Sunday, April 25, 2010

Who agreed on this?

I often sit in contemplation. In those contemplations at times I will take my inventory as to “how I am doing.” Am I being “good?” Do I believe the “right stuff?” How is my spirituality? I guess I just inquire into the “Tony state of the union.” I hope I am getting a passing grade. I like to think I am.

That being said is recently I picked up a new book to read. Every day during the week I pick up my son from his school, and at times while waiting in the Stop-drop-and-go line, I like to have something to pick me up and I often opt for the book that polishes my soul after completing a day’s work. This time it was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Now I have just started it. I am not even into the first agreement yet. However what I found profoundly interesting is the concept of “agreements” he touches on in the first chapter. He brought to light the concept of an “agreement” being a collection of thoughts or beliefs that were accepted as truths, practices, and or belief systems that are embraced as the accepted norm. These can be anything from societal laws, religions, as well as behavioral standards. This I found interesting.

What I pondered was that the inventory I was taking upon myself was based upon agreements others made in times past. Those agreements of what is considered “acceptable behavior” was bestowed upon us all as necessary parameters of how we should think and act to be accepted.

People once came together and through a primary deliberation, or simply by trial and error of what worked for those agreeing at the time, created a standard. Often times these standards, memes if you will, remained indelible and unchallenged.

I can see how laws and certain parameters of conduct are worthy of this untouchable status. Flexible or wavering standards of acceptable behavior in a populous society could lead to anarchy if the laws were open to personal interpretation. However, I reflected back on when I would wonder “how I am doing.”

When I look at certain things I believe in, I often ask “whose” truth I am seeking. If something does not fit or feel right, how far should I follow into self-doubt or even animosity for trying to conform to behavior that is causing me doubt or pain? At what point do we ever hold any ownership in what we do, feel, or believe? Who agreed this is how I am supposed to feel?

Am I being “good” enough; “strong” enough? Am I doing what a “man” should do? Whose interpretation is this? Who sits in judgment of this behavior other than my Creator? When I do not believe in the same manner as you, am I wrong, or are you? Are we both? Who agreed on this? Should we then become separate because our beliefs differ? Are we wrong or are we simply disagreeing?

When my kids ask me, “Am I being good Daddy”, I say yes! I say it not from the benchmark of their behavior complying with a certain set of criteria set forth in the agreements of others who came before me. I say it out of love. Their shortcomings and behavioral indiscretions we can work on together. We can appreciate the light in each other as our differences bond us as actually being the same. I will not participate in teaching them to judge others by an agreement I did not agree to.

Good, bad, right, wrong, and everything in between are subjective. In general, I think all when left up to our intuition, spiritual cultivation, and just the deep “knowing” we have inside us, we probably would “agree” on most of what these terms would mean and the behavior that would wisely support it. Those who do not agree with us will find others who agree with them. Therefore, we agree to disagree, and those we disagree with will find others who agree with them to disagree with us. This just makes my head hurt.

I find what works for me is just that–what works for me. I study, I pray, I research, and I try to live on the greater side of good, as opposed to the lesser side of evil. I ask God to “show me what I need to see.” I pray for patience, love, compassion, and acceptance of others especially in the face of our differences. I find I would rather work on my own inventory as opposed to focusing on my interpretation of the deficits in others.

I just thought it was funny that I had an epiphany that all I was trying to seek, be, or become often times was an agreement made by others in the past, and continued perpetually onward, often without question when we became of the age and maturity to ask what works for us as individuals.

I don’t see myself “challenging” many things as opposed to pondering them. They way things are are not intolerable. I just do not feel as awkward when I question some behaviors and viewpoints I have had or have had imposed upon me. I will not feel guilty if I look into “why” I do or do not believe in things. All things, not just behavioral or spiritual, but simply why we do some of the things we do.

I will try to stay more connected to the gut feelings and little voices in my head. I think that is the real me trying to be heard. Even if I comply with certain things, I know it is okay to not agree. It is okay to seek an alternative.

The truths we hold early in our lives may become invalid. Often we may feel we “know” what is correct, but it is often true that the things we “know” can also prove our ignorance.

I hope the rest of the book is interesting. I also know I do not have to agree with any or all of it. I know there is a lot out there left to learn. I know that what I learn can gain and lose value as I grow. I know my truths can be different from others even on the same path heading in the same direction. I know that it is healthy to reflect on what works for me from time to time–to clean out my closet of its junk. I also know I don’t know. Maybe that is one thing we can agree on.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A real attention getter!

Okay, so you are cruising along, pedal-to-the-metal, doing your thing. You are free; no one can tell you what to do, as you are immortal. Restraints-be-damned as you are impervious to the frailties of your human brethren. *Tap, tap.*

Live hard! Ride free! Heck, burn the candle at both ends as who cares about tomorrow? Once more shot, an hour less sleep, spend that dollar; no worries for you. Life is good and we will worry about the consequences of today when they arrive. *TAP, TAP!*

I am different. The stuff that gets other people can’t get me. My story is different. I mean, I learn by their mistakes. I watch others fall, so I will not stumble over their obstacles. I deserve this, and I go for what I want. Let others get their own, but I gotta look out for number one right? No guts, no glo...BAM! POW! KA-BOOM!

God gets our attention.

I remember thinking this way when I was young and made of armor. A ten-foot-tall Green Beret who was bullet proof, that was me. Young and careless was the more honest description of my mental state.

However as I grew, I thought my age, and perceived maturity made me wiser. I was more in control. I thought that my wisdom offered me license to follow my instincts; my self-will mind you. I felt since I was not running with reckless abandon as I did in my youth, that “living for the moment”, was the same as “living in the now.” Indeed I was wrong.

Although we cannot control much of what occurs around us. We also cannot manipulate some of the blessings as well as catastrophes the universe bestows upon us. Yet we can surely manage ourselves and place us in a position to where the results of our choices align to smooth our path forward.

I have found that when I feel too much in charge, or perhaps the opposite of being completely untethered to the universe, I will start to receive subtle little “taps” on the shoulder to give me the opportunity to readjust my thinking. It is these times to where I need to check my compass and look for the lighthouse to keep me off the rocks. What keeps you free from the reef?

What is it in us that detaches us from our rational thought, from our intuition that something isn’t right, from the stuff our parents warned us about? Where do we choose to say, “The heck with health, security, love, self-respect, and trust”, and choose a “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” attitude? Often it is full steam into a wall.

From the person on a diet, who chooses the Reese’s Cups by the handful, to the person in a relationship who chooses infidelity, to the person suffering financial burden, who chooses another swipe of the credit card; what is it that allows us to justify the ends with the means?

Sometimes we need that “tap” on the shoulder. If we ignore it, it gets more aggressive. Finally it comes like the swing of a two by four upon the side of our head. (It doesn't hurt so much here, or here, but riiiight here.) Our attention will be gotten. The degree, duration and severity of the circumstances are up to us.

We must however remember that all this comes neatly packaged in a lesson. The wise pupil should spend little time revisiting the same chapter. Sadly at times, we must fall and fall hard to get the enduring depth of our lessons.

Sometimes even the saints falter. At times, God will have to clip the wings of an angel to keep them grounded. Sometimes we need to be reminded that even though there is a lifeguard on duty, it is up to us to know our comfortable depths in which we swim, and to prepare ourselves with skills. If not, we take the risk of drowning, and hopefully our guard is not distracted when we sink below the surface for a time.

Recently I, as well as a handful of others, have been served up our share of challenges; some to a degree to where they perhaps ignored the first few taps. Although it is not mine to judge the severity of the lessons presented, I have been blessed with a reminder. I am not in control, yet I can assist in managing my outcomes. I can seek insight and wisdom from a place other than what is in my head. I try to digest the lessons I experience directly and those I see happening to others, so I may learn from the examples. I listen to the “taps.” I hope you will too.

My final prayer to God for today to end this post: “As you see fit, please replace the feathers upon my friend’s broken wings.”

Soar high and safe my friends!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What if God had more kids?

On this Christian day of celebration I am prompted to reflect on this very poignant event. This day of resurrection, this day of hope, this day of miracles resonates within us to revel in the security that a savior has overcome the obstacles of man, and will indeed shepherd us into salvation.

