Within the Walls of My Being

I was conceived in a world
beyond my grasp, beyond my
knowledge. A world for me to be
born in…. and to die.
But what about the “in-between” time?
Can I connect birth, live, and death
into a flowing stream of consciousness?
The only decision that is truly mine
is how I choose to spend my days, hours,
and minutes.

Will I develop my “Being” into something
of significance? Will I find contentment
and enjoyment deep within the walls of my
being, or will I wander through life blindly,
unaware of my own purpose? Will I find this
for myself or will I perish? Only I can decide!

Those lines are from a book titled “Visions of You” by George Betts published by Celestial Arts Publishing during the latter part of the “hippie era” in 1972; the year my nineteenth birthday arrived. That time of “freaks” and “straights” is remembered well. The deep south of  Alabama and Mississippi where I grew up was behind me. Now my home was a rented cottage on Ruxton Avenue under the shadow of Pike’s Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which at that time was a past prime tourist town. Rent was cheap and the empty houses and store fronts had been filled by a good-sized hippie colony.

The late 60’s and early 70’s was a special time when I could pick up a hitch-hiking couple and let them sleep the night on my floor with never a worry about anything bad happening. Those were the days we truly thought we were “brothers and sisters”.

Today the real estate in Manitou Springs is high-priced and vestiges of the 60’s and 70’s when I lived there are mostly long gone. But there still are people around the town you can tell by their hair and clothes still hang on to that time gone by.

I’m told the big turquoise ring I wear on my right hand, the bracelet on my wrist and my somewhat longer length of my hair signifies I too am one of those people. I accept the “old hippie” moniker gladly and am proud to be part of a generation that worked to stop a war, moved women’s and civil rights steps forward, were involved politically and brought sex out of the closet. We were naive, but really did believe in something hopeful and beautiful… at least for a little while.

I wonder if the author of “Visions of You” is the same George Betts who today on-line is found to be a professor at the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences in Greeley, Colorado. He’d be about 68 years old or about 10 years older than me. In the press photo for the school Professor Betts looks today mostly like a kindly grandfather. I wonder … is that how I look now? Being not much more than a year from being sixty years old there is awareness within that I became invisible to college girls decades ago and am also entering my “Grandpa phase”. Many might not think of me today as a “hip dude” as we once called guys who were “with it” and “cool”, but once upon a time that was me (or at least in my own mind I was).

I am proud of my life, my accomplishments and the peace that has been made with my mistakes (and I made some doozies!). My days have been colorful, my experiences rich and I’ve lived more fully than most.  There is still more to come; quite possibly the best parts. I am learning, growing, becoming more aware, finding harmony with myself and a spiritual path is unfolding for me. In some ways I’m picking up where I left off back in my early 20’s and that’s a good thing.

Peace, Brothers and Sisters!

He who takes a stand is often wrong,
but he who fails to take a stand is always wrong.
Anonymous

Too Precious to Waste… Never Long Enough to Worry About

For the total of fifty cents, plus tax, yesterday I bought a used copy of a small book published in 2010 by Dr. Criswell Freeman titled “When Life Throws You a Curveball… Hit It!”. The little thing is only about a quarter of an inch thick containing not much more than a hundred pages in a four by six-inch cover.

Being previously unknown to me my searching on-line for info about Dr. Freeman yielded surprising results. With little fanfare, he has compiled and edited well over a hundred titles that have now sold over 8,000,000 copies. The Washington Post calls him “possibly the most prolific ‘quote book’ writer in America. Dr. Freeman jokes about himself saying “I’m one of the best-selling unknown authors in the world”.

The following is called “The Two Most Tiring Days” and comes from the “…Curveball” book by Dr. Criswell Freeman mentioned in my first paragraph:

If you’ve been facing tough times, you’re probably tired. Tough times have a way of leaving you exhausted before the day has even begun. The weariness comes not from physical labor but from constant worry. That’s why it’s so important to understand the source of your energy drain. Your fatigue results not from physical strain but, instead, from your attitude toward the two most tiring days of the week: yesterday and tomorrow.

