Feel ‘Em and Let ‘Em Go

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Laughter entices and draws others near.
Crying repels all but those who love us dear.
Feasting brings the hungry to left hand and right.
Hunger brings teeth a’ gnashing to hand a bite.
Love looks of peace and sets others at ease,
Heartbreak appears disbelieving, lost and displeased.
Joy is the soft morning light bathing every thing,
Sadness is late night with its sad songs to sing.
Happy, Sad,
Joyful, Mad,
Uncomfortable, Pleased,
Jubilant, Ill-at-ease.
Excited, Let down
Glad, Wearing a frown.
The faces of my face,
As I run the human race.
James Browning

Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. I wanted to laugh. Or maybe get mad. Or maybe shrug at how strange everybody was, especially me. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people.

You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. Stephen Chbosky

Today I wish for you and me to feel all that is given to us to emote. May the full breadth of your emotions be within you. Take happiness from the good and lessons from the bad. I am grateful that day by day the full spectrum of emotions is mine simply by not fearing nor grasping any of my feelings. I feel ’em and let ’em go.

Even if we don’t have the power
to choose where we come from
we can still choose
where we go from there.
Stephen Chbosky

They Get Better When You Get Older

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A Friend
by Edgar A. Guest

A friend is one who stands to share
Your every touch of grief and care
He comes by chance, but stays by choice
Your praises he is quick to voice.

No grievous fault or passing whim
Can make an enemy of him
And though your need be great or small
His strength is yours throughout it all.

No matter where your path may turn
Your welfare is his chief concern
No matter what your dream may be
He prays your triumph soon to see.

There is no wish your tongue can tell
But what it is your friend’s as well
The life of him who has a friend
Is double-guarded to the end.

Friendship comprises of many human values such as sympathy, mutual understanding and compassion, but above all it is about honesty, trust and love with a degree of intimacy. Friendship is undoubtedly a central part of our lives, due to the concerns we have for our friends and also because our friends can shape who we are as a person. Most of the times we need friends for companionship, conversations and laughter, but the real virtue of friendship lies in the support that we get from our friends, and the concern that they show.

The value of friendship is something that not many people take time to ponder over and appreciate… we often take our friends for granted. Often we only realize the value of friendship when we find ourselves in need of a friend: when we are confined with problems and need a shoulder to rely on and to get advice for our complicated issues. If we find ourselves to have lost a close friend we understand what we have truly lost, and understand the importance of friendship in our lives. We have many people entering our lives, some for a short time, others longer, each on a varying scale of personal relationships from associations to intimate love and marriage. We form a bond of true friendship with only a select few, those that move with us through the stages of our lives. Mahfooz

The gravitational pull of individual friendships can have an enormous cumulative effect on the quality of our lives. Friends can link us to broader social networks, and help enrich our lives. A friend can be the emotional oasis that makes all the difference. The good news about friendships is that they get better with age, says Karen Fingerman, professor of human development and family science at the University of Texas at Austin: “It almost doesn’t matter what relationship you’re talking about. They get better when you get older.” Chicago Tribune

I will be spending the day with a dear friend of many years. A genuinely true friend like him is rare. His presence in my life is a true blessing I am enormously grateful for.

In poverty and other misfortunes of life,
true friends are a sure refuge.
Aristotle

Searching For ‘Forever Love’

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Everlastingly. Eternally. Continually. Incessantly. Always. Endlessly. Permanently. Perpetually. Enduringly. Infinitely. Without end. FOREVER.

Is it the American relentless search for ‘forever romantic love’ actually seeking something unattainable? American culture is filled emphasis on youth, sex and wealth. We are taught to seek those when deep down other things matter more to us. Seems that conflict could be one of the sources with the dissatisfaction with love in the United States and the elusive search for romantic love that lasts ‘forever’.

Researchers no long ago surveyed 1,157 adults from the United States, Russia and Lithuania. Participants were asked to write a free-list answering the question, “What do you associate with romantic love?”

Americans used words that describe feelings like comfortable, mutual, friendship, happy, secure and love.

Russians chose mostly ways a couple can be together such as walking, beach, travel,  candlelight dinner including only two “feelings”: joyful and unreal.

What both cultures have in common is believing the number one most romantic notion is “being together”. Both have ‘sex’ as a top ten most romantic word with Russians rating it #2 (25%) while those in the U.S. placed it down the list at #7 (13%).

russians and americans romantic love top 10

The researchers said, “The idea that romantic love was temporary and inconsequential was frequently cited by Lithuanian and Russian informants, but not by U.S. informants. Furthermore… expressions of ‘comfort /love’ and ‘friendship’ were frequently cited by the U.S. informants and seldom to never by… Eastern European informants.”

The responses from the survey indicated that most of the Eastern European participants viewed romantic love as fleeting, in contrast to U.S. participants, who saw romantic love as more enduring. The Eastern Europe participants also referred to romantic love as “a stage,” “unreal” and a “fairytale.”

Wanting romantic love to last forever has been a contribution to having been unsuccessfully married twice. What is emerging in my thoughts now is how romantic love begins is not where ‘forever love’ must settle to survive in the long-term. All I have to do to confirm that is look at the U.S. list to realize ‘forever’ is forged in fire of romantic love but the flames must settle into other feelings to last. To expect anything else creates a delusion I lived with for many years. Now that’s an insight I am truly grateful for.

Love is like a friendship caught on fire.
In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce,
but still only light and flickering. As love grows older,
our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals,
deep-burning and unquenchable.
Bruce Lee

We All Have Twenty-Four Hour Days

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You can do anything,
but you can’t do everything.
David Allen

What has my attention at this moment? My thoughts are directed at words surfacing in my mind and typing them with a considerably lesser amount of awareness of music playing on Pandora. I’m vaguely aware of the surroundings of my home office, the art and posters on the wall and the noise of an occasional neighborhood car that drives by. That’s all my mind can take on at the moment.

People have a fixed amount that must be allocated according to need. To use a popular analogy, attention is like a bucket of water. People draw upon it as needed, but every dipper full and every teaspoon full leaves less for other purposes. Marc Green

Two interesting components have arisen with the increase of discretionary time I now have: 1) my perception of the world outside me has increased. I notice more, see things more deeply and generally feel good because of it. 2) With a richness of time, it is easy to let hours and days slip by with little to show for them. Some of that is good. Some of it is not so positive.

Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” My conclusion is that expecting myself to settle into new routines within my first 60 days of semi-retirement was too much to ask. Already I feel better letting myself off the hook of that unrealistic expectation.

…the allocation of attention is largely automatic and occurs without awareness. As a result, it is not easily brought under conscious control. You may direct someone’s attention by saying “watch the step,” and temporarily cause a conscious allocation of attention to the step. However, there is a good chance that within a few minutes or even seconds, the memory trace will disappear and the next time the person will fail to notice the step. The same automatic factors that directed attention away from the step in the first instance have not changed. Marc Green

The paragraph from Marc Green helps me a good deal because it tells me that keeping a keen awareness of my desire to form new routines is a great start to having them. All I have to do is follow through on what I have concluded and stay aware with a sense of priority. Then new routines will simply fall into place. Whew. I am grateful to “get off my own case”.

I didn’t pay attention to time or distance,
instead focusing on how it felt just to be in motion,
knowing it wasn’t about the finish line
but how I got there that mattered.
Sarah Dessen

Even the Best of Things

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Halfway home, the sky goes from dark gray to almost black and a loud thunder snap accompanies the first few raindrops that fall. Heavy, warm, big drops, they drench me in seconds, like an overturned bucket from the sky dumping just on my head. I reach my hands up and out, as if that can stop my getting wetter, and open my mouth, trying to swallow the downpour, till it finally hits me how funny it is, my trying to stop the rain.

This is so funny to me, I laugh and laugh, as loud and free as I want. Instead of hurrying to higher ground, I jump lower, down off the curb, splashing through the puddles, playing and laughing all the way home. In all my life till now, rain has meant staying inside and not being able to go out to play. But now for the first time I realize that rain doesn’t have to be bad. And what’s more, I understand, sadness doesn’t have to be bad, either. Come to think of it, I figure you need sadness, just as you need the rain.

