Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We All Have Something To Give

In my many years as a leader I have supervised hundreds of people.  It has been my experience that most are hard-working, dedicated, salt of the earth types that always strive to do a good job.  There is a small percentage that are driven and ambitious.  There is another small percentage that are unfocused, immature, lazy, and who have a lot to learn about life.  Talent is not always found in the ambitious and it is not always lacking in the low performers.  There are truly exceptional people and there are ordinary people who think they are exceptional.  I have also seen extraordinary people who think they are ordinary.  Sometimes there are hidden diamonds among those who seem unexceptional.  When they find their gift or purpose in life they often blossom.  One of the most difficult things for most people to accept is that they are ordinary.  However, in my experience, even the ordinary have gifts and purpose.  Maybe you aren’t the greatest at what you do but you can still be a great person.  Maybe you are not the smartest person in the room but you can still offer your opinion and insight.  Maybe you will never get an award for your productivity but you can still be a positive influence and morale booster to those around you.  Most of my life I have been an ordinary person.  I got average or poor grades in grammar school and high school.  I did, however, perform significantly better when I took college classes.  When I was young and I played sports I never made the All Star team.  When I graduated from high school I was not “Best Looking”, “Most Likely To Succeed”, or “Most Popular”.  Much of my life I have felt ordinary.  It wasn’t until I was 50 years old that I realized I have a gift for writing.  Even though I still feel pretty ordinary most of the time, people tell me I’m an excellent writer with a lot of insight about life.  If any of this is true, I don’t know how it happened.  Some talents are simply a gift.  Most of us are ordinary people but do not let that keep you from doing great things.  I know I have touched and even changed some people through my words.  You can do good things too.  The first step is to find your gift and how you can give back to those around you.  

Monday, June 29, 2015


Worry is the most natural and spontaneous of all human functions.  It is time to acknowledge this, perhaps even learn to do it better.
-Pathologist Lewis Thomas
I know people…one of them is my wife…who worry about everything.  Such people are almost incapable of not worrying.  It is in their nature to worry about everything, no matter how irrational it may be.  I worry about nothing.  I sometimes have concerns and on a rare occasion I do get stressed.  My wife would say that I don’t worry because I am clueless about reality.  She would probably say this about all men.  Admittedly, there are probably times I should worry.  I do sometimes make molehills out of mountains but I am an eternal optimist who always believes things will get better even when they don’t.  What does worry accomplish?  It seems like a terrible waste of energy to me and I don’t have any that I can spare.  Such energy could be spent seeking a solution to whatever it is that you are worrying about.  I think many people worry because they cannot differentiate between an inconvenience and a real crisis.  I don’t know exactly why I do not worry.  I believe it is because of my belief and experience that God and life has always taken care of me.  One way or another I have almost always gotten what I need to live.  When I haven’t gotten what I thought I needed, I probably didn’t really need it.  As we all know, there are needs and there are wants.  Sometimes what I want is not what I need and it might take me a little while to accept that.  I wish people, especially chronic worriers, would take all the time and energy they waste on worrying and use it to just think deeply about their life.  They might want to reflect on the question, “Why do I worry so much and how many, if any, of my fears have actually come true”?  We all need to deal with the challenges that life gives each of us but we would also be doing ourselves a big favor if we could simply relax and live.       

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Secret Of Staying Young

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
-Comedian Lucille Ball
Lots of words have been written about staying young.  Some people say age is all about attitude.  This idea has been humorously captured by the famous baseball player, Satchel Paige, in his quote “Age is mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”.  Some people also talk about being “young at heart”.  I don’t think we should obsess about being young.  As Bob Dylan once sang, “Those not busy being born are busy dying”.  Sometimes our attempts to be young are little more than immature behavior.  There’s nothing more pathetic than a man or woman my age trying to act like they are twenty.  As we grow older we should trade our immaturity for wisdom.  If there is a quality we should strive for, it is not youthfulness, it is being childlike by living our life with a sense of wonder.  One of the pitfalls of aging is that we often become cynical and we can no longer be awed by anything.  If I end up physically old, wise, and with a childlike sense of wonder and awe, I will be happy with myself.  Never lose your openness to awe and wonder.  Fight your cynicism.  When nothing impresses you or causes you to be lost in the moment, you are already dead.  Life is tough and it can sometimes feel boring.  Every day there are the chores of life and the demands of making a living.  Don’t let making a living, however, replace having a life.  Be open to the extraordinary within the ordinary.  Pay attention and be present when moments of wonder and awe reveal themselves to you.     

