#59: Bruce Anderson: Is Pressure Really Bad: Repost of Episode #3

Today, I’m bringing back podcast Episode #3 with Bruce Anderson, of Nature’s View. Much of what I wrote about in my book Dancing the Tightrope came from learning how to get back on the horse from Bruce. He didn’t teach me riding skills. He helped me recalibrate my internal operating system to deal with the pressure created by the horse.
When we recorded this episode, I was a full year from getting back on Mocha, the horse that I fell off of in 2017. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since we recorded this episode. As a result, I’m hearing this with new ears, having experienced many, many episodes with far more pressure in the last three and a half years. At the time we recorded this, I was just beginning to understand and experience the value of making a mindset shift around the reality of pressure. While I could speak to it in some ways, I had not yet built into my regular set of practices the ability to consistently rewrite my past, thus raising my pressure threshold.
Now if that doesn’t completely make sense to you, that’s ok. It’s one of the reasons I’m republishing this conversation. It’s a foreign concept. The analogy I like to use is that of a fish in water. You’ve probably heard of the graduation speech by David Foster Wallace in 2005. In it, he argues against, “unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” Here's an excerpt from the speech:
"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swims on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.... The fact is that in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.

And nearing the end of his speech:

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

This is water."

I’m going to take his analogy a little further. We are not fish, unaware of the water around us. We were made to breathe air, even as we must learn to live in water. Living in people’s world has caused us to lose touch with nature’s world. We’ve forgotten the world we were made for because the world we have made has become our pseudo-air. We seek oxygen in the approval of others, in being held in economic slavery, in being run by our own BS. But what if we could live in water but still breathe fresh air? What if we are more like dolphins than fish? Fish only know one world. Dolphins are very aware of the water world and the world above. In other words, they walk in two worlds. So can we.

Before you listen, a few questions. To what extent would you say you are on a journey to become more true to yourself? Pause for a moment and think about that question. What kind of interference do you face in your journey? Now another question: To what extent is pressure a part of your life? Again, take a moment and think about all the places in your life where you face pressure. Could be in your career, with your family, with your friends, in athletic performance. I’m talking about anywhere that pressure impacts your ability to be at your best. Where do you feel pressure? And what is causing that pressure?
As you listen to this podcast, notice a key distinction in how we talk about pressure. It’s not the “person, situation, horse, dog” but the pressure created by the "person, situation, horse, dog.” This was distinction that was lost on me for the longest time. I’m still uncovering the nuances, and I learned a lot as I listened to this before I decided to republish it. I can’t wait to hear the nuances you discover in this conversation.