What are yesterday and tomorrow so draining? Those two days represent those two limitless reservoirs of exhaustion: the past and the future. If we could simply concern ourselves with the day at hand, the world would become much simpler. But sometimes we lack both the ability to accept the past and the faith to accept the future. As if today’s tasks weren’t enough, we take on the burdens of yesterday and the obligations of tomorrow. When we do, today’s work goes wanting and tomorrow’s happiness is placed in jeopardy.

If you can learn from yesterday without undue regret, you are insightful. If you can plan for tomorrow without worry, you are wise. If you can live your life in one-day packages, you are blessed.

When you live in the present, there’s little to worry about anyway. After all, the present is a very small sliver of time, suddenly upon us and too quickly gone. The present moment is too precious to waste but never long enough to worry about.

Dr. Criswell Freeman’s little book which the paragraphs just above come from is subtitled “Simple Wisdom for Life’s Ups and Downs” and is exactly as advertised. I am grateful for the discovery of it and look forward to finding more of the hundred titles or so he has published.

More and more what I need seems to come to me naturally when I need it without doing much except being open to receive. The longer I write about gratitude the more grateful I become. Attention magnifies and multiplies what it is applied to.

Look to this day for it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities
And truths of existence;
The joy of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every
Yesterday a memory of happiness.
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Ancient Sanskrit poem by Kelidasa

The Exploration of Desire

Choice is the exploration of desire and then the selection of action. In every moment, you are choosing either to align yourself with your own true path or veer away from it. There are no neutral actions. Even the smallest gesture has a direction to it, leading you closer to your path or farther away from it, whether you realize it or not. Cherie Carter-Scott, PH.D.

Studies have found people who make decisions quickly, even when lacking some information, tend to be more satisfied with their choices than those who tediously weight out their options. Some of the difference is simply in the lower level of stress created in making the decision, but a good bit comes from how our brains are wired.

A conscious mind can hold a maximum in the neighborhood of 5 and 9 distinct thoughts at any given time. For most people the number of possible concurrent thoughts is on the lower side of that scale  in the 3-5 range. So generally speaking any considerably complex problem with greater than 5 factors can begin to overflow a conscious mind’s ability to function effectivelywhich can often lead a person to make poor choices.

What’s interesting is our subconscious mind is much better at juggling and working through complex problems. Those who intuitively “go with their gut” are actually trusting the work their subconscious mind has already done, rather than second-guessing it. They don’t rely as much on their conscious mind’s much more limited ability to deal with complex situations.

Whatever process we use to arrive at a choice, the satisfaction with what is picked will depend largely on whether one claims ownership of their choices. Feeling pressured into a choice or those made while feeling not in control are frequently colored negatively, even positive outcomes. Conversely, taking full responsibility for decisions can make even failing feel somewhat successful.  You’ll know you did your best and you’ll have gained valuable experience for next time.

Often I have commented I seem make better choices when I pay attention to what I feel instead of what I think. It is my belief I am naturally repelled by what I should not do and attracted by what I should do. However, it takes an ability to ignore to a degree the constantly yakking, thinking mind that spins all kinds possible scenarios and outcomes, even impossible and ludicrous ones. The knowledge that my feelings are, on average, a more dependable indicator of what I should and should not do has been a sizeable benefit to me. I am grateful for this insight.

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.
George Eliot

Dreamers of the Day

 

For all wishers and dreamers;
For those who hope and pray;
For every faithful schemer;
Who lives from day-to-day;
Are words that count to forty-nine
With wisdom inside for you to find.

 

All people dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind
Wake in the morning to find that it was vanity.

But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people
For they dream dreams with open eyes
And make them come true.
D.H. Lawrence

 

More than ever my dreams are before me.  Like never before they seem possible.  The path to them has become no easier, nor has some windfall of money or brain-power fallen upon me.  I labor under no great epiphany or increase in fortitude and strength. 

What has changed is I am open to what comes and truly believe I can accomplish most anything I set my full self toward. Simply here in the later stages of my life FINALLY I have learned to truly believe in myself and what I am capable of doing.  That understanding comes from a freeing of my mind, a loosing my grasp on much that does not matter and learning to lean on and trust a power beyond my understanding or explanation. 