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live Your Life And Do What You Like

I don’t care, frankly, what people think.  I do what I like.
-Chef Julia Child
I don’t believe this quote means that we should have no concern whatsoever about other people and that we should just do whatever we want regardless of the impact on those around us.  Unless you’re a hermit, and you have little contact with the rest of the human race, we do have to live our lives with some degree of cooperation and tolerance of others.  I think what this quote tells us is that you can’t live your whole life trying to please other people, trying to impress them, or comparing yourself to them.  Each of us has been given one life and we have to live it the best way we can.  We will go through different stages of growth, immaturity, pain, and awareness until we have achieved some level of self-actualization.  What is self-actualization?  I believe it is that point in our lives, usually when we are past our middle age, when we become who we really are and we begin to realize our true potential and personal power.  Self-actualization is at the top of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”.  You will never be who you are meant to be if you spend your entire live trying to please others or meet their expectations.  I think Julia Child is saying that pleasing yourself is not inappropriate, or selfish, and that each of us must walk down the path that calls us.  In her case, it was the call to learn French cooking so  that anyone could cook like a chef with a little effort.  Each of us is more than someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s mother or father, or someone’s husband or wife.  We may be one or more of all these things but self-actualization is when we discover our true essence and our true self.  Do not confuse identity with roles.  Doing what you like may be selfish but it can also be the path to your self-awareness.       

Every Age Has Its Ups And Downs

At eighty I believe I am a far more cheerful person than I was at twenty or thirty.  I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again.  Youth may be glorious but it is also painful to endure.  Moreover, what is called youth is not youth; it is rather something like premature old age.
-Writer Henry Miller
I am not yet eighty but I am a long way from twenty or thirty.  I don’t know if I am happier in my sixties than I was in my twenties or thirties.  I have always found happiness elusive.  Usually the best I can do is to feel reasonably content.  I can say one thing with a fair amount of certainty.  I would rather be sixty than twenty.  Looking back there were too many parts of my life I found difficult and I would not like to relive them.  In my current age I feel a sense of relief that many of life’s challenges are behind me.  Daily life is still challenging and I don’t know what lies ahead but in general I am more relaxed and more comfortable in my own skin.  When one gets older you think more and more about less and less.  You have a greater appreciation for life’s simple joys and it doesn’t take much to make you happy.  You are past the stage where you want to build an empire and most would rather have less.  A simple life has great appeal.  Perhaps it is in this simplicity, when you spend more time letting go than gathering, that people find the greatest happiness.  Occasionally I do wish I had my sixty four year old life experience and wisdom in a twenty year old body.  However, that might be a dangerous combination.  You cannot experience old age without doing time as a young person.  In all fairness, every stage of life has it’s joys and sorrows, it’s challenges and rewards, and it’s pros and cons.  If you are lucky you will experience them all.  Some of us have old souls when we are young while others are young at heart in bodies that are falling apart.  Happiness and age are in the mind and in our attitudes.  As I once said in a previous daily thought, “When we are young our bodies drag our minds around, when we are old our minds drag our bodies around”.  Think about it.  If you are young I advise you to live well now while you still have the energy.    

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Original Face

Sometimes I find myself asking the question "How do you know when you have become who you are"?   The spiritual journey of life is basically a journey of returning to your original essence in order to be who you really are.  We are born pure and innocent.  Along the road of life we acquire our personalities and other defense mechanisms that we use to shield and protect ourselves from life.  One way or another most of us overcompensate in the ways we react and respond to life.  Our experiences, good and bad, mold us into the people that other people see.  The second half of our life journey, if we are on the path to enlightenment, is spent attempting to take off our masks and to remove the armor that we have acquired in order to rediscover our purity and innocence.  The Buddhists call this "discovering the face we had before we were born".   When I look in the mirror, and during moments of introspection, I wonder how far along I am on this journey of uncovering who I really am.  What is my true essence?  What is my original nature?  It is nearly impossible to know these things when you are young.  In our youth it is far more important for us to fit in, to be like others, and find acceptance from others.  We are also too busy building our lives to worry too much about who we are.  These concerns and tasks are considerably less important when you get older.  I am still struggling to get from behind the masks I wear and to break through the armor I have created.  When I do I look forward to meeting the real me.   

Monday, June 22, 2015

Building A Life

You make what seems to be a simple choice:  Choose a man or a job or a neighborhood…and what you have chosen is not a man or a job or a neighborhood, but a life.
-Writer Jessamyn West
This quote reminds me of another quote attributed to John Lennon that goes, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”.  I have written before about dreams not realized, lives that seem more accidental than planned, and how many of our days are simply ordinary.  Some would say these points of view represent a negative attitude about life.  Let’s look at life from a different point of view and one that I truly believe is true.  Let’s accept that our lives have turned out exactly the way they should and that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.  I truly believe this is true even when it doesn’t seem logical.  Many of you know that as a young man I lived in a monastery and I thought I would be a monk for the rest of my life.  It was a romantic ideal for me that I would live in a beautiful place, that I would walk on air, and that I would be in a blissful aura of sanctity for all eternity.  Obviously that didn’t happen.  If I had stayed in the monastery, blissful or not, none of you would be reading these thoughts because I would not be here to write them.  In addition, my wife would be married to another man, my children would not exist, my much loved granddaughter would also not exist and who knows what great things my children and granddaughter may do in their futures.  It is easy to think our lives do not make a difference but they do.  Your life has more value than you realize.  You affect the lives of others in ways you may never know.  The lives we have now are where we are supposed to be today and today is all we have.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Time Is Now

There are dreams of love, life, and adventure in all of us.  But we are also sadly filled with reasons why we shouldn’t try.  These reasons seem to protect us but in truth they imprison us.  They hold life at a distance.  Life will be over sooner than we think.  If we have bikes to ride and people to love, now is the time. 
-Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
For those who may not be familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, she is most famous for her groundbreaking work with the dying.  It seems appropriate and good that someone who has spent a great deal of time studying the end of life would also be someone who encourages us to not waste a minute of life and to live it to the fullest.  I have often grown weary of my own maturity, responsibility, and dependability.  There are times I get so tired of being the guy who always does the right thing in sacrifice of love, life and adventure.  However, I am also aware that some people actually admire me for these rather boring traits.  Since most of my life has not been spent sailing the high seas, flying around the world in a hot air balloon, or climbing the highest mountains, I have tried to get the most out of a quieter life that seems more ordinary than extraordinary.  Still, even those of us who live ordinary lives, doing mostly ordinary things, can have an attitude of yes to life’s possibilities.  If you are young, and even if you are old, I encourage you to say yes more than no.  If there’s an opportunity to do something, then do it.  If there’s an opportunity to be something, then be it.  When something new is knocking at the door, do not turn off the lights and pretend that you are not at home.  More importantly, don’t assume you will have time to do something in the future.  The time to do something is now.         

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Is Life?

