Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Is life giving you a bad shake?

“This too shall pass.”  -  Unknown

“Fulfill me, make me happy, make me feel safe, tell me who I am.  The world cannot give you these things, and when you no longer have such expectations, all self-created suffering comes to an end.”  -  Eckhart Tolle

     One of my first mentors had a genius for saying things that would get under my skin.  One of the things that bothered me was his use of the phrase “This too shall pass.”  Something “good” would happen and upon sharing it with him he would stoically say:  “This too shall pass.”  Something “bad” would happen and I was looking for solutions.  “This too shall pass” he would say.  Quite frankly I got sick of hearing it, and I was angered because I didn’t think he was empathetic enough.  When things are good shouldn’t I revel in them so as to enjoy them to the fullest?  And surely when things are bad a grave and somber demeanor is best if it is a solution we are after.  Maybe this attitude would bring me some comfort during “bad” times, and surely this attitude would decrease my ability to enjoy the “good” times.  Besides, if I turn myself into an emotionless drone, what is the use of living?

     Of course I was missing the whole point.  When I confuse my current circumstances with my identity I subject both my contentment and self worth to the whims of an ever changing world.  Things that make me “happy” I both clutch and grasp at or I overindulge in, thus assuring that any “happiness” they will not linger for long.  And things that make me “sad” I resist and fight, thus insuring that they will linger.  As Tolle says, “What we resist persists, what we fight grows stronger.”  Through such actions my attitude and my sense of self-worth are totally dependent upon the tides of “fate,” something over which I have not a bit of control.  And because I have thus made myself vulnerable to things I cannot change I have given up my freedom of choice as it relates to my own emotions.

     As with every other spiritual principle, putting this into practice yields the opposite result to what logic would dictate.  Realizing that everything that arises will also pass is the first step toward detaching our identity from circumstances.  When we stop staking our identity on the outcome of situations we are free to observe them in perspective.  This perspective brings a GREATER appreciation for the “good” things and relieves much of the anxiety and fear over the “bad” things we face.  And when we have given up on these expectations of the world, we begin to find the path we are here to follow.

Today, may I live in reality.

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David Emch

Friday, January 16, 2015

Think brainwashing is uncommon?

Amelia Island; Florida

“A person tends to believe whatever is repeated over and over, whether it is true or not.” – Nikki Sex

“If you can convince people that freedom is injustice, they will then believe that slavery is freedom.”  -  Stefan Molyneux

    I became friends with a fellow I met a few days ago who put me up for the night.  He had a long drive back to South Carolina the next day, so we got up early.  He asked me if I wanted to stop by his mother’s house as we were leaving, to which I agreed.

     It was early – before first light when we arrived at her house.  We sat in her kitchen and talked with her a while, and she insisted on packing me a lunch for the road.  She had made pulled pork, and busied herself making me a few sandwiches, packing a bag of chips and M&M’s and other assorted things.  All around her kitchen were little signs and pictures – most of the nature of “Jesus loves you” and other positive messages.  In the corner of the kitchen, a television droned on with one of those 24 hour news channels touting the catastrophes of the day.

     Her son had told me how all his life he had witnessed his mother going out of her way for strangers.  When someone moved into the neighborhood or a new business opened, she was right there with cookies or cake or other goodies she had baked for them.  She is constantly visiting those that are sick and will go up to strangers in public and give them encouraging words when she feels the spirit move her to.  As she bustled about the kitchen, I could see it in her – a kind and loving woman.

     After a bit, she said to us in a conspiratorial tone – “Have you heard what is going on at Duke?  Duke is a big and important university not far from here.  They are having those prayers every day.  You know, those prayers where the Muslims all get together and bow the same direction at certain times every day?  And look at this !!”  She produced an article from the local paper that advertised a Muslim get-together.  “I just don’t know what to do – it seems like they are taking over this country !!”  She exclaimed.

     Now, I would say this woman is in her late sixties – so I reflected back briefly on her life.  She grew up in World War II, so obviously she had been taught to hate the Germans, Italians and the Japanese.  Then there was the North Koreans and the Chinese – they were a threat, and you had to hate them.  Of course there was all the turmoil in Africa – and who can trust blacks?  Then it was the Russians – the the whole “Axis of Evil” nonsense.  More recently, she is being taught to hate Persians, and now it is Muslims in general.  Given the tripe she was watching on television, I am sure that tree-hugging liberals and gays all deserved scorn, as well as select other political parties.  And don’t forget the Mexicans and South Americans– they are to be despised and cast into the ocean if they dare set foot on this continent.

