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Featured reflection

Reconnecting the dots!

That’s thing about life, it doesn’t move in a linear fashion (ok well time does, maybe) but our life’s plan sure as heck doesn’t. It’s full of peaks and troughs and sometimes the peaks are really high and the troughs are really low. But I believe it all balances out in the end.

Pic from: A Compass for Life

I woke up this morning thinking it’s time for me to reconnect the dots because my life, at the moment, is all over the place. My mind is anyway. Maybe I need to practice some courageous stillness as Danielle Laporte wrote about in her blog recently:

Our society is addicted to productivity.
We think productivity increases our value as a human.
And we want to be valued and loved.
So…we become addicted to productivity.

Which means…

being still is an act of courage.

On one level, I know this, on another level, I can’t help but keep busy doing stuff because there is soooo much to do and soooo little time to do it (i.e. I have a limited shelf life on this planet and i’m trying to get as much done as I can before I go).

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” these words of Annie Dillard are worth reflecting on.

And Kierkegaard had this to say about being busy: 

“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.”

Today I will pause, and work on getting my dots reconnected.

Here are a few more links on busy:

Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness, says ‘4-Hour Workweek’ author Tim Ferriss

150 years ago, a world-famous philosopher called busyness the sign of an unhappy person

EPISODE 42: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BUSY?

Being Careful About Your Time


Playlist of the Day

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reflection

habits

I have in mind to evolve, to break out of habits that bind me, that confine me, that leave my soul a stagnate pool of green slime. My habits are vicious little gnomes that enslave my behaviors, perceptions, emotions, and thoughts and limit my range of possibilities in a limitless world. I think it is time to fight and win back some of the freedom I’ve given up, whatever the cost.

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reflection

fear, desire, and hope

I’m curious to know where I am going next.  Several timely quotes have presented themselves to me at a time when I am feeling transient.  The first is from Steve Jobs:

“Remembering I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already dead.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

It is the fear of losing “it” that makes most people hold on to tight, play a cautious game.  In his essay, “Our Feelings Reach Out Beyond Us,” Montaigne says it is fear, desire and hope that “project us toward the future and steal from us the feeling and consideration of what is.”   These feelings of fear, desire, and hope trap us into spending to much of thoughts on what we imagine will be.

Plato’s remedy for this is to “do thy job and know thyself.”  And as Montaigne says “he who would do his job would see that his first lesson is to know what he is and what is proper for him.”  And once you know yourself, you will know longer spend time on irrelevant busy-ness and refuse “superfluous occupations and useless thoughts and projects.”

Love and cultivate yourself before anything else as Montaigne reminds us to do.

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reflection

career advice from the Tao

In times of reflection I sometimes turn to the Tao Te Ching (the book of The Way), written by Lao-Tzu, for guidance. Over these past several days my thinking has taken several synchronistic turns and I realize that the path I chose to walk several years ago is still the path I am on. It seems though that over the past 10 months I haven’t been walking the path, that I had rejected that which I had once embraced. But this morning I realized that I have just been taking a break, that I had only momentarily set my backpack aside to rest for a moment on the trail. And now I feel ready to continue on with a clearer sense of purpose and thought.

I opened the book of The Way and the passage I settled on was this:

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

And even as I reflect on these words I can feel the weight of my pack settle on my shoulders, hips and back, and it feels good and right.

(This translation of the Tao Te Ching was taken from Stephen Mitchell.)

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reflection

my life story in 100 words

Crashed into the world, a product of two teenagers playing house. Inner city, big city, watched a man get shot, nearly lost my eye. Dragged to the suburbs to make a better life. Life sucked. Too boring and tame. Thought I’d make a name, jumping out of planes and blowing stuff up. Met a girl as you do and the world changed. Marriage, married, kids and all, domesticated primate at 40. Life reset to zero, so they say. New song, same old song, chasing words and literary glory. Probably will die in obscurity, but what can you do, except smile!

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reflection

naked ambition

I’ve never really considered the word ‘ambition,’ especially not as a way of describing myself as in ambitious or full of ambition.  But yesterday, when I came across a definition of ambition and tried it on, I suddenly felt a surge of power.  I felt compelled to act towards obtaining that which I most want to accomplish in this life.

Ambition: an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction as power, honor, fame, or wealth and the willingness to strive for it’s attainment.

Goal seem weak in comparison to Ambition.

Ambition seethes with power…a power to propel, whereas a goal seems more elegant and lofty.

I’ve always had goals, but I’ve never thought of myself as being ambitious.  And now when I think of my goals as helping me to achieve my ambition, I feel compelled to act to achieve those goals as stepping stones toward my ambition.

