Enlightened Conflict

resilience, personal responsibility & progressively not getting stuck

March 10th, 2016

resilience tattoo




“Our humanity is not an attribute that we have received once and forever with our conception.

It is a potentiality that we have to discover within us and progressively develop or destroy through our confrontation with the different experiences of suffering that will meet us through our life.”


Xavier Le Pichon





“You’ll have to help yourself.”



Lemony Snicket






This is about us.


People. Individuals.




Let’s call it “the power of I.”

where are you moving better




And the fact we either grow or diminish what we have in terms of “I”.






That begs the question … what is the power each of us have?



I would suggest that your power is actually a reflection of your character <and its resilience>. Character actually begets all the shit we truly care about … resiliency, personal responsibility, integrity, morality, In addition … it is character that dictates whether, and how, you either progressively develop or diminish.


And therein lies the true power of I.



Yet, we face an inherent ongoing challenge to this power.



Character is not solid … it can get chipped.

What I mean by that is once you start taking shortcuts, the ones that appear to make the Life travel a little easier, a little cheat here … a little lie there… maybe a little taking advantage of the system … all of which chips a little of your integrity & character away.

That may not seem so bad … but character is a non-renewable resource.



In addition.


Each time you take a shortcut, no matter how small, and get away with it … it becomes even easier to decide to do it another time – that’s the slippery slope of character erosion.



Just think about what I just wrote for a minute.


You can be crappy at reading, writing and arithmetic … or pretty much anything that people bitch about all the time … but you can’t get along being crappy at Life itself.


And you certainly cannot get along with a crappy character.


You have to fight the good fight in Life, try and avoid the short cuts, and maintain your character and have faith, and courage, to keep character from eroding in the face of Life. Surprisingly … this is an ongoing fight day in and day out week after week.



Now. That said.


Character is a tricky thing to self assess. Interestingly … we all think we know ourselves well, but, psychological studies show otherwise.main thing dedicate


In fact, <unfortunately> most of us are somewhat deluded about ourselves.



And in that delusion we tend to be slightly misguided with regard to what we should do and how to do it <because the basic premise of who we are is flawed>.



This is really really important for us to think about because research has clearly linked social mobility to social and emotional skills. Emotional skills ranging from empathy and the ability to make and maintain relationships, mental toughness, delayed gratification and self-control all contribute to social mobility <and Life success>.


These research findings all point to the same conclusion — that character counts.


Now. Research also points out that character is developed not necessarily instilled <experienced versus taught>.



Research shows that people who overcome adversity and realize their full potential tend to exhibit many of the same traits.


Traits that can be thought of as a belief in one’s ability to achieve, an understanding of the relationship between effort and reward, the patience to pursue long-term goals, the perseverance to stick with the task at hand, and the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.


These various traits all fall under the broad heading of “character and resilience.”





That said.


If character is about experience then I get to bitch a little about personal accountability or personal responsibility.



Or … in other words … responsibility for your own actions.



Today it seems like a shitload of people suggest their actions, faults, any excessive unacceptable behavior, or any … well … generally heinous or unacceptable behavior … are a reflection of outside influences, society driven/motivated, challenging home growing up, poverty, ethnicity, or any experience that we can identify as ‘generated pain’ which inevitably impacted us irresponsibility made easyin childhood. Let’s title all of that under one big fat heading of “excuse.”



It is almost like no one, okay, far too many, wants to accept responsibility for their problems.



All I can think is that some people … this is what they learned. Which makes me ask … :who the hell taught them this?”





On the other hand … I know for sure that some of us learn that when you screw up it is on ‘you’ and no one else. This ‘learning’ teaches us that basically you can be frequently wrong, frequently stupid, frequently imperfect … but if you have been taught to be accountable … to admit it … you may get some shit from people but you will also be known as someone who is accountable for their own actions.


You assume responsibility for all the good and bad that you do.



This can be harrowing at times and incredibly rewarding at other times.






“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”




Anna Quindlen





And this leads me to destiny, fate … and resilience.






I believe we make our own destinies.

A destiny may await us but we need to go & do things, to make choices, in order to actually get to our destiny.


Every day we are presented with choices.


Some we don’t even recognize. Some we don’t even see <until they are past>.

Some we see and make a choice. Our destiny is a reflection of these choices … made and not made.


Making your destiny is hard. Because we see, and don’t see, choices and make, and don’t make, choices.



“Of course it’s hard! If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Hard is what makes it great.”

<For the Love of the Game>



This is a Life truth. Shit. It is true about everything we do <even making the perfect cup of coffee in the morning>.



And that is where resilience comes into play.



fail persist succeed resilienceBecause you will always have disappointments. You will always have dreams that don’t come true. You will always have bad shit happening. And you will always make some bad choices.


And in all of what I just wrote we have a habit of getting stuck.



You get stuck knowing what you already know.


You get stuck on what happened in the past.


You get stuck thinking about shit that you cannot do anything about.


You get stuck on disappointments, dreams that don’t come true and bad choices.



We just get … well … stuck.



Resilience is all about being able to overcome all the simple tragedies you face in life. Not the big dramatic shit just the everyday shit.







