Enlightened Conflict

back where we began

April 24th, 2014

beginning finished


“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – t.s. eliot



“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot



Life has a set of rules we live by.

In fact … lots of rules.

Rules on how to live life … how to think about life … how to look at life.

There are so many rules it gets confusing.


Trust me.

They are all there … unwritten … yet etched in people’s mind and heads … because we live … well … in a community that functions because there is an understanding among its members.


Some may call it civilization … or being civilized … I don’t really bucket it in do your best rulesanyway other than in other Life has its rules and requires some responsibilities.


I imagine I am suggesting that some of those rules are good.

The responsibilities ones.

I will call it kind of the responsibility compass:


Be mindful of others.

Do the best you can.

Be the best you can.

Don’t kill anyone.

Don’t purposefully do the wrong thing.

Be honest <or maybe just don’t lie about anything big>.

Do the right thing as often as you can.




Some of these rules are confuxing <or are ‘confuxed’>.confuxed


They are fucked up <or they fuck us up> and they are confusing.



Because there is a lot of vagary and non specifics. There is a lot of room to roam within these Life responsibilities … or … uhm … our responsibilities to Life.

Within all these rules and responsibilities we not only have an almost infinite boundless area in which we have freedom to roam … but we also don’t have any specific rules in how to go about living Life … or even how to live life.

We also struggle because we want to use last year’s words … while next year’s words are awaiting to be spoken <but most of us can’t identify those words>.



Oddly … all of this vagary and boundaries are both boundless and restricting.


And maybe it is because we view these unwritten rules as too boundless we tend to begin building boundaries in the sense of constricting or measuring in steps what we do … or how we should view Life.


And maybe we shouldn’t view it that way.


While there are gobs of books telling us how to think and what to do … there is no ‘one way.’ There is no secret nor is there any magic formula.


That’s why life begins and ends and has something in the middle.


Something in which the only real destination that matters … or is real … is the end.

Everything else is simply a stop sign … maybe a yield sign … not a dead end sign.


So many people set specific destinations in life.

Goals .. milestones … whatevers.


beginning lamourOnly to find it isn’t really a destination … simply a rest stop on the highway. In fact … many of those destinations, which are desired and have been well defined outlined and tasked, turn out to be places we reach and as you take a look around with a satisfied sigh of completion … well … you end up saying …  ‘shit. I’m lost.’



You get there and say to yourself … now that I have made it here … what the fuck was I thinking … I want to go farther.




“We didn’t come this far … to only come this far.”




And then you start all over again.


It is quite possible that you … well … arrive back where you started <metaphorically … not literally> … and maybe … just maybe … you will actually know it … understand it … for the first time.


I stopped telling myself that I’m lost.

I’m not.

I’m on a road with no destination, I’m just driving with hope that I’ll find a place that I like and I’ll stay there.

I’m not lost, I’m on my way.




Life is never linear.

Life is perpetual circles and cycles.

beginning energy continuous

And yet we constantly try to make it linear only to be constantly disappointed when we end up back where we began.

And disappointed when the words we vocalize end up being last year’s words.


All I imagine I tend to think about is that, in Life, there is truly only one beginning … and one end.


Everything else is somewhere in between with some wrong way signs, some yield signs and maybe some stop signs … and I imagine that means most of us feel lost on occasion.


And maybe we should simply think we are … well … on our way.

still in search

September 29th, 2013

 “I’m still in search for what’s meant for me. I don’t know if i’m living or just alive. end of the world insistI look for paradise on Earth.” – Infinite <contributor on weheartit>



I look for a lot of images and thoughts on weheartit.com.

I often find that young people have a nice knack for reminding me of several things:


-          The constant battle between hope and despair

-          We never stop growing up

-          Life is truly a journey <and rarely do we reach a real destination>



And I imagine what young people really remind me is that no matter your age … we are all kind of still searching for ‘what’s meant for me.’


I know I am.


I know most of my friends are.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know.

We talk about what we have and ‘things we have’ and how our children are our legacy and all that stuff … but deep down … when we really talk about what we think … we all are still kind of searching.


Are we as hopeful as this tween <’look for paradise on earth>? Nope.

We have been tainted by life somewhat and have our sights on something slightly less than ‘paradise.’


I tend to believe we older folk are simply searching for something meaningful.


I imagine that is what Infinite is really talking about … but in ‘tweenese’ <they have their own language sometimes>.


But as you peruse the images and thoughts she has on her wallpaper you wander through beautiful hopeful thoughts, disturbingly despairing and hurtful thoughts, angst over self, dreams of something better … and the normal every day young challenges of boys and friends and gossip and school.


I imagine those same thoughts are a reflection of even us old folk <without the dating and school and stuff like that>.


Like it or not, young or old, Life has a tendency to never reside in answers … but in questions. In wondering about things.

Things like:


-          Where are we?

-          Where are we going?

-          Where do we want to go?


Big questions.

Questions which gobs of books tell you how to navigate and answer and resolve in your head.


Throw those stupid books away.


infinte who you want to beWhether you are 15, 35 or 55 … those questions remain with us as we run Life’s gauntlet of hope and happiness on one side and despair and disappointment on the other.


We just keep going.

Searching for whatever it is that will be ‘us’ in the end … and … well … as Infinite suggests … maybe we find whatever paradise there is.


There are no answers.

Just keep asking the questions.



I like that thought.


Life is about asking questions.



And paradise.


That certainly is something truly worth seeking.

seize fate

September 22nd, 2013


“I shall seize fate by the throat.” ― Ludwig van Beethovenfate master of


“Destiny is for losers. It’s just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen.” – Blair Waldorf



I just used the Beethoven quote when discussing Beethoven.


Here I am using Beethoven and Blair <from Gossip Girl> to make a point.



Whoda thunk Gossip Girl and Beethoven would be used together to make a thoughtful point.




Fate & destiny.

It’s easy to think of these things as some invisible hand guiding our direction in life.

<note: I wrote another thought on this discussing the links of coincidence and fate:  http://brucemctague.com/coincidence-and-fate >



I like the thought that we have some destiny … some fate …  awaiting us. That there is some reason for being here.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.



The struggle I imagine I have in my head is that I like doing … and not waiting. And the thought of permitting something theoretical like ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ to take me by the hand and lead me somewhere doesn’t sit well with me. And I also imagine that part of Life is figuring all this shit out.


And, frankly, I don’t think I am unusual in this type of thinking.



We have a tendency to use terms like fate & destiny in hindsight … ‘it was fate’ … or … ‘it was my <or his or her> destiny.’


And when you recognize that fact <looking in the rear view mirror> then you have nowhere else to go thoughtwise then  to keep moving and not waiting.




You can wait.


You can do.


You can permit fate … or what ‘is supposed to be’ dictate your future.


You can seize fate by the throat and refuse to let destiny live … as it currently exists.


Life is sometimes meant to be battled, wrestled and yes … even grabbed by its throat … to get what you want out of it.


Sometimes you have to be stubborn and always you have to be at minimum an active participant … and at maximum you have to be an active combatant.


I began with Beethoven because he used his stubbornness to strengthen him and he came to terms with his deafness in a dynamic, constructive way.


Free me of only half this affliction and I shall be a complete, mature man. You must think of me as being as happy as it is possible to be on this earth – not unhappy. No! I cannot endure it. I will seize Fate by the throat. It will not wholly conquer me! Oh, how beautiful it is to live – and live a thousand times over!


he seized fate by the throat … shook it mercillesly … and plunged into composing <the rest of his Life>.


Mentally his thoughts are captured in these words:


“Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce.” – Beethoven


Blair from Gossip girl … not as eloquently … simply suggests that destiny is for losers.


We will not all be Beethoven or Blair personally … but we can all certainly embrace the attitude.


If you are eager to accomplish great deeds … heck … accomplish any deeds then Fate sometimes needs to be seized by the throat.


You know … I imagine we all have to believe in some way we are here for a reason.

And that is where Fate or Destiny resides.


The reason.


Fate and destiny are the end accomplishment.

But it’s kind of up to you to figure out what that destination is.


Fate or destiny is quiet fellows.

They tend to keep their thoughts to themselves.


Even worse?

They have a tendency to hide so you can’t sit them down and say ‘what is my fate?’ … ‘what is my destiny?’ … ‘tell me where to go’.


Sometimes you kind of have to reach out blindly … grab the sonuvabitches by the throat and say ‘here is my fate’ … this is my destiny.’


Trust me on this.


fate choosingIf you do that … fate or destiny … as they struggle for some air … will tell you of you are being stupid with what you are thinking … or you are on the right path.


I imagine it is easier to suggest that theoretically they are waiting somewhere for you to welcome you when you get there.



It would be a shitload easier if the bastards would actually tell us … maybe even send a short email suggesting some things … but they don’t.


And will not <if you are waiting expecting them to>.


You are here to accomplish something.

You are here to do something that will ‘echo into eternity’.


It may not be a 9th symphony.

It may not even be a moment in the spotlight as a gossip girl.




You should refuse to settle for anything less than what you believe your reason to be here is.


In the end.

Beethoven did say it best.


“Fate shall certainly not bend and crush me completely.”

life is a ragged diagonal

June 30th, 2013

“The line of life is a ragged diagonal between duty and desire.” –  William R. Alger choice duty desire



I am not sure I have ever seen a more succinct explanation for Life as a struggle as well as Life is never a straight line.


Life truths?

Life is an ongoing struggle.

And Life is rarely a straight and narrow path.


Why are these ‘truths’?

Because inevitably all lives are made up of choices.

A shitload of ongoing choices … small and large and every size in between.


And these choices we make … all tell us the path(s) our lives will take.

I do not believe our Life, or destiny, is pre-ordained in a black & white definition. What I mean is that even if I did believe in a higher order <God has a plan for each and every one of us> destiny I would tend to believe it was a map of possibilities.

Therefore … we make choices aiming toward something <whatever your personal something is> … and amble down a path that is not preordained but rather ones we choose.


I like … no … love the thought that we get tugged by duty <right thing to do> versus desire <some type of self-gratification … spanning from full indulgence to full altruism> as we make all these choices.


It means a diagonal line.


A ragged diagonal line.

Should we choose one way … that is the way we will go.

Should we choose another way … we go that way instead.

This means Life consists of paths that branch out turning right and left, this way and that way, running straight and crooked, turning sometimes randomly & severely in a variety of angles.


choice circle-of-lifeSurely some paths are more likely than others … but we can choose any path to take.


And each choice begets more branches ahead … some seen and some yet to be seen.



I imagine if one lives a stagnant unmoving life … the choices may be simpler and the events affecting the branches are fewer.


Yet <just in case ‘stagnancy’ appeals to you as an ‘easier life choice’> stagnancy or ‘hiding from Life’ doesn’t guarantee shit..


Because as your path crosses with others … others who are also making choices … choices of strangers, family, friends, enemies, whomever … their choices affect our path.

And their choices sometimes force choice where choice never resided before … or if we even wanted to make a choice at all.

The more people we meet … the more paths & branches crisscross … and cross again.

It becomes a tangled confusion of so many choices and paths and interlinked branches it becomes easy to think of it all as chaos.

Especially if you think of people and events as threads and not dots in a moment in time:


“There is a trail of existence that follows everyone, threads of life that people spin out and leave behind wherever they go. Threads cross all the time. Threads cross and cross again – time and place if in no other way – even when the people appear unaware of each other. No one pays attention to others around them unless the overlap happens again. Sometimes, people miss each other only by a few seconds, yet they are connected. Sometimes place is the reason for the overlap but time is not. Sometimes the overlap is purposeful other times happenstance. The threads are there, no matter. Ah. When they glow, they are one destiny.”  - Inspector O <james Church book character>


Your life is affected by these ‘trails of existence’ … impacted by what was, is and what will be.

