Enlightened Conflict

messiness & enlightened conflict

October 18th, 2017

enlightened conflict think============

“Nothing is perfect.

Life is messy.

Relationships are complex.

Outcomes are uncertain.

People are irrational.”

 

=

Hugh Mackay

 

——————–

 

 

“The most successful organizations in the world are the ones who work together, play together, and get messy together.”

 

=

Jeanne Malnati

 

——————–

 

 

Well.

 

This may sound a little wacky but 98.2% of successful businesses are successful truth and conflictbecause, uhm, there is some conflict <note: I made up the 98.2% but you get the point>.

Suffice it to say … conflict, in and of itself, doesn’t make them successful … it is that the conflict tends to create the positive friction which sparks better thinking, better ideas and a better company — a more enlightened organization.

 

I often argue that conflict within an organization is natural … and healthy.

Conflict is natural because … well … while organizations try and create some ‘tidiness’ to the institution itself … the people within are messy. Inherent in this messiness is  a clashing of certainty & uncertainty, known & unknown, learning & unlearning and all the messy things thinking people do when all are aimed toward a greater vision, purpose & objective.

 

We often like to talk about business as ‘rational’ but … c’mon … Life itself is pretty messy … outcomes may be uncertain and people, particularly in business, can certainly be irrational <at times>.

In addition … truth is messy.

And if there is one thing every business seeks in their pursuit of success it is ‘truth’ with regard to “what do we need to do.”

 

Regardless.

 

It is quite possible the messiest part of any business is just the simple objective of getting good shit done.

 

It’s mostly messy because … well … people are messy.

 

Messy in terms of how we interact.

Messy in terms of not knowing what we are good at … and sometimes not standing up for what we really are good at.

Messy in terms of inconsistent communication.

Messy in terms of selective listening.

 

Messy in terms of … well … our attempts to avoiding conflict <we can turn ourselves into pretzels trying to keep things as smooth as possible>.

 

saved thoughts think dark messy self

Now.

 

That may sound like a shitload of messiness … but people, once again, naturally make business messy.

 

Oh.

Even people with good intentions are messy.

 

Yes.

Even good people.

 

Throughout my business career:

 

I have enjoyed a “force of nature” person who has forced enlightenment for the force of good.

 

 

I have endured a force of nature person with good intentions …with less than good behavior … who has forced us to face enlightenment.

 

 

I have encountered an essential force of good within a business … who doesn’t have the ‘nature’ part of the ‘force’ DNA … but is still an essential undercurrent force with which the business prospers by enabling enlightenment.

 

And the entire experience has emboldened me with a sense that even good organizations with good products and good people and a good idea … can be messy AND enlightenment … and be a force of good.

 

Yeah.

 

Sure.

I have also seen how messiness can negatively encroach into the good fiber of a business.

 

But … the one thing I can guarantee is messiness will lead to enlightenment. It is just that I cannot guarantee whether it will be enlightenment used for the force of good or enlightenment used for the force of … well … something less than good.

 

Regardless.

 

All this messiness leads to Enlightened conflict.

 

Enlightened Conflict is a term I often use <heck … it is the name of my site>. To me it has multiple dimensions of relevance to … well … not only to what I believe & what I believe should be done … but to creating a smarter thinking individual <and individuals>.

 

So.

 

recurring issues thinking-dialectic-crisisA lot of people push back on the “conflict” part.

Here’s the basic idea.

 

The more someone understands <or is less ignorant>  the more respectful the “conflict” will be.

Conflict can be debate, discussion … simply when two people have different points of view on things. It’s the basic thesis being challenged, navigating a crisis <the conflict>, antithesis all ultimately arriving at some synthesis.

 

Its not a novel idea nor a contentious idea. But it IS an idea which empowers a business.

 

 

Anyway.

 

The positive side of enlightened conflict resides in the sharing of information so that people just … well … know more. And I would hope <and actually believe> they use that additional “know more” <knowledge of some type> so they can make better informed choices.

 

ideas conflict and falureConversely … I could suggest that the enemy of ignorance is enlightened conflict. I often suggest people think about that because I could argue <and i do> that one of the biggest obstacles to any progress, in business & in Life, is ignorance.

 

Enlightened conflict aggressively attacks ignorance.

