All That Matters


Life was a bloody battlefield
until I conquered the enemy
and won the war.

Now, life is a journey,
and I am a warrior.
Prepared for anything
and weakened by nothing.

There are hills and dales,
mountains and plateaus,
blind spots and brilliant vistas,
but none of that matters.

All that matters is my second chance,
and the only thing capable of disrupting my path,
is myself.
From “Death and Life” by B.G. Bowers

Miracles were just second chances
if you really thought about it–
second chances when all hope was lost.
Kava McLaren

No Help In Worrying

shadowhands_1 copy

I know that worrying is a waste of time.Regardless I find myself doing too much of it. I am grateful for a reminder to loosen my grip on worry. It is nothing more than a bad habit.

If a problem is fixable,
if a situation is such that
you can do something about it,
then there is no need to worry.
If it’s not fixable, then there is
no help in worrying.
There is no benefit
in worrying whatsoever.
Dalai Lama XIV

Wasting Time Well


Time is an equal opportunity employer.
Each human being has exactly the same
number of hours and minutes every day.
Rich people can’t buy more hours.
Scientists can’t invent new minutes.
And you can’t save time
to spend it on another day.
Denis Waitley

Until recently losing track of time was mostly restricted to great moments of a vacation, being totally engrossed in a good conversation or activity, being stunned by beauty or becoming caught up in the rapture of love. In those instances my awareness of the day and/or hour was fleeting and lasted for no more than seconds and minutes.

The fact that I lose track of time more now in semi-retirement is a wonderful thing. What’s meaningful is the experience of being so absorbed and so immersed is no longer restricted to “doing”. With increasing regularity I find myself wasting time without much care about its passage. It feels like I have been freed from a prison where time was my jailer.

One of my newly founded beliefs of the last decade is modern wealth is more about time than money. It was not that long ago rushing from one endeavor to another, one meeting to the next one and seeing this person and then the next person occupied the majority of my awake time. For a long while being so involved in work gave me a sense of importance that today I don’t find significant.

Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station. Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Today I am discovering time has only the amount of importance I place on it. My experience of being alive is better when I can stop having thoughts like “what should I be doing?”, “I should be working on ___” or “I’ve got to be productive”. Such things are all in my head and broken down to their essence are actually borderline crazy! My time is mine to spend any way I choose and if ‘wasting’ it feels best, then I will do just that.

I had the mistaken belief that value should be placed based on rarity. My finding concerning time is my value of it is now placed based on the quantity of it I have. It is my hope that I can become as proficient at wasting time well as I once was at being productively time conscious.

For the wealth of time life has brought me to, I am grateful. To realize wasting time well is a good thing brings a smile of happiness and peace.

Free time is the most expensive time you have,
because nobody pays for it but you.
But that also makes it the most valuable time you have,
as you alone stand to reap the profits from spending it wisely.
Jarod Kintz

Make as Many Mistakes as You Can


Graduating is not something I have forgotten or better stated, I remember well how I felt at graduation. The title of my feelings could have been “Now What?”. Having spent years growing up and getting an education I was then standing on the threshold of a life I had yet to experience. Hopes and dreams were plenty, but what road to take toward them was fuzzy at best.

And so it is today, my third day into retirement from a long successful professional life. I am lucky and able to do this younger than most and am grateful for the opportunity. However, it feels like I am just past graduation again asking “Now What?”. There’s the same sense of things as when younger: lots I plan and imagine doing but uncertain where to begin.

In a book called “Hold Fast Your Dreams” Carrie Boyko and Kimberly Colen published twenty commencement speeches. Thumbing through it this morning I was touched by an address by Ken Burns at Georgetown University in 2006. Here’s a few highlights that stuck me as pertinent to my most recent “graduation”:

As you pursue your goals in life, that is to say your future, pursue your past. Let it be your guide. Insist on having a past and then you will have a future.

Replace cynicism with its old-fashioned antidote, skepticism.

Don’t confuse success with excellence.

Insist on heroes. And be one.

Read. The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all — not the car, not the TV, not the computer.

Write: write letters. Keep journals. Besides your children, there is no surer way of achieving immortality.

Do not lose your enthusiasm. In its Greek etymology, the word enthusiasm means, “God in us”.

Here at late morning I am off into my day with new inspiration borrowed from the past words of a man I know only through his documentaries and speeches. I am grateful the cosmos choose today for me to pull the book off my shelf that contained Ken Burns 2006 speech. Over and over and over… what I need arrives. All I have to do is believe and let things come to me in their own time. As long as I keep an open heart and mind they always seem to…

When we were five, they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Our answers were thing like astronaut, president, or in my case… princess.
When we were ten, they asked again and we answered –
rock star, cowboy, or in my case, gold medalist.
But now that we’ve grown up, they want a serious answer.
Well, how ’bout this: who the hell knows?!
This isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions,
its time to make mistakes.
Take the wrong train and get stuck somewhere chill. Fall in love – a lot.
Major in philosophy ’cause there’s no way to make a career out of that.
Change your mind. Then change it again, because nothing is permanent.
So make as many mistakes as you can. That way, someday,
when they ask again what we want to be… we won’t have to guess.
We’ll know.
Stephenie Meyer

Yearning of My Soul

52689136Well….. here it comes! My birthday in a week signals my long-awaited ‘retirement’ at month’s end from a profession of decades. I am doing this not to rest and sit on my butt, but rather to do things a ‘regular’ job prohibits. There are longings that have to be sated; an old me that needs a make-over. My choice to close one door is so the entrance to many other possibilities can open to me.

