Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Who are you talking to?

“Stop having conversations with people who are not present.”  - Anon

“Wherever you are, be there.   If you can be present now, you’ll know what it means to live.”  - Steve Goodier

     In the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin was taken off guard by someone criticizing him.  “Well you just remember what you said, because in a day or two I’ll have a witty and blistering retort.  And you’ll be sorry then!!”  said Calvin.

     How easy is it to replay or project conversations in our head?  There are situations that we feel did not turn out well that we re-hash time and again.  “I should have said _________ , then they would have said  …..” and on the dialogue goes as we alternately torture ourselves for our incompetence or rationalize why we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.   Or the other extreme – we project some future conversation and plot out both what someone is going to say to us and how we are going to respond.  We “predict” future conversations in astonishingly precise detail - entirely rooted in pure fantasy.  In the conversations past we find ourself “re-sensing” the circumstance – thus turning it into “resentment” against ourselves and/or the others involved.  On the projection end, we are reacting to fear that we are not going to get something we think we want or we are going to lose something we think is ours.  In either case, we have our feet firmly planted in thin air and are squandering the precious hours and days that make up our life.  The reality is that most of these conversations never happen at all, and when they do they bear a scant resemblance to what we had imagined.  In either case, we have our feet firmly planted in thin air and are squandering the precious hours and days that make up our life. 

     This can be a deeply ingrained habit that is very difficult to break.  In fact, unless and until we fully make peace with our past and develop faith in our future we will continue to engage in it to one degree or another.  But we can make much progress.  The first step, as always, is to become aware that we are engaging in it.  Chastising ourselves does not help – it merely wastes our time in a different manner.  We must force ourselves into the present moment – whether that takes praying for knowledge of what we should be doing, figuring out something useful to do, making ourselves call or visit someone who needs help or any other tool at our disposal to bring ourselves back to reality.  Over time, we will come to realize that having these imaginary conversations is a good barometer of where we are spiritually and thus catch ourselves before we do something we will regret later.  And we can find peace in the fact that when we finally learn to fully surrender our will we will no longer have to second guess the words we use in the first place.

Today, may I live in reality. 

 EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to Have a Great Wednesday !! 


Monday, December 29, 2014

What needs fixin'?

“God, grant me the serenity. . .”  Serenity Prayer

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  -  Will Rogers 

   For some reason, many of us grow up thinking we are responsible for the World’s problems.  Or, if not responsible for the problems themselves, we are responsible for finding a solution.  Perhaps it is the result of having grown up with a parent that tells us, directly or indirectly, that we are the cause of their problems.  Perhaps it comes from being part of a family where dysfunction was the norm, and you yearned as a child to solve the problems.  Of course we were not equipped and all we knew to believe was what we were told. 

     We see injustices in our lives.  On the road, I am learning much history, and when you go to the locations that history happened, the normal “spin” given us in our history books and by our media isn’t there.  The facts are usually pretty clearly portrayed, and if they are not clearly stated the “spin” is missing.  And so you can see who the folks were that were involved in those things that have brought society the most pain.   

     If I revert to my childhood tendencies, I want to start convincing people of the causes of the ills in our country and what needs to be done to correct them.  I want to engage in debate – I want to give unsolicited opinions and advice.  And I am completely convinced that I am justified – matter of fact I am providing a much needed service.  And the next thing you know I am just another empty husk – a shill that is promoting more unrest and not being of service to anyone.

     When I wrote the article on Meher Baba in Myrtle Beach, I wrote about his words to Ghandi when he was asked for advice.  He told Ghandi that this is a spiritual training ground.  He said that if Ghandi were successful in his quest to obtain self-determination for the Indian people, the Universe would conspire to create some new element of strife and struggle on this earth.  Why?  Because we are here to learn lessons, not to “fix” things.

