“Do not waste time idling or thinking after you have set your goals.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Asthma: When I Can’t Breathe


When I was 3 years old, so I was told, I suddenly developed a severe case of asthma. I grew up with a variety of inhalers and other preventative medication. My asthma looked. to an untrained eye, like I was suffocating (which I was), there was a trumpet like sound when air was drawn in with great effort, I would get itchy all over my body. It was a very unpleasant experience but I grew used to it and knew to take my medication and wait it out. That was until my late teens / early twenties when my asthma disappeared … all it once, as if it never existed. Breathing difficulty would surface now and again, though rarely, with nothing close to the intensity of my early-life symptoms. My breathing remains to this day sensitive to disruptions such as dust and though I have never developed aerobic endurance, my breath developed and supported me excellently in my Yoga practices.

This was all true until a few months ago. We had just acquired our land Bhudeva and were beginning to make trips out to it to prepare to move out. Out of nowhere severe asthma resurfaced – whining trumpets and all. I faced it this time without any medication. I turned my attention inward and by radiating softness and light from my consciousness out to my body I managed to get through it, numerous times. It usually appeared in the evening or night time. Then, one time, it appeared in the morning, just as we were packing the car for another excursion out to Bhudeva. It was in the car, driving with constricted and unpleasant breathing, that a realization came to me about my asthma.

I feel that it needs to be said that I believe that illness (of any kind – physical, emotional and spiritual) is a kind of indicator that some deep awareness is trying to reach surface awareness – that there is a deep intuitive understanding that is not yet present at a conscious level. Though it can be difficult to do I have applied this belief to myself in recent (10+) years. This means that if possible I do not try to make the symptoms go away (I don’t  visit doctors) but try to patiently wait them out. My experience has been that the illness itself does not carry much wisdom or insight, but that patience and observation with which I meet it do seem to point me in the right direction. There is rarely an immediate reward, insight may surface in my consciousness long after symptoms of illness have gone (in this case 20 years).

So here I am, pursuing my wishes and life values, preparing to finally settle in a place I will be able to call home and I can’t breathe – this biological machine I call my body will not let me take air in. I ask myself “Why?” and a few minutes later a simple answer appears – “I am scared”. I am, scared shit-less, we just spent a large part of the last of our financial resources (what used to be my pension), I am in a foreign land, our house project has come to a sudden stop (lack of money), I am beginning to realize we are going to be living the next few years (at least) in what was at the time a dump of a house (at the time, when we visited our land, we slept in a tent) and the list goes on. I am completely out of my element … nothing is familiar, everything is new, there are so many questions marks and we are pretty much on our own in this adventure. So yeah, I am scared. So scared that I can’t breathe. So scared that something in my biology has decided to fold … I can’t breathe.

But that was not the end of it … I am still driving, still breathing with difficulty when I suddenly realized what it was that “cured” my asthma almost 20 years ago. The headlines of that period would probably go something like: Disturbed teenager developed suicidal thoughts, discharged from army for psychological issues and bailed from university for complete lack of interest – leaving me in a hopeless state. I was scared shitless of living the life that appeared in my mind to be unfolding before me and I got depressed … really bad … clinically … psychologist, psychiatrist … medication … the whole nine yards.

But, and I can’t help but smile as I write these words, nobody seemed to notice or make a connection between my depression and my asthma … or to be precise my lack of asthma. My depression led me to a fortified and isolate experience of surrender and freedom. When I was depressed I was no longer scared of life, I wasn’t occupied with life at all so there was nothing to fear. I could breathe with ease, my body approved, heck it embraced this so called depression … breathing, it seemed, had become a good idea. It seems that asthma has the makings of a simulated-suicide … it feels like dying but without the undesirable consequence of actual death.

My breathing and I are going through a challenging and sensitive period. There are physical difficulties – hard physical work, dust, dirt, smoke … things that directly effect my breathing. There are emotional challenges – fears come and go, there is tension that sometimes accumulates. There are spiritual challenges – bringing our life to where it is, embracing it and continuing to pursue it (together with the physical and emotional challenges) is a huge leap of faith – it is an intense spiritual practice. My breathing reflects all of these movements faithfully. Sometimes it is outright asthma, sometimes difficult breathing … but now I know to meet it with a soft respect. I don’t fear it, I can contain it, I can be patient with it and I can get through it (heck, I recently even played Shakuhachi – a wind instrument – with it!). Asthma, of all things, seems to have become an enlightening experience.

