Back to Blog

Magic and the Unquantified Life

“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.” – Chögyam Trungpa

When we think we’ve got it all figured out, when we have a need to be right, when we need to have everything counted and accounted for–or any other cry for the false ground of certainty–we inflict a cruel ruse upon ourselves. The trick is that once we think we’ve got something pinned down, it moves or the rest of the world moves around it. When we need or cling to certainty we fail in relating to things as they are. Having a romance with that which is here, now, lends itself to a more fully lived life than anything quantified. In doing so, we stand a chance of feeling the magic of our lives. 

“I want a life unquantified. Not tracking data and making decisions on data; untied to technology,” a client just said this to me last week. They were longing for the ‘in the community’ day-to-day engagement that arises from neighborhood brick and mortar encounters. You never know who you’re going to meet, what you’ll talk about, who will show up, and what other happenings and impact will occur in the spontaneity of interdependent co-arising. For them, this was more vivifying than their current leading role as CPO. 

No one needs to leave their job to experience more magic, though; it’s something we bring with us. The unquantified life is the pulse where life is. The question is are we present enough to experience it? What stands in our way of getting more of this magic? 

What we experience in our unique bubbles of perception is how our bodies take in the world outside of us based on all of the inside-of-us programming and meaning-making. If only life stood still long enough for us to experience it fully without all of our pre-patterned historical catalog of already logged ‘knowns’  imprinted in our nervous system. Our brain-body complex is looking out for so much that it can get in the way of us experiencing that more fully lived life by rote overriding of our sensuous self. What we bring into specific moments of our lives, whether it be assumptions about life, others, situations, or our selves and identities, often get in the way of experiencing things as they are (not as we want them to be, project upon them, or otherwise interpret them based on our own internal-based formulations).

What is the experience of this presence? What is your relationship to magic? What does it feel like to you? When do you find it? Is it the perfect blend of ingredients in your morning beverage of choice? Is it the way the light passes through the window in the morning? The way synchronicity shows up in your day? A smile from a stranger, canine antics at the dog park, catching a full moon rise, a bird showing up on your windowsill, or catching snowflakes on your tongue?

The more present we are, the better suited we are to handle what’s coming at us. We can meet life better and sense what’s emerging. To get through life, we drift in and out of presence all day long. The key is in noticing when we drift and how to shift back to that place of presence, where we are curious, sensing, and open-minded. (The Openness to Learning Scale is a tool developed by the Hendrick’s Institute that is a useful visual guide to help us see where we are in any given moment, and where and how we can shift.)

When we’re so committed to being right about our own reality, we miss things happening right under our nose. Often when we’re defensive, or posturing from our ego, we’re not present. If we’re projecting, withdrawing, or even withholding, we’re likely not fully present. All of these things happen in our mind when we sense fear of some kind. Once we suck back into our mind-world out of fear, we get trapped and mind-bottled until something pulls us out of it and back into engagement with a more real life. Shifting from fear to being curious and relational is stepping back into meeting life from a place of love. 

Egos are handy, but they can be limiting to the amount of joy we experience in life if we let them lead the way.

In this podcast conversation, Duff McDonald was shocked out of his narrow perspective of living, and became what he called “a fire hydrant of love.” For him, it was an untying of the knot of his heart that allowed him to feel the magic of life itself. All this stuff he’d been whining about –such as finances, book contracts, his commitment to quantifying things–paled in comparison to the miracle of his very own life. He was able to pull himself out of the world in his head wrought with worries, storylines, and the commitment to ‘who he was’ from an identity point of view, and engage with the world differently. He became present enough to feel the tickles of his own delight.

Whether we come here by exhaustion or via all the coping mechanisms that have kept us safe in life till now, sometimes the mind spaces that got us through keep us closed off to what can seem like a much larger reality that surrounds us, waiting for us to shift our attention.  Somewhere along the way, we lose our sense of things almost quite literally, sometimes leaving our bodies behind. “Take refuge in your senses, open up | To all the small miracles you rushed through,” wrote John O’Donohue in his Blessing for One Who is Exhausted.

Likewise, as Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara says: “Once we are willing to be directly intimate with our life as it arises, joy emerges out of the simplest of life experiences.”

Chögyam Trungpa notes in the lines above: 

“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.” 

To be this present with ourselves that we can also meet life with that sense of presence –such that we feel more alive, and so does the world around us–is something worth committing to. We, too, can choose to experience what it is to operate from a place of love, most of the time.

What tickles you? Where is delight in your hierarchy of needs? How much space do you make for the things that make you feel plum tickled? What does this do to your sense of aliveness? How does this inform your day, your work, your interactions?


Embracing Leadership as a Reluctant CEO This essay is written by one of our first alums from our CEO Bootcamp, Sooinn Lee, CEO of LocoMotive Labs. Last fall, Sooinn also spoke at TEDxBayArea Women in a…
Connect. Think. Lead. Adapted from the forward I wrote to a friend’s new book… Connect. Think. Do. I’d first gotten the call, an inquiry call for coaching, two weeks previous. In a follow-up…
Finding Yourself in Unaccustomed Earth Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children…



The Reboot Podcast with Jerry Colonna, Team Reboot, and Startup Leaders

Check out the episodes

Social Media

Follow us on:


Follow our Medium publication for reflections on leadership and resiliency.

Subscribe to Medium