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reflection

off the beaten track

Picked up the new macbook today.  I’ve had my eye on upgrading for a while, although I couldn’t decided whether to go with the MacBook Air or the MacBook.  In the end price and lack of a decent sized hard drive drove me away from the air, whose most endearing feature is it’s thinness.  Time Machine made it a breeze to move my old MacBook files over to the new MacBook and amazingly fast as well.  Of course all the things I had planned to do today have pretty much gone out the window as I have been playing with my new mac and wiping down the old one so I can pass it on clean.

I woke up this morning feeling the time to make a decision is now.  There are so many competing forces for my time, focus, and energy.  To try to do everything means to do nothing.  I have to choose a path on faith and intent.  But it’s so hard to know what is the right choice to make.  What will I miss if I go down one road as oppose to another?  And that is the crux of my problem, I want to go down all the roads, travel all the paths.  I hate the thought of being contained to one path.  Like this past weekend when we were hiking across the moorlands, it would have been easier to stay on the marked path, the one well trodden by others.  Instead, we chose to make our own path.  We ran into more obstacles/challenges this way, but that is what made the walk exciting.  The marked paths were teeming with people.  Off the beaten track, we saw only two other people and they were off in the distance, probably a pair of souls like our own, wanting to go the way less travelled.

But what are the risks when you go your own way?  What if the bold choices we make don’t pan out, then what do you do?  Is it better to play it safe, be on an even keel as it where?  The two sides of myself sit on either shoulder; one is whispering in my ear to live in the here and now and throw caution to the wind, the other sitting on my opposite shoulder is whispering, be sensible think about the future.  The thing about the future is there are too many what if’s and unknowns, and the ultimate destination is the end of all things.

I have made my choice.  Now can I live with the consequences?  Will I have the discipline and the tenacity to stay the course?

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reflection

against the grain

thinking through this past weekend and i realized that i have either been very present or very dreamy… on the drive down south this morning, i started remember all the moving pieces of my life at the moment – things i should be doing, events coming up that i haven’t planned for, places to go etc… i devoted like zero time to those things over weekend, which then made me think, well what did i spend time on… mainly reading the catcher in the rye and researching how to hack my netbbook…that is after spending 2 hours deciding on which netbook to buy…

i thought about what my passion(s) are…my passion i concluded for the millionth time is literature – words, ideas, writing, reading, thinking… those are my passions… i get distracted by other things…is it because words, ideas, reading, writing require great tracks of time in solitude?  I don’t know, but am determined just to pursue my passion against the grain if i have to and to hell with all the other bullshit…

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reflection

soothsayer

An old family friend was visiting us.  She looked at Ruth and said to me:  “She looks good.  She doesn’t look haggard, which means you are being good to her.”

“What about me?’” I asked.  “Do I look haggard?”  The old lady placed her hands on my cheeks and inspected my face in the light.  “No,” She said.  “You look good too.  You two are good for each other.”

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reflection

where are you headed and how will you get there?

And what does it matter in the end, the prince and the pauper travel different roads to reach the same end, buried six feet beneath cold earth, food for the worms and a silent eternity.

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reflection

the creep back

Life has been trying to creep back into my consciousness. Or least all those things that try to distract me and pass themselves off as life – like death and taxes. It seems that when I live in the now, all sorts of other things build up in the periphery and at some point come into plain view and demand attention – attention i don’t necessarily want to pay, especially since they set my mind to worry and focus on things that I have the illusion of control over.

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reflection

happy new year

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.” (T.S. Eliot, The Gidding, V)

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reflection

a letter to god

Dear God,

I just realized it’s your son’s birthday next week. I thought it would be a good time to drop you a line. How long has it been since we last spoke? It’s got to be at least 2,500 years or so. Time flies doesn’t it? I can imagine, being a deity and all, that 2,500 years is probably like a blink of an eye for you. Well for us mortals, it’s a mighty long time not to talk to someone.

We used to have some good times didn’t we? My favorite times were when we used to hang out in the Garden and watch the sun set over Paradise, while the Holy Ghost strummed tunes on his acoustic guitar and Sophia sand us lullabies. I used to love to listen to you tell us stories about the Universe and how you traveled around in the void creating weird and wonderful things. I cried when you told us how lonely you used to get traveling around the Multiverse all by yourself. And then you created us to keep you company. I am glad you did. If haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now, thanks you.

