I saw an advertisement that included a mountain view and a Jack Kerouac quote: “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office of mowing the lawn, climb that goddamn mountain.” Ignore for the moment that this particular quote was being used to sell sports equipment…….
I suspect that in the end, I won’t be thinking of my personal scorecard of how many experiences I had. I don’t believe that I will be thinking of how exciting or boring my life was. If I am able to think at all, I would hope that I would be totally engaged in that moment. I hope that I will not be regretful about things done or not done, and that I will not be worrying about the possibility of or absence of an afterlife. I hope that I am able to be in the moment, totally aware of the wonder of it all.
If fact, the same approach should be embraced right now. Instead of focusing on filling my life with this or that, accumulating things, or hording experiences like trophies to a life well-led, I aspire to life each day present and aware.
I haven’t posted in a while. I have this silly notion that I must have something profound to say. There has just been a lot of life happening:
- My wife is out of town working for two months;
- My daughter had her lower spine re-fused (3rd surgery is 18 months);
- I had to fire someone for drug use;
- I continue to play in a band;
- I work at the office each day; and
- I strap on a work belt and work on our house reconstruction evenings and weekends.
Life is really very good!
We have all felt at some point like we are misunderstood. We have all experienced the feeling that people cannot accept us as we are. It is possible that this is a reflection of our own inability to understand, accept or empathize with those around us. When we have an aversion to someone, their lifestyle or their perspectives it is unlikely that they will accept us in return. Sometimes we demonstrate our aversion to people around us by being overt or even confrontational with how “different” we can be. It should not seem strange when people cannot accept us when we are in their face with how different we can be. A better path to finding acceptance from others is to accept them for who they are first. Show them understanding and empathize with their experiences and they will be more likely to accept you.
Cerocahui, Chihuahua, Mexico, April 2009
We are so busy trying to stay ahead, find acceptance, and achieve happiness. We get all caught up in making things be the way that we think they should be. At the same time, natural unpredictability and instability are constantly working against us. When nothing works out as planned we become frustrated, anxious or depressed. So we become even more absorbed in a fight of building our happiness against forces that seem to be constantly undoing it. We get so absorbed in all of this, that we miss the wonder of everything that just happens. The wonder is what occurs naturally without us making it happen. If we are too focused on trying to make happiness happen, we could miss it entirely.
Rio Boloños, September 2008
Rest and recreation are essential for a full and balanced life. It becomes less valued, however, if we do not include work into our lives in a meaningful way. I know people who either do not work or have structured their lives so that everything revolves around recreation. None of those people are particularly happy. Many look at the amount and quality of recreation as if they are trying to maximize a scorecard. Their lives are dedicated to experiencing the most and highest quality recreation possible. So in that line of thinking, the person with the highest score wins. Since it is impossible to get and do everything they are often unsatisfied and resentful. A balanced life is one where work is valued as much as play. Work can provide meaning, purpose and ultimately a sense of reward in ways that play cannot. Embrace your time working and be present in it just as you embrace play and are present in it. You just may find it to be every bit as wonderful.
Home, October 2011
Everyone has received tough feedback at one point or another. This week I received some from more than one person. How do we react when we hear it? Do we experience denial, frustration, anger or resentment? Yes! It hurts and I feel embarrassed that I am not a perfect human being. I sincerely hope that accept this feedback with the compassion that was intended by those who gave it to me. I aspire to accept it fully so that I can improve and be a better person.
One simple meditation that I practice is to focus on being present in conversations and truly listen to what people are saying. I think we all respond better to people who listen. If we want to be appreciated and have healthy relationships it seems that all we need to do is be engaged in our conversations and really listen.
San Ignacio, BCS, Mexico, November 2012
It is helpful to be aware of the infinite depth of things. Sometimes when I am in my kayak I look into the water underneath me. I become aware of the fluid space between me and the rocks on the bottom of the river. I wonder at the particles, the atomic particles, the subatomic particles and the endless space between them. I imagine the vast amount of life underneath me such as fish, algae, bacteria, etc. I marvel at the vastness of the infinite space between me and the river bottom and all that could exist within it. Then at a moment in my meditation, I become aware that all of this exists in just the few feet between me and the river bottom. Then, I marvel at the infinite space of the universe all around me.Rio Boloños, September 2008
Like many people I am deeply affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I live here in the West where gun control is unthinkable. If you so much as suggest taking guns away you must be a communist or worse a liberal. Guns have been a part of my world for my entire life. Heck, I own guns. I took a Hunters Safety Course in Junior High School physical education class and have my original card. I used to hunt regularly and I was once even a member of the NRA before they became a radicalized, militant organization. I am reexamining myself now, and I find that my attitudes have shifted profoundly.
