Friday, March 21, 2014

streams of thought....march 21st, 2014

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

How many times has this happen to each of us?  No matter how many times we look at a situation… or a neighborhood… or a relationship… or a favorite book we will see something that we feel that we have never seen before. 

A patient was sitting on the end of the examining table in a surgeon’s office; where they wondered what is going to happen next.  A few months earlier, they had survived a major surgery that eradicated a cancerous growth.

Now as the patient was sitting in the office, they reflect about the subsequent procedures that they had to go through in the past few months.  The body was slowing and effectively losing weight… denying them of a life that they had known before… while their re-occurring infections had become a way of life.  No one really knows how to move while living a life that is always in question. Their body betraying them over and over.  Yet the surgeon said that there wasn’t a serious infection.  How can this be the patient thinks to themselves?  How can it be that the weekly packing of wounds is nothing more than a minor event?


We look at life differently at different stages of our lives.  We come into our adolescence with a reckless abandon.  We are no longer “young children” with limitations. We are now teenagers with developing dreams.  We begin the pilgrimage of discovery.

We get our first job and there is a sense of accomplishments when we receive that first paycheck.  We head out to spend it because now we have freedom to choose what we want to buy because after all it is our money.

We fall in love.  We dream of a life with another person for perhaps the first time. We wonder what life will be like and what kind of home we will have together.  We see them in our thoughts and carry them in our hearts.

We hold our first born.  We wonder if we will be the best parent.  We wonder if people will write books about our parenting skills or maybe we will do parenting seminars on how amazing we were as the mentors and guides in this brand new life.

We lose the first person that we ever felt close to.  We may have lost them through a variety of circumstances.  They may have left because of divorce… or separation… or an illness…. or perhaps even through death.  The pain is too great to carry.

We write our first blog or article. We wonder if anyone will read it. We wonder if anyone will laugh at the humor in it or be provoked to reflect on an inner aspect that had been hidden away.

We get the difficult news that we have cancer.  No one wants to hear the “C” word.  It is almost as if people will look at you with some level of pity; while all the while they are thinking that you are going to die.

Life is about discoveries.  We can sit on our comfy couch and watch Netflix or the Discovery Channel thinking that we are becoming enlighten. Or we can get out of the four walls that we call a home and immerse ourselves into life itself.  Life is more than just walking, sleeping, eating, crapping, pissing, and/or dreaming of something better.  Dreaming without action is nothing more than a fantasy.  It is when we engage and act upon those dreams that it actually becomes life… moments of reality.  

Rollo May writes, “…keep in mind that being is a participle, a verb form implying that someone is in the process…” (1983, p. 97)  Nature by its very own essence is in a state of process.  We celebrate seasons of change because the earth is constantly evolving.  It is when we stop discovering something new is when we are in danger of not living or at least not living in a dynamic way. This is a beautiful life that we have the opportunity to live.  I am reminded that a rabbi once said that we all have a phenomenal gift and it is when we do not exercise that gift will the world become a poorer place.

We will come face to face with chances to learn something new about ourselves, others, or the world in which we live in. We will encounter the uncertainty of the next moment.  It is an inevitable event.  So…

What will we do with it? 

What will we need to do so that we discover more deeply the person that we truly are meant and desire become? 

What is the one thing that we have conveniently ignored?

I pulled my car over the other day and walked around a neighborhood that I had driven through many times.  I soon noticed yards… porches… backyards… people in ways that I had never seen them before.  It was not that the landscape had changed but what changed was my own perspective.  Maybe, like the surgeon, we need to stop looking at the malady with the same perception as we had been looking at it for the past few months or years.  Maybe we need to not get upset with the person who almost ran us over as we crossed the intersection while we were jogging.  Perhaps, we need to stop and try to tell the other person’s story with the emotions and vision that they have about the subject; so, that we can have a better dialogue instead of an argument.

Life is not a static adventure.  It is an organic movement that demands our interaction for us to fully be present.

Breaking script….Namaste  

Friday, March 14, 2014

streams of thought....march 14th, 2014

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” – Rumi

I remember the first time I went to Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado.  At first, I wasn’t sure what Molly, my two year old puppy, and I would find once we got there.  It was a hot summer’s day and the crowded parking lot told me that we were not about to do this hike alone. Molly, ever the one that wanted to run off to see what could be found, was a handful to contain.  The park is a vast playground for dogs and humans alike. As we started off, we soon found that we had a choice of trails to take and I liked the one that seemed to be the less traveled.  Quickly we discovered why it was less travelled. The beginning stretch was long… baking in the sun… and all up hill. Somewhere near the end my four legged friend turned to look at me as she was asking me what was I thinking. All I could do was just keep moving. As we continued on, finding some shade thankfully, I turned around to see a sight that simply made me stop in amazement. It wasn’t just the view of the valley from another perspective but it was the silence of solitude, on this lesser travelled path, that made the difficult effort worth it all.

John O’Donohue, in his book Eternal Echoes, writes,

When you open your heart to discovery, you will be called to step outside the comfort barriers within which you have fortified your life. You will be called to risk old views and thoughts and to step off the circle of routine and image. This will often bring turbulence.”

Many times we sit in a coffee shop or in the solitude of our homes pondering over what our lives have been like.  Some of us have had amazing lives… we have travelled to faraway lands… we have held in our arms the warmth of a small baby… we have been present when a child has read their very first sentence. Yet, we still search for more.  Maybe it because our souls are used to change and daring to risk the experience of the unknown. There are others of us that look back and wonder what if we had taken a step that seemed out of character because our character has always been used to playing it safely with life. However, I think that our world needs both but we need more.

The great mystic, Rumi, asks us a very poignant question.