But for me, Mr. Blogger Man; I have too much time on my hands, and find myself often pondering things. Some things I ponder are worthwhile, some not so much.


Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?

Is God so powerful that he can create a rock so big that He Himself cannot lift it?

If you are driving down the road at night at the speed of light, and you turn on your headlights; will they do anything?

If you are traveling in a time machine way into the future, and you roll down your window and put your arm outside; will it turn into a fossil?

The youth ministers thought I was weird in my early days.

I guess I wonder in all of God’s magnanimous power why he never had more kids.

Now I do indeed note: If people chastised, ridiculed, then crucified my only son, I too would be leery of a second. However, for the sake of this blog, we will move onto the hypothetical.

God also forgives. (Again, let’s not quote scripture here, and I move onward.)

What would it be like if there were generations of God’s children walking among us; these generations a perpetual presence, keeping watch and leading us? I know again, intercepting the argument from those who are already processing rebuttal from the standpoint of, “We are ALL God’s children.” I am speaking of the people who could trace their roots to Jesus*—the indisputable.

(*Please feel free to insert your figure of choice here to represent the point of your chosen religion. Today is Easter – it is Jesus’ show today.)

I wonder, would the biblical miracles dictated in the Bible would be as prolific today? Lord knows we could use a few down here. Healing, heroics, and divine intervention of epic scale to get the attention of the nay-sayers, the ne’er-do-wells, and the evil doers could use a good shot of biblical justice. The Red Sea partings, Jericho walls, curing of leprosy, burning bushes placed in the context of today; man would I love to see that.

But what if the savior, or saviors were never absent from this world. What if they were always present to where the threat of their return would go beyond the weight of “Wait until your savior gets home, you’re gonna be in trouble then” to some. To see the face of people knowing they are being called to the office of God’s son to answer NOW for their indiscretions. Would we have the Tiger Woods’, the Jerry Springers’, the John Gottis’, the Bernie Maidoffs’, and the Jeffrey Dahmers’? I wonder would they be afraid of the repercussions. Maybe, and maybe not.

More so, I wonder if the world would have unraveled the way it has getting us to where we are? Would their ongoing presence have kept us on the straight and narrow as if we always lived under the same roof as our parents, the police, and our pastor?

Would people stop killing in God’s name? Would the children of God simply come out and say “Stop it! That does not please us, nor do we feel you have the right to persecute in our name! Go home until I tell you that you can come out! We can truly all get along!"
Maybe the conflict between the literal and translated versions of religious text would no longer be an issue. You could simply check in with the family. "Jesus, can you explain what you meant when you spoke of faith without seeing? Sure my son, pull up a chair!"

Rapture? Just wondering there.

We hear: “What would Jesus do?” If there was any question, you could ask him. Do you think he would hate or kill others with opposing beliefs? Where would He stand on some of the issues we discriminate and kill over in his name saying he would not approve? Again, we could go to the source. That would be cool.

I wonder what I would do if God’s other kids were available to us now. I would love to meet them and ask them a few of these questions. I would definitely want a hug. Would I weep at their feet? Maybe. Heaven knows I would like to see how they would handle the situations plaguing us today. Would there be as much smiting as the Bible indicates? How would they handle us in our current state? Would they be disappointed or understanding?

I wonder this not in sacrilege. I wonder this not to be contrary nor question what is written. I wonder this as a regular guy with questions; and perhaps way too much time on his hands. Maybe too, I wish that there was a simple reconciliation that we just had a valid, credible, bloodline representative that could set us straight for a moment; again, right from the source. Lord knows there are a lot of us who could use a “time out.” It would also be nice that there was someone who could emerge like our “big brother” on the playground of our youth to help us. To say when they arrive: “Awwww, man you are gonna get it now” to our foes. But again if we are talking of God’s children there would be more of a lesson served than a whuppin’. At least I hope so.

To reiterate, I do not challenge what is. I don’t challenge God’s choice. I just wonder why God never placed more of his direct decedents among us to keep us from tearing up the joint. Somewhere between a Robocop and Savior is what it may take now. I just wonder if Jesus had brothers and sisters that were omnipresent: would the world be a different place? Also, if Adam and Eve had bellybuttons, I would like to know that too.

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen...