Enlightened Conflict

the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be

June 29th, 2016



memories pictures life sky dreams wishes stars




So when I saw this picture I thought of … well … stars.



What if each picture hanging was a star?


What if each picture was representative of some wish, or dream, that came true?


What if each star above us represents some ‘moment’ in Life glittering above us to remind us?


What a nice thought.


What if the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be and wishes redeemed?




If that was ever a reason to take a minute and look at the stars on occasion that should compel us all to look upwards on occasion.


Back in 2012 I wrote something that began ‘stars are special things.’


In that post I mentioned the power of star gazing.


In this post maybe I am suggesting you can actually build your own starry night sky


I mean … what the hell … most of us are not astronomers and most of us do not have telescopes and I imagine an even fewer of us actually count all the stars in the sky.


So how do we know that each time we take a mental picture of a moment that another star isn’t added to our night sky?


Practically speaking I imagine that sounds silly.


But from an empowering Life perspective? Shit. It sounds anything but silly.


It sounds … well … fucking good.


It sounds … well … like I own a part of the night sky.


It sounds … well … like every night I can look up and my life makes up part of the beauty of that which is a starry night sky.

stars and thinking boy

I like the thought.


I like the thought that every moment we take a mental picture we hang a new star in the night sky and that each night, if we choose to look up, we can see our moments flickering and sparkling above us to wish for more, to simply admire what is there and hope that someone somewhere is wishing on one of our memorable moments for themselves.


And you know what I may like the most?


I could pick a room and hang picture after picture from the ceiling and make believe they are the stars I have built in my own Life sky.



the contradictory feelings of Life

March 13th, 2016

life is contradiction squeeze




“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.”





Charles Baudelaire





It is amazing how things in Life seemingly swing to & fro between horror and ecstasy.


It begins in childhood as the simplistic joys of youth crash into the inevitable of simplistic horrors <think … the ecstasy of first pedaling of a bike and the horror or the first crash>.


compromise balance beamSome of us master the contradictory feeling … okay … we don’t master it we simply learn to manage it. We face horror and ecstasy with an equal sense it will not last … horror with hope attached and ecstasy with a little disappointment attached. I guess we just figure out a way of balancing the contradictory feelings.


In simplistic adult terms we often call it the inevitable ‘highs & lows” in Life.


Neither last forever.


Neither is the norm.



It doesn’t really matter what labels we put on it all … Life is a mixed bag of contradictory events, outcomes and feelings. More often than not horror is not indicative of Armageddon and ecstasy is not indicative of future ongoing bliss. More often than not we encounter moments and envision the moment as something bigger than it is.


Than we have another moment.


And another.

And, well, another. Until we don’t.



And in the end we most likely look back at the Life balance sheet of horror & ecstasy and see it is fairly balanced. And if we are lucky and did things the best we could whenever we could we most likely see that we have more ecstasy in our asset column than horror in the liability column.


I sometimes believe this is a lesson learned of experience.


Youth looks on with horror at horror thinking it represents the yawning sinkhole of eternal despair and alternatively looks on with the addict-like yearnings at ecstasy thinking it represents what Life should solely be.

Through experience we not only recognize we ultimately have to face this ongoing Life contradiction but also how, in some ways, to avoid horror and, on occasion, encounter ecstasy.

compromise balancing act

That said.


I sometimes wonder if by avoiding what may appear to be horror that, on occasion, we are also eliminating some possible ecstasy.

Because maybe Life was built as a system in which to be used to its fullest we were meant to bounce off of horror … and ecstasy.


What I don’t have to wonder about is the truth that most of us older folk reach a point where we will sacrifice ecstasy for contentment … with the intent to avoid horror. I am not suggesting that is ‘settling’ because it is actually Life management.



Many of the young look on and ask us “is that really the trade you want to make with your Life?”


All most of us old folk can do is shrug our shoulders and say “it is a choice you need to make on your own.”


And I imagine that is my point in today’s philosophical ramblings.


Life is consistent in its contradiction of horror & ecstasy.

choices happend to be jungIt is what it is.


