Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wake Up Call

I had a medical emergency last week.  My blood pressure went haywire and spiked unexpectedly.  This never happened to me before so I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I have taken blood pressure medication for years.  After a visit with my doctor he determined it was time to adjust my dosage.  I am feeling fine now but I must admit I had a few moments of panic and couldn’t help but wonder if I was going to that great gig in the sky.  I also had a few moments of anger because I had tickets to a Roger Waters concert at the Yum Center on Sunday night and I didn’t want to miss the show because I was in the hospital or worse.  The good news is that I made the concert with two old friends that I have known since we were teen-agers.  After the concert we hung out at my house and actually stayed up till 2:00 AM.  That alone should have killed all three of us.  We’re not too old to rock and roll and still too young to die but we do need our sleep.  Thank God Monday was a holiday and I got to sleep in.  On a more serious note, a brush with possible death is a wakeup call.  I am at the age when dying wouldn’t be a total shock even if it was unexpected.  Last week was a reminder to live well and enjoy every moment.  It was also a reminder not to be stupid and to take care of my health.  I rarely get sick enough to miss work but I do have some ongoing health issues.  Whether you are young or old, take care of yourself and pay attention to how you feel.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right and needs to be checked out.  Better safe than sorry.  For the next few weeks I will be extra vigilant because I have tickets to a U2 concert and Bono is expecting me to be in the audience.       

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Road To Success Is Paved With Work

Wanderer, your footsteps are the road and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking”.
Antonio Machado
“Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and then sustain it”.
-Warren Bennis
In my life I have noticed that everyone wants to know the way.  Everyone wants to know how to get somewhere.  Everyone wants to know the secret to success.  The way to get anywhere is to get going.  Don’t look for a path.  Rather, make your own path.  Rarely does anything good or valuable come easy.  You have to know what you want and then translate your intention and goal into reality.  Once achieved it must be maintained and sustained.  I’ve had some success in life and I have a comfortable lifestyle.  No one gave it to me.  I started working when I was 16 years old bagging groceries in a small mom and pop grocery store.  I worked after school and often on weekends.  Quite frankly, it was the only way I could keep up with my rich friends.  When I received my first paycheck I bought a pair of shoes that were too expensive for my parents to buy for me.  It took almost my entire paycheck.  Eventually I bought my first car and even paid my own car insurance.  That first car was a 1962 VW Beetle that cost $900.  It drove me and my hippie friends to all kinds of places our parents never knew about.  My wife and I have been getting out of bed and heading to our respective jobs for 42+ years.  Many days neither of us wanted to do it but we were mature enough to use whatever power reserves we had to “translate intention into reality and then sustain it”.  Our intention is to stay employed so we can continue to have a comfortable life.  The older we get the less we want to do this.  I am certainly no super human.  I am often unmotivated, lazy, resistant, rebellious, and lacking in direction.  I am what some people would call an under achiever.  However, my wife and I had hard working parents who gave us a strong work ethic.  You don’t have to be a superstar to be successful in life.  You do, however, have to get up and show up.  The road you need to make by walking is the road to work.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Treat Every Moment As Your Last

Treat every moment as your last.  It is not a preparation for something else.  Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see.  You are one with everything.  This is more true than I can say and more true than you can hear.
-Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.
Empty handed I entered the world.
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going,
Two simple happenings that got entangled.
I really like these quotes.  It is not because I am closer to the end of my life than I am to the beginning.  Shunryu Suzuki reminds us that every moment of our lives is important.  Most of us waste much of our lives in pursuits that are often frivolous or unnecessary.  Others spend their entire life preparing for the future and they never truly live in the present.  Just recently I used a strong metaphor in a conversation with my wife.  I told her she is always loading her gun but she never pulls the trigger.  What I was saying is that we have to quit talking all the time about what we are going to do and just do it.  I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that said “Life is short.  Buy the damn concert tickets”!   Whether we are young or old we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis “What are we waiting for”?  Yes, sometimes you have to plan but don’t spend your entire life planning.  Sooner or later, and preferably sooner, you have to implement your dreams.  Originally I thought I would be retired by now.  When I decided to keep working for a while I told my wife that if I was going to continue working, and now that I have more money than I’ve ever had, I am going to do more.  If I want something I will buy it.  I will go on nicer vacations and take them more often.  I’m running out of days so the time for more action is now.  I was out walking the other day while at work.  Each day now there are food trucks everywhere.  People seem to love them.  One of the food trucks had a funny slogan painted on it.  It said, “I don’t want to look back some day and think I could have eaten that”!  We are all given a finite period of time in this life.  Some get more than others and no one knows how long they will be given.  I have already been given much more than many.  Empty handed I entered this world and barefoot I will leave it.  In the time between I want to be one with the clouds and the sun and the stars.  I’m going to the damn concerts too!         

