Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blind Side

     It is a rare occasion that my wife and I get a “date night”, and this holiday weekend serendipitously provided us with a Saturday night free of children as well as other social obligations. We opted for movie and dinner reminiscent of how we started our evenings nearly 20 years ago, but now after a movie dinner sad to say, it is time for some “sofa-surfing” then bed, and it is rare we see midnight anymore unless we get up to go to the bathroom or shut off the TV.

     We had heard really good “non-professional” reviews of the new movie “Blind Side”, and were fortunate to find one we both could agree on. I typically, being a red-blooded male, like a good comedy or the “3-B Combo” - boobs, bombs, and blood if I am going to the big screen and paying the fare. My wife enjoys comedy too, but chick flicks, female films, or “mama dramas” are her typical choice. Blind Side it was, and we were definitely pleased with our choice. Very pleased!

     In all honesty, I could pretty much predict what I was going to see prior to sitting in the high back thrones of the theatre. I assumed and was proven correct that it was going to have a “collision of lifestyles” with the affluent Caucasian family inviting an African American young man to blend into their world. I figured there would be some “awkward-moment montages”, as well as a cluster of golden “ah-ha’s”, and dialogue to make me feel all warm and fuzzy. The movie, based on a true story about a young African American man who has a “gift” that needs revealed and cultivated, but lives in a world that is not nurturing to that gift, is engaging as it is about Michael Oher, a professional athlete and how his path crossed with a family from the “good side of the tracks” and how all their lives were changed forever.

     Now do not at all get me wrong. The movie was around two hours long; I didn’t notice. The movie about a football player - *SPOILER ALERT* - had very little football “playing” in it at all, I didn’t mind. The movie had a lot of dramatic struggles and or conversations that were not really sensationalized “Hollywood style”, and the dialogue was quite “normal”, but again I really liked it. It was like a pleasant drive in the country; aside from a couple events that punctuated the film, and some chuckles sparked from the main character’s relationship with a precocious young boy, it was as I said, “pleasant”.

     What I did notice as I enjoyed the film and reflected afterwards was the reason we and so many others liked it. At times, many actually, I find that I go to the movies to see “larger than life” things happen in “larger than life” size in “louder than life” volume, paying “larger than life” money for “larger than life” cholesterol inducing treats. This and other films like it are when we decide we do not need entertained, but “reminded” of things. I do not really see it as “educated” as the stuff I experienced I usually am educated in, but often forget and or simply need to be reminded of.

     The movie started by reminding me to be aware of those I encounter, and to never miss an opportunity to make someone’s day. The gesture of offering food, shelter, clothing and financial support was indeed a monumental expression of kindness as well as the other deeds that supported the movie, but that it is not the size of the gesture, but to be aware “when” I may be able to help not how much or often. Small gestures from helping a person with a disability to open a door, to offering our time, to something as simple as a smile are what connect us to our humanity.

     I know in times of economic struggle we often find ourselves focusing on what we need, or have lost, or what we may want. I find that I need to remember that as bad off as I may have it, there are others in more dire straits. What I throw away, others may be able to live on for days. The fact that the young man in the movie mentioned he “never had a bed” as he was being offered one by his new “family”, was enough to make me reflect and say thanks as I lay down last night in a warm house with 5 beds, down comforters, a plethora of pillows, and closets full of sheets and blankets. Perhaps I can give some away rather than keeping them in a bulging closet space.

     The young man also mentions in a scene the importance of “courage and honor”. Aside from his courage and honor in overcoming his obstacles, as did the family have to overcome some as well, I find that it takes a tremendous amount of courage and honor to do what is humanly “right” at times. The movie proved that to extend a hand to others, as well as the courage to reach back and accept the grasp extended to us takes courage. Often I find that the rationalization why we should just “go about our business” often can intercept our inherent desire to try to help our fellow man. What people will think, the potential danger, the cost involved, and a multitude of defeating statements prohibit us from reaching out, reaching down, or reaching upward.

     What I find as my wife and I discussed the movie, and we have with others is truly that we all enjoy being “reminded” of what we already know but sometimes forget. Sometimes life gets in the way. I find on the smallest level, the dialogue of an experience like this movie raises our consciousness that for one, others have changed lives, including their own, starting with a simple gesture of humanity and kindness. Second that the size of the gesture given does not necessarily reflect the degree of impact it can have in one’s life. Also, both parties, giver and receiver are enriched in a way that endures and develops exponentially. Finally, it takes courage, and with that comes honor.

     I really recommend seeing the movie. I hope people will celebrate the lives of these remarkable people. I hope it causes some simple reflections and in the end makes your heart smile. I hope that you may see that we all can do something; something to change the life of another human being. You will also chuckle, possibly well up, and cheer! Hopefully if the message doesn’t hit you dead on, it will get you on your blind side.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful -vs- Grateful

Gratitude occurs for me the moment I recognize that I am blessed most likely beyond my current deserving...

     As this subject has come into my focus many times in the past, I am quick to discern between “thankful” and “grateful”. This time of year many people discuss and profess those things as well as people in their lives that they are thankful for. This is a good practice in acknowledging that a positive occurrence or person has appeared in our life and that we are aware and appreciative that this “transaction” (for lack of a better word for now) has taken place. We received, we thanked, and all is well and we remain in good spiritual standing. I wish we were collectively so inspired daily to inventory those people, places, and things that enrich our existence.

     Gratitude for me is much deeper. As I stated above it is a “moment”, spontaneous and benevolent, that overwhelms me into emotion. I now recognize that I have “received” something. It is not always tangible in nature as often for me it is a lesson or an awareness of something, perhaps even in the past, that I not only become thankful for, but a deeper “meaning” or “lesson” has just taken place, and many times, enduring and soul enriching.