Thoughts and ideas pour through my awareness. It feels to me that happiness is almost scary, like how I imagine being drunk might feel – real silly and not caring what anybody else says. Plus, that happy feeling always leaves so fast, and you know it’s going to go before it even does. Sadness lasts longer, making it more familiar, and more comfortable. But maybe, I wonder, there’s a way to find some happiness in the sadness. After all, it’s like the rain, something you can’t avoid. And so, it seems to me, if you’re caught in it, you might as well try to make the best of it.

Getting caught in the warm, wet deluge that particular day in that terrible summer full of wars and fires that made no sense was a wonderful thing to have happen. It taught me to understand rain, not to dread it. There were going to be days, I knew, when it would pour without warning, days when I’d find myself without an umbrella. But my understanding would act as my all-purpose slicker and rubber boots. It was preparing me for stormy weather, arming me with the knowledge that no matter how hard it seemed, it couldn’t rain forever. At some point, I knew, it would come to an end. From “Finding Fish: A Memoir” by Antwone Quenton Fisher

Since childhood the rain has been one of my absolute favorite things. It soothes and calms me like few things can. Quite by accident I discovered a word for people like me who love the rain: pluviophile. It’s borrowed from the science of biology where it means “thriving in conditions of abundant rainfall”.

Enduring the flooding that followed a category four hurricane on a Caribbean island makes me sympathetic to those enduring the aftermath of flooding right now. In spite of the twelve to fourteen feet of flood water that came with my Hurricane Ivan experience in 2004, my affinity for rain remains unaffected. I’m grateful to grasp that even the best of things can be bad in excess.

I don’t just wish you rain…
I wish you the beauty of storms…
John Geddes

A Little Space

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Once in a while I find filling just a little space here says more than if I jotted down a page and a half.

True happiness is to enjoy the present,
without anxious dependence upon the future,
not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears
but to rest satisfied with what we have,
which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.
The greatest blessings of mankind are within us
and within our reach.
A wise man is content with his lot,
whatever it may be,
without wishing for what he has not.
Seneca

With abundant clarity I am aware practicing Seneca’s words all the time is impossible. In my perfect imperfectness, gratefully all I have to do is my best.

If you’re doing your best,
you won’t have time to worry
about failure.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

An Illumination of Words

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There’s a young author whose work I have come to enjoy and admire. C. Joybell C. may be youthful in years but on a spiritual level she strikes me as a “wise old soul’. Her writing covers a myriad of topics, but centers on life and love more than anything else.

The two paragraphs just below were selected because I have a heart that has been broken many times. Some times a woman hurt me. At others I did things that ended up hurting me. A broken heart feels the same no matter who the villain is.

I have met so many heartbroken men. It’s a catastrophe. Women are easily overcome by the process that happens when a boy falls in love and becomes a man. Men’s hearts are so often broken. Still, you have to leave your broken heart in a place where… when the woman who knows how to see what a gift is, sees it… your broken heart can be picked up again. I think that it takes a very strong woman (inner strength) to be able to handle a man falling in love with her, without morphing into a monster (the process is a very potent process, it can poison a woman, really).

A woman thinks she wants a man to fall in love with her for all the perks that come with it; but when a real love really does happen, when a real man shows his manhood; it’s often too powerful a thing to endure without being poisoned. Hence, all the heartbroken men. But, I do believe that there are strong women in the world today. A few. But there are. You could say, that the mark of a real woman, is a woman who can handle a man… a man falling in love with her. A woman who can recognize that, and keep it with her. C. Joybell C.

Too much life energy gets spent on trying to sort out where I’m headed. More and more I am learning to just sit back and enjoy the flight.

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you. C. Joybell C.

“All Things Lit Like Fireflies: An Illumination of Words” is C. Joybell C.’s new book and I am looking forward to getting a copy soon. She has a special way of expressing feelings that speaks strongly to me. Thanks ‘My Lady’… I am grateful for you and your work! http://cjoybellc.com/

I think that we are like stars.
Something happens to burst us open;
but when we burst open and think we are dying;
we’re actually turning into a supernova. A
nd then when we look at ourselves again,
we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful
than we ever were before!
C. JoyBell C.

No One Gets Too Much Love

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The loneliest days are the ones where you keep company with someone you love who can’t hear you. Holly Robinson

It’s become a quirk of mine to watch couples and how the two interact. What I see all too often saddens me. Many hardly interact at all. Watching a middle-aged couple in a restaurant recently words like indifference, boredom, faded love, apathy and even coldness came to mind. Wedding bands said they were likely passionately in love once upon a time, but apathy and inattention looked to have taken their toll.

…no eye contact…

…no talking…

…no touching…

…no stolen kisses…

…no smiles…

…no eye contact…

…sitting without a word spoken…

…feeling numb…

…feeling lost…

…feeling alone together…

Life is hard. Love is harder. Both are highly worth what it takes to live them well. What I learned with experience is all love is priceless, but amazingly simple to lose. The type that causes two people to want to make a life together is among the most precious. It is also love lost the easiest.

Loving and losing is the classroom where the value of love is taught. My living regrets have over time morphed into hard learned knowledge I am grateful for. No one gets too much love. Most of us barely get enough to get by. If two people truly love each other there should be no restraint in its expression to keep love alive. Love is a fire that must be fueled continually to stay strong and lasting.

Indifference and neglect
often do much more damage
than outright dislike.
J.K. Rowling,

The Nail on the Head

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Of my favorite things few come close to two of them: 1) Finding good music I have not heard before 2) Discovering the meaningful work of an author I was previously unaware of. This week a writer unknown to me named Dan Millman came across my path. Dan’s a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor. His story goes that after an intensive, twenty-year spiritual quest, his thoughts formed into something he calls the “Peaceful Warrior’s Way”. He is an insightful man and his thoughts about life hit the nail on the head for me.

Life has three rules: Paradox, Humor, and Change.

– Paradox: Life is a mystery; don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.

– Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all measure

– Change: Know that nothing ever stays the same.

So be gentle with yourself; show yourself the same kindness and patience you might show a young child – the child you once were. If you won’t be your own friend, who will be? If, when playing an opponent, you are also opposing yourself, you will be outnumbered.

There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!

Finding new expressive material that can help me gain new insight makes me feel like a kid  who received the birthday gift he wished for. I am grateful for the work of Dan Millman and look forward to knowing him better through his writing. Dan’s webiste can be found here: http://www.peacefulwarrior.com/

Be happy now,
without reason;
or you never will be at all.
Dan Millman

Mother and Father of Love

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In 1987, a 74-year old rickshaw puller by the name of Bai Fangli came back to his hometown planning to retire from his backbreaking job. There, he saw children working in the fields, because they were too poor to afford school fees.

Bai returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking a modest accommodation next to the railway station. He waited for clients 24 hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he found. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education.

In 2001, he drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last installment of money. Nearly 90 years old, he told the students that he couldn’t work any more. All of the students and teachers were moved to tears.

In total, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies. In 2005, Bai passed away leaving behind an inspiring legacy.

If a rickshaw-puller who wore used clothes and had no education can support 300 children to go to school, imagine what you and I can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world!

It is beyond my wildest dream to be as giving as Bai Fangli. It is humbling to realize in comparison I am selfish. But I can become more giving and with inconsistent starts and stops I see myself becomes more so.

Practice giving things away, not just things you don’t care about, but things you do like. Remember, it is not the size of a gift, it is its quality and the amount of mental attachment you overcome that count. So don’t bankrupt yourself on a momentary positive impulse, only to regret it later. Give thought to giving. Give small things, carefully, and observe the mental processes going along with the act of releasing the little thing you liked. Robert Thurman

Once upon a time there was a little boy who grew up to be an introverted, inwardly troubled and unsettled man. Over time, life and intention taught him peace, openness and a sense of self that could only be learned through much heartache, grief and challenge. That man is deeply grateful and lives today with a sense of happiness beyond any he dared once imagine. I am grateful to know about him. I am that man.

Gratitude is the creative force,
the mother and father of love.
It is in gratitude that real love exists.
Love expands only when gratitude is there.
Limited love does not offer gratitude.
Limited love is immediately bound by something,
by constant desires or constant demands.
But when it is unlimited love, constant love,
then gratitude comes to the fore.
This love becomes all gratitude.
Sri Chinmoy