Saturday, December 18, 2010

Passing with a D

I have to ask, “Am I really applying myself?” I mean reeeeeally applying myself.

Man I used to hate it when I heard this as a response to why something I was doing fell short of external expectations. Especially in school I heard this. In retrospect I was blessed I guess. School really wasn’t that hard. I don’t recall wedgies, or bullies an issue either. More so I found myself a victim of apathy and disinterest. Being class clown wasn’t necessarily a respected remedy according to the administrators.

I was resourceful though. I also valued the resource of good friends, common sense, a handful of manners, and respect for elders. I was able to get by. Some called it the”path of least resistance”; I considered it wiser to stay out of the woods and use a trail previously ventured. At least I knew where it was leading. There was comfort in that. Although many dreams for me were not going to be found on the paths carved by others, I chose the security of doing what was expected of me, what was familiar, what was pleasing.

Asking for what I wanted was often frowned upon as I may or may not have always been “traditional.” Yes I know the “squeaky wheel may get the grease”, but the squeaky may get taken to garage and replaced.

I found “applying” myself was when I was able to please others by manifesting tangible results and progression through the suitable application of my lessons. This ability was a reflection of not only the teacher’s skill, but in my ability to absorb the material thoroughly. Take the lemons, make the lemonade, pour them a glass, what for the approval. Go for the “yum!”

It is hard to feel like I am applying myself nowadays when I go against the grain. When I am not fitting into the social mold of what is expected of me based upon comparison to my peers. However when I see some of my peers, I do not always see a soaring spirit, fulfillment, and one who is creating a compelling future. I do not feel that every day has to be like a birthday party at a park in summertime, but I feel that following one’s own instinctual navigation is admirable.

I want to find solace in the application of my efforts–in a personal avenue I find inspiring, and compelling –worthy of praise. Worthy of admiration. Worthy of notice. Worthy of forgiveness.

I no longer want to feel that I am going through life passing with a D.

I want to feel okay with the fact that I am terrified at times. I want to revel in the fact that I broke free of the “me too” mold. I want to be judged by how far I bounced, rather than how far I fell. I want to be proud that my lack of need to be praised is worthy of it. I want to be a role model by trying not to be one.

I am no longer willing to exclusively base my life’s grade card on being able to get by, or even being comfortable. I think to get closer to an “A” there requires some feelings of exhilaration, exhaustion, ecstasy, and absolute surprise. Surprise in what we experience, what we create, what we endure, what we contribute.

With that I think we must endure grating pain. We must hurt others at times, yet have the stones to look them in the face and say “I am sorry”–the distance between the realizations that we have hurt them, to the point where we get to make it right is a cutting wound in itself.

I think a passing grade is feeling we did not only do “enough”, but more than enough–till it hurt sometimes. The trek from a passing “D” to closer to the summit of an “A” is defined by our contributions, and the examples we leave behind in our quest for ourselves. I realize I would rather be a loser because of how much I gave than a winner because of how much I took. Our grades are not always based on the academic.

Passing with a “D” is when the schedule never changes, the relationships ripen, and angry acceptance of the mundane becomes comfortable. Enough is okay, someday is acceptable, and okay is acceptable, and someday is enough. To me, it is one stumble from failure. However in life, there is no summer school. I see where God often places tutors in front of me. I see where my teachers appear frequently, yet in my comfort, I may be “napping on my desk” when I should most be paying attention. Not applying but absorbing. Do the extra credit.

As I have said before: “In life, not every classroom has a desk, nor every church a steeple.”

In my personal shift from ambition to meaning, I find it easier to get the passing grade, and a higher one at that. The grade is simply a result of steeping myself in the visceral experience of living with an alignment of a higher calling. When I find that I am heeding the call, the application is something that to me is as necessary as the breaths I take. Application becomes effortless and necessary with vigor. Progress toward the goals becomes a by-product of a passionate navigator.

My teachers are different now. Class is held in new rooms. I pay attention. I value my lessons. I just do not know if what I am doing follows the standard criteria to be worthy of a 4.0, an “A”, or a smiley face on the upper right hand of the paper. However I do know that I consider a smile on my face and the faces of those I serve and surround myself with will be worthy of a diploma somewhere down the line.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Make plans not outcomes

“Cracker Barrel wisdom” is what I call it from time to time. I do not mean this disparagingly at all. If you have ever been to the afore-mentioned restaurant, it is a large but cozy, “country-kitchen” style with a “General Store” greeting you upon entry. The store harbors many sweets and treats as well as a variety of novelty treasures appearing to have come from days of old.