     I think often people are asked to reflect on what they are grateful for this time of year especially, and I can name the times in the past where a state of gratitude has over taken me and put me in a state of a “divine nature”, but for me to ‘list’ gratitude or to describe it is elusive as I have yet to learn the words to dignify it in the way it deserves. I can usually describe the situation or what I may have received, but not so much the feeling, like describing love or bliss; it is difficult and often poetic as I venture to do so.

     The thing with being thankful is that I most often feel that for the things I receive or have in my life, I can more than likely repay in some gesture or service to others either now or down the line, but how does one ‘repay’ a gift from God? I feel that the “state” of gratitude is equivalent of such a gift coupled with the insight that I have been touched by the divine source of it’s origin. Often when this happens to me, not only do I recognize receiving something special, I intrinsically “know” that something special has just happened to me, and I have a respect that accompanies that awareness that is an experience in and of itself. I simply just “know” that I am in a state of gratitude that is a special gift for me to experience and I am to cherish the moment.

     Let me briefly share a comparison. I am “thankful” for my family, yet I am also “grateful” that of all the people that could bless my life daily and that I could be surrounded with, the one’s I have I often feel I do not deserve, yet they are an abundant source of joy for me. I am “thankful” I have a roof over my head. I am also “grateful” that my life’s path has provided me with the skills, wisdom and opportunities that allow me to serve others and in turn receive the fruits of my labor that I can share with those I love giving us shelter. I am “thankful” I will enjoy a wonderful feast on Thanksgiving with my family, and I am “grateful” that we can share fellowship and food that has been wonderfully bestowed to my family and I, when others suffer from hunger and loneliness. I still do not feel comfortable with my descriptions, but wanted to differentiate on what I am focusing on when describing the two separately.

    For me, I often find myself vacillating between the two properties of “acknowledgement” of receiving the blessing, and then when I am really “aware” and in tune with what I really have received or am in the presence of, heaven’s gift of “gratitude” is then bestowed upon me as well.

     This time of year, I hope all are able to show those whom are a blessing in their life how thankful they are and that the gratitude that accompanies that reflection allows them to be constantly reminded to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2012 - Catastrophe or Comedy?

     I guess I had to see for myself how the world was going to end…this time…again. I admit I have followed in the past with a innocent curiosity of what the soothsayers, prophets, and scientists have provided as definitive and final evidence that “this time”, forget about the others, but yes this time, the world as we know it was going to conclude; and now we have a date. December 21, 2012. Bummer, as it is my mother’s birthday and we have a standing annual dinner planned at a fine restaurant.

     I, like many people from around the globe had decided to dole out a few of my hard earned dollars to sit in anticipated awe at Roland Emmerich’s new movie – 2012. I didn’t make the very first showing, but I was planted by 1:00pm for a little Friday afternoon fun, and perhaps would get a little education on the subject Hollywood-style! I will say that I had fun, although the buttery “heart attack-in-a-bag” and sugary soda cost me as much as the show. I enjoy movie-going solo often as I am not interrupted with potty-breaks from my kids or the random, “is she gonna die?” questions from my young and lovely. This too being a movie of somewhat controversial subject matter, I felt if it is worth confessing I went, I would, and if it was a tragic embarrassment, I could hold firm in denial.

     The movie itself will live up to expectations if your expectations are this; you want to see stuff crumble, burn, and drown, people die in the cataclysm, lots and lots of fabulous large scale CGI effects, and to see what happens when some of the worst stuff you could see on the History and Discovery channel converge with a vengeance in biblical proportion with Earth as its’ target. Here’s where it may not live up to your expectations. *SEMI-SPOILER* There is nothing “Mayan-y”, spiritual in nature (other than a brief appearance by a couple of Buddhist monks in brief dialogue), and as I heard exclaimed in the men’s room afterward by a disgruntled patron, “not enough death”. I guess that was in response to the fact that *another SEMI SPOILER*, some people lived. How they survived I will let you spend the time and dime to experience for yourself. Fun? Yes! Deep? No. Worth it? If not at the movie, definitely on DVD. Again, refer to the above expectation criteria.

     The reason for this post is not a movie review, but the actual topic and movie itself has started a bunch of chats and dialogues that I have participated in and some excerpts I will now share here. The discussion on many lips is to whether or not we will indeed see the end of man and or civilization as we know it. I have heard from many camps, posts and articles ranging from those of Nostradamus, scientists, spiritual sages, Mayan scholars, and there seems to be many different viewpoints and many of passionate debate. There seems to be three main arenas that most seem to fall into, something horrible and final will happen, something wonderful and spiritual will happen, and that nothing will happen.

     I think first to address that I personally feel “something will happen”, and let me explain. What I see is evident and tangible now is the fact that awareness has been raised through discussion, print and media. With that comes a consciousness and thought is given to the subject regardless of a chosen standpoint. What we focus on attaches energy to it and on some level of our psyche it becomes a “real” subject. No matter what you subscribe to, it is now a “real” subject of discussion to where people are acting on it by choosing to prepare, research, negate, debate, or ignore. As with other “non-event” and “non-threats” such as Y2K, there was still much preparation, print and dedication to the subject, fear, panic, opposition, and research to handle a response “should” it actually come into fruition. So this activity level is definite proof of “something” happening on a human consciousness level.

     The evidence that television, Hollywood, authors, speakers, religious leaders, spiritual representatives are even dignifying it at all with thought and attention changes our consciousness collectively and makes it “real” at the very least on the level of our contemplative thoughts. The “what ifs”, questions and discussions will surely gain momentum as we propel in time towards the date in question.

