Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What will your legacy be?

     A recent trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame to gather information for an article was telling in many ways.  Golf is one of those things where, if you are going to play, you have “your butt hanging out in the wind” the whole time.  By that I mean you are not able to hide behind office walls while you do your work, your attitudes and emotions are on full display for all to see.  

     There have been many “greats” in the game of golf, and it was interesting to see what it is that we really admire when it comes to looking at people’s legacies.  Yes, there have been those golfers who are completely self centered – some of them fairly good at the game.  But after the television cameras have quit rolling and when the story was told, when the sum of their achievements stood side by side with their fellows they stand out as empty husks.

     On the other side of that coin are those who had more dimensions to their lives.  Those that were diplomats, those who worked to help those fellows, those that carried themselves with dignity and a measure of humility.  And it is those folks that the museum dedicated the most space to – by far.

     Beyond legacies though, great golfers all talk about the need to be able to “live in the current moment” if one is to succeed at the top levels of their game.  Bad breaks, lucky breaks, failure and success are all meaningless a few moments later.  All that matters is the moment at hand – the task to be performed this very minute.

     Yes, for the self-centered one there is the immediate gratification of adoring groupies, of financial rewards and of boot-licking opportunists.  But I invite you to visit this Hall of Fame and look from the perspective of the honor we pay folks after all the fanfare is done.  At the time I am sure that many of the acts that are most glorified here were shuttled off of the news pages entirely for the latest juicy news – the biggest controversy or the fattest paycheck.  But when it all comes out in the wash, we all know what is most valuable.  We just have trouble recognizing it at the time it is actually taking place.

Today, may I see things in context.

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David Emch

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Are you lookin' at me?

Oklawaha River; Ocala National Forest, Florida

“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”  -  Louis Nizer

“It is when you lose sight of yourself that you lose yourself.  …The world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image…”  -  C. Joybell   

     I just completed a series of articles on a group of people who travel around the United States encamping in forests.  I learned much from the experience, but the reactions of people after the series was complete was telling.

     I received several hate emails from Rainbow folks claiming that I had stereotyped their friends and that I should remove my posts immediately.  Now, I have received hundreds of positive responses, but while I was exchanging comments with a couple of those who were claiming I didn’t have permission to be there or that I had taken photos improperly, I found myself getting quite defensive.  I was careful to not let it show, but it brings back up an old issue with me.  I000 people can praise my efforts, but if there is so much as one that criticizes I get defensive and hostile.  I have never really figured out why I do this except that I still have a good bit of egoic “people pleasing” that is just waiting for the proper circumstances for me to beat myself up.  As soon as I catch it I can just laugh the matter off and look at the substance of the folks complaints. 

      But the incident brings up a much deeper issue.  Most of us don’t like to have our photographs taken to start with, and we are terrified about having a “mirror held up to us” by someone who observes us from a neutral standpoint.  We will go to extremes to avoid having to look at how others see us – we might work ourselves to the bone to acquire material things that we think prove we are “worthy,” we might hide in offices and gated communities, we may find groups that share our weaknesses and entrench ourselves in them - the list goes on and on. 

     And why do we so fear the “mirror?”  After all, if we are doing the right things to the best of our ability we have nothing to fear.   Perhaps it all funnels down to that deepest of age-old fears – deep in our psyche we are terrified that we will be exposed as unworthy and abandoned by our fellows.  In this instance, it points out to me how hypocritical I can be.  The criticism of a couple would have me fly off the handle to protect “myself,” all the while scorning those that cannot stand looking at my observations of them.  We are fascinating creatures.  And one thing I know for sure – whatever I see in you – my brothers and sisters – I really see in myself.  You are merely a reflection – what I see in you is what I see in myself.

Today, may I know humility.

EMAIL if you like, DONATE if you can, READ TODAY"S ARTICLE if you have time, but whatever you do, Have a Great Weekend !!

David Emch


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Do you really know what you are saying?

A couple married in a "Hippie Wedding" on Valentines Day.

      I just finished a couple of weeks in extraordinary circumstances - I will return to the "instincts" series at a later date. Also, if you are not reading the daily articles that accompany these writings, please visit and sign up for them.  David

“Do not judge a man before you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”  -  Indian proverb

“There is a principle which . . . cannot fail but to keep man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”  -  Herbert Spencer

     I recently encountered two situations I have not encountered before.  One was working as a cabinet repairman in a “projects” – a government subsidized apartment complex.  I spent a week in people’s apartments – in their kitchens – quietly observing their lives.  The other was attending a gathering of “The Rainbow Family,” an event where a couple of thousand “hippies” gathered in a national forest for two weeks.  I camped in the forest with the hippies and quietly observed their lives as well.