 

Therefore, any business with a future with enlightened conflict will inevitably have smarter discussions, more respectful competition between employees <and better teamwork>, become more informed and, ultimately, create better decisions.

 

And, maybe best of all, in their own way the business organization becomes more enlightened.

 

Look.

 

When I speak of enlightened conflict with businesses I am relentless with regard to my belief that little actions can make a big difference. I do that because I believe as long as you empower individuals to embrace enlightened conflict, and respectful conflict, you empower everyone to believe they are all architects of life … and fate.

 

All that said.

 

I admit.

I love a great debate and I typically feast on partially ignorant point of views. I am not that smart but I can spot a generalization or a sweeping judgment a mile away.

 

I am kind of like a vulture lurking over ignorance seeking to swoop down for dizzy the vulturethe debate.

 

It also helps that I am a curious vulture.

 

I like to think and lurk over a variety of topics. On a separate note … I am biased in that I believe businesses, and society, would be a better version of its current form if there were more curious vultures.

 

Well … at least I have admitted being a vulture.

Don’t let that stop you from loving the idea of Enlightened Conflict.

 

choosing an NFL winner or loser Trump style

September 25th, 2017

interfere word

 

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“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

 

—————

Abraham Lincoln

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“Most of us don’t mind doing what we ought to do when it doesn’t interfere with what we want to do, but it takes discipline and maturity to do what we ought to do whether we want to or not.“

 

———–

Joseph B. Wirthlin

 

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Ok.

 

Just to finish off my thoughts <and frustrations > with regard to Trump’s lack of leadership and the NFL <and pettiness with Steph Curry “dis-invite” of someone who wasn’t going anyway> I wanted to point out just one more trump-i-am-what-i-amincredibly disturbing behavior he continues to exhibit – picking winners & losers with individual businesses.

 

It seems like he has forgotten he is no longer a faux business person, when he could tweet out absurd faux business statements about other real businesses and business people, and that he is now a faux president where he is not supposed to tell businesses how to be run, what an industry should or should not do and call out individual people like he is calling out to the guy who always finds a way to lose to him on the golf course whenever he walks through Mar a Lago’s front door.

 

 

Presidents don’t pick business winners and losers.

 

Presidents don’t tell people how to conduct their business.

 

Governments establish laws, rules & regulations within which individual businesses, industries and people work within. HOW they work within those guidelines is up to them.

 

In fact.

 

Even if a president has some business experience it doesn’t matter how they ran their business, how they believe a business should be run or how they believe specific demands upon organizational behavior should be dictated … it does not matter what he or she thinks.

 

Businesses are enterprises permitted to run their business independent of step-foward-brave-go-do-businessgovernment ‘input.’ It is the right of any business to conduct themselves, legally, the way they choose.

 

I say that because lost in the racial and faux patriotism aspects of the Trump versus NFL <black athletes> mosh pit is the basic fact he interfered in the way an entire business conducts their business.

 

“I think NFL team owners should fire the son of a bitches.”

 

First.

No business owner calls the employees sonofabitches.

If they do they get fired.

 

 

Second.

I have run businesses. No one tells me who I can, or cannot, fire.

No one.

 

 

Third.

I have run businesses. No one tells me how my employees should conduct themselves and what they can, or cannot do,

No one.

 

 

Fourth.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarianYou should boycott the games <do not attend or watch>.”

 

Uhm.

 

So … the president suggested Americans should not support American business.

 

That’s the bottom line.

 

Gussy that up any way you would like but … that’s it.

 

Do not spend you money on American business.

 

At some point I am sure some Trump administration spokesperson can turn themselves into a pretzel telling me how wrong I am to think and say that … but … uhm … the American president told American people that because American businesses were not doing what he believes is the American way of conducting business that American people should no longer support specific American businesses.

 

What an asshole.

What a fucked up version of an American First business ideology.

 

I imagine my larger point is that since Trump was elected he has called out specific companies and industries … and even specific people … all under the guise of “here is what I believe is good or bad.”

 

<i imagine any Republican/conservative reading this just gagged a little>

 

When he has done this … believe it or not … it has made a difference. constructive destructive business progress

 

Businesses respond, stocks respond and the specific target hears responses <from customers, acquaintances and Trump trolls>.

 

By the way … this forces those businesses, industries and individuals to have to spend unplanned money attempting to respond to the highest office in the country.