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Oldest Son

Today is the 39th birthday of my oldest son who is also the father of Chloe and my namesake.  Although he has my name, the truth is that he’s more like his mother.  That’s a whole different daily thought.  When I began working at Humana he was only seven years old and in the first grade.  Now he is knocking on the door of middle age and has a few gray hairs to prove it.  He is a single Dad and although Chloe may disagree some days, he’s a very good Dad who works hard.  I found it touching that this past weekend Chloe told my wife and me that she wanted to get her Dad a Mother’s Day card.  We stopped at Walgreen’s where she picked out a card and a few of his favorite snacks.  When my son was born in 1978 I was only 27 years old and married only four years.  This was pre-Humana so at the time I was working for a Heating and Air Conditioning Wholesale company where I waited on customers and unloaded semi-trucks full of air conditioners and furnaces.  Becoming a parent changed my life as it does for most people.  Once you become a parent it never really ends.  The midnight feedings and diaper changes turn into sleepless nights wondering where your teen-ager is and what they doing.  Before you realize it they grow up and leave home for their own life.  Eventually they have a crisis or two and realize they are lucky their parents are still around to help.  It is also a good thing if their parents have a bigger bank account.  Once my son called me in the middle of my evening nap and asked if I could watch Chloe for a few hours.  I responded that I could and asked him where he was.  He replied, “I’m in your driveway”.  Four years after my oldest son was born, his brother came along.  I think both of them would agree they had a pretty good life growing up.  There were lots of Saturday afternoon movies, attending professional wrestling matches, going to the circus, and being on vacations.  Santa Claus never missed a Christmas either.  I never had a daughter but now I have a very special granddaughter.  Sons and daughters and grandchildren grow up quickly so use some of that Zen I am always talking about and enjoy every moment while you can.

The Sound Of Our Own Wheels

“Try dying every day to your old self so that you emerge renewed and young again as the tired mind sheds its load”.
-Kristen Zambucka
Let’s be honest.  Aren’t we all just a little tired in ways that have nothing to do with a lack of sleep?  I call it being psychically tired.  It’s part being physically tired.  It’s part being emotionally tired. It’s part being spiritually tired.  Life is hard for all of us even if we have lives that many would consider very nice.  Life is sometimes harder for us as individuals because of our own dysfunctional behavior patterns.  The rock band “The Eagles” have a song lyric that goes “Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”.  This is what many of us do.  If life isn’t challenging enough we drive ourselves crazy with the sound of our own wheels.  In my mind the “sound of our own wheels” is our dysfunctional behavior.  After many years I have realized that people don’t really change much and they are who they are.  This is certainly true with people within my own family, people in the workplace, and with myself.  I can help guide behavior but I can rarely change it in others.  It is the same with me as a person and a leader.  My strengths are my strengths and my weaknesses are my weaknesses.  My weaknesses will never be my strengths.  Our personalities never really change.  We just become older and hopefully better versions of ourselves.  When I had only been married a short period of time, my wife complained to my mother that I was obsessed with music.  My mother told her to relax because I would get over it when I grew up.  42 years later at age 66 I have a music collection that probably contains 3,000 CD’s.  They take up an entire wall of my room at home.  In the next month I will be attending two major rock concerts.  I am still a hippie and still a little rebellious.  We are what we are.  Having said all of this, sometimes I wear myself out with my dysfunctions, my obsessions, and the sound of my own wheels.  Know what I mean?  I would like to sometimes wake up to a new and renewed version of myself.  By the way, my mother is now 87 years old and probably still waiting for me to grow up.        