     As I have answered before, do I personally believe that a cosmic cataclysm will wipe out humanity and our planet? Am I storing water in milk jugs in my basement? Am I buying ammo and gold coins? Am I looking to relocate early to either the highest places on the planet or as deep underground as I can get? No. At least not yet… The evidence at hand allows me to choose either fear or hope and for now I choose the latter. (Unless I see the sun grow larger or the Earth starts to tremble.)

     I do think this subject poses a unique prompt for religious and spiritual reflection. This contemplation over ones’ belief systems can cause a shift in global thinking. Are we close enough or distanced from what we currently do or should believe in? What do we believe in? Look at what the economic upheaval did for people's reflection on what is important, how we live our lives, what is excess, how we spend our time. Perhaps this may cause people to reflect on what they believe in on either a scientific or spiritual realm. Sometimes after the dust has collected on us after periods of sentient and spiritual inactivity, it is good to shed the outer layer, take a good hard look at it, shake it vigorously and tidy up a bit. Sadly it takes a major event for this cleaning to occur. (Also see Tsunami, 9/11, etc.)

     Even if all we do is reflect for a moment on what we believe, where we are going, and what we do with the precious time we have in its unknown quantity, it may be a good thing. Maybe 2012 is simply a shift in our perceptions and consciousness patterns. Maybe to others it will be a moment to stand firmer that they find it all "bunk". Like the rapture, Hale-Bop comets, Y2K, Armageddon, and the like, we will have to “wait and see”, and satisfy ourselves in the meantime with our convictions that currently bring us peace. However we cannot claim that it is a non-issue for the sole fact that we are here discussing it now. If it causes us to reflect on our spiritual values or self justification for a lack thereof, this inventory cannot be totally in vain.

     Perhaps it will be an amazing cosmic show; maybe a period of extended inconvenience and a confrontation with our fragile human nature. Maybe our lights won't even flicker. Who knows? I just hope that from a catastrophe standpoint, the 22nd of December 2012, goes by the way of the possible Y2K, near miss asteroids and whatnot where the day after we all collectively either wipe our brow and say "whew, I am glad that didn't happen", or if there is still anyone around, “see, told ya so!"

     Mom, for now, we still have a date!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why do you write daddy?

     “Why do you write Daddy?” asked my five year old. My answer did not soon follow as a simple “I dunno” was all I could conjure to stay his questions from reproducing, interrupting my current blog entry. I write in my office at home which I have set up conveniently on the main floor of our home so I can still see and hear my family should I choose, or I can isolate a bit more if necessary by closing the door and turning on some music to stifle the family acoustics.

     I love writing, I love painting with words, and I love creating visual symphonies that others may hum in their heads. I still was looking for an answer to the question asked of me. “Why do I write”? Many reasons I guess. I know for one that I have always had what some may consider a “knack” more so than a “gift”, but I would say that I have been blessed with a “gift” of being able to connect with people, and the “knack” of using text to achieve this.

     As I have pondered this over the past couple days, I figured that when engaging in an endeavor that does require a bit of time and thought of us, we should at least discover “why” we do something even if the reason is “because it is there”, “it is fun”, but “I dunno” was not going to be good enough for my five year old, nor to an aspiring author/writer whose dream would be to share thoughts on paper to the masses. I at least wanted to find the purpose, principle, or passion that drives me to do what I used to avoid at all costs when I was being graded on it; and now if I can get a blog follower, I feel like I hit the lotto.

     I know that upon “shoo-ing” away my son from disturbing me while clicking on my keys I found one of my reasons. I write to confront my hypocrisy. I write a lot of pieces on an inspirational tone, but I also write about enjoying the blessings found in abundance around us. I write of taking the time to absorb the spiritual resources that make us human and make us whole. If I am disconnecting from my loved ones to write words telling others to love and enjoy their family and to be great role models to their children, I may not be practicing what I preach. I had written once that one of my greatest fears is not the inability to practice what I preach, but the inability to become aware when I am not doing so. Writing allows me to maintain an awareness I never used to be able to enjoy by having me toss the pieces of life’s puzzle on the table in front of me, feeling and observing each piece as I put the puzzle back together. I get to enjoy the sum of the parts while creating the beauty of the whole. If I am aware enough to write on my shortcomings, I am able to work on them. I therefore reduce myself from being a “hypocrite” to a “work in progress”.

     As Stephen King had written about once, he mentioned writing being a form of “telepathy”. I concur as through a structured sequence of clicks on a plastic board, or simple wiggles of a pen tip, I can take a thought from my mind, real or imagined, and send it across time, space, and endless stops along the way, to find my words in the minds of complete strangers. I can think, type, and send my thoughts to friends, loved ones, and random strangers and convey a cornucopia of thoughts and emotions to move, bond, and create fellowship to all who receive. I love being able to use words to come inside someone’s personal space, and perhaps help them “clean out their closet” and deal with a difficult subject or lend support. I can share what my personal space I am in right this moment looks like to another a world away. I can make people smile who are not in my presence, cry tears of joy, or nod in agreement. I used to think writing made me isolate. I realize I can become global and eternally available to the world for generations to come.

     I love also sharing the human experience in writing. I have found that in crisis, loss, or turmoil, people often feel alone in their circumstances. We can often feel that no one cares, understands, “gets us”, and that we are unique in our pain. Through words and writing, I love that I can either by a lengthy blog, or most often a simple social networking post toss a few typed characters out to where I can let people know, “I am there for ya”, “Got your back”, I know how ya feel”, Love you”, “wish you well”, “sorry to hear of your loss”, and many other sentiments where perhaps a call or card would not fit the bill or be appropriate. I can use simple sentiments to extend that “I too share your burden”, and you do not suffer as one. We can use printed language to extend a hand to a fallen friend. Writing lets me be where I often cannot reach.

