Thursday, March 31, 2011

What have you for me?

I look to myself. I look into the once full well of answers, the once full well of inspiration, the once full well of confidence long since dry. The well filled endlessly by an egoic source–a source of incorrect assumptions, of false information, a source like a false prophet dragging me towards the sun–not to receive the light but to eventual incineration.

I have found a new sense of navigation. An intrinsic compass that beams its beacon, however only one paver at a time. This diminished light not to blind me but to keep me focused. The light shines on the only true reality which is right Now. The fear of a blurred future now gives way to an immediate gratitude and acceptance that right here, right now is in divine design. I will remain patient, diligent, at peace.

It is in this peace I find a purpose. To heal others–one must first heal the conflict in oneself. It is through this diatribe within that we encounter our inner villain, our adversary, ourself. We then burst through the chrysalis to the genesis of a fortified purpose. One that is unwavering. We become one and all.

I look inside and ask myself – what have you for me?

Emerging, peering outward while reflecting inward I gaze in wonder at the world. What has it become? What have I become? Why this once familiar blue marble has become alien, the transition occurring as I stand upon her regal face. I realize the sun shines behind the clouds in the most torrential of storms, but I wonder how wet we will become. Will we drown before the sun’s rays reach our faces once again?

Are we the infestation or are we to be the eradication of the detriment and the degradation? I look in her face and I see pain. I also see hope. I see a plea. I see the plea of a mother distraught over watching her children walking in the deep waters desiring to drown succumbing to a less than noble demise. I see a mother who knows the wisdom and potential is there with a reckless disregard for the long term.

How can one make a difference? I know that I can, but will it be in time? Should I turn a blind eye in effort only to expand my prayer for you feeling powerless? Something tells me no. Something tells me to persevere. Something tells me that I have work to do. Something tells me there are others. Others whose efforts combined will be an elevated catalyst to the change needed to save the life of one which will save the lives of all. I am waiting on the answer.

Mother Earth–what have you for me?

You are in the space between. The silence holds Your presence. I often battle this. I reach to touch Your face yet my hand passes through the ethereal mist. I once longed for physical contact, a simple hug to no avail. I wanted to cry at Your feet, to be consoled that everything would be okay. Like a fragile child I wept at being forsaken. I was looking in the wrong spaces. I see my voice did not fall on deaf ears without compassion.

I find my search a test. In a universe so vast, how can one find alignment? Where are You? In stilling my quest I found the alignment everywhere; pervasive and pure. When I quieted my cries demanding manifestation I was then able to see what I always longed for was in front of me, behind me, and in me. I smile. Like bathing in a shower of divine protection, I gain security, I gain insight. I gain so that I am able to shed–shed the burden of the load that I was not able to see over blocking my vision.

I pray for capability to do what is necessary and to stay true to the course presented to me now. I pray for longer arms. I want my arms to expand their reach to those who need pulled out of harm’s way and into the light of their own journey. I can’t do this alone. I find security in the evidence I now receive knowing that I am not. We have work to do. I crack my knuckles, flex my muscles, and furrow my determined brow awaiting the next assignment. I hope I make You proud.

God – what have You for me?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm Sor...

I don’t know how, but I just ended up there. You know, the times when you just feel agitated in your own skin. No reason. Actually no reason whatsoever. None. But I was there. I guess I had decided that I was not in the mood to have a good time.
The drive through heavy traffic and a solid downpour did not help. Neither did the cool temperatures which bordered on wanting to freeze the rain on the road, or just keep you nervous enough to think it was. I was brooding over the fact that the Japanese steakhouse we love had no reservations. None. At least that was what I was told. My family wanted to take me out for my birthday dinner. We did not plan well enough to make reservations, so we could either drive the thirty plus minute drive to stand in a lobby and wait on a Saturday night at one of the busiest social hubs in our city or make another selection. Did I mention it was Saturday night?

 We had our kids with us, I don’t drink, so the wait to me seemed excruciating in my current disposition. Votes were cast to make the trek and take a chance to get seated and I lost; sorely I may add. My wife “helped” me drive the whole way. Thankfully she was there to point out my lack in driving skills. I darkened.

Deeply I know I was being “drug” along (aside from it was my birthday being celebrated) because we all enjoy the restaurant. My kids like seeing the “show”, and we always enjoy our meal. I guess I wanted to be right more than I wanted to be happy. Right about what? Who knows. I wasn’t.

I spite parked. You know where you park further away than necessary, and walk in the torrential rain to get wet enough to have bitching leverage. It seemed like it was a mile. I dropped the family off at the door prior. I walked alone. Idiot.

We had a great meal, a great time, and cheesecake for dessert. Nope, I couldn’t admit it. I was prodded through smiles and taunts to admit it, as they knew I knew I was being irrational. I couldn’t. Not yet.

Eventually as I evened out, blood sugar raised and a good night’s sleep, I apologized for my juvenile behavior. It was met with a simple nod, and life resumed as another day progressed. I am better at apologies than I used to be–mainly because I make them now.

I used to balk at the apology as I spent many of the initial minutes or hours hoping to find another person to harbor the guilt. I didn’t want it to be me. It was you, it was the traffic, it was the world, it was the price of bread, but anything to hang the blame of behavior upon as I did not want to have to say I’m sss... Damn. (The word is “sorry.”)

I used to hope apologies were the ultimate reconciliation. That they would absolve behavior; wipe it away to be forgotten. I found I was trying to control how others digested the events or my behavior. It is not up to me how people receive the apology, only that they hear it.

Like blowing on a dry Dandelion tuft of seeds, we are compelled to release the seeds of apology hoping they will take root in the sometimes obstinate ground of forgiveness. We can only control the gesture of the release with integrity of our intent intact. How or when the apology takes root is not for us to decide. Our sincerity seems to be the nourishing waters that will leverage a hearty harvest of the seeds of apology we release.

As I am able to make amends and apologize for my past deeds I realize it is reconciliation for an account that may need closed. The balance must be brought to zero before I can walk on. I find that waiting to reconcile my behaviors only adds interest to my human debt. In times past, I thought that time heals all wounds; all is forgotten. Not necessarily. However, even tardy amends can dissolve the scar tissue.

I have made amends to those in my past I thought I could just ignore or avoid and it would be water under the bridge–water under my bridge anyway. In some of those amends I got the scathing response I feared. However, I found the pain of the undesired response was lesser than the not knowing or projecting my fears upon the unknown and the harboring of a spiritual debt unpaid.

I can make amends now as I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot control how someone receives my words. I can only control my sincerity in releasing them. Withheld amends are a burden that gains weight. I offer them now to those whom I have wronged, harmed, or owe them to not because I want off the hook as much as it is simply “right”.

As long as my heart remains in the right place, my odds of recovering from life’s little hiccups are greater. I just need to make sure to keep my head in the right place or the view never changes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back to School

June 1983. I don’t remember the exact day, but that was the time I was no longer going to be in class. I graduated high school. Full up on smarts. I was an eighteen year old know-it-all ready to tackle the world. I thought with the fancy hat and tassel accompanied with the little scroll saying I was “done”, I really was no longer confined to having my cranium force fed with what I considered useless information. I was now liberated to exercise free-will and apply what I had learned to practical use. I was done learning and ready to start doing.

I went to college after that. True to my words I was “done learning.” My heinous GPA reflected that statement. I lasted three quarters. The knowledge gained mainly in reference to the “under-age” friendly bouncers who would let me in the bars. After twenty one, that type of information is rendered obsolete.

I had always associated that learning came from an academic institution. Students sat in neat little rows, teachers paced in front of the crowd fingers smudged with chalk. The information transfer based usually upon meeting some sort of criteria governed by a board somewhere.

I realize now that I am often being schooled.