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Can You Be Present Every Moment?

The solution to our mood problems may not require heroic attempts to change our inner feeling world or the outer world of people, places, and jobs.  Rather, it may simply involve a shift in the way we pay attention to all of them”.
-Mark Williams
The little things we do in life may not seem to have a direct bearing on spirituality; maybe they seem quite unspiritual.  Nevertheless, it is your world you are dealing with; it is your environment.  So the things you are doing should be felt fully rather than rushed through”.
-Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche
As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.  Otherwise you will miss most of your life.”
As simple as all of this sounds I find it very challenging to do on a day to day basis.  When I think of presence, I think of being totally focused on the moment and the event.  I then ponder, “When has 100% of me ever been anywhere and doing one thing at the same time”?  I often feel like I am going in ten directions and parts of me are trying to catch up with other parts of me.  Most days I have less sleep than I need, so I am often tired, and there seems to be places I need to go and things I need to accomplish.  By the time I get home at the end of the day I feel exhausted from trying to be present all day at work.  My evenings are generally free and unencumbered but I know many of you have child care responsibilities, part time jobs, or school obligations.  I don’t know that I can be conscious or truly present every minute of the day.  Consciousness or presence is a lot like meditation.  When one sits in meditation you strive to be present to the moment and most meditators focus on their breath or a mantra to stay focused.  When you realize that you are drifting you come back to your breath or your mantra in order to return to your center.  You really have to do the same thing when living a busy life.  When you realize that you are chasing your tail or meeting yourself coming and going, pause for a few moments and just breathe.  If you can, stop what you are doing  and use a mantra or a prayer word to refocus and re-enter your own center.  In other words, get your bearings and let your inner GPS re-direct itself.  Ironically, consciousness can be the awareness that you aren’t conscious!  When you are truly in the moment you probably aren’t aware of it.  Some psychologists refer to unconscious consciousness as “flow”.  Flow is when you are no longer aware of time or space.         

Sunday, May 14, 2017

All Of Life Is A Teacher

The entire world is an open book, a scripture.  Read it.  Learn while digging a pit or chopping some wood or cooking some food.  If you can’t learn from your daily activities, how are you going to understand the scriptures”?
-Swami Satchidananda
Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”.
-Zen saying
You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”
-St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Most of you reading this have probably never dug a pit, chopped wood, or carried water.  I assume everyone has prepared a meal if only for themselves.  Any of you who are old hippies like me probably know that Swami Satchidananda appeared at the original Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and was also featured in the Woodstock documentary film.  He was a Hindu guru and died just a few years ago.  Today’s Zen quote is a famous one.  It is basically telling us that before or after we may attain some level of enlightenment we will still have the chores of everyday life.  What will change is our attitude and view of these chores.  Most of us in America live like Kings and Queens compared to most of the world.  The reality is that many people chop wood and carry water everyday just to survive.  I believe this quote is also telling us that if we aren’t finding what we are looking for in the tasks of everyday life we aren’t likely to find them in a church or temple or mosque.  St. Bernard is a Christian monk who lived near the end of the 10th century in France.  Clairvaux is a small town in France where he founded a monastery and lived much of his life.  I have been to Clairvaux, France and while there I visited a spring in a forest where St. Bernard is believed to have meditated and inspired to write the words quoted above.  St. Bernard was one of the early teachers and monks in the order of monks that came to be known as Cistercians.  The monastery where I lived as a young man was a Cistercian monastery.  I am reminded of a time I was in the monastery and feeling ill.  I was in the infirmary and reading “The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross”.  John of the Cross was a 16th century Spanish mystic.  His books would be considered “heavy”.  An older monk came to see how I was feeling.  When he saw the book I was reading he said, “Brother Dominic, you would learn more about God working in the cow barn than reading that book”.  The works of John of the Cross are spiritual classics but the older monk was right.  I learned more about God working at the cow barn and taking walks in the woods where the trees and the stones were my teachers than I ever learned in church.  There is nothing wrong with going to church but all of life can and should be your teacher.   

Thursday, May 11, 2017

You Are Responsible For Your Own Decisions

Distracting yourself away from your problems doesn’t help you.  Your problems will always return.  Acknowledging your problems is the first step to dealing with them”.
We live in a society where many people feel they are victims.  Some people truly are victims of circumstances that are beyond their control.  Many other people are just looking for an excuse or someone to blame for their problems.  Whenever I talk to my granddaughter about her school work, a bad grade is always her teachers fault.  Occasionally I speak with an adult who is still blaming their parents for their life.  Sooner or later we all have to own our problems and our lives.  You can play the blame game or you can just deal with your situation which may or may not be your own fault.  Most of our lives are the results of our own good and bad decisions.  I think we all have the power to make our lives what we want them to be.  This doesn’t mean that our lives always turn out the way we want them to do.  I truly think most people’s lives are accidental in the sense that they turn out the way they do without much actual planning.  How many of you who are reading these thoughts have the life you wanted?  How many of you think the circumstances of your life are exactly what you thought they should be?  Even if a life is accidental, that doesn’t mean it turned out badly.  Are you happy with the life you have?  If so, you may be proof that an accidental life can be a happy life.  On the other hand, some people achieve a life they think they wanted only to find out it makes them miserable.  Many of us try to make the best of our situation regardless of how we got there.  Look at the life you have.  How did you get there?  What decisions good or bad have you made?  If you are happy, be grateful.  If you are not, what are your options?  Sometimes we get so far down a road it is difficult or impossible to turn back and start over.  For others it is never too late to start over.  We are always at a crossroads.         

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Finding Balance

It’s not so much that we are afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear.  It’s like being between trapezes”.
-Marilyn Ferguson
There is no such thing as work-life balance.  Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life”.
Alain de Botton
To slave away on the pointless business of mundane life, and then to come out empty is a tragic error”.
-Tibetan Book of the Dead
Whenever I know or think my life is on the verge of change, I like to think “maybe this will be a good thing”.  This is the optimist in me.  I tend to believe that even when bad things happen some good will come from it.  It is only human, however, to have moments of doubt or fear while you are swinging through the air hoping your timing and your grasp are perfect when the next trapeze appears.  Much of my life has been a quest for balance.  I always wanted a little of this and a little that while not having too much of either.  The one job I had that created an unbalance in my life was also my favorite job and one of the few from which I was fired.  It’s been a while since my life felt unbalanced.  The last time was probably during my child rearing years.  I had two children and was working a lot of overtime at a new job while also going to night classes at a local college.  I was also experiencing the early stages of what became a health crisis.  I got through it all but in retrospect I prefer a balanced life over a crazy life.  These days I mostly have balance but sometimes it feels unbalanced because some things feel out of proportion to other things.  For example, at this stage of my life I don’t mind working but I would prefer working less.  I don’t have the energy I used to have so three days of work per week would be preferable to my current five days a week.  I need more sleep and I want more leisure.  Sooner or later this will work itself out.  I guess the bottom line is that our lives will feel differently at different stages.  When I was younger and more energetic I could handle a lot more.  Now that I am older and less energetic, I prefer more rest and down time.  With most of the labors of life I have done my time and paid my dues.  Now it is time for more books, more music, more daydreaming, more staring out the window, and less slaving away on the sometimes pointless and mundane business of life.  Been there, done that.        