Letting go, not trying to control everything and being open to “what is” was my new beginning. And for that my gratitude is profound and deeply meaningful.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
From “The Book of Good Cheer” by Edwin Osgood Grover

 

Buddha, Confucius and Franklin

 

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.
Doubt separates people.
It is a poison that disintegrates friendships
And breaks up pleasant relations.
It is a thorn that irritates and hurts;
It is a sword that kills.
Buddha

 

Life is really simple,
But we insist on making it complicated.
Confucius

 

Life’s Tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.
Benjamin Franklin
 
 
Inspiration can come from many places, but I have found few sources as consistent as the words of Buddha,Confucius and Ben Franklin.  Completely different men from greatly varied times saying much of the same things.  I am grateful for the bits of wisdom they left behind for me to benefit from.
 
Too bad people can’t switch problems
because nobody knows how to solve their own problems,
but they always know how to solve another’s.
Unknown

If You Could Only Love Enough

Love is…..? Actually I can’t explain it, but I feel in my mind, body and soul. I can’t prove it exists, but know without doubt it does. Love is a thousand things and more.  Without it life loses much of its meaning. There is nothing else in the universe like it.

Love is enigma.
Love is divine.
Love is the cure.
Love is pure.
Love is undefined.
Love is beyond just a feeling.
Love is many heart beats.
Love is the light on dark streets.
Love is bright.
Love is light.
Love is just.
Love is life.
Love helps the weak.
Love contains the spirit.
Love embellishes the person.
Love is coherent.
Love is the problem.
Love is the solution.
Love is confusing.
Love is illusive.
Love is a traitor.
Love is addiction.
Love is a dream.
Love is pain.
Love is bliss.
Love is the acceptance.
Love is to see imperfection
And treat it perfect.
Love exists beyond time and measurement.
Without love, we are astoundingly weak.
Love is the foundation.
Love is necessary for internal and external peace.
Taken from “Spirit Of Love” by Sullee J.

I don’t understand love, but I no longer need to. I have given up completely on arriving at some rational explanation for it. Knowing I love and am loved is enough. I am grateful for the peace that simple, but difficult to learn insight has brought me.

If you could only love enough,
you could be the most powerful person in the world.
Emmet Fox

Poetry of the Senses

Showing again my kinship with a number many are superstitious about, here’s another installment of thirteen’s. This time 13 sayings about loving and being loved.

1. It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return. But what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let that person know how you feel, and then regret it.

2. Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

3. Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, and the romance in a relationship and find out that you still care for that person.

4. A sad thing in life is, you meet someone who means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was never meant to be, and you just have to let go.

5. When the door of happiness closes, another opens. But often at times we look so long at the closed-door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

6. It is true that we do not know what we have until we lose it, but it is also true that we do not know what we have been missing until it arrives.

7. Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Do not expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart. But if it does not, be content that it grew in yours.

8. There are things you would love to hear that you would never hear from the person whom you would like to hear them from; but do not be so deaf as not to hear it from the one who says it from the heart.

9. Never say goodbye if you still want to try. Never give up if you still feel you can go on. Never say you do not love a person anymore if you cannot let go.

10. Love comes to those who still hope although they have been disappointed, to those who still believe although they have been betrayed, to those who still love although they have been hurt before.

11. Do not go for looks; they can deceive. Do not go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright.

12. The beginning of love is to let those we love just be themselves and not twist them with our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

13. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past. You can’t get on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

I am grateful for eyes that see, a mouth that tastes, ears that hear, a nose that smells, and fingers that touch. But most of all I am grateful for a heart that loves.

Love is the poetry of the senses.
Honoré de Balzac

Be Thankful

In my mind the number thirteen has held fascination for me as long as I can remember. Most likely it comes from my perpetual quest to be uniquely myself. Since thirteen is shunned by many as an unpopular number, then of course it has to be a favorite of mine. If a hotel has a 13th floor I often ask to have a room on it!  What started this affinity with the number was so long ago I don’t recall its beginning.

This morning I sat for a few minutes (I should have timed myself, it might have been 13 minutes) thinking about simple experiences I hold in distinct regard; the type I am grateful for that can make me sigh just thinking about them. Here are the first thirteen things that came to mind:

Crawling into bed and feeling my body hit cool sheets after a hot day.