     Now, if you are adding up this totals to about 90% of the world’s population – or more.  And here is this woman who I am convinced would give her last loaf of bread to a hungry stranger coerced into fearing the vast majority of her fellow man.  And she is not at all alone.  Now ask yourself- how is it possible to be led to hate 90 percent of your fellow man and not catch on that you are being gamed?

    Is it possible that the same people who taught us to hate the Russians and the Africans and the Asians and are now teaching us to hate the Muslims are also working to teach the Russians and the Africans and Asians and the Muslims to hate us?  If so, why would they?  Because they profit from it?  Because they know they can sell their advertising and their weapons of destruction only if they can get others to hate each other? 
    The point is this.  If we want to live decent and loving lives, we have to be very careful about what we allow into our homes and into our minds.  If we allow poison into our lives, it is going to affect us negatively – one way or another. 

     The icing on the cake for this visit was the commentator who had been marched out as an “expert” on the recent situation in France.  There had been a killing at a publishing house, and this “expert” was a guy I recognized.  The last time I saw him he was bragging about how he got OJ Simpson off of a murder rap.  And here he was – lecturing how the French people had brought it on themselves because they had been kind to Muslims.  It was the French people’s own fault that they were attacked – if they were only more hostile they would be safe.  Hatred and hostility are the only path to peace was his message.

     As I left, there were no words of encouragement that came to mind to share with the woman – I could only hug her and thank her sincerely for the food and her hospitality.  I looked in her eyes, and just knew that if I was a black gay starving Muslim that landed on her front porch she would feed and bathe me.   

Today, may I avoid being gullible.

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 Weekend !!

David Emch

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Found yourself yet?

Big Talbot Island FL

“Self is the only prison that can bind the soul.”  - Henry Van Dyke

“You have the answer.  Just get quiet enough to hear it.”  - Pat Obuchowski

     Say I own a retail store for many years and have worked at it so long and so hard that in many ways the business has become “me.”  I have supported my family in a fashion with this business, but over time I have built up an inventory of items that were not popular and did not sell.  I develop a dim view of the business – such a dim view that I stress constantly about the huge backlog of undesirable items I am carrying.  Out of concern for my family most times I don’t talk the business at all with them; I withdraw from our mutual activities and become morose in general.  Other times my bottled up fears and regrets for bad purchasing decisions gets to big that I blow up in anger over unrelated and seemingly trivial things.  This goes on until I am in so much misery that I am seeking prescriptions to try to cope with my bottled up anxieties.

     Now say that someone comes along and sees potential in the store and offers a very good price subject to me staying on to manage it.  They guarantee me a good salary regardless of if the store does well or not.  No sooner do I take the offer than all kinds of things in my life change.  I no longer avoid the issue of all of the undesirable items I have built up – they immediately get inventoried and gotten rid of without remorse.  When potential problems arise I simply ask the new owner what they would like me to do about them.  I am back stronger than ever in my commitment to my family, community and friends, fully engaged in and enjoying life.

     What changed?  I am essentially doing the same things.  What changed was my attitudes, the way I viewed my life in general.  And this is to me precisely what happens those days I enlist God as my employer.  I have a new attitude and outlook on life.  I do not regret past bad decisions, I atone for what I can and move on.  I am no longer consumed with this notion of “winning” or “losing,” I am freed up to take things as they come in a realistic perspective.  Everyone around me benefits as I am again interested in them and how I can be useful in their life rather than the business of juggling the negativities roaming about my brain.  I have given up myself- and received the entire world as compensation.

Today, may I surrender my will.  

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 Thursday !!


Monday, January 12, 2015

So, are you doing it?

Fort Clinch; GA

“My New Year’s resolution was to lose weight, and so far I have only lost the desire to lose weight.”  -  Anon

“I never had a New Year’s resolution as I act in the moment and do not depend upon future possibilities.”  -  Dominic Ricitello

     Early this morning, as I walked past a health spa sporting rows of idle fitness machines, I couldn’t help but think about all those New Year’s resolutions folks make.  Here it is two weeks into January – I wonder how many of those resolutions are still in effect?  5%?  Less?

     I am not much of a “New Year’s Resolution” guy anymore.  I used to make a bunch of them.  A few I accomplished, the vast majority I didn’t.  That isn’t to say that I have not made meaningful changes in my life, it is just that the most important changes I have made have come about over time, one day at a time.

     I guess in that regard I have become some manner of a “resolution kind of guy.”  And the only resolutions that seem to stick are the ones I make today.  The first thing I have to resolve each day is if I am going to follow the intuitive voice – am I going to be a servant today or am I going to run my own agenda?  A quick reminder of my track record following each path usually serves to steer me toward the spiritual path.  Next, I review my list of things I thought I was going to do today, and consider what new ideas that I have.  Then I resolve that I am going to sit them aside and ask in prayer what I am supposed to be doing.