 

He is the president. Presidents don’t pick business winners and losers.

 

Whether you like, or dislike, what the president has said about the NFL it is coming with a cost.

 

Saturday morning coaches, owners and players thought the game plan was the most important thing. By late Saturday morning PR teams, business owners conference calls, team captains, and players were all geared up trying to figure out what to do and how to respond.

Business as usual was interrupted.

 

We may think football is game … but it is a business to these people and it is a job.

 

Trump interfered with people’s business, careers and livelihoods.

 

In business words have repercussions.

 

pause interfere life business

…….. Trump’s affect on business by interfering ……….

But Trump doesn’t think beyond the moment and the soundbite and the audience.

He is one of those assholes he just lets others clean up the mess he leaves behind and justifies all his shit by saying shit like “I am just saying what everyone is thinking” … not realizing that most business entities kind of build a system to accommodate ‘the shit’ so when someone comes along and topples the system … well … you have to invest energy, time and money rebuilding a new system to accommodate new shit.

 

 

There are dozens of real stupid leadership things about trump that drive me nuts. But this one is actually different. This is a lack of understanding of the roles & responsibilities of being a president.

You don’t pick winners and losers.

You don’t tell someone how to run their business.

You don’t tell someone who to fire and who to not fire.

 

Basically.

secrets loser think sad community bad behavior

This weekend should remind Donald J Trump that he shouldn’t interfere with anything in the Constitution <free speech> and shouldn’t interfere in American business.

 

I would be furious if I were an NFL owner or head coach.

Furious.

 

 

I would be nervous if I were a business CEO or business leader.

Very nervous.

 

Trump has no idea how to be a president nor how to conduct himself as a president … businesses will suffer this fool week after week.

idealism and realism (possibilities and pragmatism)

September 15th, 2017

idealism pragmatist doing shit

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“It has generally been assumed that of two opposing systems of philosophy, e.g., realism and idealism, one only can be true and one must be false; and so philosophers have been hopelessly divided on the question, which is the true one.”

 

——–

Morris Raphael Cohen

 

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“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.”

 

——

Herbert Hoover

 

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“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

 

———–

John Galsworthy

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

I am a pragmatic hope guy. I clearly love instilling hope as part of any business, suicide hope againstor Life, vison but don’t believe in any aspect of false hope. As I have written before while false hope is maybe slightly better than no hope at all    … hope should be treated carefully.

 

That said.

 

All hope to me should be grounded in some sense of pragmatic and reality.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both idealism and realism.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you shouldn’t have aspects of both hope & pragmatism, possibilities and pragmatism and idealism & realism.

 

We should want both AND demand both.

 

It is reaching for the stars and reaching realistically.

It is keeping your feet in the clouds and, yet, head on the ground.

 

But that’s how I think.

 

I thought of this as I noted Hillary has an entire chapter in her new book called pragmatc-hillary-won-some-lost-someidealism and realism where she criticizes some aspects of Bernie Sanders.

I would suggest everyone not read it as criticism of Bernie but rather a tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.

 

I will not defend Mrs. Clinton. It’s not my job.

 

<nor will i buy the book>

 

But I will defend we hope believers who also believe in pragmatism.

 

I will defend that I can offer a sense of a difficult path without creating a larger sense of ‘doom or Armageddon’ to create the sense of urgency which we often deem necessary in order to inspire real action.

 

And, inevitably, that is what this is all about.

 

How do inspire people not just to inspire but to take action?

 

How do I inspire larger ideas and larger actions?

 

I imagine all politicians, who are a version of leaders, have to figure out how to balance this. It is a tightrope all of us who have led walk.

 

The difficulty on this tight rope is that there will always be people debating, and futurist non linearcriticizing, while you walk on this tight rope. They will argue we need more radical change. They will argue we need less radical change. Shit. They will argue we need no change moving forward but rather reverse some of the changes made.

 

And you know what?

 

Some of that, in all of that, is right.

 

Some of the past is awful and some of the decisions we will make for the future, and in the future, will be awful.

 

Conversely, some of all of that will … well … not be awful.

 

To suggest that there are easy answers or that the steps forward are clear and simple is … well … stupid. Stupid & foolish.

 

Hillary is, and will always be, a lightning rod.

