on those passive-aggressive e-mails you are getting from one of THESE clients…

4. Get breaks

Speaking of balance. Remember to rest.
Ideally every 45-60 minutes, take a deep breath, switch your mind to something else. Change place. Walk a bit, stretch arms.

Let your mind take a break. It will gratify you by staying sharp.

Do not look at any screen. Do not check your phone. Especially not that Facebook feed…

5. Treat social media as poison for your mind (which they are).

Social media are designed to keep you in a dopamine-seeking cue-reward loop. All those developers behind every major social media platform are using their extraordinary skills and brainpower for ultimately, one single purpose.

To make a f***ing lab rat out of you.

With the same data-based cue-reward mechanisms, which are used to train animals those applications are to tame you and teach you to scroll/hit likes/post videos so that you can get that that neurological candy in a form of like/comment/new content.

And then come back for more. Know, that those apps are good at it.

So just do not give them any chance.
Before hitting that “play video” button, before checking that notification you got – remember you are about to sip a bit of poison. And before you know it, you will drink from the whole bottle bottom up. This will cloud your mind, drain your energy and get you away from your goal.

Do not let them distract you. Stay focused.
Get the job done. Chase your dreams.

Don’t be a f***ing lab rat.