Therefore, it is your choice to make what it is for you.


There is no formula.

There is no one right way to choose to live Life.


In general … each person can choose the amount of horror and the amount of ecstasy … and the amount of whatever resides in between … to make up their Life.

In general … as you weave your way thru the contradiction of horror and ecstasy you will find that … well … you will choose what to become as a person.




spinning out of nothingness scattering stars

December 20th, 2015


star wish fly by think dream


“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”






When I started on this one I wasn’t sure if it was about self, life, dreams or maybe even starting a business. And then I realized, in some weird way, it was kind of about all.





Think “connection.”


stars in handOr maybe connecting with something in a multi-dimensional way <emotionally, physically, experientially> which not only grounds us to us <our self> but has a commonality to ground us to other “us”es.



I like the thought that maybe each of us is really a star <shining brightly for something good or hopeful … within ourselves as well as possibly for someone else>.



I like the thought we spin out of nothingness as people, as careers, as thinkers and as doers, scattering to find our place in the expansiveness ahead.



I like the thought that maybe, because we really are stars, we seek them to find whatever secrets they could share about us.



I like the thought that stars can be seen by anyone, anywhere if you only look up on occasion.



I like the thought that stars connect people and thoughts and dreams and wishes and … well … anything hopeful.



I like the thought that while stars are about space they are actually more about managing space by circumventing distance to activate that which can exist between stars and people.



I like the thought that stars actually embrace the strongest business building concept thru actively engaging people in a physical way … an emotional way … and an experiential way.



Stars engage us, connect with us, in a way that businesses and brands should attempt to emulate any authentic way they can <because I am not sure I can find any one person who dislikes stars>.


stars and night sky




Whether we truly are stars spinning out nothingness or stars simply represent our sense of ‘nothingness to what could be’ mindset … it is pretty amazing to think that anything spinning out of nothingness can inevitably create one of the greatest connections a person can ever have.
Stars represent life moments … stitching together all that we are and all that we want to be to form thoughts & attitudes which fuel behavior.



Stars are part of everyday lives and occupy critical space in a person’s grander Life story. They never dictate behavior but instead inspire behavior. They do so by nudging us toward both emotional and transactional personal investments into ourselves inevitably shaping life patterns, creating behavior, and ultimately encouraging us to make personal identity statements about who we are.



Stars are the beginning, middle and end of Life. They represent life and how we live it.



They are the small cornerstones to our Life stories.
Somehow they transcend the transactions we make with ourselves by resonating with something inside as well as outside the moment of ‘transaction’ with the star.


And maybe most importantly?



This multi-dimensional transaction we make with a star perpetuates a bond which unites, influences, inspires and scatters us out of nothingness toward … well … somethingness.



I imagine that means stars ultimately represent a connection with ‘what could, or can, be.”



Stars help us answer the ultimate life question … “how do people fulfill their potential and figure out who they are and what they’re capable of?”





Here is what I know for sure.



We should all look at stars every once in a while.


Some of us may find hope.


Some of us may find clarity.

inside us stars find self

Some of us may find ourselves shrinking before the immensity of Life.



Some of us may see possibilities.



And some of us may find that they take the moment and make a Life transaction.



But all of us WILL find something.

Large and full and high the future still opens

October 24th, 2015

imagery black ink write


“I take up my old pen again – the pen of all my old unforgettable efforts and sacred struggles. To myself – today – I need say no more.

Large and full and high the future still opens.

It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life.

I like these words.

For anyone approaching middle age, or wading through it, they may be the most useful words anyone has written, words that if we repeat often enough we may even start to act upon.

Words that could change our lives, or the long sweet stretch of it that is left.”


Henry James

<wrote in his early 50s>


“We know that greatness doesn’t come from building walls, it comes from building opportunity.”



<note: the original quote has “America’s” before greatness>









Bad we help that


Yesterday I wrote about ‘no chance means no chance.’ Looking back upon it while I don’t regret the truth, or pragmatism, of it … I began recognizing I kept going back to it again and again … my fingers hovering over the pragmatic side of it and the ‘delete’ key … and having my thoughts hover over the hope portion with itchy fingers, and itchy mind, to write more and talk about how glimpses of ‘having a chance’ are the things that often not only get us thru the day but get us thru life.