What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
-Last Words of Blackfoot Warrior Crowfoot
The images in this quote speak to me of mindfulness and paying attention.  When I was a child catching fireflies was one of the things children did.  As a young boy I actually played outside, especially on summer days and nights.  At that time of my life a summer day seemed eternal.  Admittedly, the lack of air conditioning in my parent’s home and the fact that my family only had one black and white television with two channels, motivated me to go outside and be creative with my time.  My wife and I once decided to have lunch at Huber’s Restaurant, a place often so crowded that you cannot get in.  We took some back roads to get there when I suddenly saw a field full of buffalo.  I am talking about real buffalo like you see in movies about the frontier days.  It wasn’t cold enough to see their breath but unusual enough to get lost in a moment of wonder.  Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, I usually notice the differences in the light and shadows of the day.  I have lived most of my life in the same places but they never look the same.  As I travel up and down the same road to work each day I see the new growth and colors of spring, the green fullness of summer bounty, the multi-colored tapestry of fall colors, and the starkness of winter.  Each season has its own beauty.  Our lives are like the seasons.  Each stage of life corresponds with a season of nature.  Some of you are in the springtime of your lives.  Some are experiencing the fullness of summer by being at the peak of your powers.  Many, like me, are in the autumn of our lives when we know we have more summers behind us than in front of us.  Eventually, if you are lucky enough to have a long life, you will experience the winter of life when the cycle is complete.  I think Crowfoot is encouraging us to enjoy the moments and the seasons of our lives for life is made up of such moments.  Maybe a deeper question than “What is life?” might be “What is your life”?         

Friday, June 19, 2015

Milestones In The Workplace

Am I the only person who has created milestones and routines in their work day to facilitate a sense of movement from the beginning of the day to the end of the day?  I am not talking about anything as lofty as the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  I don’t have seven good habits and I am not sure I am highly effective.  I’m talking about small stages in the day that help me realize that the hands of the wall clock are moving and time is not frozen in the eternal now.  I like my job and I enjoy my co-workers.  I do not mind coming to work every day.  However, I also do not mind leaving work every day.  I am a creature of habit.  When I arrive at work each morning I immediately launch into my daily routines.  The first milestone is about 9:00 AM when I have a Diet Coke and some peanut butter crackers at my desk.  My second milestone is about 10:00 AM when I walk a few laps around the perimeter of the floor on which I work.  The next milestone is lunch.  It may be a solitary bowl of soup at my desk or lunch with a friend at a nearby restaurant.  The last milestone of the day is in the mid afternoon when I try to once again walk some laps around the office.  Although I am literally going in circles when I walk, it energizes me and I am more motivated when I return to my desk.  Walking also prevents me from feeling too much like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz after he’s been caught in a summer rain and his oil can is out of reach.  None of this is complicated or deep but it does help me to alleviate occasional boredom, fatigue, and general restlessness.  It also helps my occasional ADD.  Sometimes you need to step away in order to re-focus your energy and attention. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sitting In My Time Machine

One of my cousins once sent me a cartoon depicting a grandfather talking with his grandchildren.  One of the boys says “Grandpa, tell us about the days when you had to buy the entire album even if you only wanted one song”.  As someone who grew up in the sixties I remember albums well.  Amazingly they are making a strong comeback as audiophiles debate the differences between analog and digital recordings.  In addition to giving me a laugh, the cartoon reminded me of all the changes I have lived through in my life.  Of course, these changes involved much more than technological advances.  There is a famous book by H.G. Wells called “The Time Machine”.  It has also been made into several movie versions.  In one scene the main character is sitting in the time machine advancing through time.  He and the time machine are not moving at all.  While he is sitting still time is changing all around him.  Sometimes this is how I feel in my life.  I don’t mean to sound arrogant when I say that I am the center of my universe.  My experience of life is based on who I am, what happens to me, who comes and goes, and what is going on around me.  Time is always moving on while I sit in my own time machine.  Sometimes I like the changes, sometimes I hate them, and occasionally they are scary.  Time and change doesn’t care.  Like most of you I have tried to adjust and adapt to all the changes in my life.  Sometimes I am resistance to change when it begins only to love it later when I have accepted it.  I used to have over a thousand albums, now I have thousands of CD’s and an iPod full of downloads.  Sometimes I take advantage of modern change and I only buy one song instead of the whole album.     