     Spoken language does not have the luxury of a backspace or delete button. We cannot “unsay” things. However, when I am able to sit and reflect, I can choose my words as if I were creating a floral arrangement to present to a friend. I can choose the color, position, and uniqueness of the bouquet of words best fitting for the recipients. I can pause without discomfort. I can think through a thought to make sure it is balanced if necessary or fractured to reflect the nature of the circumstances. I can creatively take these “legos” we call words and build something knowing that I can pull off the small red piece and in its’ place put a medium sized blue one. I can do it because I am writing, not speaking. If I spoke how I write, I would possibly sound like a scratched CD with stutters and misses as I tried to lock onto the proper flow of thought to create the best lyrics for the song. I wish we had a backspace and more so a delete button. Since I am dreaming, a mute button would come in handy from time to time as well.

     What I also like about writing is that it becomes a gift to those who read your words. They can take your simple written print, and escape not only in the location they choose to absorb it, but also by using the creative space in their mind that becomes the ambient accompaniment to the story. Not only does the script transfer and transform where the reader is at the moment, they shut off the current world to enter yours or where you wish to take them, but they can also add subtle nuances to the story or message through the decoration added by their own creative interpretation. “How green was the meadow?” “How passionate was the kiss?” What level of inspiration will I be able to achieve in the reader? Tears? Perhaps a smile? Disagreement? Once our words are released, we empower the reader to do with them what they will, and it is our duty to try to plot the course as vividly as possible to allow the reader to navigate the same path. Although we share the journey, what we see along the way is special and unique.

     Why do I write? I dunno. I do know that all the above is often factored somewhere in the mix. I like being my own mental travel agent taking myself to different places at will. I like having enough room for others on these journeys as well. I love leaving little pre-packaged personal servings of dialogue available for others to sample when they are hungry to get away or for the companionship of a friend. Sometimes I feel it is perhaps God speaking through me; or to me. Maybe there is something I am supposed to get out that if left inside will die never to return. I do know that right now as I am alone in my office I am extending a hand to many people to grasp around the world to where for a few moments we can sit together and enjoy our gift of literacy, and enjoy a place different from where we now are, and allow our minds to dance momentarily to the same tune. Why do I write? I guess simply to share. What better a message to send my son? Share!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When she smiles at me...

     I have recently been priveledged to be surrounded by a number of friends who recently have had their first child. I remember that elation as the fear of my abilities or qualifications of being a parent were far overshadowed by the gift from heaven I held in my arms. I remember the small daily victories I encountered with my children were perhaps insignificant to some, "Oh my gosh, she opened her eyes!", "Honey come quick, she is sitting up on her own!", and of course sleeping for even a few hours strung together. I also remember being blessed with what I considered the "ultimate" love. Now I in no way diminsh or devalue the love for my spouse, parents, friends, even pets, but something happened the day my children were born. I had the ability to tangibly encounter and hold a physical manifestation of God's love in my own arms. I remember times when my daughter could not speak, and the smiles may have been gas, but interpreted them as "I love you Daddy's" that she was able to sing to me with her eyes. Her gaze held me captive, and melted even the most cynical side of me and I felt this internal warmth that seemed to flow when we quietly sat in her rocker.

     This may have been one of my first attempts from the heart and may be when I really discovered "inspiration", or being "in spirit" during writing. I remember the day I wrote this and even in winter, it felt warm. Her room was still and ever so peaceful. I also felt true gratitude perhaps for the first time, at least that I can recall. I can at least say that alot was being said in silent dialogue between she and I, as we enjoyed the divine presence accompanying us to a place I will not soon forget.

     It was the middle of the afternoon, on a winters' day, she was recently fed and had awaken from her nap. Her rocker, actually a glider by today's terms was where we sat and bonded as we just looked at each other. Nothing was being said yet alot was going on between us. I remember at one point as she way lying on my chest looking up at me content and loved, she flashed me a huge smile. She not only smiled with her toothless mouth, but her face lit up and radiated a light that I wanted to forever bathe in. I was moved.

     I remember lying her back in her crib as she drowsily fondled her "blankie", and I went to my office and began to type. Without stopping, this little poem popped up after a few minutes, and has been in a frame ever since. It is not going to make it into literary history. Maybe it is juvenile in it's rythym. I do know though that the love inspiring it's creation is something a hollywood budget could not match.

     I was fortunate to have a friend today share with me a photo of her chubby little baby girl, and she has more rolls than a Thanksgiving bread basket. As I stared at the photo, I could not help but to also catch the love and pride on Mom's face as well, and I was taken back to this little script I wrote for my baby girl a handful of years ago. My goal is to have it made into a song that we can dance to during the father daughter dance at her wedding someday. I thought I would share it with the same love and pride my friend did today in sharing the image of her baby girl. I hope you enjoy!


I have never been a wealthy man
To any such degree;
I confess I prayed for riches,
but thought God never answered me.
I tried to climb the ladder
To achieve a sense of worth;
But my fortune was waiting for me
upon your precious birth.

You light my life,
You show me love
In ways I could never see;
God thanks for giving me everything
when she smiles at me.

When I gaze into your eyes
Innocent and crystal blue; my faith in life, my faith in love,
My faith in self renew.
I realize I have a mission, to guide and hold you tight
To nurture your very being;
To teach you wrong from right.

