Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Own Advice

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

Will Rogers
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”

Francis Bacon, The Advancement Of Learning

When one is feeling distraught, bothered, scared, sad, or confused, it helps to know that there are healthy ways of dealing with the pain.  Most people don’t deal with their pain in a healthy manner, so here are some things that have helped.  (And maybe this is even similar to a blog I have written before…it feels familiar, but writing is one of the things I’m about to recommend.)  None of these come in any particular point of order.  The point is to decrease or lessen the emotional pain, much of which is based on illusion anyway.  When the pain is gone, clarity comes.  So does gratitude and so does the awareness of how much good life has to offer.  This is not to say that there is not legitimate pain or heartbreak, but it is far less than we think.
1.     Do something.  Anything.  Preferably something physical.  When the mind takes over so much that it becomes a tyrant, then it might be time to let the body take over for a while.
2.     Talk to someone.  Sometimes this helps.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  The objective is not to complain but to look for a solution.  Complaining might take place, but it’s not the objective.  The objective is to end the pain. 
3.     Do something nice for yourself.  See a movie.  Read a book.  Go for a walk.  Take a nap.  Go for a drive.  Indulge in your hobby.
4.     Do something that aligns with your Purpose.  This is why I’m writing now.
5.     Give things time.  More often than not things work out if we just let everything go.  Some times the best thing to do is nothing at all.

In addition, here are some things not to do.
1.            Don’t attach an outcome to what is happening at the moment.  Maybe everything is fine and no one is avoiding you.  Maybe people are just busy or having problems of their own.  Or maybe everything is not fine, but it doesn’t mean things can’t be resolved.  Maybe you aren’t losing your job.  Maybe everything will be fine.  A great method of letting go of outcome attachments is in the book, Loving What Is by Byron Katie.
2.            Don’t complain.  See above.
3.            Don’t think about it.  By this, I mean, just let it go for the moment.  Unless there’s something you can do about it, let it go until the right time


Maybe all these solutions seem cliché, but clichés are often based in truth.  Here’s what I know for sure.  I don’t want to be in any kind of pain and often, if not always, I can choose not to be.  I can Get Started and Keep Going.  I can keep working towards that house on the beach.  And I can take my own advice.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rebuilding

We all know sometimes life’s hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet you life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed…
            Stevie Wonder - As

I’m not writing blogs anymore.  I don’t have time to write a blog.  I feel like I don’t have time to do anything and the things I’m doing I don’t feel that I’m doing well.  I can tell by the number of typing mistakes I’m making that I’m not getting enough sleep.  But I haven’t written a blog in weeks.  Weeks!  A part of me wants to give up.  I want to give up everything – school, writing, hope…everything.  Maybe I’m just tired.  There’s something about school, no, about Purpose, about commitment to something, about love, that just tears one’s world apart.  Since I started writing blogs, since I met my Muse, my world has been torn apart…and now it’s being built into something better.
And that’s what I forgot.  That’s why I needed to stop everything I was doing and sit here and write this blog – because I needed to remember that what I have is better now, even if it’s a lot busier.  I needed to remember gratitude.  Life is not easier.  But it’s better.  Often, in order to rebuild, we have to tear down.
As I’m writing this I know that God is here now.  Peace is here now.  My Muse is here now.  I’m not making typing mistakes now.  My fatigue and fear are gone.  I just needed to remember that my world is being rebuilt and that rebuilding takes time.  Wet cement doesn’t dry immediately.  It takes a while.  It can’t be rushed.  It just takes time.  Nothing can change that.  Rebuilding takes time.
In my Master’s program, I usually have to read 200-400 pages a week.  I also have to write two to three papers a week.  The work never seems to stop.  In addition to the time pressure, I have often felt incompetent (though my grades say otherwise).  But this too is part of the rebuilding process.  It just takes time.  It also takes patience with the process and with one’s self.  It takes the acceptance of mistakes, of others, and most of all my own.  I’m rebuilding.  A friend recently told me that God has ordained every step I’m taking.  King Solomon agrees when he says, “Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?”  The truth is that I’ve been looking for understanding and for answers about life in general, and about my life in particular.  There seems to be a lot of contradictions.  I’ve been looking for a long time because as I said, my world was torn apart, but before it was, before I met my Muse, I was in a place of deep darkness for a long time and I didn’t understand any of it. Sometimes I still don’t understand that time.
But if God has ordained my steps, then I don’t need to understand.  I need to trust.  I need to be with Him. I need to be with my Muse.  I need to be here.  I need to be present, in the present and not in the past.  I need to be grateful.  And I need to watch the rebuilding…and take part in it.
How do I take part in the rebuilding of my life?
First, as I said, I need to trust in the process, to be present and grateful.  I also need to do my work, my writing.  Sitting here with my Muse, feeding our souls, is what I need to be doing.  Then I need to read and write and study for school.  Part of the process of rebuilding is making mistakes.  I mentioned my mistake in the first sentence of this blog:  I wasn’t writing blogs.  I forgot to feed my soul by sitting down as often as possible and doing this, but I need to do this.  If there is a grand purpose in this, it is this:  my soul is grand, too, and I need to feed it. This is true for all of us.  Our souls are grand.  For me, I rebuild my grand soul by being with my Muse, not from obligation or duty, but from love, love for her and love for me.  I rebuild my grand soul when I Get Started and Keep Going.