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

People In The Room

It is said that every time two people meet there are six people in the room.  For each person there is the person they think they are, the person the other person thinks they are, and the person they really are.  I was thinking about this after reading some thoughts on how to see life and reality unfiltered.  Let’s be honest.  Few of us see life as it really is.  Most of us see life and reality through a variety of filters.  These filters, much like the many layers of our personalities, have been formed throughout our lives by all the experiences we’ve had, the way we were raised, and, in many cases, by our education or lack of it.  It’s probably safe to say that few of us truly see things the same way.  In the work environment, for example, there are people who are very happy and content.  There are some people, however, who think they are in a concentration camp.  Some people are happy with everything while others are happy with nothing.  Our happiness is generally in direct proportion to our gratitude.  Some people are grateful just to wake up in the morning and realize they have been given another day of life.  Others people are never grateful for anything.  Why are some people happy and grateful while others are unhappy and feeling like nothing good ever happens to them?  Certainly attitude is a big factor.  Another factor, however, is how unfiltered your life is and how much you are able to see life realistically.    

Monday, June 15, 2015

You Are Not Inadequate

It sometimes seems there is always someone in our lives who makes us feel inadequate.  It can be a boss, a spouse, our children, our friends, or the world in general.  Just because I don’t meet another person’s every need does not make me inadequate.  I am at a point in my life where I am no longer apologizing for who I am.  If who I am is not your cup of tea, try another blend.  I am not saying that everyone has to like everything about me.  I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea.  I also know that some people think I am great just the way I am.  At my age I am probably not going to change much although I believe I am consistently trying to be the best version of who I am that I can be.  If I am not the perfect boss, employee, spouse, father, son, brother, co-worker, or wonder worker, that’s just the way it is.  In my mind I am more than all of these things anyway.  In fact, none of these things is who I am, they are merely what I am.  None of these things define me.  My being is more than what I am or what I do.  Don’t live your life based on what other people think.  Most of them won’t even be part of your life over the long haul.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  I am not saying that we can all act anyway we want and other people just have to deal with us.  I am not encouraging anyone to be a jerk.  What I am saying is don’t let other people determine who you are.  Everyone else’s opinion is just a perception.  Look into your own heart and follow your own bliss.  Be the best person you know how to be and be grateful for who you are.  You will please some people and annoy others.  Some will love you and some will misunderstand you.  If you listen to your own inner voice your will know the path you should walk and along the way you will meet all kinds of people.  Some you will love and some you will simply tolerate.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Order In The Universe

I believe there is an order to the universe.  Everything in the natural world is on a schedule, it maintains a balance, and when left alone there is a minimum of disorder.  In the natural world it is almost always people that screw things up.  Most scientists would agree the universe as we know it began in the chaos of the “Big Bang”.  Although born in chaos, the results of the Big Bang began organizing into the worlds, galaxies, and universes that we have now and which we continue to find as we go deeper and deeper into space.  I generally dislike chaos.  When I am thrown into a chaotic situation, the first thing I try to do is create some sense of order.  This is where being a creature of habit and routine serves me well.  I believe that when there is order, balance, logic, and a certain kind of patience that allows things to flow naturally, everything is better.  The more you mess with order, the more likely you are to create chaos.  I realize that my point of view has a lot to do with my own personality.  One trait of my personality is that I am a perfectionist.  Perfectionists love order.  Disorder and chaos makes people like me crazy.  When perfectionism is taken to extreme it is called anal retention and occasionally I suffer from that trait as well.  More often than not my perfectionism, and the perfectionism of others, creates positive results.  When there is disorder and chaos, results can be difficult to achieve.  A sense of order increases your chances for positive results.  When you shoot from the hip, or work in a chaotic and disordered way, you frequently miss the target.  