You light my life,
You show me love
In ways I could never see;
God thanks for giving me everything
when she smiles at me.

Quiet times hold their glory for me
With your head lying on my chest;
I dream of us playing in the future,
While I watch you gently rest.
I love your laughter, your inquisitive hands,
Imagination and hope unfurl.
To me there is no greater treasure, than “Daddy’s little girl!”

You light my life,
You show me love
In ways I could never see;
God thanks for giving me everything
when she smiles at me.

There is no way to measure
Available to mankind;
To seek the simple answer
I know I’ll never find.
That is, “How much do I love you baby? –
How much do you mean to me?”
For Kings and Queens and all their means
Are not as rich as me…

You are my life!
You are my love!
Without you, I’d cease to be.
God thanks for giving me everything,
When she smiles at me.

To Alexa from Daddy (Tony Anders) 1-3-99

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanks for the award!

Wow - I am honored to be a relative "noob" and have received my first "atta-boy"!

Thanks to Beautiful Dreamer for the "nod" as well. I appreciate you reading and appreciate you appreciating!
Check her blog out as well!

The Rules & Regulations are as follows:

-Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to five most deserving blogger.
Here are my 5 picks:
Ponderings and other stuff - McCaffrey33
Becoming Myself - Paula
Foregone confusion - MadThane
Lessons from the monk I married - Katherine Jenkins
Of Life and Layoffs - Blogger-babe32

I nominated these because of how I enjoyed one or all of the posts I have read. Some have brief blogs, some only a couple, but my reasons are personal, and I extend the "nod" to them. Congrats!

-Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom s/he has received the award.

-Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to The Scholastic Scribe, which explains the award.

-Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr Linky List. That way, they'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honour.

I also understand I am to:
Notify winners of award with comment on their blog. (will do!)
I am newer to this blogosphere so I will have to come back to post my awards to fellow bloggers as the few I looked into already have it. Check back for that soon! I am off to read a few I have in mind...
Thanks again!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


     Sometimes  I wonder how things may be or could have been. Maybe to experience life in someone else's shoes to experience a different perspective. Maybe there is something I am missing. Sometimes I get to thinking about stuff that I know probably is unhealthy, but sometimes it feels good. Like retrieving my blanket from childhood that is tattered and forbidden to someone of my age. Sometimes I dont care, I simply want to think about stuff. Stuff that makes me understand better, not only myself but others. I find that by thinking about these things, perhaps traveling in lands that may be scary, dark, and threatening, I emerge on the other side with a wisdom achieved only by overcoming pain, or comfortably sitting in the warm spot left behind by others who have gone before me.

   Sometimes I wish I was blind. I often wonder if it would keep me from seeing the color of skin, the color of a flag, the size of a house, or the dilapidated car a person has to drive. I am by no means prejudiced or am I at all one to judge a person's life path or disposition. I find I am the first to dive in the fire to stand up for one who may endure the judgement of others because of an external appearance. I just wonder if being blind I would only listen to the music of one's voice. I wonder if I would only hear the symphony of what is going on around me to where most miss the subtle nuances that create the ambient accompaniment of our day to day lives. Would I no longer have to see ones' skin color, hair length, clothing labels, addresses, swagger, and smile. Would a lack of seeing take away assumptions or judgements or the immediate default to an awareness I may be doing so, and a desire to reconnect with my spiritual self? I think I would miss art. I would miss the expression on my loved ones' faces in their reaction to life happening around them. I would miss sunrises and sunsets. Yes, I would miss faces; all faces. I would miss exploring. I would miss the ugliness I confront that prompts me to wonder how I can do my part to overcome it. Sometimes I wish I was blind. Only sometimes.

     Sometimes I wish I was deaf. I would be able to no longer hear the words of people trying to discourage others due to the differences in thought, politics, religion, sex, race, and creed. I would not hear words of hate.  I would not hear the anger spewing from people who do not seem to desire to understand and accept that there are others who exist in difference to be able to allow the difference in myself to exist in my own unique beauty.  I wonder if being deaf I would not be tempted to listen to the gossip and negative stories that are abundant and tempting. The stories that allow us to self righteously feel we are better, priveledged, or separate. I too then think I would miss the songs that come from my children as they hum a non-descript tune they make up as they swing, or play. I would miss the trickle of water as it calms me while I sit in the presence of a creek side. I would miss the whisper of the wind as it passes through the trees while I quietly sit and reflect on my patio. Birds. I would miss the song of birds. Sometimes I wish I was deaf. Only sometimes.

     Sometimes I wish I were mute. I would have to give up trying to show my smarts in a conversation which often times ends up being a lesson in ignorance. I would no longer be able to simply wait to talk, but would have to eternally listen. I would be placed in a position to see that connection does not exclusively come from dialogue, but the ability to become silent in the presence of another. I may find that my not speaking connects me as much as when I open my mouth. I would lose my ability to vocalize my anger and not be able to use my words which can cut like a knife and often take longer to heal. I think though that I would miss the ability to say a kind word to someone. I find that what nourishes me the most is the ability to verbally pick someone up when they have fallen. I also like to pass on words of encouragement and enlightenment to my children. I like sharing stories and laughter with those around me. I would miss speaking maybe more than those around me. I must remember to use my words as if they were precious and in limited supply. Sometimes I wish I were mute. Only sometimes.