     Quiet time usually brings the answer I seek.  So I know what direction to start my day in, and now can resolve that today – just today – I am going to maintain some integrity in my affairs.  I am not going to deceive folks, I am not going to pretend to be more than I am, I am going to actively look for opportunities to be of service to others – and so it goes.

     Over time, this method of course correction has led me down entirely different paths than I would have followed if I had relied on my own devices.  This approach to resolutions has another benefit too.  I don’t have to keep these resolutions for a “whole year,” I just have to keep them today.  Tonight I can look back and see how they worked out, and make my mind up again tomorrow as to what path I will take.

     What are my resolutions?  One thing this has made me realize is that I always can tell you exactly what I am doing with my life these days.  I know what I am doing with my life because it is precisely what I am doing right now – today.  So, for today, I resolve to only make resolutions for today.  And if it works again today, I will probably do it again tomorrow.

Today, may I be consistent.

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Can you hear me now?

Amelia Island; Fl

"When people talk, listen completely.  Most people never listen."  -  Leo Buscaglia

"I remind myself every morning; Nothing I say this day will teach me anything.  So, if I am going to learn, it must be by listening.  -  Larry King

     Sometimes on the road I attend various functions and meetings I see advertised.  One such I attended was a men’s meeting at a church in South Carolina.

     The meeting was a small group of locals – the same group of men who have met at the same spot for many years.  One of the men spoke for a good while – he went into great detail about how his wife had died a year and a half ago, how she had been the best thing that had ever happened to him.  The other men seemed to zone out a bit – it was apparent that this was the same thing this man had shared many times.  But the man’s last two sentences gave me pause.  He said that he now cared for their son, who is 37 years old and has cerebral palsy.  And he shared that he was completely stuck – besides getting out for church functions all he could bring himself to do was drive to fast food restaurants a few times a day.

     He said these things quickly in conclusion, with both eyes and voice lowered.  Immediately someone else jumped in and started sharing, and I too might have missed what the man said had I not noticed him wipe away a tear.  I also realized that no one else in the room had really heard what he said – his shame was keeping him from speaking up and asking for help.  After the meeting I asked one of the other fellows if he was ok.  Yeah, I was told, he just hadn’t gotten over his wife dying yet.

      So I went to the fellow and started talking to him.  For a while he bragged on his wife – how good of a woman she had been.  I asked him about the fast food thing, and he went into detail about how good of a cook his wife had been.  After another few minutes, I asked him again, and he admitted that for the last year and a half it was all he could bring himself to do – he had not cooked a thing and he was ashamed because of how well his wife had fed them for so many years.

      I asked about the state of his kitchen, and he said he hadn’t touched anything that had been in the fridge or the freezer for all that time.  I offered to come over and help him clean it out, and after a moment’s hesitation, he agreed.  The next morning we took two full trash bags of spoiled food out of his kitchen and straight to the dump.  We also packed away all of the cooking utensils that he wouldn’t use – the cabinets and drawers were jammed with all manner of items.   Later, one of the fellows from the men’s meeting who happens to be a chef came by and took us to the grocery store.  He helped the fellow pick out foods that he could and would cook, and soon thereafter the fridge and freezer were stocked.  Since this time I have gotten numerous phone calls from this older man thanking me – he claims he was absolutely stuck and for some reason his mental freeze centered upon cooking.  It really wasn’t a big deal – I spent a couple of hours and made a few new friends – I was happy to do it.

     But it makes me wonder – how often in the past have people asked for help and I missed it?  When I am around the same people all the time, how often do I train myself to tune them out to the extent that I cannot hear what they are really saying?  How often do I start my own mental dialogue and completely shut out what others are saying, satisfying myself with my own “story” about what their “problem” is?  I have since paid more attention, and it is surprising how often, even around strangers, that I “assume” I know what a person is going to say and tune them out while still pretending to listen.

     The whole thing worked out – the chef happened to know a guy who could get me onto a private island that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten onto.  And I have a few good friends I wouldn’t otherwise have.  All because for a moment or two I was somehow able to listen and observe rather than watch the tired old new-reel that goes on in my head.

Today, may I listen.

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 !!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's your plan for living?

“If you don’t design your own life plan, you’ll probably fall into someone else’s.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”  -  John Rohn

“Everybody has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth.”  -  Mike Tyson

    I was sitting in a small pub/restaurant editing photos, and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation at an adjacent table.  A late-fifties looking man was holding court with an admiring group of twenty and thirty-something folks, regaling them with stories of his experiences working with the FBI.  I pretty much had him tuned out until he stated that the FBI had given them a four step plan that offers the best chances of success when being confronted with adversity.

     Of course, now he has my attention.  Surely the billions of tax dollars our government spends on such things is about to trickle down on me in the form of a golden nugget of wisdom.  Deftly tossing back a double Crown Royal and ordering another, he builds the suspense, talking about his time as an instructor at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico (at first I thought he said Guantanamo)  and how he too taught this formula.

     Presently, he unveiled this four part plan.  Step one:  Admit nothing.  Step two:  Deny everything.  Step three:  Question everything.  Step four:  Shift the blame.  He then proceeded in a practiced professorial tone to give his enraptured audience the skinny on how best to implement this plan for living, finishing his advice with a flourish as he knocked back and ordered still another double shot.

     I guess this might have been superior to what I had for many years – matter of fact I didn't have a plan for living for better than four decades.  I am sure that I stumbled upon different parts of this scheme at various times when I found myself on the hot seat, but never did I have it evolved into any coherent strategy of deception. 

    In fact, I never had any coherent plan for living until I was driven to one in my mid-forties.  This plan for living is also very specific – it gives exact details as to do when I am in a jam.  First, I am to relinquish the illusion that I have control over the situation.  Second, I am to recognize that seeking divine guidance has worked on many things for me before, and to decide that I am going to turn this situation over and do the best I can to do the right and proper things no matter what.  Then, I am to look at my part in the situation, and honestly assess what wrong or blame I had in it.  Then I am to seek counsel with a person I trust, and admit freely my role in the circumstance.  I am then to take steps to try to fully identify and remove whatever quirk that caused me to behave poorly in the first place, and finally I am supposed to “make things right.”

     On the surface, his plan looks so much easier.  “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!!” and all that rot.  Truth is, I lived those lies for a long time, and it brought me nothing but self-loathing and a heap of despair.  I finally had so many things pile up that it was easier to just withdraw from society than to risk facing the music over one or another of my self-deceptions.  And there is nothing quite like double shots to help one withdraw from society . . .

     What’s your plan for living?   Have you got one, and if so, do you use it?  What kind of future is it setting you up for?  It might be a far superior thing to ponder than wondering if one more piece of cake constitutes breaking our New Year’s Resolution – again.    

Today, may I live honestly.

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TODAY’S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you 

do be sure to Have a great weekend !!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Know my hidden agenda ?

***  Attention Brunswick News Readers ***

Go to www.CaptureAmerica.co for the daily articles

“(genuine) Love is always bestowed as a gift –freely, willingly and without expectation.  We don’t love to be loved, we love to love.”  -  Leo Buscaglia

 “I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in it to live up to mine.”  -  Bruce Lee

     Recently I found myself harboring a resentment that stemmed from my photography.  As I always have a camera close-by, I often photograph folks at events that are happening.  When I know I have taken a good shot of someone, I make it a point of getting their email and sending them the photograph.

     Now, bear in mind that I spend an average of two hours a day just editing photographs – on top of a couple of hours writing and an hour answering emails from folks.  I have gotten a lot faster at editing photos, but it still takes from three to five minutes per photograph to clean them up.  This might not sound like much, but when I shoot 500 photos of an event as a kindness – photos that I am not going to use for the articles, the extra time it takes is often work I am doing at 2 in the morning.  As part of the editing process, I have always put my signature on the bottom of photos, figuring if nothing else maybe a paying gig would come along now and then.  The signature is always subtle – in fact you have to be looking for it to see it.

     Well, I see these same photos show up on people’s Facebook profiles and web pages – and of course I hope that people find good use for the photos I take.  But numerous times recently I have seen people crop my signature off of the photograph.  This is not some happenstance of editing – they have gone out of their way to delete it.  It came to a head with me a few weeks back when a close friend used one as a Facebook profile photo – my signature clearly omitted.

     My first instincts are self-pity.  After all my work and my obvious generosity, why would a friend delete any acknowledgement of me and my kindness?  Of course the next thing is thoughts that I should call them and express my disappointment, and in no time I am having conversations in my head about how these phone calls are going to go.  It takes me a bit, but I catch myself and reel it back in.  Why am I upset, and why am I having conversations in my head with people that are not present?

     Of course, spelling it out brings the answer to light.  I am not really giving of myself – I am pretending to give while secretly holding an expectation of return for my charity.  It is not charity at all – it is promotion, yet I am trying to masquerade promotion as charity.  As a remedy, I am not going to quit sending people photos of themselves.  I have just quit putting my signature on them.

     Conditional giving always backfires, but it is so easy to slip into it.  What self-promotion are we trying to disguise as service today?  A bit of self-honesty ahead of time may just save us the need to have imaginary conversations later.  Or worse.

Today, may I be real.

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 !!

David Emch