Struggles Of A Sincere Man

I just turned sixty five, and sure you probably do not care too much, but I do because even better than turning sixteen and getting a driver license I received my Medicare card. That was one happy day. But I digress.

I have ten posts and even more books halfway completed, but I do not like any of them enough to finish. They either repeat what has already been stated by others, feel preachy or condescending, or possess the wisdom of an innocent child. This is frustrating and causes me to struggle. Or maybe I have been goofing off and all of this is an excuse.

Despite the doubts and my stalling I truly have been reflecting and growing, and thinking about the craziness of life, I can promise you that. What with all the goings on in the world, not a very hard thing to do. But I am not here to make political statements or to make fun of the appalling lack of unity and possibly leadership in the world. No, I am here to remind myself, and you, that we do not know the answers to any of this. But humans like to know answers, we need answers, otherwise there is some disconnect and we cannot tolerate that. We answer big questions like whether or not there is a God and what that god might be, what happens after we die, what constitutes good and evil, and how others should live. But we really do not know any of this, do we? It is important to humble ourselves to this fact so that we can be compassionate, empathetic, open to new information, slow to persecute, quick to forgive, and most importantly survive as a species.

We give lip service to the notion that every human deserves food, shelter, and water but we have not come close to accomplishing this basic start in genuine humaneness. Contrary to most peoples beliefs, we are capable of solving this problem. These basic human needs could have been supplied multiple times over with monies spent during the last twenty years on war. And, without getting too morbid, I think about the fact that we have historically had people of great power and resource use the maximum available tools for the repression and killing of other humans. We should not forget that entire species die off on this planet, and that humans are not immune. Nor should we deny that technology has brought tools to humanity that give a small number of people the capability to wipe out the entire species. These things are hard to consider, even harder to believe, but we must be aware of them as possibilities and remain hopeful for a very rapid spurt of growth in human evolution.

So who are we, will we survive as a species? Who am I, and will I figure out what I have to offer or actually offer something of value? And does it matter? For now, I hold the belief that my highest purpose is to become a more compassionate human being. To believe there is something beyond my understanding, beyond human understanding that we refer to as God and that this god is a powerful and beneficent force. This is a dated view. There is so much baggage created by religious enterprise around the notion of god and what god might be. I love God despite having no idea what God might be, and believe that if we eliminate all definitions and beliefs about god and simply accept or hope there is something bigger than ourselves, we become open to (or create) the very thing that will help us to evolve.

How to Attract Conflict or Not

Jonathan wanted to be nicer. He wanted to stop reacting to everyone with a ‘ready to fight’ attitude. But people were so unconscious, or so he thought. When he would go walking they never seemed to pay attention to where they were spatially, and would not get out of the way. Find a path, go right, left or into the water but get out of the way!

Jonathan loved to walk along the beach with his feet touching the water, and was quite conscious of his urge to ‘stand his ground’ whenever unsuspecting walkers strayed toward his very own path. He tensed his body and waited to glance off the oncoming walker, and then immediately cursed himself and moved over. Why am I still doing this? My childhood trauma’s? No matter the reason. Jonathan truly wanted to love and accept others completely, and that meant yielding. Always. Oh well, I am a work in progress.

The two girls were in their twenties and quite flirtatious while they laid out there towels in preparation for sunning. Jonathan sat nearby in his chair under a large straw hat and watched them out of the corner of his eye. He noticed the girl in dark hair could ‘feel him’ looking at her. Why could some people feel others like that? But he knew that same feeling himself and stopped paying attention to the girls.

Later, Jonathan decided to play Woodoku on his iPhone, which he had to hold up and out of the glare of the sunlight to see. The two girls ran into the surf and were enjoying themselves. Jonathan noticed this but did not pay too much attention until the girls came out of the water and he noticed that same dark haired girl looking toward him. She had her attention on him for some reason. He let it go and went back to playing his game. No more than five minutes later the dark haired girl walked toward him and asked something that Jonathan did not hear.

“What?” Jonathan asked.

“Are you filming us?” the dark haired girl asked. Jonathan was taken aback.

“I have no interest in you.” Jonathan said defiantly.