That is the power of words. A word has the power to change the way you think about things but maybe more importantly a word … yes … a single word … has the power to change your life <because what you think often begets what you do>.



A word can surely be a wall … but more often than not … a word is a building block for opportunity.



Such a small thing is large and full and … well … high the future still opens.



And while that sounds big & sweeping and maybe easily dismissed as words of a dreamer and things that are nice to think about but will never happen … I would like to point out that for almost 20 years now the internet has brought more new & different words into our lives.
These words are opportunities.



These little things are big and full of the future.



Because of this seeming barrage of words our lives, our culture; our minds have been forever changed.



There is no going back and there is no ‘giving back.’ Words when encountered remain your companion to be hugged, bewildered by, spurned, loved and shadows you wherever you go from that moment on.words big brevity



Even on the days when we shut ourselves away from people and the bustle and grind of Life there will not be a single day in which you will not interact with words.

They are your constant companion <friend or foe>.



Whole companies are now dedicated to words.



Any search engine or browser company.


Any social media company.




Whole industries these days has been developed solely on the use and management of words.



Your words beget their words.


They organize words which inevitably force you & I to consider, an reconsider, words.



At the core of our lives is one simple thing … a word.



one plusOne word at a time our life is built.


One word at a time … opportunity … a dream … a hope … is built.



This means that a word, or combination of words, is the key to everyday life.



The way we interpret a word can not only change the present but impact the future. One word can … well … actually change our behavior <Amazon is the most practical tactical example of this>.




Technology has actually given a word ‘super powers’ <and they were pretty frickin’ powerful before>. a word is no longer something we simply observed & absorbed … it now has acquired a more active role in life … it creates and impacts how we interact.






A word is a fundamental catalyst of Life.






It is impossible to imagine the world without words.



A word enables us to do things that maybe seem unthinkable.


A word encourages us to think … well … we have a chance.



And, maybe most of all, while I think of a word as the small key to greatness and opportunity I continue to think of the one syllable 4 letter word that is possibly the most powerful word in any language – hope.

words a minute fast


Whenever I wonder why I sit in front of my computer and write I remember that words not only are the only constant companion we encounter every day but they are involved in almost every aspect of our lives.




In some small way maybe I think of James’ words … “today – I need say no more. Large and full and high the future still opens. It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life.”



Weigh your words carefully today my friends … and take a moment and ponder the words you encounter … for most do not build walls but offer opportunities.

knowledge, working for it and managing cynicism

June 8th, 2015

knowledge big board stuff


“Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.”

(It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery)


<Christopher Marlowe>


“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”


Gus <Fault in our Stars>


There is a part of everything which is unexplored, because we are accustomed to using our eyes only in association with the memory of what people before us have thought of the thing we are looking at.

Even the smallest thing has something in it which is unknown.


Gustave Flaubert








knowledge work for research



Knowledge takes work.


Let me start again.



There are smart people … born that way … but they are not born with knowledge.


Natural smarts is a trait.


Knowledge is earned … it takes work.







That work can be fun … because the aid in the fight for knowledge is curiosity … and curiosity is fun.



I wrote this in June 2010 on curiosity & knowledge:








Gaining knowledge can be fun but it takes work for a couple of reasons:




–      Knowledge is about accumulation and sifting


–      Knowledge is about overcoming cynicism


That said.



As a self-proclaimed knowledge seeker I feel qualified to at least comment on this subject.



I admit that those of us who seek knowledge are doomed to be in companions of misery.



We see our blind spots and seek to solve our wretchedness.



And we do so faced by others who don’t accept their blind spots … seeing what they want to see rather than what is really there <some aspect of ‘not knowing’ or ignorance>.



We companions in misery realize the terrible nature of the bargain we make with Life. We do not seek to squander whatever curiosity-driven abilities we may have in self-indulgent behavior … but rather look for some higher intellectual plane found with knowledge. We also realize part of the bargain is we need to be resilient in the face of the cynical.



In other words.



We seek to avoid what Faustus accepted … a life of mediocrity … “I’ll burn my books,” Faustus cries as the devils come for him.



Desperate schoolgirl

Desperate schoolgirl


We seek to avoid quitting, compromising or simply admitting defeat.



We seek to avoid denouncing, as Faustus did in desperation attempting to save himself, the temptation of knowledge … the quest for knowledge that has defined most of his life.




Faustus: Stay, Mephistopheles, and tell me, what good will
my soul do thy lord?

Mephistopheles: Enlarge his kingdom.

Faustus: Is that the reason he tempts us thus?


We seek to avoid failing our calling in Life … the constant desire <temptation?> for more & more knowledge.



More & more knowledge.



That is what Life dangles in front of all of us.



Becoming smarter.


Becoming more enlightened.


Becoming more knowledgeable <and yet less knowledgeable at exactly the same time>.



Those are the fruits of temptation which make us wretched and constantly leave us in misery.





But what a wonderful misery.



We companions in misery wallow in the enjoyment of the task <the pursuit of truth & knowledge> but we also enjoy the actual task of the pursuit … the moments when we actually touch the enlarging kingdom <the glimpses of true understanding>.



I would suggest it is a balance of the two … the pursuit and the ‘touch.’






Today’s world?



A couple thoughts.



1.       Wisdom versus knowledge.


knowledge wisdom


Wisdom does not loom large in the modern psyche.

It has been replaced by knowledge, which does not pretend to emotive value; in its least appealing forms, it even eschews such associations. It is strictly about things and the manipulation of them; and, unsurprisingly, it’s directed outwardly, towards the technologies of life and not their meanings. So we have many people who, externally speaking, are able but not wise; active but not prudent.

And perhaps this defines our society and our age as much as any other set of words: activity without prudence, or, imprudent doing.

To have prudence is to have foresight, to attend to.

But attention is born from within, not from outward circumstances; and in the great esoteric traditions attention is of a divine origin, not a worldly one.”


Lee van Laer


Wisdom is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom. And, yet, we often confuse them.


Truly wise people far too often get bludgeoned by people who have ‘knowledge.’


Facts or quai-facts are used like rational rocks covering a person until they not only get muffled but succumb to the weight and suffocate under the crush of mis-used knowledge.



Wisdom is a level above knowledge.

It is taking knowledge and understanding the emotional and cerebral aspects beyond the ‘facts’ and smart sounding words.



Wisdom is divine.


Knowledge is of the world.



That nuance escapes the majority of people.





2.       Inquiry versus knowledge.


wisdom ability knowledge learning


It seems like the emphasis is on inquiry <not real knowledge> in today’s world has attained a status in which it gets confused with knowledge.


Inquiring minds do not have to be knowledgeable.


Knowledgeable minds are inquiring minds.



In that paradox it is easy to get confused.


And in the confusion knowledge can be reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief.



That, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.



It increases the companionship of misery knowledge seekers endure.





The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.




I have an entire article coming soon on how debunking has become not only fashionable but rather a business.



A world strewn with contradictions should make us ponder more interesting questions and not simply debunk existing knowledge. There is certainly some satisfaction to be found in being critical but we cannot lose sight of the fact it is more interesting to find inspiration in the questioning <and learn more>. But many people are lazy … accept what they know at the moment as ‘what is’ and remain cynical of all that … well … “is not.”



Being smart, for many, means being critical … having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. The critical skill, intellectual challenging, is not totally without value, but simply being satisfied with debunking <and not answers> is a dangerous game.
Critical reflection is fundamental to learning, but confusing disbelief or cynicism as a sign of intelligence or intelligent thinking has only contributed to a decay in true enlightened thinking.



The type of absorption true critical thinking demands is becoming an endangered species in today’s world.







Suffice it to say … inquiry has attained such status because … well … how can you not love that information is now available so easily?





But there is a huge difference between learning information and knowing something <which takes a lot more time>.



The burden of those who truly seek knowledge is that knowledge takes time.




But instant knowledge gratification comes at a price: when practically all answers are a click away, we sometimes stop really valuing the search or the solution. I’m willing to deal with that if it means I can know everything that is known (at least hypothetically – Google’s taking forever to scan every book, and let’s not even TALK about how long it’s taking for them to get me a Wikipedia implant).

As far as I’m concerned, if you have access to a Samoa cookie any time you happen to crave one, it’s OK if they’re a tiny bit less delicious than they were when you had to serendipitously stumble across an eight-year-old and wait six weeks for a box of them. But I can’t deny that I treasured my research successes and serendipities much more when they were more difficult.





That completes those two thoughts.






In addition.


overcommunication too many words


I absolutely believe we all benefit by spending a little bit of time to really appreciate the staggering wealth of information available via the internet and how little effort it truly takes to mine that wealth.



On the flip side of the coin.



When everything becomes a click away people begin foolishly thinking it is actually easier to become … well … knowledgeable … or worse … an expert.



Unfortunately … knowledge takes work.



To get the answer you must survive the question.


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”





So. Once you work and gain knowledge … what do you do with it? Uh oh. This is where society can lead you astray.



And that leads me to a fabulous site http://expertenough.com/



Most people think of being knowledgeable with an objective in mind … let’s call it ‘being an expert in something.’


And, yet, we define expert in absolutes of ‘best of best’ or some pinnacle of knowledge.



Expertise isn’t an absolute.


Think of it as a scale, from 1 to 10. If you’re a 3, there are plenty of 1s and 2s out there who you can teach, and probably better than people with more expertise.







In the end I believe knowledge is worth the work. Working to gain it and working to fight cynicism of others.



It takes work to know knowledge is about knowing it is more about ‘understanding.’ That is where the real prize resides.




“Any fool can know.

The point is to understand. “


Albert Einstein





Marlowe and Faustus reminded me of the thirst for knowledge and how far people will go for it.



Faustus, restless for knowledge, forsakes scholarship for magic and makes a pact with the Devil … and endures Hell.



Let me be clear.



You don’t need to make a deal with the devil.


You just need to make the choice to work for it … and work towards the heights to be attained.




The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

—-24 hour news knowldge



I know I have said it before but the people who make it look easy make it look easy because they invested a lot of hard work to make you think so.


Knowledge, or being knowledgeable, is exactly the same.



You aren’t born with knowledge … you have to work to gather it, sift thru it and understand it. And even once you have gained it … you need to work to protect it and ‘project it’ in the ongoing battle with ignorance and cynicism.


Bottom line.


It is work.



It is a lot of ‘toiling upward in the night.’



But … it is a labor of love.

I have loved the stars too fondly

May 12th, 2012



“… though my soul may set in darkness

it will rise in perfect light.

i have loved the stars too fondly

to be fearful of the night.”

Sarah Williams

<“the old astronomer to the pupil”>





Stars are special things.



I do not know anyone who hasn’t stopped … for a moment on a clear night … to look up and scan the stars and either wonder which constellation it is or point out Orion’s belt or find the North star.



I do not know anyone who hasn’t … even in the most hectic moments … noticed that one star on a cloudy dark night that has made its light force it’s way through the shroud of darkness that has been trying to cover it.



I also don’t know anyone who hasn’t made a wish on a star. I do not care how practical or cynical you may be … you have made a wish.





I had no idea who Sarah Williams was when I read this poem for the first time.


So with some research I was disappointed to find that the poem this stanza (the 4th I believe) is pulled from is a literal tribute to science & astronomy.





Because I have found these words thought provoking far beyond the literal intent.









While stars are special to astronomers … they are special to everyone.





Simply … star gazing is something everyone should do.



Personally I have found looking up at the night sky when I was upset or a had lot was on my mind to be helpful. Kind of calming. And, certainly, hopeful.

On those days when random thoughts … sometimes negative thoughts … sometimes the less than positive thoughts … aw heck … any thoughts … start bouncing around in my head, I admit, I will take some time and look to the night sky searching for a star to distract me or give me some clarity (or maybe better said … some thought decluttering).