I like the old placards and signs of a wooden nature with old-school wisdom and humorous quotes. Some offer scripture and simple proclamations such as “T.G.I.F” or “Gone Fishin’”. Nice. Perhaps you may be a collector of little fridge magnets with some of this wisdom. One I have seen comes to mind. It states–“We make plans, God laughs.” Well that’s encouraging.

I guess I have a hard time picturing God actually laughing at my attempt to add structure to my day or my life. I liken it to my kids coming to me and informing me of their plans after school, what they want to do and with whom, and then share their excitement as the go on to tell me of a party they desire to attend the upcoming weekend, or maybe even share their future careers goals. I then bow my arms, placing fists upon hips, toss my head back, and let out an “Oh, that’s what YOU think” type of deep guttural belly laugh. Okay, maybe that was a bit extreme to make a point. I do not think that if I plan a picnic, God will make it rain to teach me a lesson either.

I think God wants us to make plans. I think we are encouraged to look ahead. I also think we should not stand idle hoping that a treasure map with a big “X” will appear telling us that we are to take five paces in this direction and then twenty paces to the next. It is part of the adventure contained in the potential of a misstep where we gain wisdom. I think we gain strength through our scars and calluses.

A father-figure style of direction is more of how I see it. Like a father, we are allowed the power of choice but are held accountable for our actions. Whether praise or reprimand, we align with the divine direction that is presented to us. If we turn our backs on this direction, we will burn our fingers on the stove, run with the scissors, and eat too many chocolates. We suffer. We get grounded. We must trust our navigator that we will indeed reach the shore with proper planning. However, we must also remember we cannot control the weather, but we can adjust our sails!

Our ability to be flexible enough to adjust our compass points mid-journey is what allows us to arrive safely. It is our faith in taking these detours or perhaps carving a new path is where I believe deep alignment with God lies. I think we are encouraged to venture out, but not be afraid to hand over the wheel from time to time. It is our ego that allows us to end up in the bad neighborhoods.

I feel encouraged and inspired when I make plans, not outcomes.

Rather than being paralyzed by fear awaiting my next shove down life’s path, I embark without fear, yet respectful of what may lie ahead. I realize that I may be challenged, I may be rewarded. By not focusing on what I feel “should” happen at the end of my journey, I can still stay present in the moment allowing me to feel the presence of the grace that will take me to exactly where I should arrive.

I do make plans. It is like packing a backpack with all the clothing and items you expect you “may” need–food and water, a compass, tent, and extra clothes. I plan on using some of these things, however that could change. I am okay with that. However if something does crop up unexpectedly along my journey, I hope God puts a Cracker Barrel nearby so I can get breakfast, some candy sticks, and sit in a rocking chair.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You don't have to like anybody...

My kids teach me a lot–especially when class is being held by my pre-teen daughter. She and her posse change friends more than they change their clothes. Interestingly enough, within their social structure, ones inclusion and status is attached to whether or not they are currently “liked” by their peers. I guess it is a darn good thing we humans do not have a “like” button attached to us. It seems this liking can sway others to alter their opinions as well.

I find this fluctuation amusing. I have to keep a little notebook to be able to keep up with who is in the group’s favor at any given moment. I feel for the person who, because of a simple opinion or utterance, can fall from grace like the stock market on a downward plunge. Being not included, feeling alone, and ostracized simply for maintaining personal integrity or choosing to express oneself is a deep and profound censorship. Yes, we like to be surrounded with those of like mind, but where is the spice? It falls between controversy and complement, we must find a balance.

When we choose to shun another because of our opinion of them, or because they are too far from our standards, what becomes the benchmark? It is how they look? Is it what they drive? Is it what they wear? Are they bigger or smaller than us? Are they a different color, race, religion, or species? Who determines the parameters? Who speaks for the group? It confuses me as it seems that the group dynamic can dictate this. Our moods can dictate this. What kind of emotional seismograph would one need to properly navigate this minefield?

I have realized, “We do not have to like anybody, but we should make a strong attempt to love everybody.” (I will let that marinate for a moment.)