 

We may scratch our heads with regard to some of the things she says … or we may instead sit back and ponder the good debate to be found in the lightning rod discussions.

 

For in her “Idealism and Realism” can be found the constructive decision which any leader tries to find their own course in leading.

 

We debate all of this shit in our own heads … and then we debate it in conference rooms and boardrooms every week.

 

deal with uncertainty repeat embrace life do

We are responsible for past decisions and, yet, try to unburden ourselves so that we can move forward.

 

Simplistically, just because I <maybe> made an awful decision in the past doesn’t mean I will make an awful decision in the future.

 

Simplistically, just because I maybe offer a hopeful idealistic decision for the future doesn’t mean it is a realistic decision for now.

 

Simplistically, just because I try and slow everybody down on some idealistic discussion shouldn’t suggest I am any more ‘canny or wise’ than everybody else let alone the person who offers the idealistic hope that people may gravitate toward … it just suggests that maybe I am trying to balance … well … reality.

And maybe incorporate the fact that, pragmatically, I would like to incorporate some possibilities for people today & tomorrow.

 

I will suggest, no, I will tell you the harsh truth … getting good shit done is hard.

 

pragmatic hope people balanceGetting shit done means balancing overreach and under reach.

 

Balancing possibilities and pragmatism.

 

Balancing idealism and realism.

 

Balancing the practical and the hope.

 

Balancing what people think they want and what they need.

 

Balancing the majority and the minority. Balancing what is good for one and good for all.

 

Anything less than that is oversimplification.

 

Oh.

 

Shit.

 

And then there is context.

One can never lose sight of context.

 

You have to balance the idea, the hopefulness of ‘what could be’, against pragmatically where you have been <what has happened if not what has just happened> as well as where you are.

 

It is incredibly simplistic to suggest an Obama decision when he took office should be compared to a decision a Clinton or a Trump would make when they took office. Just as it would be incredibly simplistic to judge a business leader if they were to take over a large company which was truly heading into a shithole versus a company which had some problems but was, in general, businesswise healthy.

 

Every transition has its own singular issues. And, let’s be clear, every situation has problems.

 

We should all recognize that in the overall life cycle of Life problems and opportunities, practical and possibilities, hope & despair, heroes & villains, will appear in different forms.

 

This is not cynical … this is … uhm … reality

 

Yaeh.

 

Whoever became the new president of the United States was going to deal with some problems.

compromise life good want you they

Harping on whatever those problems doesn’t really get you anywhere.

They are what they are.

 

I could also argue that … well … arguing over idealistic ideas and vision without admitting some pragmatism and practicality doesn’t really get you anywhere.

 

We all hate cynicism and because we do we confuse it with pragmatism and practicality.

We all get tired of pragmatism because … well … it sounds small.

 

But I would point out that we all not only get tired, but absolutely unequivocally hate, false hope and unrealized idealism. “Large” unrealized equals zero, nothing, nada. People don’t like a zero, nothing, nada no matter how large the zero, nothing, nada is.

 

And you know what?

 

A good leader knows all of this. And they do their best to walk the tight rope. They may not always get it right and they may not always get done whatever is needed to get done to alleviate the problems, or all the problems, that exist in the here and now. But I would point out that, realistically, you can never alleviate all problems and that problems exist, contextually, no matter if an idealist or a realist, a pragmatist or a ‘possibilities driven’ leader, a hope or a practical leader steps in. the only constant that any leader faces is that problems existed to be addressed, exist to address and will exist to address … all to eventually be solved.

 

Not accepting that as a Life truth is foolish.

 

I thought of this today as I envision Hillary Clinton will face another day of criticism from not only all sides but all dimensions. I am sure she will deserve some but the sheer amount is crazy. Yeah. It is most likely an easy buck for a shitload of people but it is lazy.

 

Lazy rhetoric and lazy thinking.

 

 

Maybe, just maybe, we should be sitting back and thinking I would suggest everyone maybe think about this as a grander tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.combine contradict idealism realism possibilities

 

I tend to believe this would not only be helpful, but a necessary, discussion because … well … we deserve both idealism & realism, possibilities & pragmatism and hope & individual significance.

 

Once again, I am not in the business of defending Hillary Clinton, however, maybe … just maybe … we should stop criticizing what happened and start discussing what happens now.

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

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“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

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Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

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.

Enlightened Conflict