Monthly Archives: December 2013

Peace on Earth…for twenty-four hours anyway

An angelic chorus is recorded in the Gospel of Luke with having greeted the birth of Jesus singing “glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men.” I sometimes wonder if they were singing of another earth. This earth has known very little of peace. I don’t have an answer for it. No one else does either. So I am just going to try live peace on my little bit of earth for one day. Twenty-four hours. What follows will be my diplomatic strategy.

–Be Quiet. Much of the strife in my world comes from  my propensity to over-appreciate the right of others to hear my obviously well-informed opinions. Though they may suffer some, others will not die from not knowing what’s on my mind for a day.

–Be still. Tranquility is as tranquility does. Modern life is a beehive and we are the busy bees (ironic, since our activities seem to be killing off the actual busy bees that pollinate our crops and share their honey). Being still tends to create a sense of peace naturally. My world calms when I do.

–Read something online I disagree with and not comment. To anyone. Especially in the “Comments” section (otherwise known as “The Pit of Despair”). Just think about what was written. Let it breathe a bit. And then go on with my life. I might just give myself a chance to grow.

–Do something nice…for someone I don’t especially like. It takes nothing to be nice to those who are nice to us. But awe and wonder arise when we give rise to our better selves and just reach out to someone we consider less-than pleasant.  Sometimes we are surprised to find they aren’t as unpleasant as we thought–sometimes our impressions are confirmed. But whatever, for one day I will act peacefully toward someone it doesn’t seem natural to do so. If there is ever to be that elusive peace on earth, it will be because enough people get tired of being enemies and decide to act otherwise.

–Smile and greet everyone I meet today. Some people will return it. Some people will ignore it. Some people will think I have a screw loose and I will see it in their eyes. But I might just cross paths with someone today who desperately needs just one person to acknowledge them in human warmth. I might make their day. Who knows? A made day could change their life.

–Avoid all 24-hour news for at least  twenty-four hours. It will be more effective if I can do so for twenty-four weeks, months or years. I’m guessing my anger level will drop by a minimum of 24%. Minimum.

That’s it. I have to keep it simple. Merry Christmas everyone. May there be peace and goodwill in your little corner of earth.

Categories: Mind, Miscellany, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Avoiding Avoidance

We all have our pitfalls–little traps that if we allow a certain amount of mindlessness to creep in we find ourselves stepping in. Avoidance behavior is a biggie for me. We are ancient enemies, our conflict spawned fairly early in my time here. At times I get the upper hand, but instead of learning from the past and remaining watchful, I tend to get satisfied and lazy and the next thing I know I’m hollering for help from the bottom of some metaphorical hole while fiendish Procrastination grins evilly down at me.

So today, trying to claw my way to the top of the most recent pit, I found myself getting a bit “put out”. Not angry in a way that leads to irrational lashing about, but angry in a way that lights a fire. Angry in a way that asks important questions about why I am where I am and how not only to get out of the hole but to stay out of it for good. So in asking and reflecting and considering past victories and defeats I came up with a few things. They are helping me formulate a plan and perhaps they can help someone else out there.

Basically, to defeat this monster for good, I need (at least) three things. The first is I need a pose. Specifically a meditation pose engaged regularly. I’m not gonna bore you with all the science behind meditation. There’s a mountain of info out there. I will say that meditation is not some weird and vaguely “spiritual” thing. It isn’t hocus pocus or sorcery or an attempt to talk to spirits. It’s very much a thing of the physical brain and has definite and measurable calming effects that provide a clarity to life situations. So, not surprisingly, when I regularly sit I find myself seeing with more clarity and acting and reacting with calm, balance, and purpose. So for me, a first for “doing” something positive is to do “nothing” with positive purpose.

Second, to avoid avoidance one needs a plan for the day. Just today. Not every day. Just the one, single, day we actually are living at the moment. I don’t mean every second legislated in stone but just an idea of things that truly need done and a real intent to do them. Front-end loading works really well. That is, do the hard things first. Just like when my mama made me eat my asparagus as a child. I could wait until the end, eating all the pleasant stuff first but that asparagus would still be there, taunting me, knowing I wasn’t going anywhere until I forced it down. It was better to attack it first and be done with it. When things arise that actually need doing, we aren’t going anywhere until they are done, so we might as well get to them.

And lastly, we need a good question to confront our tendency to avoid. That question is a good one to ask ourselves anyway from time to time, so why not make a habit of it? That question is “What am I afraid of?” Somehow, we often manage to step into some warped cosmic reality where what we should be afraid of doesn’t scare us and what should doesn’t. Instead of considering the difficulties we create and the non-life we engage in by avoiding distasteful or unpleasant or just plain hard things, we think only of the pleasure momentary escape brings us. But momentary escape is just that–momentary. The beast is still out there, waiting for us to come out of our tiny hiding place. And the hiding place has to be tiny because it is that smallest version of ourselves that needs to hide.

So what ARE we afraid of? Strangely, when we ask that question of ourselves in a substantive way, it actually has no substantive answer. What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose the very worst thing is you could die facing your personal beast. Guess what? That’s gonna happen anyway. We may as well live a little before it does, and we will NEVER live encased in fear. Cowering isn’t life, it’s just cowering.

The pleasant discovery I have made over and over again–and apparently keep forgetting over and over again–is life isn’t in avoidance, it’s in engagement. My mom used to have to force me at gunpoint (ok–she never actually used a gun, but I’m sure she was tempted) to force down that asparagus. But today asparagus and I have an excellent culinary relationship. Somewhere along the line I realized it is pretty good stuff and quite good for me. Often, so is that thing you are dreading. And even if it isn’t. Even if it is just plain old unpleasant and no fun there is one more question to ask, a trump card of sorts to play, and that question is “What will delay really get me?”

The answer to that one isn’t “nothing”. Delay will get you something, but not a positive something. It will get you dread–the Undone will always be lurking at the edge of your mind, no matter how many games of solitaire you play. It will get you soured relationships, more work, more stress, more pain, and less life. No one in their right mind wants that, and that my friend is a solid indication that we are not in our right mind at all when we engage in avoidance behavior.

So there you have it. A few arrows in your quiver when avoidance comes calling. Fire away.

Categories: Body, Mind, Miscellany, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Nelson Mandela

The world has lost a great soul with the passing of Nelson Mandela. Not much else to say.

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

May we all be mindful of the self-oppression of hate and the true liberty of love. Sometimes, the highest walls are the ones we build for ourselves. Thank God for Nelson Mandela and his heart for tearing down walls.

Categories: Miscellany | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Seditious Thoughts: A short vent on the absurdity of The Way Things Are

Consider this the yammering of a frustrated soul. Or perhaps a deranged mind. I will warn you in advance there is nothing profound here. Of course, readers are seldom in danger of being hit by stray bits of profundity when it comes to my writing.

I find myself thinking seditious thoughts. Such thinking is dangerous. It can get you on lists. It can get you in prison. It has gotten more than a few people dead. I doubt my particular sedition will get me any of those things, but it should. If enough people start asking certain questions a lot of things would change. Business and government would never be the same. I mention them together because only a little digging reveals they are seldom far apart.

Don’t worry. I’m not gonna blow anything up or shoot anyone. Bombs and bullets destroy buildings and kill people but they never touch ideas. That’s why the wars to end all wars never do. That’s why right here in America there are people who proudly proclaim themselves Nazis–swastika flags and all–sixty-eight years after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Ideas are bulletproof. I wonder if many of them, buttressed by fear or out-sized self-interest, can’t even be bested by better ideas.

I would like to blow “the system” up though. That’s right, I said it. I’d like to radically change The Way Things Are in the world, and I see no way for that to happen except for a demolition of the current system and the thinking that has produced it. Some will label it hopeless idealism. But many ideals seem hopeless at one time or another yet still find a tangible way into the world. So what is so hopeless about hoping for a world where money doesn’t rule? Where it can’t buy lawmakers nor influence the administration of law? An actual rule of law as opposed to the appearance of such we have now?  Or a world  where violence isn’t seen as a solution? Or a world where our common humanity outweighs all the things like race, religion, and nationality we use to divide us?

And maybe most importantly, why is it hopeless to hope the general population and the leaders of governments  come to understand that our current economic model is completely and utterly insane. That’s right, insane. It is a logical and physical absurdity to think that an economy can grow infinitely in a finite world. But no leader in his or her right mind dares touch that one it seems, and we common people tend to not worry as long as we get a share of the bread and circuses that numb us from even thinking about it. Yet this inherently illogical idea is at the root of so many of our other issues. Perhaps money really does make the world the go round. And certainly the love of it is at the root of all sorts of evil.

So yes, I am thinking seditious thoughts. Not especially profound ones and certainly not new ones. But seditious they are. And eventually, when enough of us are thinking them, things will change.

Categories: Miscellany | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.