Enlightened Conflict

value ourselves as more than just an image

March 2nd, 2017

 

a-better-reality-false-hope

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“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Are you a good friend? A kind companion?

How do you treat others?

 

Those are the things that are a better definition of beauty.’

 

—-

Sara Ramirez

 

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I imagine all of us want to be seen by everyone as ‘something.’

 

they must be giants fake lies right lifeTo me … this ‘something’ isn’t famous or with some high falutin’ title or rich … but rather be recognized characteristically as something.

And not something shallow … but something a little deeper that defines you.

 

I say that but reality is that the driving ‘something’ for us is far too often fairly innocuous … and, yeah, it will vary from person to person … but a shitload of us want to be seen as smart, or well rounded, or beautiful, or funny, or … well … pick your personal poison.

I could suggest that is kind of a shallow something.

Okay.

I will.

That is a shallow ‘something.’

 

And what makes that shallow worse is that by making that a fairly significant portion of how we choose to define ourselves we spend an inordinate amount of time & energy planning for ‘someday’ when that ‘something’ is played back to us as our defining characteristic.

uhm what did you say really

Uhm.

 

Well.

 

If you are not careful … someday stealthily sneaks up on you as ‘today … and then yesterday … and then day by day it just becomes your Life.

 

Unfortunately Life is not just an image.

Unfortunately Life is ultimately not that shallow.

 

Unfortunately you have to leave the shallow end of the pool at some point and venture into the deep end in order to find … well … value.

 

Despite what marketing & advertising & branding folk may suggest … image is not everything and image does not equal any meaningful value.

 

Image without substance is simply a façade … a mask.

And I can unequivocally state that the number of people who can maintain an entire life behind a mask is minuscule.it is extremely difficult to maintain that façade for an entire Life. It is like trying to play out an act … forever. Someone can do it for a while and fewer can figure out how to build the trappings which can hold the act together … but to hold all of that together for a Lifetime takes some luck, some clever skills, some bravado to appease the cynics & skeptics and, ultimately, some ability to keep the lack of substance out of the spotlight & questioning.

Suffice it to say … it takes a lot of work to wear a mask an entire Life.

 

intent help flaws self bestAnd maybe that is my larger point.

 

We all want to eventually be seen as ‘something.’

 

And we all would prefer that something be of value to those who recognize it and of value to our self-worth.

 

That means.

If you are not careful you can spend a significant portion of your Life chasing some definition … some ‘something’ you are recognized by … that has little or no real value to oneself.

 

By the way. I am not suggesting this is easy. Society encourages shallowness. It can do so in a variety of ways but the main way is simple – measurement.

The shallowest ‘somethings’ are easy to see, easy to assess and easy to measure versus either society standards or versus others.

 

The deepest ‘somethings’ … good, soul, character, integrity … shit like that … are difficult to measure and, frankly, the definition is earned over time and with consistent behavior. You cannot expect instant gratification … at least external gratification … if you pursue a ‘deeper something.’

 

Sigh.

 

Well.

 

Here is what I know:

 

“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Image is just an image.

 

How about this.

 

Image is like masturbation.

 

A deeper something is like making love.hard to planyou are more

 

I tend to believe we all want more.

 

We all want that kind of self-value that is deeper.

We all want more than just an image.

 

It is a Life truth that Image is seductive.

 

The good news?

It is a Life truth that if you want more than image, and look deeper within for that ‘something’, you will find a better definition of yourself.

In this time, at this place, I will be defined

February 17th, 2017

 stand for what is right i will be defined now

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“I endure.”

 

Lockhart

 

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“What we do in life will echo in eternity.”

 

Maximus (in Gladiator)

 

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There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

 

Shakespeare

 

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“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

 

Howard Zinn

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So.

 

This topic has been on my mind for a while but I hadn’t figured out how to talk future-universe-view-space-open-thinkingabout it without being apocalyptic or overly dramatic.

 

I know it has been on my mind since Trump entered into our lives <when is the last time you had a conversation where he wasn’t mentioned?> and lately I have found myself placing tags on my posts like “enlightened reading” or “enlightened thinking” or “enlightened politics” or … well … I guess I have been thinking about enlightened a lot. But this doesn’t feel like an ‘enlightened issue.’

 

And then I had lunch with a good friend the other day and out of the blue he says “this feels like one of those times when years from now people will be asking you what you were doing … or not doing.”

 

Yeah.

 

It does.

 

This does feel like “a moment in the tide in the affairs of man.”

 

This does feel like a moment in which people will define themselves.

 

 

It does certainly feel like a time of angst. An ‘apocalypse’?  Certainly not.