     This is a hard concept for me to swallow.  I want to “fix” things, and the grander the scale the happier I think I am going to be.  But experience tells me that the only time I make a lasting difference in life is when I find a way to be of genuine service to the spirit represented by the person right in front of me this moment.  And experience tells me that when I try to “fix” others it ends badly for me.

      It is only when I work to act as a “channel of peace” that good and lasting things emerge.  And so I complicate my thoughts and my life until I get into enough pain that I again run for the refuge of the serenity prayer.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the thing I can and the wisdom to know that thing is me.

Today, may I clean my side of the street.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to Have an Awesome Tuesday !!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

What have you got?

Jekyll Island; GA

“Maybe it is because we know everything is impermanent that we so desperately cling to it. . . And the more we cling, the more pain we feel as things fade, disappear, die around us.”  -  John Parkin

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”  - Harold Wilson

     Certain of my human weaknesses are displayed to me with regularity on the road.  One of them is the fear of the unknown.  The last week I was around St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, and in the course of my visit forged a number of good relationships.  The people were warm and friendly – I was invited into homes for meals and even had a fellow invite me into his house to stay a couple of nights.  I had found a hot-tub that was easy to use, and the local Starbucks has an outside porch with the wi-fi on all night.  Starbucks wi-fi rocks – I can upload the thirty or so photos in about five minutes, where normal wi-fi can take a couple of hours.  So, the time to move on down the coast comes, and I find myself, once again, clinging.  What if I don’t meet anyone, or meet some big resistance?  What if there is nothing to write about, and even if there is, how will I post the articles and photos? On and on it goes . .

     It is worse than that.  In the past I have found a particular spot to park the van and sleep where there are conveniences close by.  The next thing you know I am twenty miles down the road trying to rationalize returning there for the night – when the next day I have to move on ANOTHER twenty miles.  And what am I clinging to?  A HOTEL PARKING LOT !!

     As I look back at my life I have clung to all manner of undesirable things.  I have clung to undesirable jobs, bad habits, cars that keep breaking down – I have clung to old shoes and clothes that have long outlived their usefulness.  I even clung to a terrible marriage to the point it almost killed me. 

     Perhaps we can realize that it is part of the human condition to fear change so much that we will cling to familiar pain to avoid it.  We will cling to familiar pain to the point that it becomes misery – and beyond, all to avoid the risk of the unknown.  We get inured into tolerating all manner of things that we never signed up for in the first place – all because of our fear of change.

       And tonight?  Of course I am now on Jekyll Island.  I have found wi-fi, a hot tub, a heated pool and showers to use. I have met several people who are excited about helping me develop stories the next two days – and I am excited to be here.  As is always the case, we look back in hindsight and ask ourselves what the big deal was.  But after a year of doing this – in almost 200 different locations – I still cling.  Maybe I never will learn to let go of anything without leaving finger-nail marks in it . . .

Today, may I act in the face of my fears.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to Have a Great Monday !!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Does hope have its place after all?

Breach Inlet; Sullivan's Island SC

     “Hope, as deceitful as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of our lives by an agreeable route.”  -  Francis Rouchefoucault 

“Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity.”  -  Robert Ingersoll

     I have long held the notion that hope is a false idol.  By definition, hope means that we are unwilling or incapable of fully accepting and embracing our current circumstances.  Hope means that we are saying we are incapable of contentment right here and right now.  Hope means we are unwilling to live fully immersed in the present moment, to surrender the will of our ego and tap into the intuitive will of God.  Hope, I have often said, is a drug unto itself – that once we taste it and use it to mollify our disquiet, we will always “hope” for something more, something brighter, bigger, shinier – and thus live our life chasing an illusion rather than being present for realities that exist in each passing moment.  

     But, I just spent a couple of days with fifty or so men that are just coming out of the ravages of addictions.  Their nerves are raw, and they are desperate to cling to some notion that things will get better if they pursue a spiritual path of self-improvement.  I saw some men who look to others who have managed to escape addiction for some years and build productive lives rock stars – heroes they cling to and can believe in. And although these men don't see any chance for themselves to have a fulfilling life, they keep putting one foot in front of the other and trying to change just on the off chance that perhaps life could change for them too.