As I type that it can become easy to think you have no control <or simply throw your hands up in the air in frustration>.


While we certainly can be impacted by others or ‘things out of our control’ … what remains in our control, always, is the choice.

The choice to do what we may with the circumstances at hand.

The choice remains with us.

The choice between duty and desire.


In addition.

In each tangled chaotic web of events, threads and paths … it is all bounded by the practical. The practical aspect of what you can actually do … and cannot do … within the choices you make.

I am not speaking of dreaming the impossible <because dreaming is good> but the actual reality of what can be done.



And duty & desire.

There is where free will seems to reside.

The choices made by duty & desire.life is messy


This all sounds chaotic and impossible to navigate.


But think about this.

Look to the past and it appears to be a neat set of choices made … and not made.

A schematic of choices made of duty … and those of desire.

And encounters of events and people who forced us to make choices.

Oh <nuts>.

I imagine if anyone were to look to the future it would simply appear to be sheer chaos.

A snarled thread of paths and choices.



This is where the original quote comes back to play … our destiny resides in our choices between duty and desire.

Sometimes the choice is black & white … and often it resides in the gray.

Unfortunately regardless of its hue or shade or color … it places us on a path toward our destiny.


A ragged diagonal path through Life.



This all may make us uncomfortable … all this choosing amongst the snarled threads of Life wondering if each choice is somehow easing its way down the ragged diagonal path toward a destiny we either actually seek … or one we will be comfortable with in the end.

Uncomfortable because we people like have to have an explanation that satisfies us.

life searching for whyAnd by having this attitude we run the risk of just not seeing it as it is … simply making choices in the moment between desire and duty.


I now I am biased and have my own opinions on Life.



Many months ago in 2010 I wrote this:  http://brucemctague.com/everywhere-at-once


And closed my thoughts with this: ‘Where do I want to be 10 years from now? Everywhere. All at once.’


Agree or disagree … but … it is a ragged diagonal path we live.

All of us.


I imagine if you define it simply as a shitload of choices made between duty and desire the ragged aspect will not bother you as much … because you are on a path toward a destiny that can be explained in the end.


Being Erica and Dr. Tom and life quotes

March 4th, 2011

So.  There is this random TV show from Canada that is chock full of quotes. Its called Being Erica.  It’s a quirky show where therapy takes place thru time travel. It kind of gives life lessons (which I like … when it is well done) but in general the only redeemingly fun part of the show is the therapist a guy called Dr. Tom.  He is constantly cranking out these cheesy but awesome quotes to make a point. And (because it is a TV show) this Erica chick always has something in her life for him to comment on.

But she is facing change in her life as a mid-late 20something:

Erica: “Change. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Sometimes it hits you over the head. And sometimes you turn a corner, only to find you’re different in some small way, and the world doesn’t look quite like it used to. So, where do I go from here? No idea.”


The quotes.

Here are some samples:

“Pressure makes diamonds.”General George S. Patton
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”Albert Einstein
“Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.”Baruch Spinoza
“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.”Plato (paraphrased)
“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.” – John Halt
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” - Leonard Cohen

-          I had never heard this one before and it is AWESOME. I wish I had seen this one when I wrote my broken people post.  This is a great thought and perspective for when life breaks you down every once in awhile. What an awesome thought to look at how being broken, or cracked by life, may be painful but it also allows light into places that maybe had never seen light before.  Now that, my friends, is a powerful thought.

“The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.” - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

-          I have but one thing to add to this quote … “Amen sister.”

“It takes a lot of courage to grow up and be who you really are.” – EE Cummings (paraphrased)
“Those that fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”Winston Churchill (paraphrased)
“If life’s journey be endless, where is its goal? The answer is, it is everywhere.”Rabindranath Tagore

-          I had never heard this one either and I love it. I love it mostly because I have never really liked the whole ‘life is not a destination but a journey’ quote and this one is, just … well … more expansive and more thoughtful and more open minded. Probably it will never be a favorite quote for people who like specific goals and milestones but for a joker like me who likes the randomness of life and finds pleasure not in linear success but the spontaneous successful moments that appears in life … it is a perfect quote.