 

Unrest and uneasiness and uncertainty? Absolutely yes.

take a stand america define

And, frankly, in times like these it is tempting to sit back … maybe, to be harsh, be lazy and fall back on our opinions and “what we believe” and mumble to ourselves, maybe bitch with our friends or just remain silent.

 

But this seems to be more a time … uhm … no … this is “a time” more than ever to … well … be defined.

 

Look around if you don’t believe me.

 

You can see it if you look hard enough that a shitload of people feel the same thing. You may get confused in thinking it is “whining democrats because they lost” or “establishment people afraid of losing their gravy train” or even simply “people afraid of change.”

 

It’s more than, and less than, that.

 

It’s the tide in the affairs of man.

 

And, yes, we can blame Trump for this defining moment time. But he is less relevant in this tide than you may think. He is simply riding the tide … and we are the many drops of water within the tide … the ebbs and flows and crests and furrows are ours to build and destroy.

 

Take note of what is happening.

People feel this is a defining moment.

 

I don’t care if it is Hannity who has attached himself to Trump to rise and fall with the man himself <and not an ideology>. He is all in.

 

never be silent stand up i will be definedI don’t care if it is Jake Tapper on CNN who appears to be attaching himself to truth & facts. He is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is Meryl Streep who has attached herself to celebrity moral authority. She is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is the millions who walked in a women’s march without any real reason other than it felt like they should. They want to be all in <on something>.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who fills out petitions and sends $5 to whatever organization possible. That person is all in on something.

 

I don’t care if it is a white nationalist who now attaches their feelings to real words said in public or statement clothing. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who has their senators on speed dial and calls them every morning during their commute to just leave a message with whatever is on their mind. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who attaches themselves to ‘deplorable’ without really knowing what embracing deplorable really means other than it permits them to make a statement. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone like me … someone who hasn’t given a rat’s ass about politics up until now … who now writes pieces, posts almost every day and emails writings & thoughts to different people … from Mark Cuban to John Lewis to John Kasich … The National Review to The Guardian to CNN … hoping that someone somewhere will affect this tide of affairs of man.

 

I tend to believe we all feel the tide of affairs shifting.

And as we feel it a range of emotions surges … some excited riding the tide and many many others desperately, and helplessly, feeling like they are fighting a tide they don’t like or do not understand <and this where we see some angry people … as they feel helpless struggling in this tide of affairs>.

 

This is a defining moment.

 

And I think we all know that this moment is different.  In the past, maybe without truly consciously thinking about it, we recognize most moments actually create their definition … because, for the most part, they are all about creating something from nothing.

 

That is different than this moment.

 

In this moment, in this time and place, something is happening of which we have to create nothing … but rather shape it. And, in doing this shaping, we are actually building something within the moments we elect to stand up and define ourselves … well … building “us” … okay … maybe it is building “me or I.”

 

This moment is different because it demands that we take a whole bunch of seemingly meaningless little moments … almost unrecognizable … that have got us to where we are attitudinally, intellectually and physically … and stop and speak out in some way that will be meaningful to us for the rest of our lives.

 

And.

In this moment … I would suggest that this is not the time to define yourself by standing against something but rather standing up & for something. This is not the moment to be “anti” something but rather “pro” something.  ‘Anti’ suggests you can turn, or stem, the tide of affairs when the reality of ‘affairs of men’ would most likely suggest a tide is a tide and affairs will be affairs and by being ‘pro’ it may be possible to show which harbor the tide should enter. Don’t define by what you are against … define by what you are for.

 

That said.

now or_never_web_design_grandeI could suggest that for many of us this is a “now or never” time.

 

 

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“Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances; sometimes it’s now or never.”

Alan Bennett

 

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In the general tide of affairs of men there often seems to be unending line of second chances standing outside your door.

And then in the tide there comes a time when … well … you look outside one morning and all those second chances are gone to Starbucks.

 

Just gone.

 

And you are alone.

 

And you can’t play the next time card or ask the next second chance to come on in. or say … uhm … can you wait a minute? <until one of the second chances comes back from the bathroom>

 

Nope.

 

It’s now or never.

 

Life is looking right at people … right at you & me … and saying … ‘okay, what’s your call?’

speak the truth i will be defined stand up

And this is actually your judgment call and no one else’s.

 

This is your defining moment and your decision.

 

Life is not going to help you out on this one … Life isn’t going to lean in and whisper in your ear … “hey, just so you know, this is one of those no time out, no second chance, no next time moments.”

 

That is my job today.

 

My job today is to tell you what I believe is the truth … that while Life is typically extremely generous in giving time outs and second chances … this feels like a ‘now or never moment’.