“Because it looks like you are filming us, the way you are holding your phone.” the dark haired girl said.

“I have no interest in you.” Jonathan repeated, defiantly. And the dark haired girl walked away.

Immediately Jonathan felt bad. The same attitude he had when walking, I will intimidate them with my size and shoulder them out of the way. But that at least only happened inside his mind, or so he thought. Surely the other people on my walks have no idea I am thinking this way? Jonathan wondered. And then he thought about how he completely understood the black haired girl could ‘sense’ his attention, just as he knew he could sense hers. Maybe all people could sense the attention or intention of others nearby. Maybe some more consciously than others, but always to some degree. Jonathan realized this was true for him and if he was brave enough to let go of his arrogance and superiority, likely true for others too.

Jonathan thought about getting up and going over to those girls. What would he say? At first, he wanted to say, ‘I am so sorry I made you uncomfortable, I was holding up my phone to play a game. Do you want to see?’ Or something like that. And he thought about a few variations that were similar, but within minutes his mind wandered off to saying things like, ‘I realize you are very taken with yourself, but I assure you I was not interested in you nor was I filming you.’ Or maybe, ‘I guess you feel very well known because you have ten thousand followers on your social media page, but I have no idea who you are, nor do I care.’ Or how about…, and then he stopped and got himself under control.

That whole day was ruined with constant thought about the incident. Jonathan could not stop thinking about it, and most of his thoughts were about verbal vengeance of some sort. He tried so hard to find empathy, compassion, understanding, anything. But he could not. Why is it so important for me to defend my ego so diligently? Maybe my childhood trauma, maybe something else? All throughout that day and into the next, Jonathan hoped he would see those girls again, even though he was still not sure what he would do, but it would definitely be vengeful.

Jonathan never did see those girls again but he did have another interaction the next evening with some friends that gave him clarity, the details of which are unimportant for now. Jonathan realized that he was somehow energetically attracted to people that bothered him. People that forced Jonathan to see things about himself that he did not want to see. And that those interactions always reached a place right before coming to any action, and thereby stayed harmless. Like a learning experience, or a lesson. Could it be possible? Could I be projecting a desire for these interactions? And could some greater force be actively making certain I never get to the point of taking any action so that these experiences are exactly the lessons I am asking for so that I can become the person I want to be?

One never knows. Jonathan relaxed that night while thinking about how he would handle his feelings and thoughts about the odd evening with his friends.

Are We in Danger of Losing Important Values

Memorial Day will be here soon. But, how many of us know the purpose of the holiday? Or take time to do what the holiday was created for us to do? Why does this matter, and does it matter?

This post asks you to give some of your time this Memorial Day to consider two things – gratitude for those that fought to bring about the freedoms we enjoy today, and when should war and the killing of other human beings be allowed.

The Kohima epitaph is carved on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery of Kohima in North-East India and reads:

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

John Maxwell Edmonds

If you will take a few moments to understand the feeling of that sentence, it will move you. Personally, I cannot imagine giving my life for anyone beyond my family, let alone watching one of my children die in a war. It is actually difficult to comprehend that other people have.

Freedom is a big deal, and I am truly grateful to the brave people that fought to give me this important right. There is great value in remembering these brave people. It is also important to recognize and respect the difficult moral choices humans have had to make. Important to appreciate and give thanks to the values that got created from those choices, and the sacrifices so many took to protect them. One day of appreciation and gratitude is not much to ask each year.

Perhaps on that day we can also do our own small part and work on our civic and human duties. We have become quite complacent in this regard. What I mean by this is that we should participate actively in upholding the important rights we have acquired thus far, and work toward greater human evolution by ‘weighing in’ on important decisions about morality and human rights. To do that we must form opinions about what values are important and how we as a species should make the difficult choices that must get made by humans. You need to participate in this task by going deeply within and finding your own values and beliefs. What will you stand up for? Do not take the easy way out and simply agree with the status quo or consensus, work harder and find what you truly believe.