“When will we begin that long journey of discovering ourselves?”

This simple question elicits many thoughts and emotions.  It is ok to be fearful in beginning the search for who we are and what we want to do in this gift called life. It is ok to get angry when life seems to be a struggle or even going very well when we get a notice from the doctor with bad news. It is ok to have sweaty palms before you walk down the aisle or to make a life commitment with another person.  


It is ok to smile and to receive the gift of recognition. It is ok to fall in love. It is ok to stop every once in a while to look back at the path that has helped you to see where you have come from and in the process grown as a person. It is ok to feel the exhilaration of daring to go somewhere or to do something that you would have never imagine going to or doing. It is ok to shed a tear of happiness over the joys of life… or to laugh so hard that your sides hurt.

We often times dare not because we are afraid of failing.  However, when we fail to act we fail to discover a part of ourselves that is hidden away in a place that can only be unlocked by the key of risk. Other times we dare not because we want the instant sense of accomplishment. I think that Rumi used the word “long” for a purpose. Many times the effort takes longer than the act itself. How many times have we prepared for a major event then when the event gets here we discover that the moment went faster than we had hoped it would.

Sometimes, we are reluctant to seek out our inner self because we are afraid of change. Change is hard work.  Change is painful and not always enjoyable. If change came easily or without turbulence, then we have to question whether or not it was change.  If we go to the gym and never get sore nor do we ever sweat, we will not see the changes that we truly want. For a cell to grow it must be divided. So, maybe we struggle with growth because we are attached to people that do not want change. Maybe we are addicted to a lifestyle that wraps the metal shackle around our spirit that yearns to be free from a slavery of an unhealthy life.

John O’Donohue continues to write.

“But your soul loves the danger of growth”

As I ascended to the top of a Flatiron, I faced my fear of heights. It was at this point that I had to let go of Molly for the first time and little did I know at that time that facing an even greater fear later the next year I would have to let her go again but for the last time.

Many times we look at life and see the opportunities to change right in front of our “faces”.  We cling to a rock’s stony flesh and fear that we will fall. We walk the precipice’s precarious edge wonder if we can keep our balance.  It is then as we take the next step we discover something new…

What are some of the dreams that we hold on to so tightly that we are afraid to let it go and let them have their freedom to become a reality?  Do we meet the face of those in need and wish we could do more?  Do we know deep within ourselves that we have a gift but we are afraid to unwrap it because of the fear it may get broken while we use it?

We all have the opportunity to live a life that dares us to do more and as Ralph Ellison writes,

When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”

Breaking script… Namaste

Monday, March 10, 2014

Streams of thought....march 10th, 2014

“Three Rules of work: out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, and in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

A smiling old man… a laughter of a young child… a polite beeping of a horn… the sounds of birds in the morning.  These are some of the sights and sounds of Nicaragua for me.

It has been less than twenty-four hours since I have arrived back to my home here, in Denver, from Managua, Nicaragua. I have been asked a number of times about how my trip went and so far I am not really comfortable in knowing how to respond.  There are so many different adjectives that I could possibly use to describe my experience; so, I am always searching for the right ones to use with the person who has inquired about my time there.

As I was driving home this morning from an appointment, I was presented with an inner question. 

That question is this:
How will I live life going forward?

Will I slowly drift backwards into the life that I once lived?

Will I still seek to be challenged as I was this past week?

How do I value the spending of a dollar when there is a country only a few hours away, by flight, where people exist on less than five dollars a day?

I am not seeing this inner journey of self-reflection as a judgment against or for one society over another. I am not writing this to criticize a system while comparing it to another.  However, what I am doing is measuring my own sense of responsibility in response to the need of another person.
Do I desire what the Nicaraguan culture has?  I saw some things that deeply influenced me.  There were some experiences that made me uncomfortable. There were some experiences that challenged old perceptions and concepts. There were also some scenes that inspired me… and that is why I am at this place in my own processing of this past week.  It is the smile of the old man that welcomed me to the life of living with fear and insecurity; yet living a life that reflects a sense of gratitude for all that is given not in a life time nor in a year’s time but on a daily breath by breath moment.

I am not comfortable in answering how this past week in Nicaragua was… but then again change is never supposed to be comfortable.  It is a personal season where, as Sharif Abdulhamid, told me that the “lens gets smudged”.  Your spiritual muscles get torn and ripped apart so that new muscle cells of our conscience can grow.  We become stronger as a society when we take change and learn from it.
I cannot label this with simple adjectives… no single emotion can embrace what my heart can hold.

Albert Einstein was an amazing man and it was not just in the realm of mathematics and physics.  I learn more about him as a person when I read his thoughts on social justice issues, so his comments above are great guides in not just in the aspect of work but also in life itself.
  • “…out of clutter find simplicity…”  Life many times is completely messy.  We get entangled in the busyness of life so much that we lose the beauty of simple things
  • …from discord find harmony…”  We all have multiple opportunities to be in community.  These communities will inevitably have discord.  It is a fact of nature that we will either have our own or will encounter someone that has a misconceived perception.  These ill designed sensitivities will cause disunity. So, within the wind swept mountain side we many times need to find a common place of refuge so that all can find shelter.
  • “…in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” It is in the middle of difficulty that we are going to discover the most valuable opportunity.  It is in the midst of pain we will search for relief and an answer.  In the midst of illness, we search for a cure. The marginal challenges already have an answer built within them; so it is in the depth of conflict that we many times begin to look for the greatest opportunity.  
I heard once from a rabbi that we all have been embodied with the capacity to do something phenomenal… a greater purpose.  It is when we do not search for or act upon that greater good that society becomes the poorer for it.

breaking script…Namaste