 

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“attack everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.”

 

Douglas Adams

 

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This is a daunting feeling.

 

Because while you may actually have done a gazillion things in your Life to prepare yourself for this ‘now or never moment’ … I seriously doubt anyone feels competent for this moment. It is slightly daunting to think this is a ‘now or never’ moment which will live with us for years to come.

 

Yeah.

It certainly feels slightly daunting to think that what you do will define you … for eternity.good people defined losses victories

 

Yeah.

 

On top of uncertainty or excitement or helplessness or a feeling of freedom to do & say what you have always wanted to do & say you are being asked to choose how you want to be defined.

 

The kind of thought that makes us think about choices and what we elect to do … because … well .., what we do echoes in eternity.

 

The Gladiator quote was perfect … it suggests that the way we live … and what we choose to do … not only affects our present … but also determines our eternity.

He suggests what we do in the present will affect not who we are and what will happen but also our future … beyond death.

 

He suggests that you … well … matter.

 

That your thoughts matter.

That your choices matter.

That your actions matter.

 

And not only within this moment.

But in the moments which end up in eternity.

 

Your life matters. What you do is up to you, but your life matters to the degree that you choose it to matter. Life means something … especially if you defiantly define who and what you are.

defy word defiance

Defiance is not easy.

 

It is much much easier to not push back, to not push yourself forward, but go along for the ride … wishing it were better than it seems to be.

 

 

Defiance is a choice.

 

And, I would remind everyone, that choice defines destiny … not chance.

 

If you are defiant, and push back, you are more likely to control the destiny of … well … your definition and how you will be defined.

 

And that is what today’s world feel like. a moment to be defined. A moment to be defiant with regard to who you are, what you believe and what you stand for.

It feels like you cannot be silent … and you have to choose.

 

Now.

I purposefully have tied “I will be defined” with an attitude … one of defiance.

I do so because of … well … Trump.

He has far too often been called a ‘disruptor.’ In businesses a disruptor is not one who creates & encourages chaos but rather one who ‘overturns conventional wisdom’ to take what exists and reshape it into a new way of doing things. A true disruptor envisions what can be <let’s call this ‘a plan’> and dismantles only that which encumbers in the here & now to enable the “what will be.” In the business world Trump is more often called ‘an agent of chaos.’ He is one of those managers who cannot tell the difference between chaos & doing — they are of equal in his mind. He holds up doing as proof of his value. A true disruptor holds up ‘what can be’ as proof of value.   Calling him a disruptor is an insult to the true disruptors.

 

This means, even more than ever, those who choose to stand in this time & place and define themselves will have to be defiant.

 

Defiance is standing still, standing strong, speaking out … amidst chaos.

This will not be about the one, or ones, who speak the loudest but the ones who speak the smartest and steadfastly. This will be about the ones who defiantly stand in the face of chaos and stubbornly defend what they believe and what is right.

And, in doing so, the country will be defined by who and what we coalesce around. The fragments <which are what some people will call “divisions”> will cluster until the cluster of that which is the country itself has spoken and defined itself. As a country … it is false to suggest we are divided … we are fragmented. There is a huge difference between those two thoughts. And it is actually within that difference in which Hope for something better resides.

 

Yes.

In this time, at this place, I do believe this country will be defined. And it will be defined by those who not just endure the moment, the tide of affairs of man, but rather the ones who stand up and say “this is how we will endure.”

 

You may be angry, you may feel helpless, you may feel excited … but whatever you feel it is because you are caught up in a unique tide in the affairs of man … i will be defined stand up speak outand you will be defined not because you endured but rather by how you endured.

 

My friend was right. This is a “moment.”

 

We will look back in time at this ‘moment’ and you will be defined by what you did do … or didn’t do.

 

Me? I have made my decision. In this time, at this place, I will be defined.

 

we do not deal well with emptiness

January 8th, 2017

bad-empty-chair-in-room

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“As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness.

Any empty space must be filled.

 

Immediately.

The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place. A single moment with that empty spot causes excruciating pain. That’s why we run from distraction to distraction – and from attachment to attachment.”

 

—-

Yasmin Mogahed

 

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Emptiness.

 

I am fairly sure people have never, as in “since the dawn of time”, dealt well with emptiness in their lives.

fill-emptiness-empty-with-various-thingsEmptiness is … well … empty … less than … not full.

 

We put incredible energy into putting a person into an empty space left by the last person.

 

We put incredible energy overthinking shit if we find that we may be empty of some thought, i.e, we are ‘not thinking about something … anything for god’s sake is better than nothing!’.