It is easy to say there is never a time for war or killing another human. That is what we all must hope. But is that choice realistic? Are we, as a species, evolved to that level yet? No we are not. This is sad but must not stop you from looking honestly at what your own actions might be if people came into your home and took your children or murdered your family? Because if there is ever a time for killing another human, or for war, we must carefully consider our feelings about that topic. And then speak honestly about the opinion we have formed. That is our human duty. And that should make us want for the evolution that must happen so that no human would kill another human.

Like our own death, these are things we prefer not to dwell upon. Perhaps we feel that we have already considered these things and formed an opinion. Perhaps we just do not think our opinion would have value. But spending time once a year to reflect on our opinions surrounding human evolution and morality is our duty, each and every one of us. It is too easy and too dangerous to just go with public opinion, which is often formed by small groups. We must regularly go deeply within and find our own beliefs, our own morality, our own hopes and dreams for the human species.

The world we live in today is miraculously tilted toward goodness, despite the violence that still persists. Looking through a thousand year lens quickly shows us that we are making progress, we are learning to get along better, and the path of growth so far is moving toward less violence. We are evolving toward a humanity where all people have quality food, water, shelter, medical care, education, and freedom, something we are quite capable of achieving today. And why haven’t we? It is insane in my mind that every human does not already have these basic rights. What about you?

Everything is OK-There Is Nothing You Need To Do

Are you like me and constantly feel like there is something you have to do? It is a bit hard to relax when you feel like you should be doing something else. For me, a bit of this comes from the way I was raised, but a good portion comes from the genetics I inherited at birth.

One day, I realized that everything was OK, there was nothing I had to do. Of course, there were things like brushing my teeth and eating and my to do list, but I kept worrying there was something else to do. Something that must get done that I could not quite put my finger on. This feeling switched on my survival instincts and kept me from feeling safe and would not allow my nervous system to rest.

Some of you may not relate because you do not have the mental habit of constant worry like I do, but if you are like me, then you get it. Even if you are not like me you may have some other form of mental or emotional challenge. I wish I did not have this challenge and have addressed it in many ways, including reading books (one favorite is the classic Dale Carnegie book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’). But this is part of who I am and I still have to deal with it.

On this particular day I was staying on the beach in Florida where I had come to relax and do some writing. While thinking through the things I wanted to do that day, I realized only a few items on my list truly needed doing and otherwise there was nothing that needed to be done. Because it was a revelation, it came with enough force to get believed within my mind and included the awareness that the “feeling” of having something else to do is false. In that moment, I truly knew that everything was ok, and there was nothing I needed to do. This brought me great peace and allowed me to enjoy the beach and stop worrying.

As I continued to reflect on this revelation throughout the day I could see how doing nothing, or at least much less than I thought I had to do, had proved true in my past. Other people had done things I thought I needed to do and had done a better job, or by not doing something I had more time for new information to come to light and allow me to make better decisions. These better outcomes happened because I acted with the flow of things and did not overthink or overwork what needed to get done. I trusted myself, others, and the world at large. When I trust that everything is OK instead of feeling tense, I relax and become happier and more creative. This causes better outcomes and a better quality of life.

To accept our shortcomings and be ok that they may last throughout our lifetime is much healthier than getting discouraged or feeling bad about ourselves. Remember, if you or I had a physical limitation like being born with one leg we would be compensating for that the rest of our lives. I hope you do not feel bad about your challenges and accept that they may take a lifetime of effort, and that we may have to learn (do) the same things over and over again. It is alright. The point I am making is to think of our challenges as just that, and to accept them even if they continue throughout our life. The analogy of being born without a leg helps to see that we may have a challenge that does not change or go away, but we can manage our challenges effectively. It is all about our attitude.

As I wrote this post my wife and daughter were leaving Florida to go back to Colorado. I get separation anxiety and start to worry whenever I separate from members of my family. And I get way too emotional, I actually felt like I needed to cry. I worried that if I had been more disciplined, or somehow ‘better’ during my life, might I have dealt more effectively with my challenges?

Then I thought about how much I love my wife and family, how lucky and grateful I am for my life and how it has turned out. Attitude, check.

Then I realized the most important thing for me during my life, other than my family, was to discover more about being human. That requires a lot of reflection and acceptance. I managed my challenge, and I stopped worrying.