I admit there are people who I do not find social favor with. I also agree there are many whom I would rather not have in my presence for a variety of reasons. I am still trying to get over the lady who chastised me for being in line with too many items at the grocery. I mean, yes I did have a full cart, but the lady who worked there opened a line and offered, no one else was waiting, I checked to make sure. How was I to know the lady was going to walk up and have only three items? I mean she did not need to make a scene. I guess I could have not told her to “switch to decaf and just get over herself “either. Loud angry exhales from people behind me still get to me from time to time. “Love you angry lady!” (But I don’t like you right now.)

I see that “liking” someone is a more shallow and temporary emotion. Shallow, not necessarily from the standpoint of one’s character (sometimes), but that it does not always carry much depth per se. It can be affected by fleeting moments in time. Parents will be able to identify with this I assume. “I love you, but I don’t like you right now!” (*Child pouts and exits, muttering something about someone getting hit by a bus.)

A lot of this is behavior related.

There are many people in my life whose behavior can dictate whether or not I want to steep myself in their presence at any given moment. This again depends on my mood. It does not always corrupt my ongoing opinion of them.

There is something more here though; part two of the above mentioned sentiment. We should make a strong attempt to “love” everyone.

Love is an action word as well as an emotional and spiritual one.

We can “not like” someone, yet still consider them a human being. We can honor their rights, needs, freedoms, and deserving of said love. This can include sharing everything from the simple gesture of a smile, to offering company, food, shelter, and fellowship.

I hope I do not have to pull out the “WW’s.”

WWJD? (What would Jesus do?), or WWBD? (What would Buddha do?), WWYMTYTD? (What would your mom tell you to do?), WWYWTHITTWT? (What would you want to happen if the tables were turned?) get the point.
Yes, it may be true that we can indeed love someone from a distance, but I think that love’s true intention is to try to close the gap.

We will all be confronted with this dichotomy. It is nice to know we have choices–choices that go beyond our definition of one’s status by how they look, or what type of music they like, or what they do for fun. Try to take the high road. All the cool kids are doing it–(Unless of course you are still in junior high.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

“Merry 4th of Eastaborial Thanksbirthmastines Day!”

I love holidays. Now I do anyhow. As we approach the annual celebration of Thanksgiving, I enjoy not only seeing the preparation for the upcoming fellowship and communion of those I cherish, but also sit with Ibuprophen coursing through my veins from the stiffness acquired from putting up my Christmas lights yesterday. (Yes I did! I mean, heck it was a nice day yester..., never mind.)

I find myself inspired here as I was browsing my favorite social networking site where I get a lot of ideas for this and many writings, and I ran across a post of a friend expressing their extreme dislike (button needed) for “government declared holidays” and that it causes extreme gastrointestinal distress to them to simply paraphrase.
Now to note up front - I really like this person, they are very kind, warm, spiritual, and full of love. This being known, I do indeed understand their context and mindset stimulating their statement. I stand here not in judgment, but observation.
("They" being used for annonymity.)

I thought to myself, “Who couldn’t enjoy holidays?” I also thought, “Aren’t most holidays started, stimulated, created, or supported by some governing body?” Maybe.

I do understand the stress that they can cause. There are those without family to surround themselves with. There are those without finances to provide the festive atmosphere we associate with the chosen celebration.

Perhaps cultural diversity and differences can cause one to feel separate or left out. I know of others who have lost loved ones around the time and the thought of being happy when they are missing their beloved is difficult at best.

I empathize with my friend as I know in the past; I too have expressed my disgust at “Hallmark Holidays.” You know the ones that seem to crop up simply to stimulate the necessity for a card or purchased gesture or gift? “Happy 2nd cousins’ twice removed on your sisters’ side day!”

I then thought further...

I really do not care now what the government has to do with the instigation of anything I celebrate when it involves surrounding myself with my loved ones. However, I humbly recognize and acknowledge major components of the celebration itself like: the birth of a savior, a major religious happening, freedom achieved, war ceased, enlightenment or recognition, or an end to persecution. I guess I simply like being surrounded by my friends and family for no particular reason, and to have the government close a few businesses to allow a few friends to make it to the table, I guess I am thankful for that.