“Learn to be what you are, and learn to resign with good grace all that you are not.”Henry Frederick Emile

- I hadn’t seen this one before either … and I like it.  one of the hardest things in the world for anyone is to embrace their flaws.  Ok.  maybe not the flaws … just the things they are not (which aren’t necessarily flaws). Each of us ‘are not’ a lot of things. Recognizing those things is actually pretty easy. We notice them all the time. I guess the difficult part is accepting them. and resigning yourself to ‘not being something’ with grace.  Yeah.  being able to do that is a full measure of one’s character.

“Darkness is only driven out by lightness, not by more darkness. – Martin Luther King

- MLK thought big.  And I am no MLK.  So let me think small. Personal. Over the past 2 or 3 years maybe 5 people I know have fought depression. And depression is like darkness. Maybe sometimes it is only like a gray darkness but when it is at full strength it is a black darkness.  A lightless darkness. And if not careful it is so dark that any lightness struggles to have an impact.  But while I am a ‘personal responsibility’ type of guy (kinda believe that most people, if they suck it up, can impact whatever they may be facing) I do believe that friends can make a difference with this darkness called depression. We can bring a light into that darkness when maybe that person just has forgotten what light looks like. No. I don’t believe a friend can drive out the darkness with light. Only the person in the darkness can do that. But sometimes they just need some help. Sometimes they need someone to bring them a light to get them started back out of the darkness.  And we do it because that is what friends do.


The show is okay. It is about life and regrets and learning from decisions and shit like that (stuff that I typically like) but Dr. Tom dispenses some good advice throughout. Because of that if I am ever in front of my TV and it is on I will flip over to it.

Regardless.  Good quotes. And that I love.

coincidence and fate

May 25th, 2010

“In which the links of coincidence are forged into the chain of fate.” chains1

Boris Akunin

Ah. Coincidence and fate. A fine line. And I love this quote.

I am not really a coincidence or fate guy.

Coincidence? Well. I kinda believe if you do the right things and consistently put yourself in the right place, well, when the right time comes along that isn’t coincidence. It is simply being in the right place at the right time (and it takes some choice to be in the place).

As for fate? Well. I would imagine I would say something similar. Fate favors the brave. Fate favors those who actually show up.



There are degrees in all of this but you get my point.


Love this quote because it has a really nice way of saying that a convergence of ‘things’ combine to create something that can become part of your destiny. Your fate depends on this convergence of factors.

In the end …. coincidence … fate … events … whatever … the only thing you can really control is you. Yourself.

I would imagine we make our fate.

And I also imagine we make coincidence (in some form or fashion).

I imagine we can shape our destiny by making sure we show up and do the best we can.

Regardless. The exception?

When the links of coincidence are forged into the chain of fate. Awesome.

where time and destiny meet

March 28th, 2010

I love words and I learned a new one today. Kairos. It was in a quirky little book called “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” (which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone as it is a tough odd read).

unique is every momentKairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment or ‘the supreme moment’. The Greeks believed the concept of Kairos is achieved when such a moment is grasped for otherwise the moment is gone and cannot be re-captured. According to ancient Greeks, Kairos was the god of the “fleeting moment.”

Interestingly the ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature.


Kairos is the ability to adapt to and take advantage of changing circumstances. It is used with people “who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgment which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action”. (apparently Napoleon is considered a poster child for Kairos)

I have written a variety of things about great leaders and leadership. If I had known this word I would have used it. As things shift around leaders there appears that undetermined amount of time in-between what is and what will be in which something truly special can occur and it is those who recognize the moment and act upon it before it disappears that achieve Kairos.

I have also said this before. I do not believe this can be taught. As the Greeks suggest … it is qualitative in its nature. You either have this ability or you don’t.

Kairos. Awesome word. Awesome concept.

Enlightened Conflict