Look, I know we kind of upset you with that whole Tree of Knowledge thing. I’ve lost count of how many times Eve has said she’s sorry. She blames herself for the whole thing. I keep telling her it was all of our fault, and that we’re all sorry for what we did. I am a little puzzled though as to why you kicked us out of the Garden permanently. I mean really how long are you going to stay mad at us for that? Don’t you think it’s time we kissed and made up? There’s a lot of people suffering down here, and we could really use your help to sort things out.

Hey you know what we should do? We should throw a great big barbeque in the Garden. We could invite everybody – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans and whoever else we can think of. We could have a real slap up. Oh and while we’re talking about forgiveness, you could even invite all the Fallen Angels and we could all kiss and make up. With your powers, that should be an easy thing to do. What do you say?

One last thing, there are lost of rumors going around that you’ve gone off to some distant corner of the universe and have forgotten all about us. There are even some people who say you don’t exist and never did. You can’t blame them really. They weren’t around back in the day when you were happy to visibly walk amongst men. It would be nice if you could come back, even if you just stop by for a century or two just to let us know you’re alive and well.

That’s it from me. Tell Jesus I said happy birthday, and give Sophia my regards. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Peace and love,
Me

P.S. Please send me some pictures of Paradise. I’m making a little scrapbook for mankind.

Categories
reflection

will of a man

I feel I am coming into my own at last in finding my what and my why.  It is imperative that I keep the will up.  As Mohammad Ali once said, “it’s not the skill of a man, it’s a the will of man that makes the difference.”

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reflection

grow or unplug

(1)

If you want to accomplish something of significance, you have to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to do it.  It is that simple.  But as Morpheus says in The Matrix, ‘there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path’.

(2)

At present I work to maintain the conditions, possessions, and position I have now.  I am doing the things I need to do to maintain the status quo.  Is the status quo good enough?  In the context of my life the status quo consists of a loving, healthy, happy family.  The kids are doing well in school.  They have what they need to feel nurtured and nourished.  They have an active social life and appear to be well liked amongst their peers.  The wife and I have more or less the same.  When I am not doing things to aggravate the wife, she seems happy.  And when I am not doing things to aggravate myself I am happy.

(3)

I cause myself aggravation when I want what I don’t have and when I imagine that I will lose what I do have if I don’t push myself to do more and more.  I convince myself that I have to keep up with the imaginary Smith’s and Jones’s.  Alan de Botton calls it status anxiety.  It is an anxiety caused by what we think others think of us; whether they judge us a success or failure, a winner or a loser.  Go to any networking or social function where no one knows who you are and what is one of the first questions people ask you?  ‘What do you do?’  This is the moment when you are suppose to ‘strut your stuff’, spread your feathers like a peacock to impress.  Or you mumble something and quickly change the subject.  I usually avoid the answer by saying. ‘I shake hands and kiss babies.’

(4)

Nietzsche says the ingredients of fulfillment are:

– A position in the world

– Sex

– Intellectual mastery

– Creativity

Am I fulfilled?

– Position in the world (a grain of sand on a beech)

– Sex (I get plenty, but like most men, could always do with more)

– Intellectual mastery (striving for, but easily distracted by other things)

– Creativity (not expressed in the way I would like to express it)

(5)

Should I continue to maintain the status quo?  I could if I take myself out of the system where I am judged by what I do, by how much money I make, by what kind of car I drive, by what position I hold, and by what access I have to the top of the line consumer must haves to be seen as successful.

(6)

Do I want to unplug from the system?

Categories
reflection

it’s the question that’s keeping me up all night

This story has fallen into my hands courteous of Paulo Coelho from his blog.  I know he won’t mind me posting it here because he ends all his blog posts with:

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

And he is, in fact, giving a speech today at the Frankfurt Book Fair on the very topic of a free Internet and the value of sharing content.

Anyway, I’m passing this story on because it ties in with some thoughts I had in the shower this morning.  You see, I am one of these people who has been cursed with an insatiable drive to find an answer to the question, ‘What is it all about, this thing called life?’

‘Why are we here?’

‘Why am I here?’

Of course, I have to take time out to do practical things like work to earn money so I can eat and pay the bills, but always just below the surface there’s this splinter in my mind’s eye that gnaws away at me like a Rottweiler on a steak bone.

Some times I have these moments of clarity in which I swear I have reached a state of enlightenment and know without doubt what the answer to the question is.  But those moments disappear like a snowflake on a hot engine.

Other times, the question drives me to the brink of despair and I want to throw in the towel and tell God I quit.

And then there are times like today when I think to myself, ‘Who cares?’

‘Does it really matter if I know time?’