     Sometimes I wish I were diabled. I often wonder what it would be like to rely on others for movement, for food, for companionship. I wonder if I would perhaps gain a better appreciaition of my surroundings and the significance to where I spend my time. Perhaps I would see the precious gift I have in health and mobility and better understand the significance of being able to enter and exit my location at will. I may reflect on the monumental blessing of being able to go out into the world and connect with others when I find now I may be too lazy to reach out, or call, or visit a loved one. I wonder if I would take care of myself better. I wonder if I would realize that the gift of companionship or company is a gift I can freely share where others who have an abundance are stifled by the lack of the ability to drive, or pick up a phone.  I guess I can look around to see where I may be able to reach out. I can look at ways that I can extend myself more so to those who may find solitude sometimes excruciating, and the silence of being alone deafening. I guess I do take mobility for granted. I need to think of that more. Sometimes I wish I were disabled. Only sometimes.

     Sometimes I wish I were physically different. Maybe obese or missing a limb, or with a unique disfiguration. It may teach me to be able to appreciate walking into a room without someone snickering or judging under furrowed brow. I would be better able to understand what it is like to blend in, to find that I am bland enough to not draw  looks from others in fear or contempt. I could appreciate going for a long walk, the ease of playing with my children on a trampoline. I could find that my smile would be the first thing that is seen by others as opposed to that which makes me different. I may be able to stop taking for granted that my "label" would be my name and not my disposition, the fat one, the short one, the weird one. I would appreciate the music of my name more so as it would be used to identify me and not my condition. My shape is not who I am. Sometimes I wish I were physically different. Only sometimes.

     As I reflect I see how by sometimes wondering, sometimes placing myself in a different situation, I am better able to be compassionate. My compassion and awareness of the needs of others I find is paramount to understanding who I am and my place in the world. Sometimes I lament that I am unable to help someone in one of the above situations, but now find I am wrong in that assumption. I can always extend compassion, and respect those with needs and affliction with the respect I will desire when negative circumstances come into my life. Sometimes I will not follow through, and sometimes I will fail myself and others when my actions will not live up to what I already am aware. Sometimes I will need the same compassion extended to me, and sometimes by not receiving it, I will perhaps be reminded of its' value and importance. Sometimes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A few of my favorite things

     I may often be accused of being a "packrat". Yes I will say to the minimalist I do have an abundance of stuff that I accumulate, but mainly in my personal space such as my office or personal top drawer of my dresser; yes, my "junk drawer". I prefer to label myself as "sentimental" or that I hold onto life's mementos, but I try to keep it under control and not be fodder for episodes of Clean House or worse yet to be "that guy" that you may encounter as the male equivalent of the "cat lady" who mysteriously peeks occasionally through the blinds and has oatmeal cartons from 10 years ago still thinking Y2K is "just a bit late".

     I have found that I enjoy having little random and obscure items that remind me of people, places or things that I can upon occasion pick up, reflect, smile and return to the location in which I found them that acts as a time capsule of thought I can open at will and be momentarily projected back in time. Some things I consider lucky unlike the barbaric rabbits foot from my youth. Wasn't lucky for the rabbit! Some I consider little trinkets that remind me of a lesson, a "lovely parting gift" from a place I enjoy, or a gesture of love from someone I admire or adore.

     I find many people in a quest for a pristine space or a showcase to one's hard work or status such as their home, at times has people feeling that holding onto certain things can be counterproductive; that not only is it being over nostalgic, but just plain old messy. I find that true in some instances and if you are indeed creating "mouse condos", have Sears catalogues with the name "Roebuck" still on the cover, yes you may need an intervention. I am talking about holding on to little items, tokens of an inside joke, photos of a moment you do not want to forget the imagery as fast as the ones in the albums and drawers.

    I have found that in my personal space I have what I consider little "shrines" of pocket sized lessons, amulets, and doo-dads that keep me connected to the person or message that I find emanating from the object. These unique and random items come together to create a story of who I am, wish to be, or strive to be and I can easily take one with me should I need the message to become memorable or simply portable.

     A few of my favorite things on my desktop...

    I share with you now a few personal items that to a person who may invade my space and infiltrate my domain uninvited or not getting the "ten cent tour" may find garbage at best. For example, one thing on my shrine is an acorn. Quite ordinary to the unitiniated, but to me special. My son retrieved it from under a tree one day while we were on our way to a museum, and he asked what it was I gave him a description that a 5 year old could digest. His amazement that it was a "tree seed" that would grow into the shade providing wonder we stood under was profound. The few moments of silence he stood there examining this brilliant obeject in his hand was astounding actually. He asked me to hold it for him as if he were asking me to hold the key to the kingdom of heaven. The message in the object? Live life with the wonder of a child.

   I also have a small glass container with some shell pieces in it. Should someone who does not know me see these items, they may ask what happened to the "pretty shells". I intentionally made a collection of these as they remind me of a beautiful walk on the beach I had one day last summer. With that walk I stood in gratitude and awe at the magnitude and the beauty of nature and the majesty of the sea. The poignant part was though that these pieces are all unique, briilliant, and shiny unlike their counterparts from where they derived. Where most collect the typical scallop shaped shellls, conch, and other familiar shapes, the seas had broken these pieces down into small but wonderful shiny objects of art. The message I got from these artifacts were that at times when we feel that we are "broken" or beyond repair, we can truly shine brightly, have great stories to tell of our journey, and that someone can still find beauty in us. They caused me to write, "only after being tossed and tumbled in life's current, do we become most brilliant, and our edges smoothed." We humans can be like those shell shards. It can be the stories we have about overcoming the insurmountable that make us interesting and of great service to our fellow man. I made a few pieces into jewelry I wear often to remind me.

    I also have many coins of varying color with varying numbers on the front. These all count the months of sobriety I have accumulated. Some of these I received from very close friends helping me celebrate crossing a chasm that I have since known others to have died from, they fell before crossing to the other side. I dont want to forget them or my mission to myself and those that count on me.