I have mentioned many times my philosophy that “in life, not every classroom has a desk, nor every church a steeple.” I have found that life experience presents us with educational opportunities in random format and context. Our teachers often have no chalkboard, degree, or spend time in the teacher’s lounge. The most important and enduring lessons arrive like a sucker-punch via delivery of a formidable instructor.

My wife and I recently were discussing a person in her life she has challenges with. Nothing monumental, but that is often where our resolve and composure is most tested. I proposed to help her get by the animosity she can often feel in encountering the aggravating behaviors, that she considers this person her “teacher.” With raised brow she still speaks of this person as she would “Old lady so-and-so” who abrasively taught her math in elementary school. None the less, the lessons continue.

I then reflected upon my experience. I realized the faculty of the “University of Me” was vast as well. I didn’t know I was in class, but I have many diplomas. I have had many mentors, teachers, sensei’s, gurus, and coaches.

I realize all experiences past and present are presented to teach me something. Whether or not the “subject” is relative to me or another, I try to be connected to what I am supposed to gather. This is the practical side of learning I expected so many years ago. Be careful of what you ask for.

I must have failed everything I studied in my first twelve years, because I have had many remedial lessons ever since that day in 1983.

I have had to relearn math. This painful lesson taught to me by the economy, taxes, inflation, accounting, and a budget. The funny thing is that most of the skills I needed I learned early in elementary. Recently I heard my oldest telling my youngest as he tried some awkward subtracting that he cannot subtract one number from another and go below zero. A great lesson in credit and budget. Wish I had her in sixth period.

I have learned a lot about social studies. Just watch CNN. I interact with my neighbors. I watch my kids interact on the playground. I see the social climate change. I have a feeling this lesson is going to have a tough midterm.

I have revisited Home EC and have fared well. I found self reliance and the key to Home EC has a lot to what we do in service of others before ourselves. Through practical lessons I have learned to cook, clean, do laundry, and I can sew a button. Most of these lessons imposed through the desire to eradicate hunger, dirt, sloth, and inconvenience–not only for myself, but those I love.

Shop – Stuff breaks, we must fix it. I have yet to make an ashtray or birdhouse though.

Physics – You drop something it could break. Gravity. You push something up hill. More effort. Eat too much. Mass.

Phys Ed – It is good to run around and get some exercise for a while each day. Showering nowadays is less awkward in my own shower. Phys Ed improved.

Health – These lessons you learn not by a book, but by experience. I hope you all get to pass on having to sit through the lessons on cancer, diabetes, childhood illnesses, cholesterol, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and addiction. Those classes sucked.

Psychology – Some people are nuts. Some are not. Some are “quirky.” To other people you are nuts.

Government – I wish it was still only a 45 minute class every other day where the answers were in the back of the book.

Foreign language – It used to be where I was from there were two languages: English and redneck. The melting pot has obviously gotten “meltier.” And that is okay.

I guess I am thankful not so much for the lessons, but my teachers have been vast and colorful. I find those I once considered adversaries have taught me the most. I have learned patience, acceptance, compassion, humility, respect, and that if I mess up, and if I don’t agree with you, it is not your fault.

I have learned that age has nothing to do with wisdom. My kids have taught me among the most about myself. They have mirrored back to me my flaws so I can fix them in time to become the father I wish I had as well as to remember and respect the qualities in my father(s) I so dearly love. They took me back to innocence and accountability.

My wife has shown me balance, respect, humility, and that the desire to “always be right” is an unflattering trait. I realize that others can hold the key to our completion. Sometimes those we may find occasional opposition with are often our strongest allies when the real battles appear.

I like school now. I find every day I get to spend some time in the lab, the class, the shop, lunch, health, and phys ed. The syllabus always changes. So do the teachers and I love them one and all. I am also thankful for those who get to sit beside me in class every day. Some I know, some I have to get to know. The lessons are so much more practical now too. The beautiful thing is that there are no school bus rides and a lot less wedgies going on.

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