As a Westerner at heart, I enjoy shooting. I grew up doing it. My dad taught me how to shoot when I was a little kid. I taught my children how to shoot, and how to have the proper respect for guns. I enjoy going to the gun range and shooting targets. I enjoy watching in satisfaction as cans, and sticks and old shotgun shells fly when I dial in my aim. I particularly like trap shooting with one of my two shotguns. I love the satisfaction of the clay pidgeons exploding mid-air when I am able to “nail the suckers.” My entire life is interwoven with guns. My great great grandfathers fought in the Civil War. My dad gave instruction on guns and mortars in the army. Our family has antique guns floating around full of stories, etc., etc., etc. I understand why we cling to this part of our culture. In many ways, guns have partially defined what it is to be American. They were part of our fight our independence and they were a part of how we fed and clothed our families as we spread across this country. It is impossible to watch a John Wayne movie and not want to grab hold of a weapon so we can be so cool. Guns are a part of our DNA. For me, Sandy Hook is changing all of that.
Even though there has been an incredible amount of gun violence throughout the span my life, It has been possible to watch the news, read stories and see pictures of gun violence, and still keep it remote. It was possible to see it all around in the media, but stay unaffected by it. Sandy Hook is different. Sandy Hook is cutting through all the layers of indifference and hitting my soul. At Sandy Hook, 26 innocent people lost their lives. The 20 children exemplify our notions of innocence. I am reminded of how sweet, inquisitive and playful my children where at ages six and seven. There is something deeply obscene about what happened at Sandy Hook. I am having troubling and nightmarish visions of what Adam Lanza must have saw looking down the barrel of his bushmaster as little children screamed, ran or stood paralyzed with fear then pulled the trigger over and over. How could he do it? Was he full of inconsolable rage? Did he view it as an extension of his computer game obsession as some sort of hellish video game? I cannot imagine the horror of those minutes, but I am haunted by it.
Beyond the 26 victims, our country and even the whole world is traumatized. As Columbine has shown, the people who were directly touched by the tragedy including the other children, the school staff, the families, the first responders and the town will probably be tormented for the rest of their lives. The violence extends beyond the initial carnage to impact countless people for the rest of their lives. It is impossible to measure the impact this violence has on us as a human race. Is that worth the nostalgia of the gun mythology? Is that price worth the fun we have shooting cans? Is that worth the false sense of security we have by keeping guns around? For me, the answer have evolved to an emphatic NO.
As I listen to the vomit coming out of the NRA and the second amendment people these days, I am mortified by their rhetoric. Can any other interest group be more perverse and alien in their mindset? Somewhere in the last 15 to 20 years they have slipped the bonds of this world and entered some surreal world of the deranged. Their ideology is that of a fundamentalist, radical and militant group. Can any mindset be more wrong? Their answer to the problem is to put more guns in schools and arm everyone else. That hasn’t worked out too good. There was an armed guard and another nearby at Columbine. Shots were fired at Harris, but it had no effect on the shooting. There were multiple Secret Service Agents at the Reagan/Brady shooting, who are some of the most highly trained and well equipped gun users anywhere. It didn’t stop multiple shootings. Business has figured out that more guns don’t solve anything. Banks are not protected by armed guards anymore because it doesn’t work.
More guns don’t stop gun violence. All that type of response does is increase paranoia and fear which is the real enemy in all of this. How could anyone shoot up a school? I cannot imagine the demons in one’s mind that would drive them to such grotesque violence. What levels of fear and paranoia must be present? Now the NRA is responding to fear and paranoia with more fear and paranoia. What we all need is an introspective eye inward. Each of us should examine what we do to increase fear in our world, in ourselves and in others? We need to look for and find the compassion for ourselves and one another so we can address the real demons within the human mind.