     I have stones, and twigs, and other little offerings that my kids have found sometimes in the yard, sometimes made in school, sometimes created with deep diligence, sometimes as simple as bending to pick it up. The message in these is that the gifts value has nothing to do with how much is spent on the gift, nor even the amount of time to acquire or create it. The value comes from the love and affectionate intention behind it. My sticks are worth as much as my coins.

    Many other things flank what I have mentioned; to prayers on bookmarks, jewels, crystals, and artsy objects given to me, and they all come together to remind me that I am loved, I love them, and that there are many lessons to be found outside a church and classroom as the title to my blog mentions. It is also another testimony to the "one man's trash is another man's treasure". I try not to hold onto everything not only so my family let's me live here, but so that the message is not diluted and the items have a unique significance. The items may also rotate from time to time as I may share, loan, give, or delete one to make way for another to take it's place and continue the stories and lessons I need to refelct upon from time to time.

     I have found it healthy to have a few of these things around to inspire me and visually help me stay connected in a fun way to people and moments that intersect my life's path. I commit to keeping it tidy and discreet. I truly think if anyone saw it, they may think this means something to someone. I now look at people's desks and personal spaces differently now as I have tried to justify some of my "clutter". I am respectful as to how "exposed" people have to be to my "stuff" as since it is personal, I keep it personally close and sacredly out of the path of people I share my space with. So now when I am criticizing people for their junk, and wish they may "clean that crap up", I hold my tongue a moment longer. Now I do not consider my wife's shoes on the kitchen floor a shrine to the gods, an open box of cereal on the counter sacred, nor a stack of legos sentimental, but I will respect the proverbial junk drawer with a bit more reverence, and find that it holds as many memories as it does forgotten junk.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Objects in the rearview mirror are larger than they appear!

 For some reason this week I have encountered a handful of people who have had a hard time dislocating their focus from the rearview mirror.  Let me explain. My life allows me the blessed ability to be in the presence of or obtain the audience of many people, and in that presence, the ability also to engage in conversation. From groups, to one on one, to social networking arenas, to blogging comments I have found it a joy to be able to broaden my contact as well as enlightenment often leveraged by current digital forums.

     Life does not allow us the instantaneous muting of one's rants through a "hide" button as does venues like Facebook, and I have found that a quest to try to understand things as opposed to negating them or chastising them is a better way of coping for me. I have noticed that some individuals I encounter perpetuate their circumstances of self pity often by looking backwards, forensically dissecting the misdeads that caused them the most suffering and pain in their lives. Then once a situation has been targeted, a current identity is attached. As it casued me to post and I stand by, "our past deeds have nothing to do with our current identity".

For example...
    I encounter a gentleman from time to time in a group setting and his circumstancial nemesis is the fact that he is trying to overcome addictions. He weekly states that he (due to his past misdeeds) "is a liar, cheat, and a thief". This not because of current practice, but past intoxicated behavior. This to me is so hindering to one's recovery as it ties you to your past by punishing oneself repeatedly with a negative title that is self chosen and with an ongoing sting. It is hard to be present when your anchor is dropped in the past.

    I encountered another beautiful young lady who has dealt with the past identity issues that accompany dealing with weight and body perception issues due to her weight and the opinion of those whom she encountered. The baggage as she mentioned has carried over into her young adulthood, and fortunately she has chosen to let go of that anchor by studying her assets as opposed to liabilities. (Not that they are liabilities at all). She now uses her insight to help others as well as cleanse her past angst.

     She learned wisely that "what we focus on is what we see"!

     I too in my life found it easy to select "armageddon" as opposed to a "speed bump" should an obstacle appear. I would also attach labels and past experiences as the barometer as to the amount of pressure I perceived it held for me. I found the past haunted me with compound interest when resurfacing for another round of a similar situation.

     I also find that I have done many things in the past; many that I perhaps having had the ability to avoid now would, but do not necessarily regret. I also do not attach the labels that are so damning just to give power to a current fleeting emotional uprising.

     Having a rough morning does not make my day "horrible". I can start it over again at any time. Breaking up with someone does not mean I have to absorb the identity my "ex" would impose upon me to make them feel better about the separation. ie. "She is a bitch, unreasonable, mean spirited." He is "lazy, worthless, ugly".
Being out of a job does not make us a "loser", and being without money does not make us "worthless". Being fat or out of shape does not make us "unloveable", nor does bald, short, thin, handicapped, slow, fast, black, white, blue, green or purple.

    I see our past needs to remain in the rearview mirror, yet our eyes need to stay focused on the road. Circumstances do not at all give birth to an identity, and we must remain aware when we feel this way. I find that when I feel a certain negative way, if I inventory the situation, I decrease its' ability to devour me. I ask, "what am I feeling?" "Why does this bother me?" "Is it permanent?" "Is this real or just how I perceive it?"
"Should I manage this or simply accept it?" These type of questions allow me to digest the situation and de-escalate. Then it becomes harder to attach the damaging lables that keep us looking to the past or to attach lables that not only harm us, but often cause us to follow a path of behavior that supports the label. "Well if I am broke, and a loser, why even look for a job?" "Why should I call him back, I am such a relationship failure anyhow?" "Everyone thinks I am fat, who cares if I eat this?" The dialogue isn't pretty when the labels are flying.