 

We put incredible energy trying to figure out what to do, and sometimes actually doing it, when we find some empty time.

 

Regardless.

 

I would guess that in todays “if you are not doing a lot of something, you are a lazy, worthless slug” mentality world … emptiness has taken on a more miserable aspect. It is miserable because we are almost expected to not only be miserable if we have some ’empty’ <i.e., only losers have empty> but we are expected to figure out how to not be empty for any extended period of time.

 

What this translates into is … well … suffice it to say … more often than not we create our own emptiness with how we choose to live our Life and think our thoughts.

 

Boy oh boy.

There is a double whammy.

 

We do not deal well with emptiness and, yet, we almost always create our own emptiness.

 

Ok.

 

So what happens if you decide to not accept the societal bullshit about empty?

 

Uhm.

 

You will be seen as an outcast.

That I can almost guarantee.

 

It is a societal thing.society blame responsibility

 

If society demands empty to be unacceptable then … well … dammit, we gonna hate them because they aren’t living Life they way they are supposed to live life <even if it looks fucking awesome to do if we actually did it>.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.

 

The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

 

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

—-

Rick Warren

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I only bring up society not to suggest society is bullshit or that society is the root of all evil <and your personal problems> but to state that with regard to ‘empty’ there are two layers to our inability to deal well with ‘empty’ – ourselves and society.

 

Doesn’t mean you can’t establish your own rules & standards with ‘empty’ in your own Life … but it is tricky to do it in a way that doesn’t … well … make you crazy.

 

In the end you gotta look at your Life, what is empty & what is full, why things may be empty and why things may be full … and think about what the value is of the life we have decided to cling to.

 

 

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ما قيمة هذه الدنيا التي تتعلقون بها ؟ ..

 

“What is the value of this world that you cling to?

 

(via idle-handss)

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And I say ‘cling to’ because it is our choice.

the choice is yours life

Emptiness is our choice.

 

Fullness is our choice.

 

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It gives you room. It gives you space. And, yes, it gives you uncertainty.

 

But what it does do is it gives you certainty in freedom to move & do & explore the area between “I can’t” and “I can” … as well as … “what is” and “what could be.”

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“I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy.

I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

—-

Kristin Armstrong

 

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Here is what I know about empty.

 

I once wrote Emptiness is a weight … heavier than you could ever imagine empty should ever be.

Emptiness is a burden if you fill it with the wrong things <hence the reason I tend to believe we rush to fill it with other things>.

 

——–

 

“How can emptiness be so heavy?”

 

=

Six Word Story

———holes kids and thinking

 

It can become a hole filled with the remnants of everything left behind.

Let’s just say … all things gone but not forgotten.

This could include regrets, memories; past decisions … even people no longer there … as well as whatever else your thinking may fill it up with.

 

Ok. Let’s just say anything that has touched our lives will reside in this emptiness and their, oddly, the absence of what used to touch us carries a gravitas which becomes a relentless burden.

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It is not nothing. Empty is something. It is possible it could be a blank piece of paper waiting for you, or someone, to wrote something on it but I don’t like that metaphor.

I do not see empty as blank or blankness. I believe empty is a map … a map we just cannot puzzle out yet. It is something you do want to carry around with you all your Life and it is something you want to deal well with.

 

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“I don’t want to be just a nothing, a sick blank, withdrawal into myself forever. I just want something, beside the emptiness I’ve carried around in me all my life.”

 

Allen Ginsberg

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For if you accept empty as what I just suggested it can lead you to unknown places and meet as yet unknown faces and … well … its darkness is not empty of ran-my-fingers-on-edge-of-empty-within-selflight … it is a darkness awaiting light.

 

And maybe that is my point about empty.

 

Instead of trying to fill ‘empty’ with shit, with people, with doing … why don’t you stop for a second and trying filling it with … well … light.

 

Maybe if you do that you will see the map I believe that is there a little better and instead of filling the empty you travel someplace where your empty doesn’t feel as empty.

 

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My heart yearns to fill its hollows with unknown places and unknown faces. It desires to be tainted by the warm rays of welcoming faces. It longs to feel nostalgic of the unknown places that reside within its darkness out of wanderlust.

 

Sandeep Sidhu

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fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

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“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

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“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

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Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

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Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

feet in the clouds & head on the ground

October 5th, 2016

 dreams walking

 

==============

 

They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground

My sole intention is keeping my head in the clouds

They say that I can’t last a day in the real world

I say you wouldn’t survive one night in mine

 

Asking Alexandria

 

===

 

Suffice it to say that 99% of the best businesses have figured out how to successfully keep their feet in the clouds and their head on the ground.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it looks like I got it twisted around … but I did not.