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Life In The Slow Lane

Patience may seem like a superficial virtue, but actually it embodies a deep insight into the nature of things.  They’re intertwining, messy, and usually not about you”.
-Rick Hanson
“Patience has all the time it needs”.
-Allan Lokos
I am always amazed at the impatience of people.  People like the guy who honks at you the split second after the light turns green or the guy that tailgates you when you are already 15 miles an hour over the speed limit.  Everyone seems to always be in a hurry.  For what, I have no idea.  My children laugh at me when I say, “The journey is the destination”.  This summer I have a trip planned to the ocean.  I have decided to drive because I hate flying.  I have no fear of flying but I find the whole experience stressful.  A lot of that is dealing with impatient people.  I am going to a part of the country I have never been to and I want to see the land and scenery along the way.  As Gandhi once said, “there is more to life than increasing it’s speed”.  Over the weekend I saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about a television show in Norway called “Slow TV”.  One of the shows was nothing but watching logs burning in a fireplace.  Another show was a train ride through the Norwegian countryside.  They put a camera on the front of the train and the show lasted for eight hours.  It was like you were the engineer of the train. Imagine C-Span in nature.  I am all about slowing life down.  This past weekend was a very rare weekend without my granddaughter staying at my home.  Admittedly I missed her.  I didn’t leave the house the entire weekend.  I slept late, drank a pot of coffee, listened to a lot of music, read from a new book, took a few naps, and walked in my back yard.  Many people would consider this a very boring weekend.  I was in hog heaven.  It was an introverts dream.  I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, and all day to get there.  I definitely wasn’t in a hurry.  It was my own channel on “Slow TV”.               

Friday, May 05, 2017

It's A Zen Thing

Enlightenment is the result of the daily practice of mindfulness”.
-Shinjo Ito
The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows. There is nothing extraordinary or mysterious about Zen. I raise my hand ; I take a book from the other side of the desk ; I hear the boys playing ball outside my window; I see the clouds blown away beyond the neighboring wood: — in all these I am practicing Zen, I am living Zen. No wordy discussions is necessary, nor any explanation. I do not know why — and there is no need of explaining, but when the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody’s heart is filled with bliss. If Zen is at all conceivable, it must be taken hold of here.”
D.T. Suzuki, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism
Perhaps there is after all nothing mysterious in Zen. Everything is open to your full view. If you eat your food and keep yourself cleanly dressed and work on the farm to raise your rice or vegetables, you are doing all that is required of you on this earth, and the infinite is realized in you.”
D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism
I am not a real Zen Master although I play one in the office where I work.  I first heard of Zen from the writings of the Christian monk, Thomas Merton.  I was immediately drawn to it.  I’ve read a fair amount of books about it but I think it basically boils down to being where you are and doing what you are doing.  Zen is about presence.  Whatever you are doing, just do it.  When I go outside for a walk, I walk.  When the wind blows, I feel the wind.  When I walk by the food trucks lined up on the curb every day, I smell the aromas of the food being cooked.  This is all the stuff of life.  The more I practice Zen the more I catch life as it flows.  Sometimes our lives may feel small as we go about our daily routines but there is a big world out there.  Zen opens our eyes.  It helps me to appreciate the wonders of life.   When I am fully part of the flow of life I am being mindful.  When I am present I am enlightened.  As you go through your day use your eyes and ears and nostrils.  Feel the wind on your face and the warmth of the sun on your neck.  When you eat, taste your food.  Use all of your senses and become more aware. 

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Only Constant Is Change

It isn’t enough to appreciate change from afar, or only in the abstract, or as something that can happen to other people but not to you.  We need to create change for ourselves, in a workable way, as part of our everyday lives”.
-Sharon Salzberg
Don’t try to rush things, for the cup to run over, it must first be filled”.
-Antonio Machado
My feelings about change can change on a daily basis.  Some change feels good and some change hurts.  One thing I have learned is that the only constant in life is change.  It will happen whether you like it or not.  Change happens to all of us.  In my cubicle is a picture of me taken the year I started working at Humana.  It is a picture of a young man with brown hair and a brown beard.  That young man is now an old man with soon to be white hair and beard.  On a daily basis I didn’t notice the transformation.  However, each day for the last 30+ years my body has aged and I became the man you see today.  As I have gotten older everyone around me seems to have gotten younger.  The good news is that the older man who writes these thoughts is a lot wiser than the young man in the picture.  The change of getting older is not a bad thing if you do right.  I have a fondness for the young version of myself but I am also very comfortable with the old man he has become.  There’s a lot about getting older that I really like.  For one thing I am a lot more relaxed.  There isn’t much that stresses me out anymore.  I feel good where I am.  Change is often good regardless of how it may occasionally feel.  Change will happen at its own pace so there is no need to rush it.  I got to where I am now one day at a time.  Believe it or not, most older people don’t want to be young again and have to re-live all the challenges of their youth.  I do not wish to re-live the labors of my youth.  My cup has filled up over time and now my cup runneth over. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Space For Grace