    I could have come out of either situation convinced that I had found exactly what I expected to.  After all, aren’t black folks that live in projects nothing but lazy drug addicts?  Aren’t hippies that live in the woods nothing but filthy drug addicts too?  Yes, I could have found that exact type of person at either place – and I did find a few.  But they were in the vast minority.  But the worse thing that I found was those folks outside the groups – those on the periphery of these people who told completely false and often sensational tales as though they were fact.  And I consequently found myself under attack for defending what I knew to be the truth.

     In both places a majority of people were trying to find a place in life – trying to feel as though they mattered and were loved.  In spite of knowing they are branded by society, for the most part these folks put out effort to help their neighbors – more of an effort than average and an extraordinary effort in many cases.

     Yes, I still have many pre-conceived notions about groups of people that I have spent zero time around.  I don’t know how to rid myself of this except by forcing myself to spend time with them.  And when I put out this effort I am faced with some sadness, but I am blessed with a richness of experience that far out-weighs any of the shared pain I might feel.

     The lesson to me is simple.  I am never going to have a solid basis to speak upon unless I have at least walked at least a few steps alongside another – although a mile in his moccasins would be preferable.  I hope that I can rid myself of many of my preconceived notions – but it is hard with the constant bombardment of propaganda we get from media and others.  But, today, just today, I can pause and think before I make a statement that I do not have the experience to make.  Maybe I can realize that when I make such false statements it is just me trying to build myself up by tearing someone else down.  But on the other hand, just maybe, if I try hard, I may be able to spend enough time with my fellow man to reach the place that I love, rather than fear, that which I do not know.  And may God grant me the self-control to keep my mouth shut the rest of the time.

Today, may I be open.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can and READ TODAY"S ARTICLE if you have time, but what ever you do, be sure to have a great Wednesday !!

David Emch

Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Instincts and Sin intro

Seabrook Island; SC

“Creation gave us instincts for a purpose.  Without them we wouldn’t be complete human beings.”  -  Bill Wilson

“So these desires, for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship – are perfectly necessary and right, and surely God-given.”  -  Bill Wilson

     I grew up being taken to church – my parents had belonged to a very strict denomination when I was young and later switched to another – both of the Judeo-Christian bent.  Perhaps I didn’t hear what others heard, but I heard that I was a sinner.  There was evil in me that wanted to compete with the good in me – thus there were parts of me that I would be better off having exorcised.  When as a boy I began to mature sexually there was no frank discussion on the topic.  All I could comprehend from what I heard at church was that this urge was evil.  “Sex education” at school was a joke – spent primarily on the abstract of reproduction organs and the like.  As a young male the drive was strong and so at some point I just wrote myself off as “evil.” 

    But there was science that was at odds with the teachings of the church – one group said that the earth was only a few thousand years old while the other showed clearly that many millions of years had shaped this cold blue rock we float about on.  Science had hard answers to the things I observed around me - answers that matched the reality that I observed.

     So, at some point I discarded the notion of religion entirely – and along with it any ideas of “spirituality.”  But the hard-wiring of my childhood brain remained in place, and for many things I felt a deep sense of guilt for what I was and shame for what I was not.  And at some point my interpretation of Science - atheistic or agnostic at best - failed me too.

     The two quotes above came from a fellow named Bill Wilson, written back in the 1930’s.  His approach to spirituality taught that ALL of our instincts are right and true, it is just in the practice of them that we get misaligned.  He taught that all of them can be lumped into four basic categories, and if we are out of whack in one area it will affect the others negatively.  He taught that most every serious emotional problem derives from a misalignment of these instincts.  He was clear that if we are ever to know a faith that really works on a moment to moment basis we must bring these instincts into alignment and reconcile our past behavior regarding them.

     I would like to take the next several days to explore this concept, and compare it to the “sin-righteousness” concept that I was given as a youth.  This may take an open mind for some, and for others this may be old-hat.  Tomorrow we will start with the first instinct and what he argues is the most powerful – the sexual.

Today, may I be open minded.

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 Wednesday !!