 

Good businesses are always walking with the future in mind.now what next hugh

 

Always traveling toward possibilities. Always seeking ‘what’s next.’

 

Good businesses are always closely listening to the drumbeat of the feet of what is happening around them. Ear to the ground insuring everyone in the business is keeping their head in the game today.

 

I have called it mastering pragmatism & possibilities.

 

But, in reality, it is the ability to have your feet in the clouds and head on the ground.

 

I tend to believe if more people thought about it this way businesses would have more hope … and more achievable possibilities than they could ever imagine.

 

You have to admit … the current definition – feet on the ground & head in the clouds – just ain’t working that well these days.

 

Businesses seem to be more woefully stagnant <albeit ‘talking’ change> and have more despair and lack of hope with regard to their possibilities than ever.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

I am sure I could invest dozens of page sharing thoughts on why but instead I will focus on what I would consider the intellectual aspects … what is going on in with our attitudes that affect our heads, how we think and how we approach these things.

 

  • Issue one. over-simplification

 

Suffice it to say we have devolved into a society of sound bites. This is true in business even moreso.

 

In business it seems to be all about simplicity.

 

In everyday Life it is ‘summarize it for me’ or ‘oh, it’s simple <insert some explanation here>.’

 

In the end I can’t figure out if should be pointing the finger at us or them.

 

Them <management & leadership> because they think we are not capable of understanding some form of complexity and therefore they only offer up simplified versions of what needs to be communicated.

 

Or us <the employees> because we either:

 

<a> demand a sound bite under the guise of ‘we only have time for the headline’

or

 

<b> we only latch on to the fragment of the whole which we believe summarizes the whole.

 

Therefore I will point the finger at all of us and them.

 

Here is a Truth.

 

business simplicity complex woekMost things are just not that simple.

 

An effect can have multiple causes and a cause can have multiple effects. I say this despite the fact, naturally, we would like all the dominoes to line up one after another and when one falls the next naturally is impacted and falls.

 

Well.

 

Things don’t really work that way. Especially in a business environment. Maybe in a controlled test environment but, in business, events are typically bombarded from a variety of directions and while not all causes are created equal <some can impact more than others> most things are too complex to be simplified into ‘one thing.’ And, yet, we oversimplify again and again and again.

 

Over simplifying simply means ignoring complexities.

 

Over simplifying simply means being consciously ignorant.

 

Over simplifying … well … just doesn’t work in the long run.

 

It eases you through the moment only to have to doubly <or exponentially> invest energy later on.

 

Simply? Over simplification just doesn’t work.

 

Instead of dumbing things down to some simplistic sound bite we need to raise the level of general understanding & knowledge to the level of complexity of the ideas & systems in which a business works.

 

Factually … seconds of involvement <sound bites> versus minutes of involvement <deeper complex discussion> leads to degrees of real knowledge.  i.e., seconds leads to shallow knowledge or let’s call it ‘less knowledgeable.’

 

 

Over simplification will not demystify uncertainty and cannot help us do what we really need to do … reconcepting & rethinking that which is.

 

What I am suggesting is difficult and uncertain work.

 

But certainly more satisfying and inspiring when we solve and recreate and it certainly is a more effective way to keep your feet in the clouds and head on the cloud-feet-hold-high-business-ideaground..

 

I can unequivocally state that the fate of possibilities for a business, any business, lies in balance if we don’t invest in the hard work of ‘non over simplification.

And worse?

We won’t solve any of the problems we face if we do not address this.

 

 

This leads me to …

 

 

  • Issue two. being intellectually insightful is about hard work.

 

Let me begin by suggesting that good ideas cannot be decided by number of tweet votes in favor of.

 

Business ideas do not compete on American idol nor, frankly, should they compete in any larger group.

 

We are not all judges <and probably shouldn’t be on American idol either>.

 

Why?

 

Good ideas are rarely popular; therefore, I don’t really want a business idea to win some meaningless popularity contest

 

If we really want to do what needs to be done to maximize both the pragmatism & the possibilities in business we have to hunker down and work hard … work hard in that we need to use what we have to rethink things … use all aspects including economic thought and philosophy and the past … all of which means dealing with ambiguity and contradiction.

 

And, yes, that is hard work.

 

That is the kind of work that hones the intellectual insightfulness necessary to keep your feet in the clouds and your feet on the ground and … well … make progress. Smart progress.

 

Instead of dumbing things down we need to be raising the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us.

 

And while you may balk at something like ‘intellectual insightfulness’ as too far reaching or ‘elitist’ … suffice it to say we just need to be smarter … less ignorant … more enlightened <open to additional thoughts> and more involved in the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconcepting ideas and systems in which we live in and … well … just plain rethinking shit.

 

Suffice it to say that there is nothing simple when talking about world-changing ideas … because talking will not simply make the world change.

 

I read somewhere recently that ‘if you remove this boundary … the only be wrong stand in your wrongness divideboundary left is our imagination.’

 

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

 

Imagination is important but even imagination is complicated and difficult and tends to not offer tidy solutions.

 

Especially if you don’t invest in the hard work.

 

We need to be doing more of ‘using your imagination within the box of what exists.’

We don’t need to be wandering aimlessly ‘outside the box’ but rather using our imagination insightfully and creatively WITHIN the box … and expand the boundaries.

 

It is all hard work … but hard work will work. And in this case I mean hard thinking work.

 

Simply ‘doing’ aint gonna cut it.

 

We need to be smarter. And whether you think about thinking this way or not … it ain’t about staring off into space doing nothing … thinking is a blue collar job.

Thinking is all about work.

 

Hmmmmmm … it is quite possible that what I just wrote defines “head on the ground” better than anything I have ever written before.

 

Anyway.

As a corollary to issue number two …

 

 

  • Issue three. innovation is not <just> technology.

 

What makes oversimplification even more challenging is that for some reason we seem to be associating innovation with technology … and just technology.

We can’t … and shouldn’t.big picture thinking

 

This type of thinking leads us to possibly believe technology innovations will eventually solve all problems and maximize everyone’s Life as some point.

 

That is a very dangerous idea.

 

It is dangerous because in reality if we focus just on technology as the solution we are actually preventing the real change we need.

 

It’s a very dangerous idea because it completely removes the human aspect.

 

Minds need to innovate too.

 

Thinking and attitudes need to evolve and innovate.

 

New thought systems, economic systems and systems in which people live eat and breath all need to evolve … and that happens through innovation <whether technology is involved or not>.

 

Technology is simply a path that runs parallel to culture <or society> basically amplifying everything that is happening on the parallel path <the corollary to that is … with nothing to amplify the technology remains silent>.

 

Technology and culture and business are entangled.

 

Technologies may enable new ways of doing things … not just doing but thinking. This effects culture … so culturally we need to innovate to structure how those technologies will be involved in our lives <so that we can dictate a little how they are incorporated> and we need to innovate our thinking and culture so that we can actually impact how technology evolves <so that we can dictate how what technology is innovated in some form or fashion>.

 

At the moment it seems like we respond to technology rather than proactively drive technology.

 

Technology has certainly dramatically improved the overall quality of business.

 

The paradox is that the system we have now may make amazing new technology possible, but at same time is creating such cultural conflict that maximizing technology ‘what could be’ seems impossible.

 

We need to innovate the systems in which technology exists.

 

Economically, culturally and philosophically.

All systems need to see innovation.

 

<that’s it for my issues>

 

Look.

 

Hope and possibilities grounded with enlightened pragmatism abound in today’s business world if you look hard enough <and have your feet in the clouds an head to the ground>.

 

But none of it comes easy … these types of things are rarely just given … they need to be earned … mostly thru hard work.

 

I don’t believe simplicity is bad.

 

I don’t believe being optimistic or having a positive attitude is bad.

 

I don’t believe technology is bad.

 

I don’t believe hard work, smartly done, is bad.

head-in-cloud-glasses-think

 

But we seem trapped in the old paradigm of “head in the clouds & feet on the ground.” This old paradigm kind of separates work & thinking <vision> in a non useful way. And I … well … I admit I sometimes think this paradigm encourages a slightly warped version of some lazy thinking.

 

And we cannot be lazy moving forward.

 

And we certainly cannot afford to be lazy thinkers.

 

For in this type of laziness lurks ignorance and it is ignorance we should fear.

Not any ideological argument or technological innovation which inserts itself into our daily lives but ignorance.

 

 

Avoid lazy thinking.

 

Maybe have everyone hearken to Emerson’s words …

 

“Consent yourself to be an organ of your highest thought, and lo! suddenly you put all men in your debt, and are the fountain of an energy that goes pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society, to the circumference of things.”

 

 

My thought for businesses today?

 

sigh-thought-bubbleConsent yourself to be of your highest thought.

And how do you do that?

 

Sigh.

 

Keep your feet in the clouds and your head on the ground.

 

cover the universe with drawings we have lived

May 20th, 2016

 

 

 

=====

 

Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. idea art creative draw life imagine

 

Thoreau said that he had a map of his fields engraved in his soul.

 

And Jean Wahl once wrote … [“] The frothing of the hedges / I keep deep inside me [“] … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived.”