And, yeah, even to this day, I still do so <one would think I could have found a more logical sure-fire method by now … huh?>.

There is a simplicity in a star that permeates whatever else you may have rattling around in that pea like brain of ours and kind of gives you some space <I don’t know how else to word it>.



Its like the light of it kind of pushes everything else off to the side for a moment or two.



And that is helpful.



Because as happy as you may be with your life there are always thoughts floating around in your head of “ is there something better” or “have I settled” or any thoughts challenging “what is” in your life versus what could be.



And while it may sound pedantic, if not silly, this is when looking up to the night sky and the stars and doing some star gazing seems to have it’s highest value.

Why? Not to look for tangible answers … because it would be silly to suggest that there answers in the stars.




You should do so because … well … there are not answers there (although wishing on a falling star is always a good idea just in case).



Maybe I will only suggest that … well … in their nothingness there is everything.



“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”



Because there are truly the dark moments in life … the nights when it was … well … dark. Completely dark. So dark you almost feel swallowed up in it all.



And those are the nights when you know you need a little light. Maybe just a spark. But some light.



And, yeah, you know where I am going with this … because I have an answer for anyone reading who has some of these nights.


Look up at the stars.



I promise you (with everything I have within me to promise something). The stars can guide you back to some light.



Things that may be chewing away at you somehow ease up a little. Or maybe they don;t ease up … they just lose some of their strength <I call it an infusion of some hope>.



Somehow there light pushes dark thoughts off to the side and in that emptiness whether you have a real wish or not there is some hope.



Hope for something better.

And, no, I am not talking about hope for winning the lottery or solving any particular issue. In fact, that is my own fondness of the stars … they are not particular in what they have to offer … they offer the nebulous intangible positiveness of ‘something.’






Enough of that.





Here are some thoughts about stars.


There is a funny thing about stars … they come back every night no matter how good or bad your day was.


Whether you can only see a faint glimmer or a full constellation they are there.


They make great companions.


When everyone else is too busy … stars always have time to spare.



You can’t tell a star to go away because they won’t.



And no matter how complicated things get … well … a star remains simple.


With no expectations they patiently wait whatever you want to say to them or ask of them.



And they always carry a light with them … kind of like a glimmer of hope for something ‘better.’



Maybe Van Gogh said it best.



“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

Vincent van Gogh



My thought for the day?



There is always time to look at the stars.

knowledge, thought and action

August 6th, 2010

“We naturally associate democracy with freedom of action, but freedom of action without freed capacity of thought behind it is only chaos.”

Speech on Democracy in Education in the elementary school.

John Dewey







If there was ever a quote that captured the essence of a good education, or maybe simply, knowledge, this is it.



Couple things here.






We are a country of democracy but we are also a country of knowledge and learning. While our country’s success has a foundation of “doing” (other countries always think we are always in a rush), the doing has a strong thread of quality about it because we are a country of thinkers.



Regardless of how you look at it America has the strongest education system and certainly the strongest higher education system.



Yeah yeah yeah .. I hear about all those numbers of our standardized test scores are decreasing but remember the fact that worldwide young people look to go to American colleges and universities.

They do that for a reason.



Great education.

Great thinking.

Great freedom of ideas.



Freedom of thought in our education system.



Regardless of all my griping about the lack of critical thinking skills being taught today I balance my gripes with the fact we have freedom of “thought.”



We are a country of thinkers because, well, there are a shitload of people thinking different thoughts and they all come crashing together in the process (let’s call that “positive friction”) and progress of thought  occurs.



All that is good.






The concept of thought tied to action.



I know I have seen versions of this idea but let’s say that thought without action is like a great book lying unopened.



Being curious is awesome.



And gaining knowledge makes you a better person (not just smarter).





It is all wasted if there is no action involved.



Our country is founded upon “using thought.”

We think. We do.


In fact. I believe you have a responsibility to use knowledge.



That’s me.




THAT is why I love this quote.education civilization



And it all begins with education (or learning).



Education is the engine that keeps civilization as we know it (not cats & dogs living together) running.


Smart guy this John Dewey.

Enlightened Conflict