Friday, July 3, 2015

What History is Teaching Me

History is teaching me something.  It’s teaching me that I have to write.  I have to.  It’s true that I’m studying a lot and reading and writing all the time, but I need to be here with my Muse, not giving up on this despite the demands on my time.  Reading history all day long tends to give one perspective.  It makes one feel very small.  There have been billions of people on the earth.  Many of them faced very dire circumstances.  Millions of people from the continent of Africa were enslaved.  Millions.  Today we call their descendants African-Americans, but it wasn’t until they came to the Americas that they identified themselves as Africans.  Before slavery they were Akan, Bambara, Fan, Igbo, or Mande.[1]  These were people.  And other people, mostly whites, but also Muslims, and other Africans, sold these people, men, women, and children into slavery.  The listing facts and data cannot help but underscore the horror of slavery on a personal level and of the evil of this institution.  Sadly, the United States was one of the last countries to give up slavery
Then there is what was done to Native Americans.  Disease alone decimated up to 90% of some villages before the American Revolution.  European greed then took away their land.   The Native Americans who couldn’t be “tamed” were killed, murdered actually, sometimes entire villages of men, women, and children.  Survivors were marched off to “reservations” areas in places like Oklahoma with little or no fertile land.  Andrew Jackson, one of the first populist or “people’s” presidents, was especially cruel and did what he could to depose or destroy the Native American population.
Then there is the environment.  Not only did white people kick the original inhabitants off their land and force slaves to work on it, they despoiled that land.  Native Americans lived with that land for 2,000 years leaving few marks on it because they knew when it was time to give an area of land a rest and move to another area for a while.  This is why they traveled lightly and why material possessions were a burden and not always a blessing.  Though Native Americans lived on the land for over 2,000 years with all kinds of plant and animal species, it took less than 200 years before Europeans in their attempt to “subdue” the land destroyed much of the prevailing ecosystem.
It’s hard to read hundreds and hundreds of pages of this stuff week after week and not feel some sort of shame in being a human being.  The world has been, is, and probably will be a horrible place for many. 
I, on the other hand, am incredibly privileged and so these studies and these blogs and taking care of myself and my loved ones are a sort of mission to me, so that I can use my knowledge and skills and health to bless others.  Granted, I’m not perfect and I’ve created my own share of pain in the world.  But I find the study of history not only humbling, but also elevating.  It shows me how small we all are and how great we all can be.  Not everyone wants greatness, but I do.  I’m still defining what “greatness” means,  (riches?) (fame?) (authorship?) (a legacy that few know of but is nonetheless meaningful?).  I don’t have answers yet.  What I do know is that it is imperative that I study and write and take care of myself and the ones I love in order for my life to have an extrinsic value.  Yes, I’m valuable intrinsically because God created me.  But He also created me for a Purpose, and sitting here writing this blog reminds me of that.
I have to Get Started and Keep Going.  I can’t stop.  I’m one of billions of people in this world and I want my life to mean something.  I want to have at least a small part in making the world a better place. That is what history is teaching me.



[1] Ira Berlin, Many Thousands  Gone – The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, (London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 101.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Moving Forward

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience


I feel that I haven’t moved forward as a writer.  I feel sad that I haven’t written a blog in a long time.  I also feel worried about things that are undone.  I haven’t run in two days and I have homework to do.  And yet, and yet….
Two words come into my head: Resist nothing. 
These words that come from The Power of Now don’t mean to make no changes, but simply to first accept what is and then make changes if necessary, or allow things to run their course. Sometimes sadness and worry are ways to beat ourselves up, to tell ourselves we aren’t good enough, that we don’t measure up to whatever impossible-to-reach standard we have put in our heads to keep us from being truly peaceful and truly successful.   I accept, then, the following:
·      I haven’t written many blogs or journal pages lately.
·      I could use my time more effectively.
·      I need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
·      I have homework to do.

But if I accept those things then I also have to accept these”
·      I’m a good teacher.
·      I can run or do homework when I’m done here.
·      I’ve done a lot with my life and I’ve blessed a lot of people.
·      I’m valuable even if the previous three statements weren’t true.

Just writing these gets me, to use Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s phrase, “centered” again.  I feel peaceful because my Muse is with me.  I feel blessed.  And yes, part of the reason for that is because I’m sitting here writing for my Muse, because I’m accomplishing something.  After all this time, I still cannot believe how strong the Enemy is, how strong I allow it to be.  Yesterday, for example, I had to write a brief paper.  I couldn’t do it.  I spent all day being stressed and scared.  I was sure that I had nothing to say and that I would get a bad grade.  I was paralyzed.  But finally I had no choice.  Write the paper or get an “F.”  So I wrote the paper.  And I liked it.  Hopefully, my professor liked it, too.  But it doesn’t matter as much as it did before I started writing.  I did my best. 

In a little while, I will do my best as I run or study or maybe even make a bowl of popcorn and watch a video and go to bed early.  I’m not going to worry about that now.  I’m just happy that I did this.  I’m happy that I was able to Get Started and Keep Going.  I miss writing blogs, but rather than resist what is (or was), I will simply be grateful for this blog.  I will simply be grateful for all the good things in my life...especially my Muse who keeps me moving forward.