 

 

Gaston Bachelard

====

 

 

“You have to live a life to understand it.

Tourists just pass through.”

 

 

Prince

====

 

 

Well.

 

Let me give you a reason not only for living … but experiencing Life. And I don’t means “savoring Life” type trite bullshit. I mean experiencing what is going on around you and being aware, to participate in Life … and actually experience the realities of the here & now <and not divert your attention toward some imaginative “boy, I imagined something completely different than what is occurring”>.

 

Nor am I going to hijack any of that nutjob Eckhardt Tolle’s “live in the now” nonsense.

 

All I will suggest is that each experience, especially when you pay some attention to it, etches something in us.

 

Think of it like acquiring a tattoo.

And if you do accept the tattoo metaphor <or is that an analogy?> it seems to me you should take some care with what gets engraved upon you.

 

dance color cloud skirtWhy care?

 

While the fact Life is in constant movement and that can become incredibly tiring trying to dance with it  all day long … your dance partner, named either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ typically arrives without invitation. I would suggest more of us would be slightly more content if we didn’t focus on the fact our dance partner made us smile <lets assume that is “good”> or is a complete asshole <lets call that dance partner “bad”> but instead focus on the dance itself.

 

That, my friends, is experiencing Life.

 

The steps, the movement, that path and arc of the dance and the fields upon which our feet are placed in their movement.

 

 

Thoreau tells us ‘ he had the map of his fields engraved in his soul.’ That is … well … because he not only walked them but he saw and felt the steps as he placed them.

 

This is all about recognizing the value of being aware. And it is this perceptive appreciation of the time & place, past & present, permits us a healthy balance of reality and memory.

 

Even better?

 

This awareness actually permits us to embed the moments better in our heads.

This isn’t to say we will remember it correctly <because psychologically we suck at correctly & accurately remembering things> but rather the moments themselves are engraved upon us.

 

To be clear.

 

This ‘thing’ we embed is actually a reflection of the natural gap in our minds between the complexity of reality and our ability to experience the complexity.

What I mean by that is we tend to view reality heuristically. Therefore we don’t truly see reality but rather a simplified translation. Unfortunately … this simplified version naturally builds in some blind spots.

 

Now.

 

There is a whole bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo about ‘dimensions of recognition’ and ‘symbolic complementariness of the person’s first-hand life events/involvements’ but it is much easier for everyday schmucks like you and I to think of it in a linear fashion … any initial connective personal involvement in a moment begets some reflection <how it may relate to other moments> which inevitably creates some ongoing narrative in our head.

 

Aw.

Forget all the psychological stuff.

 

Simplistically … the map of our Life is engraved upon our minds if not our soul … assuming we actually are aware enough to experience the map as we traverse it. Our universe deserves to be covered with our drawings.

 

I am fairly sure a lot of people will read this and be shaking their heads going “I have great memories … I could cover my universe with drawings” … you aren’t telling me anything of value.

 

And you may be right. Absolutely. You may be.

 

But I would suggest that most people would actually end up papering their universe with someone else’s drawings of their experience … like taping postcards on the wall of everywhere you have been. That is not covering your universe with drawings of what you have lived.cage bird tattoo

 

Those are simply superficial surface expressions of real actual experience.

 

Let me go back to my tattoo metaphor.

 

If I were to get a tattoo on my soul I imagine, at least me, I would not choose a tattoo of a postcard but rather I would prefer choosing an expression of what I felt when I placed my feet where that postcard was. Don’t be a tourist with Life … live it.

 

That’s all I’m sayin’.

conviction that there is a better life

May 7th, 2016

 transparency rosy horizon

======

 

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

======

 

 

Life barrages us, with fairly relentless consistency, with the unexpected and the unforeseen which inevitably makes us feel like we are out of control.

 

 

horizon questionThis can be personal.

 

This can be organizational.

 

Heck.

This can even be on a country level.

 

 

You look around at the relative carnage of the day seeing your plans in disarray and hopes & dreams nowhere in close proximity to your current reality and you think to yourself “how the hell did we get into this shithole.”

 

That is where conviction comes into play.

 

You, or we, are not really in a shithole … you just have had what you thought would happen or should be happening … well … not happen. And you have some threads of belief that exactly the same thing will happen again tomorrow. Your conviction of ‘something better beyond the horizon’ is a little blurrier than it was the day before.

 

Look.

 

Each of us has conviction within us.

The most basic conviction that no matter how bad it is … it will get better and there truly is something better somewhere beyond the horizon.

 

And, yet, while I am 99.9% sure that this conviction resides within each and every one of us I am also 99.9% sure that all of us encounter something at some point which makes us question or doubt that conviction.