All that aside, I have always been amazed that it takes a “holiday” for the masses to take time for reflection, charity, brotherhood, and giving. Also to become inspired to serve the community, give to strangers, feed the hungry, and to take a personal inventory of what they are thankful for. If this is truly “in us” and not simple “posturing” to fit in to the molded and temporary mindset of a seasonal celebration, where is it on the dates not punctuated on our calendars? Hmmm...

I do believe it is in us. I think we simply need a collective consciousness of a seasonal celebration from time to time to tap us on the shoulder to remind us to remember the important stuff–the stuff that makes life worth living.

I propose a holiday like “Merry 4th of Eastaborial Thanksbirthmastines Day!” It has all the components of the things we like to celebrate as a holiday, but also as human beings.

It has the elements of many of the widely celebrated holidays* to where we hit all the high points: religion and freedom thereof, independence, thankfulness, love, celebrating those who work for our common good, and those who fought for our rights. There could be fireworks, cards with hearts, lots of food, spirituality, and also birthday hats! Yes, it would be an undertaking, and that is the beauty of it!

Since there would be no way we could possibly fit all this in to one day, and since it would involve all of those surrounding us, I am sure it would spill into the days coming. Perhaps never ending...

We could have an ongoing reminder to love, celebrate the lives of one another, revel in our freedoms and independence and thank those who made it possible. We could share our faith with one another and also love and respect those with views other than our own. We could remember to be thankful for every gift we have and reflect on the source of our abundance, no matter the quantity!

I guess I simply wish we could retain these principles on the other hundreds of days in the year!

“Happy August 17th! Here is a card!”

“Thanks man! Crap, I didn’t get you anything.”

“You don’t need to.”


I do love the holidays. Yes my lights are up and I do intend to enjoy the fellowship of my loved ones at a table exquisitely prepared by the lovely ladies in my life. I am blessed!

In aligning with my friends’ sentiment that I do not like or need any government to dictate what I do when, and what I celebrate, and show thankfulness for, I get that. I am however, glad that some in and out of my family get a little respite from their normal routine. Sometimes it takes that to slow us down to wave what we should be thankful for in front of us if only for a day.

I hope your gravy is lump-free, your reflections meaningful, and fellowship warming. May your good will bleed into the days beyond the stated date of celebration. I wish you all Merry 4th of Eastaborial Thanksbirthmastines Day!

(*My statement of “widely celebrated holidays” does indeed recognize Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, etc, and many other holidays celebrated by all cultures. I simply got tired of re-editing the stupid title to make a point. The exclusions were neither intentional nor insensitive, and please feel free to add delete or disregard the title or this post entirely. Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and any other holiday (or none) you enjoy!)

Related Posts:  It's beginning to look alot like Christmas by Ladaisi

Friday, November 12, 2010

Am I jobless?

Ironically over Labor Day weekend of this year my business closed, the doors locked, and the security of a regular income faded. I became “jobless.”

In the past couple of months, as many do in my situation, I have cursed, reflected, researched, regrouped, cursed some more, and re-embarked on my next path to not only seek financial stability, but I have started to answer the question: “What the hell am I gonna do now?” I have a few ideas. The plans are in the works.

Aside from that, one of the struggles I have found, has not been of a financial nature. Yes, I miss being able to take a casual lap through the mall and pick up a new toy here or there for myself or my kids. Nowadays I must forensically evaluate where every dime is going. Honestly I find even though this lesson in life is tough, it is a valuable one. I know I will obtain work, I know eventually I will refill the bucket, and I know stuff will be okay. This lesson in frugality will serve me well and I pray to God I do not forget it.

I do find though that attaching an idea of “worthlessness” can accompany one who does not have a “nine-to-five ritual” to participate in. Although fleeting, I do battle with flushing out of my mind the perception of not having “value” or “worth” due to my current unemployed status.

My self-worth has nothing to do with my net-worth!

Okay, I do not currently have a boss, a weekly paycheck, a set schedule, a cubicle, or a commute. However I do have a “job.” (Note–The word “job” used for the purpose of this writing. Read on.)

I awaken early every day pre-dawn (earlier than I ever did while employed). I use this time for quiet reflection, activating gratitude, and to sip on coffee uninterrupted. I feel these things are best done in the private quiet hours. Trying to obtain these treasures are difficult at best as the troops rally in the morning, and also at that point I realize my focus should be on them.

I pack lunches, make breakfast, check homework if needed, offer encouraging dialogue, attend to the family pet, tidy up, and then accompany my son to school on our bikes because he likes the company. I return home to assess the daily duties, maybe cleaning, always groceries, cooking, personal growth obligations, meal preparation for my wife (who works outside the home) and my kids.

My wife passes on some of her to-do list as I now have the time. She works hard, and I enjoy helping lighten her load.

After school, I now have more energy to play ball with my kids. We have developed a game called “One Bounce” (I will spare you the “continually evolving” rules). We wrestle a lot. We laugh a lot. This new routine is healthy. It takes no more time. It only takes desire and focus.

I have the house tidied, dinner made, stuff done so when my wife gets home at night, she can relax. She likes having a “house husband.” I guess it is nice to be able to have an avenue at redemption for times I may not have been as fun to have around. I like that she notices. I have realized that women value this sort of thing more than I thought. Tip: Men–do even “slightly” more than is expected of you and you will get 200% return on your investment!

I have found that I do have a “job.” My job description involves caring for a family. I lovingly monitor the needs of the inhabitants and the ongoing household maintenance. I provide security and in some cases executive protection. I offer transportation services, entertainment, and life coaching. I am a personal chef. I am a housekeeper, therapist, handy man, fashion consultant, and personal assistant.

I just don’t have business cards. Yet.

I find the key to maintaining a feeling of usefulness is two-fold:

One is always doing my duties with compassion and love and in service of those I care most about, both in house and in the world. I never look at these things as a job, but something I “get” to do. (Yes at times I will still bitch and whine, but that I don’t want my family to get too comfortable with this situation.) If I do not stay busy, I will find the idle time for the negative feelings to infiltrate my space and distract me from the happiness I bestow on others, therefore getting a hearty dose in return.

And second; I realize that sometimes it is the things I will never receive a W-2 from that are the most rewarding accomplishments I can ever achieve. Although I do hope this scenario of employment is temporary, I have had the ability to serve my family in newer and more valuable ways. I have gotten a chance to get to know them in new ways. I also realize a lot of these things I can do around a career. Many of the simple gestures are only a result of me taking the time to focus on needs of people other than myself. (Wow! - *tear*)

So class; today’s lesson will require you to remember only two things: (Please repeat)

“My self-worth has nothing to do with my net-worth.”

“I am never ‘jobless’.”

Related Posts: Wonderfully Chaotic~ Encouragement in Unemployment

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Time Traveller

Although my abilities to travel time do not have a cool machine with blinking lights and mechanical noises, I do have one of the most effective ways of transcending time at warp speed. My abilities to travel time are discreet. People will not even miss me. Maybe it is my animated doppelganger that lingers in the space I occupied upon my departure. The guy who remains looks like me, acts like me, yet the consciousness and spirit significant of me is far off into another realm.

I travel time a lot. It can be an addiction really and is actually difficult to overcome the urge. Sometimes it requires a focused effort to not achieve lift-off. Since my ability to travel through time is often against my will, I find it nowadays more of a nuisance than a super-power. I find that I don’t want to go. I like it here.

This morning as I write, I have already sped through time, both forward and backwards. I have leapt from one place and time to the next with reckless abandon. My hair a mess, morning clothes on, and coffee mug in hand, I zipped about unnoticed; visiting the times and places that lie in my wake as well as that were awaiting me in the future. The morning quiet was lost upon me. My peaceful solitude I often crave lost through the busy shuffle of experiences I encounter as I traverse time’s boundaries.

Here is an example of a trip:

6:30 am

*Stretch* “Man, this coffee is good. Nice morning.” *Scratch* (Yeah, but it is going to be a busy day. Looks like rain/snow today.) *Lift off has been achieved!*

(I better make sure the kids have warm clothes, I bet it is going to rain when the kids are out of school.)


(Damn, that means traffic will be backed up. I guess I will have to leave early. Last time I had to drive entirely around the block to get in line for the pickup. That day sucked.)

“Let’s see what is on the news. Great, more politics; more economic woes.”

(I guess the economy wouldn’t matter to me so much if I had only made better decisions in the past. Idiot. Heck, even if I started saving in high school, I still would be hurting. High school was fun. On second thought...What was I thinking with that hair? Eighties fashion was a bit outrageous. So was the music. I miss the music sometimes. Reminds me of good times. I wish there were more good times. )

“I have to get the kids up in a few minutes.”

(I hope they don’t start today, like every day, fighting over the blanket. They fight over everything. They still love each other. I guess I will miss this someday. I will miss them when they are gone. I hope they call and visit. I hope my grandkids are as cool as my kids are. They will be. Hopefully)

*Sip* *Click*

“Man, I hate infomercials. I mean, do I really need a Steam Mop?”

(Maybe. Ooh, if I buy one, I get one free? Bonus! We could have used one in our business. Guess that doesn’t matter now. Since it closed and all. I hope we will be alright. I hope we do not lose our home. Forty Five and homeless. Hmmm. We will be okay. Someday.)

*Sip* *Click*

“Oh boy. Another cartoon to sell a toy. Japanese animation no doubt. Why can’t they sync the mouth to the words?”

(I remember loving this stuff as a kid. From Speed Racer to G.I. Joe. Times were simpler then. Heck, I loved our sandbox. Especially the one at my grandma’s. I miss Grandmama. I wish kids loved simple toys. Now they all need chargers and cost hundreds of dollars. I hope we can afford Christmas. The holidays are here already. Damn, I have to hang Christmas lights again. I hope it will be a nice day then.)

6:42 am

I am exhausted. In twelve minutes I have ventured back in time hours, days, and even forty years. I have also travelled ahead in time from later this afternoon to the birth of my grandchildren.
I spend a lot of time during the day simply praying to get a few moments of stillness, the kind of stillness that can only come from the quiet hours of early morning accompanied by a hot cup of your favorite coffee while your loved ones sleep. I’m often too busy travelling.

I have gotten better at my little impromptu trips. They depart less frequently. They depart with less fear and judgment. They used to swiftly snare me and drop me off back in time in the worst situations I could remember. Sometimes in the worst I could conjure.

They could also take me at light speed to my own personal Armageddon–fear greasing the rails and projection pointing the way.

Be where you are when you are there.

I have learned that peace is in presence. My past can no longer haunt me if I do not allow it space in today. My past is a great teacher, yet cannot become a demon unless I choose to demonize it. I can keep it locked in its cage. Sure it can growl and rattle, but I am safe in my present awareness.

The future? I will just have to wait until I get there. Since it has not happened yet, it is no more toxic than the poison I choose to paint it with. Why not use crayon? It is more colorful and fun!

Dreams are fun and memories grand. The ability to whisk ourselves away to forgotten times and unknown lands can provide solace in the mundane. Use your travel abilities with discretion my friends. Sometimes it is okay to go on a little trip. I mean, how many Steam Mops do we need anyway?

Related Post by: Every Woman's Guide To Life ~ Catch Me If You Can

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A lesson in alchemy...

I used to spend more time praying for things to go “my way.” I prayed for abundance. I prayed for promotions. I prayed for things to appear, to happen, and to go away.

Maybe it stemmed from my early “ask-and-ye-shall-receive” delusions I got from watching “I Dream of Jeanie” to where a scantily clad beauty could simply blink and nod away the undesired or perhaps conjure up the coveted object. Where was my babe in a bottle?

At times I used to believe prayer made me lazy. I felt if I “whined” enough, or perhaps asked and then did not receive, I could “blame” my circumstances on something or someone and just casually go back to what I was doing, professing that “it just wasn’t in the cards for me” then. The opposite of what I asked for being more of a punishment–penance.

So then I tried achievement, accomplishment, and aggressive grasping at that which I sought. Maybe if it were to be mine, I had to go get it. I saw a goal, went for it, and expected it to eventually happen. Many times it did, when it didn’t, I would blurt out a few token prayers, situations would change, and I would be back to the same empty hand–the cards in my hand worthy of nothing but folding.

Many times, and I mean many times I fell short of a desired goal. Many times “Santa” did not bring what I wanted for Christmas. Many opportunities fell short of my expectation and many times did I resort to feeling cheated, victimized, hated, forsaken, violated, and bitter. Life became cruel

Oh yes I would receive some things–just not what I asked for! The nerve...

In awakening to the principle of life’s lesson in alchemy, my experiences started to transform.