George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”





As far as I’m concerned, Shaw was a punk.

‘Cause you know what? Tragedies happen.

What are you gonna do? Give up? Quit?

No. I realize now that when your heart breaks, you gotta fight like hell to make sure you’re still alive. ‘Cause you are, and that pain you feel, that’s life.

The confusion and fear, that’s there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better. And that ‘something’ is worth fighting for.





Resilience really isn’t about hope or dreams or vision for what you want & desire and doing what you need to do to stay on that path.


Resilience is more about recognizing Life is hard and the practicality that if you want to make some progress and develop … you gotta fight like hell to not get stuck.



Simplistically you take personal responsibility for not getting stuck.growing up life challenge resilience


And you now what? You have to.


Because Life makes it really really easy to get stuck. You can get stuck on so many things it is scary if you think about it.


But you can really only get stuck if you let it happen.



Progress is, more often than not, in your hands. Which means your destiny is in your hands. That, my friends, is the power of I … the power driven by the engine of Character. Character is your destiny.


odd little waiters bringing things you don’t always like

September 20th, 2014

odd waiters and stones




“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”


Lemony Snicket






I wrote thoughts on fate on sept. 22nd 2013 in a post called ‘seize fate’:





I mention that post because I used what Beethoven actually said … “I shall seize fate by the throat.”







That means Beethoven would have strangled a shitload of odd little waiters.

odd waiter glass




It’s easy to think of Fate as odd little waiters as some strange unknown people guiding our direction in life … often by giving us the unasked for dishes.



I like the thought that we have some destiny … some fate … awaiting us.


That there is some reason for being here.





















The struggle I imagine I have in my head with regard to this whole Fate and having odd little waiters bringing my fate to me is … well … 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.

fate meets coincidence


Fate is a combination of reacting <to circumstances thrust upon you like dishes you never ordered> and being proactive <thrusting yourself into and against circumstances>.




This also suggests the ability in shifting the course of things.






Whenever people attempt to shift the course of things … things can go horribly wrong.



But doing nothing … and not making the attempt?


fate seize by throat
Maybe just as risky.




Fate is more than assuming history … or what will be … has a shape.


Fate actually assumes in some way you have a role in shaping it.





“Fate makes demands of flesh and blood.

And what does it most often demand?

Flesh and blood.”




Russian proverb



And this means meeting the dreams of fate … flesh & blood … or what is called ‘Kairos.’




<kairos: http://brucemctague.com/where-time-and-destiny-meet >




Kairos is the ability to adapt to and take advantage of changing circumstances.



The concept suggests you can manage what fate has in store for you if you manage the circumstances as they arise.




This also suggests that fate has a whole kitchen of possible dishes to serve you … not just one. And depending on what you do and how you act and what you say … the odd little waiter may end up bringing you something other than what it thought it was going to bring you a moment ago.



This also suggests some boldness.fate waiters andreas




Not really that ‘fate favors the brave’ but rather having the audacity to believe in this wild and wacky and somewhat chaotic world … you can actually have a say in your fate.



This also means that even if you balk at the concept of ‘being bold’ … suffice it to say that fate favors those who actually show up:




Interestingly … it was JK Rowling who said something along the same lines …



“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”


J.K. Rowling



Showing up is what it is all about.




It seems almost weird to even suggest this … but … simply showing up can have dramatic consequences.







Even something as unspectacular as ‘showing up’ can be a choice which has dramatic consequences to your destiny.



We think of fate when looking in a rear view mirror.



And often we do so without thinking about the choices … and the choices WE made … led us to the place where we saw what we saw in that rear view mirror.



And I imagine we rarely think about showing up as a key choice with some dramatic consequences.







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.



Somewhere in that ever elusive ‘reason.’



What do I mean?




Fate and destiny are the end accomplishment.





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





Unfortunately fate or destiny … well … they tend to be quiet fellows <or women>.




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’.





That makes life a little tricky because it makes some really important shit unable to be seen. So you have to make some guesses. Or maybe we should call it some ‘leaps of faith.’






I read somewhere there is the seen and the unseen.



That not all is certainty in the world because if there were … there would be no opportunity for faith.



In other words … there would never be any opportunities for a ‘leap of faith.’







Certainty sounds pretty frickin’ nice … but … it would also seem to be a pretty dull world without that ‘faith.’



<at least in my eyes>










Sometimes you kind of have to reach out … either with faith … or maybe out of sheer frustration … and grab one of the odd little waiters by the throat and say ‘here is my fate … this is my destiny … now go back to the kitchen and return this frickin’ dish.”’




So, in the end, maybe Fate sometimes does need to be seized by the throat.




“I shall seize an odd little waiter by the throat and order my fate.”




In the end.



You have a choice with regard to your fate …and that’s to show up and make some choices … make some leaps of faith.right thing wrong choice






I cannot suggest nor guarantee that all choices will be good or even guide you well … but making choices at least means your fate is a little less in the hands of some odd little waiters serving you things you haven’t ordered.





note: I also wrote this: http://brucemctague.com/coincidence-and-fate



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.

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.”

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.

Enlightened Conflict