     Perhaps hope has its place – not as something to cling to or become overly intimate with, but to share with those so deep in the depths of despair that no other form of impetus will rock them into positive action.  Perhaps in the right circumstances it is something we can give through our quiet example of positive action, but only give in doses heavily laced with the reality of the need for positive action.  Perhaps, sometimes, there is no replacement for a bit of hope doled out properly and wisely at the right moment.  Perhaps every once in a while a positive illusion is not only needed but can serve as the impetus to change someone's reality.

Today, may I be prudent.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.  Your love sustains me.


EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Have the answers? Do you know the questions?

Canon Point; St. Simon's Island GA

“I thought I had all the answers when in reality I didn’t even know the right questions.”  -  Anon

“Things changed for me when I started asking “How” instead of “Why.”  - Anon

     The other day I had the opportunity to listen to a woman speak about her life – her struggles and her successes.  She grew up in a small town where her grand-father was a minister and her father owned a car dealership.  She and her siblings were taught young to put on a face to the world that said they lived in an ideal situation.  In reality though, there was constant chaos within the home.  Among the worst was the fact that both the father and the grand-father molested her as a child.  Later in life she used this abuse to justify any negative behavior she felt like engaging in.   After all, she thought, anyone else who suffered what she had would talk numerous doctors into prescribing them narcotics too.  Anyone else would consume massive quantities of vodka along with the narcotics just as she had.  Any time the notion of a God came up she successfully rejected it on the grounds that her grand-father as a “man of God” had done all sorts of things.

     She worked hard, got perfect grades and graduated at the top of her class in both high school and college.  Now a professional woman, no one could criticize her – after all, in the eyes of the public she was the “ideal career woman.”  And one day she came to realize that she was doing just what her parents and grand-parents had done.  She had created a home life full of turmoil and chaos while putting on a pristine face to the public.  And no matter how she tried to break the mold and the addictions, she failed.  When she would pray the prayers were all about “Why?”  God, why did you give me this forsaken life?  Why did you make me deal with all this abuse?  Why did you allow me to become the same thing that I so despise?

     She shared that her break-through only came after she was taught to start asking how.  How can I be a better woman and parent today?  How can I earn what I need and represent my clients well without taking advantage of people?  How can I rid myself of guilt and shame that have accumulated over four decades?   How can I break the chains of chemical addictions and still live with myself?  When she started earnestly asking these questions, people mysteriously started showing up in her life that showed her the way.  When she started to pursue progress rather than perfection her life began to change. 

     This transition took place over thirty years ago, and today she is the mother and the grand-mother she herself always wanted.  Today she knows the questions to ask, she has learned the actions to take and she has come to know peace.  And she feels it all stemmed from learning to ask the right questions in the first place.

Today, may I seek progress.

 EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Have an awesome Christmas Eve !!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Want something different?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  -  Lao Tzu

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  -  Benjamin Franklin  

  When I first started writing these meditations, I thought that at most I might have enough ideas for one or two a month or so.  It was only at the urging of a couple of folks very close to me that I even gave it a try.  Ten days from now will mark the beginning of the seventh year I have written and emailed daily meditations.  Some few of you have been with me the entire time, and many of you have started following them along the way.  I hope that I have the opportunity to write them for many years come. 

     I am sure you know I am on a journey of sorts, and although I do not know exactly what this journey will look like when it is over, I know in my heart that it is something I am supposed to do.  Perhaps as a result of this, I have been feeling moved lately to change the tone of writing in these meditations – I am feeling that they should be moved away from the abstract way I have been writing and take on more of a personal character.  I pray each morning for three things – that I be given the wisdom to know what I should do throughout the day, that I be given the strength and tools to carry out what needs done, and that I be shown the lesson in the day.  At the end of the day I reflect on what the lesson in that day was.  This is the basis of these writings.