Many have heard of the sought after ability to transform lead into gold – the perceived power of the early alchemists. I believe that this is more of a metaphorical skill that one can possess with the right training. How often have we been presented with the raw material we needed to transform our lives into one of blessed abundance? How many times have we tossed it aside as if useless?

I see how alchemy is the ability to transform.

It is the ability to shift our perception of a potentially negative situation and position it as one of value. What are we to learn? What are we to gain? To whom are we to share this with? To whom are we to serve?

In retrospect, whenever I see a point when I decided to change from the position of one of loss to the receiver, I begin to see how the once declared “disaster” in front of me is simply a lump of “lead”–the raw material needed to use the alchemists craft to forge precious gold.

It is easier for me to see the blessing knowing that I at least have the ingredients for that I wish to create in my hands; I just need to start working out the recipe. Like the fledgling chef preparing a new dish for his loved ones, when the intention behind the application of skill is a gesture of love and providing for the greater good of those I serve, I rarely have my deeds fall upon unappreciative receivers. They can feast even though more skill is needed.

The beauty of alchemy is simply the ability to reframe our perspective. We are able to shift our vision to be able to see the presence of that which we ask we currently have–simply in it’s not yet altered form.

As an alchemist, if I am able to take a less-than-desirable event that has happened to me, and save another from treading down the same path or at least from treading on it as long, I have started the transformation.

If I am able to see the strength, wisdom, fortitude, and courage I have gained in spite of the adversary, I am that much more prepared for future conflict. Forethought in the ability to avoid repeating danger is gold in and of itself.

If I am able to simply get cut to the point where the “scar tissue” is a reminder to avoid the same situation again at all costs, and to help others abstain as well, I have validated the incident.

So when life hands you heavy lumps of dull gray lead matter, worthless in appearance and burdensome to carry the load–remember this:

Alchemy is learning. Alchemy is growing. Alchemy is mysterious and transformative. Alchemy can be the initiative of gratitude, and when shared with others–alchemy is love, and love is golden.

Will you practice this skill?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This concept freedom...

I remember I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wanted to break out of my Bastille and roam a free man unencumbered by the dictums and doctrine of those who confined me. Okay, that was a bit dramatic. I was a youngster dreaming of being out of my parent’s home. I wanted freedom.

I wanted simply the right to “be on my own,” to “be my own man,” to come and go as I pleased and do what I wanted. Man I would kill to be under the care my parents provided for me: “three hots and a cot”, continual and unconditional love, direction, a soft place to fall. Sometimes we mistake our “chains that bind” instead of being what they are: the loving arms restraining us from running into traffic.

As I reflect, I see many of us always seem to look beyond where we are. We seek that nirvana of our “freedom”–the concept of: “there” is better than “here.”

Is it not paradoxical that if we continually focus on something or someplace beyond our current grasp, that the space between actually becomes our jailor? How can we feel free? We become trapped by our longing...

Someday we will get to someplace at some time to receive something from someone somehow. How many people live life in these shackles?

I see so often around me (and at times in my own life) the bondage that people create by the feeling of being trapped: in jobs, in relationships, by their schedules, their finances, their limitations, and their “status”. Is it truly “freedom” we need? Are we bound? By what or whom?

I wanted freedom from a career and received unemployment. I wanted freedom from relationships and received loneliness. I wanted freedom from pain and received intoxication. I wanted freedom from a schedule and received boredom. I wanted freedom from reality and found it wouldn’t leave. Which is more binding?

Now I do indeed realize that people are held beyond their will. I clearly empathize with those whose circumstances were imposed upon them creating insurmountable odds and dire consequences. Many are held in prisons far beyond their deserving and not led there by a jury of their peers. Their flesh mortified and their souls trampled, yet...some...are!

I offer you this taken as an excerpt from Viktor Frankl's - Man's Search for Meaning:

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I see how restraining my chosen perspective on things has been to me in the past. I see how my internal dialogue leveraged my inability to see the true gold from the pyrite. How often do I now humbly desire for one more chance to be confined within the walls of the spaces I wished to break free from. Sometimes only momentarily...

As I see it now, freedom is an odd concept. Like a monkey swinging from vine to vine, he is only truly “free” in the air in the moments between grasping the next vine. If he remains in that space he flails and falls. It is the clinging and swinging that offers progression and security. Perhaps at times we don’t truly desire the freedom of the freefall, but simply need the next new vine. Swing on and be free my friends!