Addition by Subtraction

Jim:    It’s important to get to class on time.  Particularly today as we may be discussing a subject of particular importance.  However, there’s no test, no questions to answer, and no homework to turn in.  If you’re finding life particularly heavy going, feeling loaded down with concrete blocks tied around your ankles, if you’re restless, irritable and discontent, perhaps you have the lenses in your glasses reversed and can only see negativity and living your life on wishes and hopes.  On the other side of the worm hole you’ll find a place where we combine synergy with synchronicity.  Let’s make magic.  Abracadabra.  Creating what you speak.  Not necessarily material things.  However, the intangibles no currency can purchase.  We can help you fully participate in your life.  Use fear as a vehicle.  Use the power of it as we think not from our thoughts but rather at them.  Become the butterfly emerging from your chrysalis.  Be like Dorothy when she landed in Oz and opened the door to a world of color.  Come with us.  Detach and untangle.  Identify and describe.  Live a life without definitive expectations.  Explode into our world of full-impact mindfulness.  Well, today, as always I’m joined by my good friend and co-producer of this program, Mr. Mike.  So, Mr. Mike, give me a thought for the day, please.

Mike:    Whenever a door closes another one presents itself.

Jim:    Whenever a door closes another one presents itself.  Super.  Talking about doors.  We talk about opening doors all the time, do we not?  And, when you Fish Without Bait and without expectations, we expect the unexpected.  So, first of all today, Mike, let’s talk about nutrition.  That’s kind of a strange subject for us to dive into.  However, do most people want to gain weight or lose weight?

Mike:    Usually lose weight.

Jim:    Sure.  So, would looking better be a goal in weight loss?

Mike:    Unfortunately, I think it is in most cases.

Jim:    And, what does one do with weight loss?  One generally subtracts calories, does one not?

Mike:    Yes.

Jim:    And, where does excess weight come from, Mike?

Mike:    An excess of those calories.

Jim:    An excess of calories, usually from excessive calories.  Yes, of course.  However, again, you may think this is a strange way to begin a podcast about magic math.  However, as usual, there is a method to our madness.  We’re talking about desire versus needs.  Let’s go back to the weight loss scenario.  So, Mike, when people want to lose weight and get fit, one of the first things they think about doing is joining a what?

Mike:    A gym.

Jim:    They think about joining a gymnasium.  And, of course, to join a gymnasium one must have the proper attire, must one not?

Mike:    Yep.

Jim:    And, one must have more than one outfit, do they not?

Mike:    Indeed.

Jim:    And, perhaps a new gym bag, and all the various accompaniments.  So, one thing that we have to look at is perhaps it’s not the thing but the desire.  So, let’s talk about technology.  All the things with the bells and whistles.  Mike, how often are new phones coming out?

Mike:    There’s just new ones all the time.

Jim:    All the time.  Seems like every 2 weeks.  So, how often does one think I need that?  

Mike:    Too often.  

Jim:    When we’re talking about Fishing Without Bait quite often we’re talking about addition by subtraction.  A magic math.  When we’re talking about attaining mindfulness, when we’re talking about attaining full-impact into your life, when we’re talking about the goal of Fishing Without Bait we often believe that adding something to our lives that wasn’t there to begin with – such as when we have Y, so Y+1 must be better.  However, quite often when we look at addition by subtraction we often look at Y-1.  Remember, Mike, how we talked in a previous episode about how monkeys are caught and how it’s a cage with a hole cut only large enough for the monkey’s hand to fit in.  And, there is some type of a goodie, food or whatever that the monkey desires – remember that word desires – and grasps it with his hand.  And, when the monkey grasps it, he will not let go of that particular item that he desires.  And, trying to pull his hand out, he finds that he’s trapped – quite often as we are in life.  So, what we’re talking about here is this magic math.  Addition through subtraction.  Eliminating toxic relationships.  Identifying and labeling the stuff in your life that doesn’t work – that bogs you down.  Mike, when you buy a house, do you own the house – or does the house own you?

Mike:    It certainly dictates how you live your life.

Jim:    Indeed.  And, the car that you have.  Do we work just to make the payments on it?

Mike:    It should be the other way around, because you need the car to get to work?

Jim:    Absolutely.  Our society – the media – has us brainwashed into believing that only by adding things into our life can we be happy.  Mike, Hollywood – Madison Avenue has it all wrong.  We’ve been going at life incorrectly.  How freeing can I be?  How playful can you be with all those things bogging you down?  Remember that quote by Thomas Merton that our minds are like crows, picking up every shiny object and then sitting in our crowded nests wondering why we’re so uncomfortable.  Mike, my question – my thought to everyone out there is consider addition through subtraction.  Leaving things out of your life that burden you.  There’s a story about the Buddha that he was instructing some disciples and they saw a man approach in distress begging them have you seen my cattle?  They’re gone.  They’ve disappeared.  The Buddha indicated that no, he hadn’t seen the cattle.  And, when the man ran off the Buddha addressed his followers saying now, aren’t you happy you don’t have any cattle to lose?  So, the idea here is as the Dalai Lama says question everything.  I dare everyone out there – and these are challenge podcasts.  I challenge you to take an inventory of all the stuff in your life.  To take an inventory of everything that you own.  How long would it take you?  How long would it take you to inventory every single thing that you own?  Every single thing that you have in your house?  Mike, do you have any idea about that?