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Control Of Thoughts

I once received a kind email from a total stranger who lives in New York and who somehow found my blog and daily thoughts.  His note made me smile because he said I was “the Jerry Seinfeld of spirituality and Zen”.  This made me smile because I am a huge Seinfeld fan.  He asked me for some advice about controlling his thoughts and over active mind.  The experience of receiving this email reminded of a daily thought I once wrote where I referred to my thoughts as “seeds tossed into the wind.  You never know where they will land or who they will touch”.  The following was my response to his inquiry.
You really can’t stop your thoughts.  Many of us, including me, have what the Buddhists call “monkey mind”.  They describe our minds as a tree full of chattering monkeys jumping from limb to limb.  All is not lost, however, as there are ways to deal with this.  The practice of mindfulness and paying attention to one’s breath works very well.  Zen is basically being where you are and doing what you are doing.  Mindfulness helps us to do this.  The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, is a master of mindfulness and has written several good books on the subject.  His approach is to focus on your breath.  Admittedly, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be conscious of every breath.  However, when you feel yourself going in ten different directions or you are overwhelmed with your own thoughts, simply stop and focus on your breath.  Breathe in through your nose into your diaphragm and slowly exhale from your mouth.  Thich Nhat Hanh also recommends a mantra like “Breathing in, I am awake.  Breathing out, I am present”.  I find this works very well.  It also helps me if I am feeling anxious.  
Don’t be discouraged.  You are not alone in your struggles.  All the things you think about and worry about might just be part of the stage of life you are currently experiencing.  When I was younger I had more worries and challenges than I do now that I have reached  senior citizen status.  As I tell my wife, who worries constantly, most of the things you worry about will probably never happen.  Life has a way of taking care of itself and us.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Longing For Fullness

Sometimes I wonder if all the spiritual books I’ve completed, all the meditation I have done, and all the prayers I have said, have made any difference whatsoever in my life.  I also wonder this about all the things I have written.  Why do I stress myself out trying to write meaningful things?  If I am honest I would have to say that most of my life I have wrestled with angels and fought with God.  Some days I think it would be easier if I did none of these things.  I wonder why some people go to the gym every day when the reality is that even healthy people eventually die.  Why do people go to college and rack up massive debt in student loans only to often end up in unsatisfying, low paying jobs?  I think we all do these things because there is something within us that longs for some kind of fullness.  We feel incomplete so we spend our lives trying to fill our emptiness.  I think this is human nature.  Despite my own lack of spiritual consolations, I think our emptiness, our hunger, and our desire for some kind of fullness is really a desire for God, whatever and whoever God is for individuals.  We do many things in our lives, often without any sense of instant gratification, because we are all trying to follow whatever inner voice we hear.  Something within us, something mysterious, drives us to long for and seek the other shore across the ocean of our lives.  Sometimes I wish my inner voice would shut up.  However, I also hope I continue to hear my inner voice even if it is barely a whisper.       

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Just Be Nice!

I know I have a personality that has a strong need to feel peaceful and to live in a harmonious environment.  I also know this is not always possible.  On a good day life is challenging and some days life just sucks.  However, I can’t imagine anyone not having a preference for a happy life with a minimum of suffering and stress.  Believing this, I try my best to optimize other people’s happiness and to do what I can to minimize suffering and stress for them.  Obviously I can’t control everything in life but I do the best I can whenever I can.  It is difficult for me to understand why everyone doesn’t do this.  Some people seem to have no concern whatsoever for the welfare of others.  This blows my mind.  I have shared many times my basic values of being kind and compassionate to others.  How different life would be if everyone did this.  I think a big problem with people who don’t practice kindness and compassion is their ego-centric personalities.  People who don’t practice kindness and compassion are almost always more concerned with their own personal agendas and needs.  We all have egos but not everyone lets ego run their life.  The less I think about myself the happier I am.  The more I think about myself the unhappier I am.  Whatever kindness and compassion that grace has allowed me to show to others has come back to me a thousand times.  I believe in Karma.  What goes around comes around.  Put goodness into the world and it will come back to you.  Obsession with one’s own ego based needs, to the detriment of others, will also come back to you.  Sooner or later you will receive what you give.    