Forget the question, just get on with life – whatever that is?

They say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  And the teacher can come in many guises.  This time, an anecdote:

Three people passing in a small caravan saw a man contemplating the late afternoon in the Sahara Desert, from the top of a mountain.

‘It must be a shepherd who has lost a sheep,’ said the first.

‘No, I don’t think he’s looking for anything, much less at a sunset, when the view is hazy.  I think he’s waiting for a friend.’

‘I guarantee that’s a holy man, and is looking for enlightenment,’ commented the third.

They began to talk about what the man was doing, and became so engrossed in the discussion that they almost fought over it. Finally, in order to resolve the matter, they decided to climb the mountain and go to the man.

‘Are you looking for your sheep?’ asked the first.

‘No, I have no flock.’

‘Then you are surely waiting for someone,’ said the second.

‘I’m a lonely man who lives in the desert,’  was the answer.

‘Since you live in the desert in solitude, you must be a saint searching for God’s signs, and are meditating’ said the third man, delighted.

‘Does everything on Earth have to have an explanation? Then I shall explain: I am merely looking at the sunset. Is that not enough to give sense to our lives?’

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reflection

the early years

born Beth Israel Hospital, play time, almost lose my eye, eat sand, father away on a ship, man shot in front of me bleeding stripped to his underwear, orgies, broken plates, dead bird caused by my hand, big park, Pablo, monkey man,  lemon cream cookie thief, books = friends, army men, gigi, dog down incinerator, fight = survival, grandmother dies of cancer, riots, murder, death, move home, move home, move home, move home, live with grandfather, bats, grandfather hit in the head with a can of beans, eat raccoon, southern fried chicken, scared in the dark, Sunday paper, cornflakes, baby sister, moth balls, dad comes, dad goes, dad comes back again.

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reflection

found my head

I had a spell of enlightenment.  I chased that down with a cold patch of dark madness.  I found my head again, but now I am fighting boredom.  I want peace, love, and harmony on the one hand; and on the other, I want beer, battle, and bitches.  I keep thinking there has to be a middle ground in there somewhere, but maybe there isn’t.  Inspired.  Grumpy.  Did I mention bored?  Creative.  Determined. Curious.  I keep searching for the doors that lead between the known and the unknown, but I am tired of all this pussy ˜New Age” stuff.  I want to be a man again – caveman style!  I want to eat nails and shit rust.  Do you know what I am talking about?

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reflection

friendships come and go

I heard the door close on three good friendships this week.

As I listened to their footsteps stagger down the street, I paused to reflect as to why.  Friendships, it seems to me, tend to gently drift apart over the course of time.  Unless, of course, the friendship ends because of some injustice perceived between the friends in question.  Then it tends to end with a bang.  But more often than not, the friendship ends quietly.  They fade away under the guises of a shortage of time, or perhaps one friend moves away to a distant city, or simply each has found other interests that draws the friendship apart.

Of my three friendships, one has been phasing out over the course of several months, lack of time, lack of shared interests.  One has fallen victim to the moving to a distant city syndrome.  Of course there is always good intentions of staying in touch, but we know time and proximity will see the friendship fade.  And the other friendship has probably ended over a misunderstanding and lack of communication and my stupid pride won’t allow me to take steps to bridge the gap that has opened up beneath us.  And soon we will go into free fall and that will be end of it.

I guess I will always be friends with these people, but the intimacy of our friendship will probably never be the same.

Anyway these turn of events inspired me to write this poem.

I am old enough to know
friends come and go
I thought our friendship would last
but like the others, you slipped into my past

No time for goodbyes, I guess
friendship is something you can’t possess
it storms into your life like a monsoon
then drifts away like a cold cup of coffee in the afternoon

Perhaps it’s the beginning, not the end
the intimacy is gone, but you’re still my friend
we’ll have our memories to share
like abandoned cars left on a highway in disrepair

I watch the sky turn an imperial red
and I wonder what lies ahead
on this twisted road for you and I
as the evening spreads out across the sky

(Dedicated to all the friends and lovers who have come and gone in my life.  I want to say good luck and good bye and may our paths meet again some day.  If you’re out there on the road somewhere and you come across this poem, think of me and the times we shared.  If the spirit moves you drop me a line some time.)

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reflection

please pass the game controls

I sit here in Starbucks.  I watch the crowd of people make their way to work.  Wouldn’t it be better if they, if we, were all headed to our own Woodstock to share love for one another in perfect peace and harmony?  Or is that too tame?

Does anybody have the game controls so I can stop this game before my head explodes and I drown in a sea of my own thoughts?