 

I call this ‘the bridge of conviction.’

 

Think of it this way.

horizon road long

Life is a long winding path. And, on occasion you come to a bridge. You hate heights and the bridge can maybe look a little shaky on occasion.

You stand at the end of it and … well … pause.

 

You maybe even question the conviction & wisdom of the path you are on.

 

What makes you finally take that first step … and the next … and the next … and cross that bridge is the conviction that on the other side is something better.

 

I would also like to point out that it is this conviction which makes you look forward and not backwards.

 

Better” inherently cannot reside in the past. It cannot be found somewhere in retracing your steps on the path you have taken.

 

What was will be as it was and no longer exists as what you once knew.

 

Conviction inherently knows this <although all of us fight conviction on this on occasion>.

 

I say all this just to point out that no matter how bad the current time may look it is actually not that bad.

hope cup of

That no matter how bad one person may appear to affect your view on what iswhat will be will most likely be affected much less by that one person, or one event, than you think now.

 

That no matter how bad the horizon may be blurred in your view … something better really does reside beyond the horizon.

 

Why do I feel so confident in saying so?

 

 

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

 

 

112 reasons why Life should be lived by Seussisms

March 3rd, 2016

suess why fit in stand out

————–

 

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

 

===

 

Dr. Seuss

 

 

—————–

 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

 

==

 

Dr. Seuss

 

 

———————

 

 

It’s okay everyone … I am not going to actually list 112 reasons why Life should be lived through Dr. Seussisms.

 

be who you are  cat in hat suessYesterday would have been Dr. Seuss’s 112th birthday.

 

And I could guess I have read his words, quotes and thoughts way over 112 times.

 

And I will guess I will read those same words, quote and thoughts at least another 112 times in the years to come.

 

 

It may sound silly for a grown man to suggest he spends as much time as that implies I have spent pondering the words from children’s books.

 

In my defense I believe there have been hundreds of books written analyzing the philosophical underpinnings and morality messaging of what Dr. Seuss stories and words truly mean.

 

I am a much simpler guy.

 

I take the words at face value.

 

I accept that the world, and Life, offers us a shitload of complicated questions which we could dwell upon for hours … if we just didn’t want to accept that some answers are truly simple. As simple as Dr. Seuss answers.

 

 

Dr. Seuss, at its core, is about a strong sense of self, a belief you are master of your own actions <if not your own destiny>, that you are not any bigger, or smaller, than anyone else in terms of importance and that leading isn’t about popularity or the size of your following but rather by individual actions.

 

 

Me, being me, notices I just focused on actions as learnings.

 

Which makes it incumbent upon me to remind everyone that attitudes drive behavior. In other words if you remain true to yourself, your character, your moral compass, your integrity and sense of dignity and respect for any & all, you actions will be … well … truer than true.

 

————-

 

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

Dr. Seuss

 

—————-

 

 

And, lastly, I imagine I keep going back to Dr. Seuss words because time & time again the implication is that one individual’s actions can make a significant impact.

 

 

In other words … if I had the time and the interest <and the words> I would share 112 reasons why understanding yourself and getting comfortable with who & what you are … and believing that your actions matter <all your actions> is the key to living a Life of purpose. And, I imagine, a higher likelihood of a Life of happiness.

 

 

I do know that back in November 2015 I wrote something called “I want to save the world.”

 

suess save the world

In it I wrote this:

 

 

it may appear easier to just say “I need to focus on my own happiness” research has shown over and over again that our true happiness and self worth is attained when we aspire to being dynamic beyond our own purpose.

Here is a Life truth.

Life can suck if you let it.

And things will always remain sucky if you let it. You can either do something or not do something. And you can do some important things or you can do unimportant things.

That’s the gig. Simple as that.

 

 
Maybe I should have added … “you can save the world by being you and doing things that are a reflection of you.” I think if I had Dr. Seuss would have liked that post a little bit better.

 

 

In today’s big, complicated, messy world we can sometimes feel really really small. Maybe even insignificant in the grander scheme of things.

 

Are we insignificant in today’s world?

 

That is a complicated Life question many of us seek to answer.

 

 

And Dr. Seuss provides the simple answer:suess grinch cindy lou

 

 

========

 

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

 

Horton Hears a Who

====

 

 

I may yet write 112 reasons why Life should be lived by Seussisms. And if I do it may be one of the most important Life lesson posts I will ever write. But maybe, instead, I will suggest everyone read Dr. Seuss 112 times.

And many of the complicated Life questions we face will be answered more simply than you thought possible.

Enlightened Conflict