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Do Only What You Are Doing

When you are washing the dishes, just wash the dishes.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Our minds are very fragmented.  We are usually multi-tasking and going in ten different directions at the same time.  While doing this we often worry about real and imaginary fears.  We speculate about everything that can go wrong in our life.  Our fears play games with us.  Wouldn’t it be nice if when we are washing the dishes all we are doing is washing the dishes?  Being where we are and doing what we are doing is Zen.  It is also mindfulness.  Being present to the moment can calm our fears and bring us peace.  In the great demands of life sometimes we just need to breathe.  Fragmentation and dissipation weakens us and depletes our strength.  A focused mind in the moment is a strong mind.  When you feel yourself spinning out of control, and you feel like you are losing it, stop.  Take a deep breath.  Be in the moment and chill out.  I know life is not simple.  The demands of modern culture, and the workplace, are great.  It takes effort, training, and persistence to live in the moment.  However, we can all do it if we try.  A person who learns to breathe and who learns to be in the moment is a centered person.  A centered person has found balance in their life.  A person who is balanced is not easily knocked over by the storms of life.      

Sometimes Simple Is Best

“One chord is fine.  Two chords are pushing it.  Three chords and you’re into jazz”
-Lou Reed
The author of the above quote was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He was a rock and roll legend most famous for founding a group called the Velvet Underground.  In the peace and love, flower power days of the late sixties the Velvet Underground were an anomaly.  They were the opposite of the prevailing hippie vibe.  Instead of tie dye, they were more likely to wear black and their songs were often about the seedier side of life on the streets.  I love the above quote, not because of its musical references, but because of what it says about simplicity and over complication.  I  dislike anything that is complicated, especially when it doesn’t need to be.  Although I have often been accused of living in my own little private world, I am not out of touch with reality.  I know life and the world can sometimes be complicated.  I have noticed, however, that many people are suspect of anything that is simple and there is often a belief that only the complicated has value.  Perhaps some people equate simple with easy and easy is never appropriate in their minds.  I’ve actually heard people say, “Nothing is that simple”.  Albert Einstein, who many people believe to be one of the smartest human beings that ever lived, once said that if the answers to the mysteries of the universe are not simple, they are probably the wrong answers.  Simple is not always easy.  It is often just more direct.  Complicated can have you going in circles.  Jazz, with its three or more chords, is much more complicated than most rock and roll but I’ve seen rock and roll guitar players whip a crowd into a frenzy with only one or two chords.  Don’t be afraid of the simple.    

Monday, June 01, 2015

Success And Failure

Everyone wants to be successful in life however that success is defined on an individual level.  No one wants to fail.  Failure, however, is also part of life.  Failure, and how we deal with it, forms us as much as our successes.  Our failures may be the jobs we didn’t get, the relationships that didn’t work out, the love that was unrequited, or a myriad of other goals and dreams that were not achieved.  Some failures will seem as nothing more than bumps in the road when we look back with the perspective of age and wisdom.  Other failures may leave a bruise that never heals.  As you look at those who surround you keep in my that we are all wounded in one way or another.  Some more than others.  Life isn’t for sissies.  I would list all my failures and unrealized dreams to make my point but such a list would make this reflection too long.  Do not let your failures discourage you.  Today’s failure may be tomorrow’s dream realized.  Never stop dreaming or living with the belief that anything is possible.  I know it is a clique to say this but life is a journey.  Our hopes, dreams, and goals drive us to move forward.  Our failures sometimes knock us off track but they can also lead us down a path that we were always meant to walk and that we never would have found without the failure.  As we used to say back in the sixties “Keep On Truckin”.  Whatever happens to you on your personal journey, follow your bliss and keep moving forward.  Let nothing discourage you.  Somehow in the great mystery of life we all end up where we are meant to be one way or another.  Our current journeys aren’t over until they’re over.