While we’re talking, envious time is fleeing.  Seize the day, put no trust in the future”.
Stop allowing your day to day life to be clouded by busy nothingness”.
-Steve Maraboli
I tend to think that time is like an endlessly flowing river.  Each of us is in the river for a relatively short period of time even if we reach our perception of old age.  When we are gone the river keeps flowing.  It takes some effort to stay afloat in the river but by and large the less we resist the easier the ride.  One needs to flow with life, not fight it.  Time and life are the same thing to me until I experience otherwise.  We should seize the day and live in the moment even though I know from personal experience this is not always as easy as it sounds.  Time occasionally slips through my fingers and once gone it cannot be recovered.  I saw a meme the other night that said, “I always knew I would get old but I never thought it would happen this fast”.  It gets your attention when you realize that some of your best memories are now fifty years old. 
One of the best ways to slow down your life is by avoiding unnecessary busyness.  Our culture runs us ragged.  I often reflect on how I thought my life would be much less busy at this stage.  However, it feels as busy as ever.  It seems like there is always somewhere to go or something to do.  I thought by this time of my life I would be sitting in the sun watching the grass grow.  When you are tempted to do something because you feel like you should, ask yourself, “Is this really necessary”?  It may be your own compulsive behavior making you think it is necessary.  Just because your mother did something doesn’t mean you have to do it too.  A friend of mine runs a retreat house in the country.  He advertises it as “a space for grace”.  People have many different understandings of the meaning of grace.  When I use to teach a religion class to teenagers back in the 80’s, I compared grace to “The Force”.  This was shortly after the Star Wars movies first appeared.  Think of grace as life.  Find time and space in your life for just being alive.  Let the chores wait.  Do something you love.  Read a book, listen to a symphony, write in a journal, etc.  A “space for grace” can be a space to breathe, use the “Force” and become a Jedi Knight.  My apologies to anyone who have never watched a Star Wars movie.    

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Finding Yourself & Forgetting Yourself

True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of oneself; but the point is not only to get out, you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand”.
-Henry James
Without giving up hope that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be, we will never relax with where we are or who we are”.
-Pema Chodron
Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are”.
-Deepak Chopra
Some of you will remember my friend, Father Dennis.  He was a dear friend who lived near the monastery.  I used to take off one Friday every month to spend the day with him.  We met as young men.  Over the years we occasionally lost track of one another but when he retired to live near the monastery we reconnected.  He died suddenly about four years ago and I miss him terribly.  My priest son concelebrated his funeral mass along with the Archbishop.  Dennis is buried at the monastery.  When Dennis retired he bought two puppies.  He told me he did it in part because he needed to not think only of himself and his own needs.  I spent the night at Dennis’s home on occasion and trust me when I say these dogs ran the show and determined the schedule.  There was no need for an alarm clock.  When the dogs woke up, everyone woke up.  This is an example of an errand that gets you out of yourself and keeps you there.
I have always been a little obsessed with knowing who I am, why I am the way I am, and why I think and act like I do.  Even after 66 years I still occasionally have a new insight into who I am.  Sometimes the best understandings of who we are is when we face those parts of ourselves that may be a little hard to accept.  We are who we are for all kinds of reasons.  It starts with our family of origin and our place in that family.  It continues with our education and personality development.  Our origin and our development are further formed by our experiences whether they be good or bad or a little bit of both.  Some people let nature take its course and expect the rest of the world to deal with them.  Others study their own personality and work to be the best version of who and what they are.  We are all a little different but none of us are stuck into any particular patterns.  Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.  Know yourself better by daily asking yourself who you are.