I can’t help but wonder with awe what it was that happened when I was just 3 years old, what deviation from dharma, caused such a young body to choose not to breathe.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to add your comment

Good Design?


One of the last software design projects I partook in was with telecom company who wanted/needed to overhaul their product line. They had new hardware in place and needed new software on top of it – which was the purpose of this project.

The software they already had was tragic in every possible way. It was mashed together by their development team without any design intention, with an outdated user interface software framework and with no understanding at all of market needs and positioning.

The first phase of the project was an analysis of what they had, what they had going for them, what competition had and where the market was. They were lagging behind the market, they had poor branding. Had we tried to catch up with the market we would have lost the game … the gap was just too big. However we did manage to identify numerous opportunities for unique positioning – there were recurring weak spots in most of the competitive products and we went after those.

The project was unpleasant. They felt like an old and tired government organization. We had marketing pretty much on our side but the development team who was very technically oriented (and outdated) were skeptical and constantly challenging or ignoring our approach to their product – this despite many attempts to bring them into the game. I remember the head of development was also very petty … claiming that we were paid to much for what little donation we had to the project.

At one point in the project we were all sitting in a fairly large meeting and I openly said to them that I don’t think they understand the position they are in. I poingantly said that unless they find a way to reinvent their product they would all be out of jobs in a few years (this was a very old and well established hi-tech company in Israel). In my mind it wasn’t about pixels or colors or even features – it was a question of life and death for them as a company.

I somehow managed to bring the project to completion with OK design artifacts … but overall I felt that the project was a failure. That was until this morning I found (as usual a little late as I am fairly out of touch with happenings in the world) that about a year ago, after numerous acquisitions and attempts to save it, the company folded … and in a bad way.

Sadly, I now feel that the project was a success. I called it the way I saw it and I did everything I can to communicate my perspective and help them from that understanding. I also truly felt that product-wise there was hope – and we aptly demonstrated it (I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the opportunities we identified are still there, unclaimed in the market place). As they were at the time I left them, there was no justification for them to continue to exist … and now they don’t.

Posted in Business, outside, Tech Stuff, Uncategorized | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-30

  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: sunshine, flour, sheep-wool, barrel, more compote, plans and life 🙂 #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: milk, horse & carriage, hay, hay, hay, hay & sanding #
  • boy have I got some insights about asthma … looking back at almost 40 years of living with it … hope to find time to write about it soon #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-23

  • gray & potentially rainy day, we r cleaning and arranging inside, 1st time using washing machine, hot wood-boiler water, music – home-ish 🙂 #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: collecting hay, 3 new chickens, insulating for winter, sealing the rocket stove, hot water & shaving 🙂 #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-16

  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: fire, wood, surprise, cardboard, wine & milk #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: fire and water 🙂 basic elements no? #
  • daily http://t.co/xHAaJZ9k report: running water (as in inside the house) and wood #
  • Flowers in the Guns – check out some Internet driven karma http://t.co/iQBFAO8X #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: tehini, a chimney and a home-birth #
  • Breaking Bad continues to be the all time best TV series I've ever seen … and if there is a runner up its nowhere near it! #
  • principles gotta lovem – terrorists have a "negotiation guide" on how2 negotiate with Israel which asuknow doesn't negotiate with terrorists #
  • Andreea was both doula & midwife to her 1st home-birth in Romania and I finished 1st layer of bricks mortared in place 4 rocket stove #
  • I am enjoying hearing about the uprising movement of occupy[name ur place] BUT I feel that an "us and them" mentality is an illusion #
  • such an illusion is most likely to further debilitate the "risers" and further strengthen the "risen" #
  • my gamble was 2 check out of the game… start from scratch (as much as possible) and see what I can do about it with my bare hands #
  • 3 levels of bricks of the rocket stove are built, its freaking cold and drizzling outside, taking a break to warm up and eat #
  • @raymondpirouz indeed "we" not "us and them" … placing blame is easy and comforting … and blinding #

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