the people along the sand all turn and look one way;
they turn their back on the land, they look at the sea all day.

as long as it takes to pass a ship keeps raising its hull;
the wetter ground like glass reflects a standing gull.

the land may vary more, but wherever the truth may be -
the water comes ashore and people look at the sea.

they cannot look out far, they cannot see in deep -
but when was that ever a bar for any watch they keep.







Monday, April 29, 2013

Life is Not a Day At the Office


Well, of course, I don't want my life to be defined by my job...but that is not what I mean.

At my office, most of us are compelled - or at least committed - to line up our "to do" lists, and then work through them methodically. At the end of the day, our goal is to have removed those items into the "done" pile, and begin to build a new "to do" list for the next day. That is what is expected of us, that is what we are paid for, that is what a day at the office is all about.

Life is not like that. I have seen so many people (and I have done it myself) try to line up the "to do" lists of life...and work through it methodically.

It just does not happen that way. "Jurassic Park" the movie has a central theme - "life happens." Chaos is lurking in each and every moment, waiting to take our finely tuned plans and our "to do" lists and turn them into butterflies flapping their wings in an electric storm.

But that is still not what I mean. The "day at the office" mentality causes a type of soul lethargy. So many go around with the feeling that they can't get around to the stuff they really want or have a passion to do, because they have to tick off the "to do" list of things they are responsible for. They view life as "work" - or at least as a day at the office. Here's my list of "to do" things that have to get done before I go home...I get paid to do them, I will be evaluated on whether or not I do them and how I do them, and my job and my future depend on my doing these things.

I guess, at the most primitive level, that is what work is all about (though I think we can change our thinking about work as well). But certainly, life is not like a day at the office. Not only only does chaos intervene, but so does choice and serendipity.

You will never, ever, ever get your "to do" list of responsible things done - so don't put off your dream list, or your passionate purpose, until the day's end. Being able to pursue your dream and live your passion is not your reward for doing all of your chores. Not at all! You are alive to pursue your dream, live your passion...not do chores. You were not created to be a chore machine. OK, yes, chores come with life...someone has to clean the toilet and wash the clothes.

But don't put your soul in a catatonic state by saying..."I can't live my dream until I do the laundry." There will always be laundry, there will always be dust, there will always be chores...and hiding where you can't see it, chaos waits to make a grand entrance.

Live your dream and pursue your passion...and do the chores when you can. If your "responsibility to do list" stays uncompleted, or grows...it's OK. You can let go alot of those things, and let them return to the natural state. For example, dust will always win. You dust and wipe and clean...and it will come back. It's everywhere, and when you die, not only will it still be there, you will become part of it!

Don't let dust get in the way of the pursuit of your dream. Don't say things like "OK, I will take a walk and learn photography and paint a picture and travel a trail...after I win the battle against dust."

My recommendation is to leave your "to do" list and that way of thinking at the office. In such an environment, that may be a good operational modality. But leave it there. Let your life be about your dreams, your passion, your soul.

Life is not a day at the office. Thank God!

Namaste!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

So Many Startlements!

For the past several months, the concept of Namaste has been startling my soul like a lightning bolt out of the blue.

Namaste simply means respect. It is a core universal power that I desperately want and need more in my life. It is what I want to be remembered by. I have so far to go in learning how to give it, receive it, live it.

Today, I had a "ah-ha" moment. I saw a bumper sticker on a car - "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Like seeing through hydrogen, I understood why I turned away from the Christian religion. I realized that modern, evangelical organized Christian religion does not teach respect. It teaches arrogance, exclusivity and  elitism. In the 20th century, that brand of Christianity promoted intolerance of women, intolerance of blacks, intolerance of gays, and intolerance of anything not white and American. As a result, the world turned against our country and millions in this country turned their backs against the religion.

A simple example: the whole position of the conservative Christian religion against gay marriage. Why would anyone who lives in respect CARE about the sexual activity of another person? Only an agressive fundamentalism that does not respect but only judges who is right and who is wrong through the filters of their religious tenants could be against a committed relationship of any kind.

Respect means recognizing the divine imprint and image on every soul. Christians, for the most part, recognize something different - the sinfulness of every soul. I used to buy into that - and saw myself and everyone else as fundamentally wrong. As a result of Namaste, I have come to see that every person is fundamentally right in one way - we each desire to be loved, and to give love. And THAT is the divine imprint on every soul - and that is the heart of Namaste.

But religion comes along and says "NO - you can't love THAT way...", or "you can't do this" or "if you believe this way or that way you are going to earn the wrath of God and go to hell."

I reject that. I would much rather live my life saying - "I see the imprint of God on you, and I see the reflection of God's glory in your eye, hear it in your voice...and I RESPECT YOU."

Here is a startlement...watch what happens when you RESPECT.

Namaste!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Truth or Fact?

I had a strange conversation with an old friend recently. He was upset about my evolving faith - or, according to him, "loss of faith." Part of what upset him was my reluctance to say that the Bible is without error, perfectly true.

His issue was not with my belief in God, or spiritual life, or morality (although I suspect we have some major differences). His issue was that I no longer deny my scepticism about the veracity of scripture. According to him, "the bible is either all true, or it is all a lie."

From where I am, surrounded by distance haze, I find that a very strange and almost absurd statement. "I don't know" is the most common answer to any question ever stated or imagined. What we know compared to what we don't know is immeasurably small. And what we think we know? It changes constantly. Just a few hundred years ago, people thought the moon orbited the sun. Just a few short decades ago, people insisted that if "man is supposed to fly, he would have wings." When I was a kid, the tricorders on "Star Trek" were a joke...now, I am pretty much writing on one.

Knowledge changes, because it is impossible to know all the facts. Even to the simplest question, all the facts are unknowable...it is impossible to even know what all the facts may be, or the questions to ask.

Facts, however, don't necessarily equal truth. Simple example: you see a circle. Is it round? No, it could be a tube, just seen from a specific perspective. Fact does not equal truth. Circle does not equal round.

My friend said "if it is not all true, it's a lie." How can that be? It reminds me of the movie "Talledega Nights" with Will Ferrell.  Will's character - Ricky Bobby - is told over and over by his father, "If you ain't first, you're last."  (see the video below)

Well, that's simply NOT true.  There are alot of positions between first and last - 2nd, 3rd, 4th...you get the picture.

video

In the same way, there are shades of truth between "all true" and "all lie."  That is where I find myself, between "truth" and "facts" - between "all true" and "all lie."  It's where all of us are, like it or not.  It's called Distance Haze.

Nail

There are nails in our lives...powerful connections to people, places, events or experiences that never get broken, never can get broken (at least not without the powerful fulcrum of an even greater experience) and that shape, control or direct our lives regardless of what we do.

These nails are not put there by us.  We do not possess the power to hammer our own nails.  On the other hand, we are the ones who hammer nails in the lives of others.

God, destiny, fate, luck...or just plain Life (with a capital "L")...that is the hammering force that drives the nail into the foundation of our existence.

We do not choose the nail.  It is chosen for us.  Our gender, our race, our genetic composition, our family, our social place, our time in history, our culture...none of these are choices.  And they are nails.  Your gender is a nail...it connects you to a basic reality that will never, ever change (OK - unless you have gender reassignment surgery...and then THAT NEW gender becomes your nail).

The nail is a tethering point.  It connects you to the foundation of reality that is your life.  It both controls you, and directs you.

The nail is like a rock in a stream.  The stream flows, but it has to find a way around the rock...and it does.  And the rock impacts the flow of the stream...from its speed, to its direction.

I am a person who is deeply impacted by the power of place.  Many places are nails for me...the airport where I took my son to look at planes taking off, Nelson's Ledges in Ohio where my family spent many hours walking in the beautiful rock canyons, Manasota Key where I have rediscovered much of my spiritual self.

There are also people, and experiences...lives and events that continue to impact and shape my life to this very day.  Move on?  I can't...a nail has been hammered into the core of my reality, and I will always be tethered to that.

So will you.  Yes, you are free.  But no, you are not.  There are nails that are tethering you to realities in your life that you can never break free from.  That is not a bad thing; in fact, it is a good thing - a thing to embrace, understand and affirm.

What are your nails?  Pay attention, learn from them, and celebrate how they have shaped, currently shape, and will shape your life.  It could change everything.

And remember...no matter how fancy the house...it is the nail that holds it all together.

Bigger As You Go

Despite what the laws of physics may tell us, some things get bigger as they move away from us.

Take, for example, my first born son.  Years of living with him at home, expecting him to be there every night, knowing he was asleep in his room, that he would be joining us at the kitchen table…all those things and more had a tendency to reduce him.

It a corollary to the old adage…familiarity breeds contempt.  In human relationships, especially, familiarity shrinks others.  The more we know someone (or think we do), the more familiar they become…the less important they become. 

It’s tricky.  That other person becomes so much a part of your life that they begin to lose significance in your life.  You take their presence, their contribution, their sound or smell or impact as they walk in the room for granted.  You expect it, and therefore you reduce it.  It is not something that you have to work for.  Eventually it becomes something you don’t have to prioritize. 

And you find yourself ignoring that person, because they are not a squeaking wheel.  They are there; they are a part of the landscape.  Other things, the things that are urgent but not necessarily important, grab your attention and suck your energy. 

Then, one day, that other person is gone.  Even though I helped him find a place to live, helped him pack, helped him move, hugged him goodbye at his new place…the moment came when my first born son was no longer in my landscape.  He was not on the couch, watching TV with me.  He was not at the dinner table.  I did not hear him in his bathroom, brushing his teeth before bed.  He did not come into my room, sit on my bed as he had done for years, and talk about the day.  He was not asleep in his bed.  He was gone.

And suddenly, he moved from being a blip on my landscape to the biggest thing in my life.  I found myself thinking about him every moment of every day.  Missing him.  Yearning for him.  Understanding how I had missed moments with him because of his familiarity.  Resenting myself for letting other things take priority over him. 

So, despite what the laws of physics tell you, there are some things – some people – that get bigger as they go.  Our greatest work is to keep them big while they are still with us.  Don’t let familiarity cause diminishment.  Don’t let the urgent rob you of the important.

Keep them big now…and you won’t be crushed by them later as they inevitably go.