Walking in the rain when it is more mist than drops.

Feeling comfy clothes on me in the evening after being dressed up for work all day.

Being hugged by someone I love that I’ve not seen in a long time.

The scent of my wisteria vine in full bloom on my patio.

The feeling of an at-first too hot shower on my skin once I get used to the temperature.

The first taste of cotton candy after buying it at the state fair.

Thoughts of my son napping on my chest with his head on my shoulder when he was little.

Feeling the dew on my bare feet while walking through the grass on a spring morning.

The rapture of falling in love when it feels like nothing is lacking.

Waking on a Sunday morning and realizing I can go back to sleep for a while longer.

Wearing an old cotton t-shirt full of holes that feels softer than silk to my skin.

A soft evening breeze moving across my backyard making the wind chimes sing.

The more I’ve developed a sense of gratitude in recent years, the more I notice simple things to be thankful for.  The more I find the more resonate my gratefulness becomes.

Be thankful that you don’t already have
everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be
to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes,
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
Because it means you’ve made an effort.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those
who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they will become your blessings.
“Be Thankful” Author Unknown

Joy-Filled Gratitude

Never have I been able to sort between coincidence for a reason and events that come my way purely by happenstance. I vacillate between thinking everything is by chance to thinking all things occur by destiny. Generally, I have settled that our episodes of life are some combination of the two; a mixture of providence and accident.

First thing each morning I start coffee and while it’s brewing I check the “news” on my Yahoo homepage. Today’s page was mostly filled with the usual jumble of politics, dreadfulness and deceit which I read little of. Quite by change I did stumble across a story that deeply moved me.

Chance, providence or both brought the story of Lacey Buchanan, her husband and her little boy into my path. She created a Youtube video about her blind baby boy and his rare condition that has spread virally racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

The ABC story carried on Yahoo included: Buchanan, who works at a day care center and also attends the Nashville School of Law, said she made the video about their struggle because she wanted her son “to grow up knowing he’s important, knowing he has value, despite the way that he looks,” Buchanan said. “I never thought it would be as big as it has gotten, but I’m thrilled that Christian is becoming a face and a voice for this, that beauty is so much deeper than what you look like,” she said.

Some may be put off by the Christian background music which would be unfortunate. While my beliefs in a Higher Power don’t match this young Mother’s, I have great respect for hers. God is good and great, no matter how you shape a belief of Him/Her/It.

This morning before the smell of fresh coffee filled my kitchen, tears filled my eyes. As I watched this young mother tell her story scribbled on pieces of notebook paper my emotions overflowed. It was gratitude for her courage I felt that acutely awakened my humble gratitude for my “normal” son who has thrived in the world without the challenges her son faces. What we have in common is how deeply we each love our son.

So there you have it: I started this day with tears and am better for it. Those sniffles left behind deep joy-filled gratitude.

In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but the gratefulness that makes us happy.
Albert Clarke

A Broader Perspective

Here’s a list of thirteen quotes and status updates found on Facebook and Twitter about spending time by one’s self or being singled out by circumstance or purpose.  I find them to be thought-provoking and good exercises for the mind. 

Sometimes you need to walk alone, just to show you can.

It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.

Let me be the one who never leaves you all alone.

Stand up for what you believe in even if it means standing alone.

There is strength to be found in spending time alone.

I fear that I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life…
and I don’t want to settle in order not to be.

I like being alone. Not lonely, just alone.

Being lonely isn’t having no one around you,
it’s the feeling that there is no one around who truly cares.

This is the meaning of love: we are never alone.

Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?

I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone.

This is the meaning of love: We are never alone.

You think you’re alone, but you’re not the only one.

I have not taken on putting a lot of thought into all these, but four on the list grabbed my initial attention. My contemplations either caused me to feel blessed, made me feel good, left me with a broader perspective or some combination of all three. Each made me think and I am grateful for the insights received. With a printed copy of the list taped on my fridge to refer to I’ll try out more of these over the weekend

A mind that is stretched by a new experience
can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes