Posts Tagged With: life

We Are All Gods, Every One…

Now, before my theist friends begin formally filing charges of blasphemy and my atheist friends just roll their eyes (yes, I have atheist friends!), please hear me out.

I am not saying any one of us bundles of mental energy wrapped in dust is THE God or that you have to even believe THE God exists (though I myself do). We’ll save that discussion for a mountain hike or trout stream or over beer and pizza.

What I do mean is this–every last one of us is creative. Some of you are going “Not me…I’m about as creative as a rock.” Well first of all, how do you really “know” that rock isn’t creative? But that too is another discussion for another time. I assure you however, you ARE in fact creative. You may not be an artist or musician or poet or novelist but you are creative.

In fact you are creating right now. You are creating thoughts about this blog post or God or beer and pizza or something else. Those thoughts are jostling their way in among the myriad other thoughts dancing about your mind. Some of those thoughts will dance enthusiastically enough to really get your attention. They will grow and take on a life of their own by spawning other thoughts and captivating your focus. Most importantly, some of those thoughts will be be spawning actions (or non-actions). Those actions and non-actions will then have much to do with what happens in your life. In a most very real sense, you are creating your own life. Right now. Moment by moment, thought by thought, deed by deed.

Why not create something beautiful?

Categories: Body, Mind, Miscellany, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Thanksgiving Greeting

Where ever, and who ever you are, I hope this day you can find at least a small sense of blessing. I hope you may a know a little peace and a little fullness. I hope your eyes can be opened to some wonder. I hope a soulful smile will find its way into the world through you.

I hope there’s some music in your life–a favorite song, the sound of your loved one’s laughter, or just the wind whispering through the trees. I hope there’s some good food and drink and even better company. I hope there is much love, and that all the little irritants that seem to slip between loved ones in our daily journey can be set aside so only the love remains.

I am mindful that for some, even the simplest of these hopes seems a fantasy. Some lives are mired in difficulties that make my life seem like a heaven in comparison. I have no savior complex. I’ll likely not change that. Not for every one in every place anyway. I am captain of no ship but my own, and the challenges of that job are quite enough. But if my ship can be a refuge and place of rest for someone else for a bit then I hope to have the wisdom and compassion to provide that refuge.

For who knows? Today’s abundance may become tomorrow’s want. Most all of us are adrift in wild seas from time to time. So we must savor the blessings while we have them. Even if the only blessing is but a breath, breath means life and life means possibility. And what a gift possibility is. Sail sweetly friends. There is a great big horizon out there, and who knows what lies beyond?

Categories: Miscellany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Be You

To be one’s true self may be about the most difficult task we human beings have. We have to figure out who we are to begin with, and then we have to live that out in a world which will often try to dictate that we should be something or someone other than what we are.

Now before I take one step further down the path, I should probably say a word or two about what I am not advocating here. I am not saying we should be selfish. I exist in the world, and therefore have some place in it, but the world is not about me. I’m a character in the Great Story–and the primary character in my chapter, but it’s pretty clear that much has come before and much will likely come after so I best not let my head inflate too much. Much of the world’s trouble and suffering comes from folks mistaking their story for the Big Story instead of just enjoying their part.

Nor am I encouraging anyone to be an ass. Sometimes we mistake rudeness for authenticity. “I’ll say or do whatever I think and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it” may have had twelve or fourteen valid applications in the history of the world, but generally is misused as license to be jerk or start a war or some other destructive behavior. Often it comes from acting out of our wounds–and our wounded selves are not our true selves at all. Whatever or whoever you are, acting like a jerk isn’t a good thing. We should never kid ourselves by thinking that dressing boorish behavior up in principles makes it less boorish. It really just sullies the principles.

Ok–now that that is out of the way, on to the good stuff.

Be yourself!

I have been often asked lately by people who know me personally why I ceased being a Christian minister. I’ve given different answers to different people based on what I thought they could handle, but probably the most honest, simple answer is that the words “Christian minister” carry so much baggage that they had begun to to suffocate Jeff Johnson. I was losing myself underneath the weight of those words and the human expectations that came with them. So I had a pretty clear choice to make–be the person God made me to be or be the person others thought I should be. When I considered it that way, the choice was pretty obvious which way I should go.

You see, words are pretty potent things. They woo women, flatter men,  and start wars. They take on a life of their own. The words we use as labels to describe ourselves can become especially powerful things. The more we and others use those words the more they can paint a facade of expectation over who we really are. Wear any facade long enough and it can get hard to tell where the facade ends and our true selves begin. So probably the first step toward seeing one’s true self is to step away from the labels–even if only for a bit.  Who are we when we shed all the words we and others use to describe ourselves? Who’s underneath all those layers of verbiage?

I certainly can’t answer that for anyone but myself. Nor do I have to. That alone is a powerful liberation. I don’t need to try to live anyone’s life but my own. That is more than adventure enough, and oh how I am coming to enjoy the abundance that comes with not living out other peoples thoughts for me, nor trying to impose mine on them. Don’t get me wrong–I love hearing other people’s thoughts and stories and I love sharing mine. But ultimately only you can live your life and only I can live mine, and neither of us will do a good job of that if we are trying to be someone else.

Categories: Mind, Spirit | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Bearly Awake (with compliments to J.R.R. Tolkien)

Oh the adventures a hobbit can have if he will but leave the Shire. Wasn’t that the real message Tolkein had in mind for us? That there are lives to be lived, loves to be loved, and battles to be fought? And who knows how little things add up to bigger things and eventually to the Biggest Thing?

This is a short story about a little adventure in the midst of my part of the Grand Adventure. Where the story begins is lost in the fog of time. I know not all the details that go into what makes me “me”. I know only that I long to be Outside and have a bit of free time between work right now so I decided to take a couple of days early in the week to do some adventuring. I was geared up and after taking care of a few details of life headed for the mountains late Monday morning. I had a particular glen above a particular stream in mind for a campsite.

I apparently have an inner Hobbit, because he kept worrying about whether I had everything I needed and reminding me to get the headlamp out of the glove box. I told him to stop worrying and after arriving at the trail head I checked everything one last time, shouldered the pack, and headed up the first ridge. At the top of said ridge the Hobbit spoke again–“I think you forgot the head lamp.” Ah the headlamp! I briefly mulled going back for it, but the day was bright, the trail beckoned, and Daniel Boone never had a head lamp.

“You’re not Daniel Boone!” huffed the Hobbit.

The walking was fine early in the afternoon and I decided to go a bit further, cross another ridge, and camp on a slightly larger stream than I had originally intended. Plans are, after all, made to be broken. This put me a tad closer to the highest point in the state which I decided needed a visit the following day. It also put me on an excellent trout stream and I and the Hobbit were in agreement that a few trout in the pan would be a good supper (if you want a Hobbit’s agreement, talk about food).

Reaching the area I had in mind about 3PM, I set up camp, rigged my fly rod, and walked downstream a bit to hit a series of runs and pools I knew would have some fish. My first taker was a native brook trout, a male so resplendent with the colors of autumn I just couldn’t kill him. Again the Hobbit agreed, as Hobbits do have a certain sense of art and beauty. So, after a second or two of admiration back in the water he went.

I fished on, delightedly watching as trout rose to the fly, grumbling when I missed the hook set, gleefully admiring the color on another brookie and a rainbow truly worthy of name that I did not miss. The rainbow had a deep scarlet slash along both flanks and cheeks so rosy he seemed to me embarrassed at having fallen for such an obvious trap as the Royal Wulff hanging from his lip. Both these fish were released for the same reason the first one was.  The Hobbit was beginning to wonder if we would ever catch one or two that would qualify for the pan because ugly trout are hard to come by. To his relief we ended up with three rather plain rainbows that were perfectly pan-sized. Two for me and one for him.

I will not even bother trying to describe the celestial experience of eating trout fresh from the stream, lightly sprinkled in Cajun seasoning, and sauteed in butter. Even the Hobbit was satisfied. Then it was time for a friendly little fire to crackle and pop at the gathering darkness. Amazing it is how a little flame can defy the turning of the planet. After a few hours of quiet reverie, I turned in. The labor of the day had both refreshed and wearied, and a longer day was coming. There were many miles yet to cover. So I burrowed into the warmth of my sleeping bag and fell deeply and soundly into shadow. With no complaining to be done, the Hobbit had retired right after supper. All was right in our world.

POP! From deep in my slumber, I heard the sound. A limb breaking and falling perhaps? Who really cares anyway? The bag is warm but the night is cool to the point of cold. Limbs break in the woods all the time. POP! Closer now! Something is coming. The Hobbit is wide awake.

“Bear!” he whispers excitedly.

“Just a deer,” I reply. “Go back to sleep!”

Huff puff huff puff…WOOF!

I hate it when the Hobbit is right.

“A headlamp would be nice right now.”

No arguing there. We humans are so sight dependent. Apparently Hobbits too. Light is a comfort in the darkness. To see the beast would help at least mentally, and possibly give me an idea as to whether he was raiding or just passing through. But the only possible light is the now-smoldering fire about ten feet from the tent–coincidentally about the same distance as to the bear.

Huff puff huff puff…WOOF! Stomp stomp WOOF! Apparently the bear sees the tent and is trying to decipher what he is going to do. In his indecision, a bold front is considered wisdom until the situation resolves itself more clearly.

Time to act. Fight, flight, or hide. The bear isn’t going anywhere. The Hobbit is for hiding. I’m not exactly for fighting but a bold front on my part seems the only wise option. I grab my knife and burst from the tent shouting “Get out of here!” at the top of my lungs. Yes, I know…a knife? Hilarious! But it was the only weapon I had.

I would love to have been a third party watching the scene from above. I am not sure what would have been more comical. Myself moving in one awkward roll/crawl to the fire ring and frantically huffing and puffing and woofing  the hot coals to awaken the fire from its slumber; or the bear, wondering what it had got itself into, huffing and puffing and woofing as it turned tail and bulldozed its way through the woods. I could still hear it running a few hundred yards away.

It is surprising how fast one can get a fire going in those circumstances, and not surprising at all that at said juncture one loses all interest in sleeping. So there I sat for a couple of hours in the now quiet woods to let the adrenaline subside. The Hobbit of course joined me fireside, wondering aloud if every noise was now a bear and how high hobbits ranked on their culinary list. Eventually, the rush of the moment was gone, a quiet reverie returned, and most importantly the bear did not. So we turned in again, our next realization was of birdsong and the dim light of dawn.

After some oatmeal and a few cups of strong coffee, the Hobbit  and I agreed that we were glad the bear had visited. Obviously, while the visit was exciting, it wasn’t really that dangerous. The bear really was more afraid of us than we were of him (this trait has served black bears well, and explains why they are thriving in the midst of our sprawling civilization). Certainly it gave us a fun story to tell when we got back to our Shire. Still, it also made us think of how often we are just barely awake–barely alive even, living as if we are almost asleep. Much better to be bearly awake and bearly alive. Feeling and breathing and fighting and loving the moments in all their vivid and oft-hidden glory, acting in those moments as one has them instead of moments past or moments yet to be. Much better indeed.

Ah, yes, the adventures a hobbit can have if he will but leave the Shire.

Categories: Mind, Nature, Outdoors, Spirit | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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