     With each encounter of a situation in life comes the ability for them to have a unique outcome regardless of the circumstance's similarity to a prior event. We all get "do-overs". Plus in the past I have taken things that did not belong to me, however I am no longer a thief. I have not lived up to my potential in past situations, but I do not choose the label of lazy or loser. I have lost loves in the past for a variety of reasons, but I do not feel unworthy now. Heck, I crapped my diaper as an infant, but that does not make me the "diaper crapper" now. How long do we hold on?  Situations are not identities!

     I feel for those who cannot yet see that we often create alot of our pain through our choice of perceptions. It is like we are not satisfied with "what is" but we have to "spin" it to become worse or more enduring than it would if we accepted, learned, and let go. I too have labeled myself with many of the above, and I too have been held down by my own self perception limiting me from bouncing back from my misdeeds or random unfortunate circumstances.  I just now realize that I have to stop looking over my shoulder being haunted by the innocence and ignorance of my past, and use it to add insight and stregnth to who I can truly become. As I have said before, " One of my biggest fears is not my inability to practice what I preach, but the inability to become aware when I am not doing so." Eyes forward my friends!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kiss the Boo Boo!

     My alarm had not yet gone off and I was awakened to the rustling of the covers as my wife slipped out of bed beating me to the morning shower just a few minutes shy of my morning routine. I am no more entitled to be first, but I will admit I like being first into the shower as it feels to me somewhat like getiing into cool covers in bed at night even when I seek warmth. It is refreshing to feel the heat creep upon me as opposed to the existing steam of being second in line.

     Since I had a few minutes prior to my turn, I ventured downstairs to pour my self a cup of coffee as I like to let it stand for a few minutes as I am not the "scalding hot' type of guy when trying to awaken. I just want to drink it warm, quick, and keep going. Upon opening the cupboard, I was startled by the cascade of cups that had started to fall upon opening the door. We have alot of cups as kids never recycle a glass, so once we are blessed with a complete cycle of the dishwasher, we often find the cupboard filled to capacity often with one or two cups precariously shoved in like passengers on a Japanese subway car. Sadly the one that chose to make its' getaway was my favorite glass; a gift from a friend that I loved as it was perfect for holding a tall glass of ice and a complete can of soda. It was a frosted green color with ridges alongside making it easy to grasp even with its' larger than average girth. It now lay in shards scattered about the counter and floor and among my bare feet.

     I tiptoed through the pieces like walking through a minefield until I was able to retrieve the dustpan and hand broom, and cleaned the mess thankfully less disturbed than I thought I would be. In the past, this type of incident could have easily derailed my day, even though trivial, but I noticed I was able to maintain composure and diligently pick up the mess, and suprisingly without seeking blame or vengeance.

     Coffee mug in hand, I poured my French vanilla creamer as I caught a glance out my kitchen window to notice that not only had a varmit sought my garbage can as his diner of choice last night, but the cans upon tumbling had taken out two of our mum's in the cascade. Two cans, two planters and some random garbage and a half eaten biscuit lay in the driveway between my door and the car which I was now going to have to tend to prior to taking my son to school. As I shook my head in a "are you kidding me?" sort of fashion, I was still able to stay calm even in the face of escalating inconvenient circumstances. Strike two.

    After making my way to the shower, the awareness that the kids were awake was punctuated by their taunts of one another causing me to rapidly seek the solace of my couch and a few minutes of the news before having to make their lunches. The teasing escalated and seemed to increase in volume, yet it was only my shields wearing thin and dropping. My wife intercepted the "enough is enough" speech sparing the strike three that usually meant that "Mt. Dad" was about to erupt.

     Lunches packed, kids screaming fading, my son sensed perhaps through my quietness that I really was "white knuckling it", and seemed to become rather accomodating and not needing the nudges typical to get him out the door. Backpack and lunchbox in hand, we made it out the door and into the SUV. I helped him in, closed the door, and moved to my door noticing my glove box open, ashtray open, console open, belongings strewn about, and my expensive GPS  and money missing from the dash. Strike three...

    I found that I just sat there in silence, and just exhaled. I noticed that I did not "blow" even after realizing I had been robbed, but I also realized that I did not feel "normal". Acceptance would be a good word, but also frustration was the wrapper on the situation. I was very aware I was upset, but was going to be okay, but felt temporarily defeated. Like the guy who got a wedgie from the bully, and just decided to walk home with the wedgie remaining wedged as a sign of succumbing to the situation.

    I backed out of the drive and got my son to school minutes later. Still shocked as to how my morning was going, I sat quietly and just stared. Calm, but staring ahead in silence, I felt a presence to my right, and my son had unfastened his seatbelt, and leaned forward between the seats and said, "Dad, I love you!", kissed me on the temple and gave me a hug. Usually it is the adult "kissing the boo-boo", but I was glad to allow my son to take on the responsibility. His kiss was like an etch-a-sketch being shaken allowing me to start the day over and with a new perspective of what is important.

   I realize now that I can choose how long I wish to hold onto the random circumstances that occur in life and label them into becoming catastrophic. Being a "victim" is a perspective in this instance I can cling to or shed at will. I reflected as I was looking at my "losses" and was reminded of hearing of a friends' day yesterday where she was lamenting not only losing one, but both parents on the exact same date over the years and that she was really missing her family, to where mine was safe and a phone call away. My desire for retribution was not going to bring back my belongings or further punish the perpetrator, and playing the events over and over just allowed them to keep happening to me. I am thankful that I was able to remain "intact", but that there was a "lifeguard on duty" as my son's gesture arrived at the perfect time, in the perfect capacity to remind me of what is truly important; that I have alot, and life is still pretty good. It is the storms that show us where the leaks are, and after this rain, I see where I can use a few patches. I am just thankful that my son was there to patch my leak before I allowed my roof to cave in.