     I took a stab at this new tone twice last week – and quite frankly it feels uncomfortable.  Although I am fairly gregarious, I am really an intensely private person.  Among other things, I do not want to come off as blowing my horn when things are going well or begging for help when things are challenging.  Some of the details of situations I get involved in should not be broadcasted out of concerns for other’s privacy, and other times there is a tight-rope to be walked.  There are other concerns, some valid but I am sure many just the projection of my own fears of failure.  But just like it is in the photo that I used with this writing – the path doesn’t become clear until AFTER we have started down it.

     But the prompting remains to bring more of the day to day circumstances that trigger these things into the light.  So, I am sure I will make my mistakes and bungle it along the way, but it will have to evolve just as everything else does.  So when they come off feeling clunky or timid or pious or anything else please bear with me a bit.  And as always, I am very open to comments, suggestions, insults . . .

     Thank you to all of those of you that have followed these over the years – I love you and your compassion sustains me.

Fondest regards


Thursday, December 18, 2014

What makes a difference?

"The smallest act of kindness is far greater than the grandest intention."  -  Unknown

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it."  -  George Elliston

     When we are in a position that we are vulnerable, it means so much to us when others take the time to attune themselves to us.  What doesn’t show in the stories that I write is that I typically give people copies of the photographs that I take of their business, their community and themselves.  I also give many of them a canvas print of one of my better landscape photographs to thank them for taking their time with me.  Usually, about once a week, someone along the way will give me $ 50 or $ 100 to show their appreciation.  Along with $ 90 per month that several of you donate on pay-pal and odd jobs here and there is how I survive on the road.  With the exception of when I have to replace a camera or lens, I live on about $ 100 per week.

     This last two weeks no one has volunteered any money.  I have also mentioned to everyone that I interacted with that I could use a couple of days work to replenish my working funds.  No one has offered any work.  I never push these things – I make the subtle comment and move on if they do not respond to it.

      This brings me up to yesterday, when after putting all of my remaining cash but $ 1.25 in the gas tank, I looked for a place to post the meditation and the article.  I was trying to find wi-fi in Darien GA to upload the photos for the daily article.  I went to a McDonalds that kept disconnecting.  I sat in the lobby of a local hotel that service kept coming and going – meaning each time it went off I lost the work that had been done so far.  After several hours of trying I was frustrated, and the total of all the woes had me a good bit discouraged.   I made up my mind, as I have a hundred times before, that I am going to stick with this path laid out in front of me and went into a local Ruby Tuesday restaurant, hoping they had good wi-fi that they would let me use.

     I approached the lady behind the bar, and asked her if I tipped her $ 1.25 would she let me sit in a booth and use the wi-fi for a while.  She agreed, and I took a seat in the booth furthest out of the way.  Shortly after, the manager, after talking a minute with the bar-maid, approached me and asked me what I was working on.  I explained this journey, and that I was trying to set up a fund-raiser to raise the monies to build a neurology research hospital in Charleston.  He glanced at my work, then told me whatever I wanted to order was on the house.  I ordered a special and the salad bar – although the steaks did look good. 

      After a time he came and sat and asked me about the ongoing neurology research, about the journey and numerous other things.  Turns out his father suffers from one of the conditions that the clinic and the researchers are trying to comprehend.  I was able to take a bit of salad to go, and as I left I returned to the bar-maid and gave her one of my photos to give the manager.  As I drove off, he emerged from the back door of the restaurant, mouthing a thank you and waving.

     I left with the same tank of gas, and now with no money, but with a completely different outlook.  I was able to move down the road to the next town in good spirits and renewed resolve.  It is such gestures now and then that are the difference between me giving in to my lower nature and quitting or pressing on with what I know is right.  Let’s see how Brunswick GA turns out.

Today, may I be steadfast.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Life selling you short?