Mike:    I have no idea.  There’s so much stuff that I know I need to inventory and get out of here.  

Jim:    So, if it takes too long, hear the words I say – you have too much stuff.  

Mike:    So, I listen to this one podcaster, writer actually, and he always discusses every spring, I think, he does a spring cleaning.  And he has a rule.

Jim:    Yes.

Mike:    He goes through once a year and touches everything in his house.  

Jim:    Touches everything in his house?

Mike:    Very physically takes an inventory of what’s literally in his house.

Jim:    Literally touches everything in his house?

Mike:    Literally goes through everything.  Touches it.  Basically acknowledging it’s there.  And then he has an idea of what is in this place.

Jim:    Do most people have an idea of what they own?

Mike:    I don’t think they do.  I know I don’t.  

Jim:    How many times have you looked in or opened a box up, or gone into a closet and say I didn’t know I even had this?

Mike:    Here’s a very interesting thing that I do – and this may be a whole other neurosis – but, I often will go through a box, it’s something from high school, or it’s something from this time, or this thing, we were doing this thing, right?  I’ll open it up with the intention that I’m looking through stuff and actually trying to get rid of stuff, right?  And, maybe I’ll prune it a little – I don’t really need this anymore.  I don’t really need it.  But there are certain things I will leave in that box, and not really have any other purpose to that box other than to have those things in there – just because I know I’m going to come across it in another 5 years and it will bring back memories again.  So, there’s a little bit of that happening, too.

Jim:    Of course.  Well, we have to figure out – once again, Mike, what’s important to us.  Have you ever gone to a grocery store and picked something up and come home and found out – read the expiration date and found out it was expired?  

Mike:    Unfortunately once, yes.

Jim:    Yeah.  That can happen.  So, what happens is – and coming back to the 12-step world, if we go through our lives and we do not take inventory we find many good – many thoughts, feelings, emotions, even things that we own, that their useful life has expires and they become moldy and toxic in our life.  So a business that doesn’t take regular inventory generally goes broke because they don’t know what they have to sell.

Mike:    And, if you look at your life as a business that needs to continue to operate, if you have lost track of everything in your inventory, you are also emotionally broke?

Jim:    You’re emotionally broke, so the idea about taking inventory – just like in a business, is to get rid of those unsellable items – the items that are taking up valuable shelf space, that perhaps could be replaced by something more beneficial and productive in your life. 

Mike:    So, I need a personal clearance rack.  

Jim:    How do businesses get rid of inventory?

Mike:    Clearance rack sales, donations – and I make donations, of course.  

Jim:    I know one rule of thumb many people have that if you haven’t looked at it or touched it in 5 years, or perhaps even less – why are you keeping it?  That’s the idea.  Of course, I’m going to share a little reminiscence of when I was young.  Every couple weeks my father would say let’s go down and clean out the basement.  I’d say okay.  We’d go down in the basement and I would start to pick things out and I would take it over and put it in a box or take it to the trash can and he would stop me and he would say what are you doing?  And, I’d say well, this has been laying down here for years.  And, he would say just go try to find one of those today.  Then I would say no, of course you can’t find one.  No one has used these in 75 years and it serves no useful purpose.  However, his idea was if you needed one, you knew where it was.  However, then what did our basement look like?  So crowded you could hardly walk through it. 

Mike:    You have so much around here, and obviously I’m due for another swipe through of the studio here, but I would have so many older computers and parts and you never know, I might need to switch out a part or be able to do this.  And, at a certain point I was able to look at things and say that doesn’t have usefulness for me any more.

Jim:    And, in the same way when we take inventory of our lives we go through and determine what is useful and what is not.  What are our desires and what are our needs?  What do I absolutely need to have on the shelf of my life?  My challenge out there is for everyone to identify desires from needs.  Identify and label them.  Describe them completely.  Have that pause before reaction.  And, when we eliminate the desires, eliminate the stuff, you’ll be freeing your soul, your heart, your spirit. And, live life freely and more lightly.  This is the essence of Fishing Without Bait.  This is our message of turning certainties into possibilities.  When we Fish Without Bait, when we live a life without laser-focused definitive expectations, we become free.  And, my friends, the universe – your life, the possibilities will become endless.  And, was we close this podcast, once again, my admonishment, my suggestion, my charge to everyone out there is to do a kindness for yourself.  Do a kindness for another.  And, please forgive someone today.  Namaste.  


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