“Don't feel entitled to anything you didn't sweat and struggle for.”  Marian Edelman

“The victim mentality corrodes the spirit like nothing else.”

     Victim mentality cuts across all class, sex, religious and race lines. It is used as a fear based medium of cohesion taught as an identity from childhood or indoctrinated after membership by a variety of groups.  There are also those born into wealth that feel they are owed more as a birthright.  There are those born poor and taught from childhood that they are due something without work.  There are those who have an incident happen in life, seize upon it and blow it up to a core identity.  In reality, true victims rarely speak out – the vast majority of those who repeatedly vocalize a tale of woe have fallen prey to this horrid frame of mind.  That being a “victim” is found fashionable by many these days only compounds the problem – whole television shows owe their existence to this phenomenon.  And for the one who uses this ploy to get by in life?  They never have enough – they are always due something more.

     Of course there are advantages to the mindset.  Charitable feelings in other people can be taken advantage of. Once they are used up, new people can always be found to dupe.  One has a ready dialogue to use with any they meet, as others are hesitant to act any way but compassionate when confronted with a tale of woe.  One does not have to engage in positive actions or take responsibility because there is a built in alibi to not risk or acknowledge failure.  One can defend taking any advantage, outright stealing and any other behavior as they were “just getting what was due them.”  Of course, they are entitled because they are a victim.  And, of course they become a victim all over again and again because no amount received is ever as much as they are entitled to.  Over time the tale of woe grows, and one spirals ever deeper into this cesspool. Because the inner spirit always knows the truth, the resultant inner turmoil always requires grander schemes to keep at bay.

     There is a way out.  First and most difficult is recognizing the behavior and being ok with not being a victim.  Learning gratitude and quietly helping others who have true problems will help shift our identity away from the victim status.  Learning to be one of the human race rather than always trying to find something that makes us exceptional or different helps.  But at the core, it is an issue of taking responsibility for our actions, our lives and our spirituality.

Today, may I avoid the “entitlement” mentality.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Have a happy Thursday !!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where are you today?

 “Life happens in the space between your thoughts.”    - Richard Gere

“Learn to be silent.  Let your mind listen and absorb.”  - Pythagoras

   “Living for the moment” is sometimes confused with the notion of “living in the moment.”   If one “lives for the moment” it tends to mean to forget about the consequences for current behavior.   Satisfying urges now is a common theme in advertising.  The message seems to be that whether it is installment payments, a hang-over or a damaged friendship it is forgivable because we were “living life to its fullest.”  So what does “living in the moment” refer to?

     Nothing can happen at any time but “now” – the past is gone forever and the future never arrives.  It is always “now.”  Through us, this moment, we choose what negativity and what value from the past we carry into the future.   Our choice influences our future, but it impacts most right now.  Whatever we are carrying distracts us to from the reality of what “is” this moment.    

     “Living in the now,” or being mindful, refers to being fully immersed in our surroundings – at one with all.  To start with, this may be found for intervals by playing music, writing poetry, gardening, exercising, building models or other things. Eventually we can learn to expand this mindfulness into the “gaps” between times we can engage in an activity that centers us.  There are some techniques that can be useful to help get us there.  One that sounds corny, but works – when I know I am struggling with circumstances, I take a marker and put an X on my big toe in the morning.  I then resolve that I am going to keep my head where that X is today.  When I start to stray, I remind myself of where the X is and ask myself why my mind isn’t there.  Another that helps is being aware of the space around us that allows things to “be” – nothing can exist without the space that allows it to exist.  This helps us to “see” (be aware of) everything without “looking” (attaching) to anything.  We can “hear” (be aware of) everything without “listening” to (judging) anything.   There are other things that help bring us fully into the moment, but most important is that we try.  Each of us develops our own techniques over time, and before you know it we are starting to be present for our life more moments than not.  This is important because the only moments we truly live are those that the internal dialogue is shut off and we are fully present, aware, engaged and experiencing life exactly as it is that moment.

Today, may I be where my feet are.  

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Monday, December 15, 2014

Family Feud?

Ogeechee River; GA

“You cannot un-ring a bell.”  -  English Idiom

“Words in haste lay friendships waste.”  -  Benjamin Franklin ?

      It seems to me that most long term grudges and feuds that develop between people who were once close have their root in events that took place immediately after a crisis.  It seems it is in our human nature to say and do things we regret when something bad has happened.  Often, the first thing we feel we must do is assign blame.  And, of course, those closest to us are usually the object of our wrath.  Then we try to re-play the incidents, as though by analyzing what happened we can change the outcome.  Soon we are telling others what they should have and should not have done.  Spiteful and often deeply hurtful things are said – things which cannot be un-said and things that although we would take back if we could, we often entrench ourselves with and draw up battle-lines. 

     And at the same time we are hyper-sensitive to what others are saying.  We are in defense mode, trying to make sure that blame does not fall on us.  The words of others are emblazoned into our mind and we are quick to make harsh judgments about THEIR reactions in the aftermath of the event. 

     If we can just learn to pause when we are agitated – and the more agitated we are the longer we pause.  Get away from the situation if possible.   Remember that others are doing the best they can with what they have, and that they have a full inventory of fears that are disproportionately dominating their thought processes.  Remember that this too shall pass, and that what we say can never be unsaid – just as others cannot un-say what they have said.  If we can just avoid forming opinions and judgments until all the facts are in.  And most importantly, even though our fear is probably not letting us feel anything like love for others involved, if we can just “act as if” we are responding out of love rather than reacting out of fear driven anger. 

     If we have trained ourselves on a daily basis to pause before we speak, to stop when we are angered, to get away from things to gain perspective, chances are we will be able to do this when the difficult events come.  And, if we haven’t so trained ourselves, we will probably lash out and create resentments that will haunt us the rest of our life.  It is something to highly attune ourselves to, because the crises will come.

Today, may I be loving - regardless.  

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Drama Central

Ogeechee River; GA

“I didn’t cause it, I cannot control it and I cannot cure it.”  -  Anon

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . .”

     I was privy to a situation the other day that clearly demonstrates the insanity of addiction.  There is a fellow, husband and father to two young children who has not drank for some time now.  He hasn’t drank because every time he drinks some manner of trouble develops.  He figured that after some months of not drinking, that he sort of “deserved” a few.  He is the hard working sort it seems.
     He even consulted with his wife about drinking.  She was against it because she has to deal with the side effects.  But he convinced her that if he bought a brand of liquor that he didn’t like, he wouldn’t drink too much and everything would be fine.  And, of course, in the interest of saving money, since he was buying liquor that he didn’t like, he might as well buy a half gallon as it would last a good long time.

    Well, after a few hours and cutting his thumb to the bone after demonstrating his skills with a knife, he proceeded to kick his wife and children out of the house.  His wife had a funny feeling, so later, after taking the children to a friend’s house and getting them settled in for the night, she returned to find him passed out on the couch frothing at the mouth.  She found a suicide note, and realized he had taken her whole bottle of pain medication.  EMS, police, him having to be tranquilized and then put on a respirator, all the drama with family – it doesn’t stop.  And her first line of thought?  It was her fault for agreeing to let him get the booze.  Now he is in the hospital, heading to a psych ward, and there is the inevitable finger pointing going on in the various families involved.  A typical alcoholic mess, and certainly not the scene we see in those ads that promote liquor.

     I spoke with the woman for about an hour last night – and of course she is distraught.  I try to tell her that she cannot control a disease.  I explain that there are four criteria for a disease.  1. That it is primary, that it is a condition not caused by anything else.  He doesn’t drink because he is happy or sad, rich or poor, he drinks because he is an alcoholic.  2.  That it is chronic.  An alcoholic is going to die an alcoholic.  They may get sober and not die OF alcoholism, but they will die an alcoholic.  3.  That it is progressive.  Over time the condition and the resulting devastation will worsen.  And finally, 4.  It is fatal.  It might be called a car wreck, it might be called a stroke, it might be called suicide, it might be called accidental drowning or a fall down the steps, but it is alcoholism.  Can she hear me?  I don’t know.  Will he die of this disease, or perhaps end up in prison?  Probably.  Time marches on, and sometimes all we can do is hate how powerless we really are.  And, we can avoid buying an alcoholic booze that they don’t like.

Today, may I be sober.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, Read Today's Meditation if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What do you want?

“Everywhere I look I see my desires.” Hari Dass Baba

“Acceptance is neither apathy or submission. It is simply detached acknowledgement” 

     A desire is a wish, a longing, or a craving for something we do not have or something we would want to see changed.  We can desire many things, sometimes things we need and most often things we don’t.  Since this is such a powerful force, should we not examine what we desire and why we desire it?

     To the extent that desire becomes the lens through which we view the world around us, we sacrifice our ability to live in the moment.  Everything we see potentially becomes something we lust after, is linked to someone or something we are not happy with, or something we judge as beneath us or un-obtainable.  We end up living life chasing phantoms.  Those phantoms are our own unrealistic expectations and our delusions that we are living life to measure up to some imaginary standard we fancy we must live up to.  Neither one of these pursuits will every bring satisfaction – they are both inextricably linked with the mental disease of “desire for more.”

      Conversely, acceptance of ourselves, our place in life and gratitude for the people, places and things that we share it with puts us mode that allows us to be present in the moment.  We can thus maximize the potential of what we do have, and when opportunities arise we are much less likely to abuse them out of selfish desires. 

     When we learn to want what we have we are much less likely to crave what we do not have.  And when we become aware of what our true needs are, we realize that freedom lies in a minimum of possession.

Today, may I separate my desires from my identity. 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Who's got your goat?

Darien River; GA

“Resentment is the number one offender . . . . From it stems all forms of spiritual disease. . .”  -  William Wilson

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”  -  Ghandi

     Resentment is defined as indignation at having been treated unfairly.  Synonyms include grudge, animosity, annoyance, malice, rage and wrath.  The bottom line is that it means we are angry about something that is already over.  Someone else has rent-free space in our head and we either cannot or will not get rid of the mental obsession.  Some are less pervasive than others – perhaps we only remember being angry at someone once a year – perhaps when we put the Christmas tree up.  Or, in my case in one instance, I had one against a guy with the name Raven.  Every time I saw a black bird I was angry.  And, being a photographer, I see a lot of black birds.

     Holding a grudge brings all manner of chain of thought on.  One is plotting revenge.  We may go through elaborate scenarios in our mind about how we are going to exact our revenge.  Or, perhaps every time we think of it we bring up our own list of short-comings and beat ourselves up for being so gullible/dumb/incompetent – or whatever.  Maybe we replay the incident back over in our head time after time, pretending that figuring out how we could have done something different will change where we are at today.  It may bring on feelings of jealousy, loathing, hostility, self-pity – the list goes on, and it includes nothing good.  And the truth of the matter?  All of our mental gymnastics are not hurting the other person at all – in fact they probably don’t even have us cross their mind.  Holding these things in is like swallowing poison and expecting that it is going to hurt someone else.

     All of the sages through history have told us that the first step to freedom is to forgive.  They do not say to forgive only those transgressions that were minor, or to learn to mentally block out the thoughts, or to only forgive those that have some redeeming qualities – they say to forgive.  There are lots of ways to go about forgiving others – whole books are written on the subject.  But how doesn’t matter as long as we do it.  And we will be amazed at how much more mental space we have free when we do it fully.  Who can we truly forgive today?  Let’s start lightening the load and be sure we don’t take any new garbage on.

Today, may I be kind to myself.

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