Master the “art of possibility,” says Sills, author of The Comfort Trap, by projecting a new you on the big screen of your mind’s eye. “There are two poles related to change,” Sills says. “One pole is being unsatisfied and uncomfortable where you are. The other is a compelling vision.” If you’re so miserable you’re crawling out of your skin, you may not need a fantasy to push you out the door. Most of us are in situations that may not be great, but are nevertheless stable—which means we need something to run toward, not just an excuse to run away.

The first step to conjuring this vision, says Sills, is to tune into your discontent rather than numb it: “After two bags of Doritos, some TV shows, and maybe even a scotch, you don’t remember how bad the job is, and soon you’re overweight and you think that’s the source of your unhappiness.”

Once you’ve figured out why you’re unhappy, try to trace any hint of interest or passion that flutters up during the day. Think back: “As a child, how did I envision myself as an adult?” If you can’t pull a dream scenario out of your head, ask, “Which of my friends’ lives would I most like to live?” And “If I had to stay in this job or relationship, what would I want to change about it and what would I want to keep?”

The image may prime you to act, but taking the first steps will still be difficult. It’s easy to tell your mother, “Can you believe he got drunk on my birthday?” But it’s hard to say to him, “We’re done. Don’t ever call me again.” Make it easier by thinking through the small consequences first. For instance, you can rehearse what you’ll say to your friends when you ask them to set you up on dates.

Once you start realizing your fantasy, keep altering it to match reality. Otherwise, the vision could remain dangerously intangible.

Prepare yourself by imagining scenes full of misgivings, too. “In the last two weeks of your job,” says Sills, “all of a sudden you’ll fall in love with all of those coworkers who annoyed you.” Change equals loss, but if you don’t have a series of things you’ve walked away from, adds Lubetkin, you’re probably not leading a rich life. By Carlin Flora

After giving my resignation early in the new year, I felt freed in a way never before felt. With some coaxing I agreed to stay on in a limited part-time capacity for the remainder of the year and for a while regretted it. Now I realize that regrouping over a few months will be better than trying to start a different life all at once.

I am grateful to feel little fear or apprehension about what is to be, although where I’m headed is anything but clear. What I am certain of is ‘retiring’ from one path so that another can begin is absolutely the correct thing. I am pulled, compelled really, into the unknown and find the uncertainty exhilarating. Beyond extended travel, finishing my first book and spending time with people I care about there is no grand design for my future. By following the yearning of my soul I will no longer be an obstacle to my destiny. I am grateful to have the courage and determination to make this leap of faith.

Love what you do and do what you love.
Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it.
You do what you want, what you love.
Imagination should be the center of your life.
Ray Bradbury

A Different Eventual Destination

PastPresentFutureEvery decision you make—every decision—
is not a decision about what to do.
It’s a decision about Who You Are.
When you see this, when you understand it,
everything changes.
You begin to see life in a new way.
All events, occurrences, and situations
turn into opportunities
to do what you came here to do.
Neale Donald Walsch

Starting a new week, I am glad for the reference point Walsch’s words lend me. I am reminded that everything I do makes a difference. It is the “NOW” that matters. Every single thought, action and even inaction in the present work together to shape the direction of life.

Years ago I learned as a private pilot that a one degree error in navigational judgment makes little difference in a short distance, but over the length of a long journey such a mistake will place me far from my intended destination. And so it is with life. Every course correction, big or small, yields a different eventual destination.

How could I have known….

At fifteen years old, a part-time job taken casually would bring a life-long career.

At nineteen moving alone a thousand miles from home and essentially messing up just about everything would in time be the comparison point I would live a well-managed life by.

At twenty-two getting married to a kind and caring woman would bring the first real structure to my life, a son I love dearly and begin turmoil that is still not completely over today.

At thirty-four having an affair outside marriage would start a chain of events that only in retrospect can I see, including a spark in my heart that lives yet today.

At forty-four taking a promotion/transfer would in time change my life so completely, in the worst and best ways, to where it is hardly recognizable compared to what came before.

The answer is “I could not have known”. Life is lived looking forward while moving toward the unknown. What’s ahead is always obscured in foggy uncertainty while the past seemingly takes on crystal clarity.

The purest wisdom I have is what lies ahead matters little compared to what I do in the present. The specifics of the past are only out of focus echoes of what really happened. As long as I learn the lessons, keep the good and cast off the bad, the specifics of what has been doesn’t matter.

The future will take its shape more from what I do NOW than from anything done before. Ultimately, the only sure thing any of us will ever know for certain exists right now, at this moment. All before and after is just a thought in the mind. I am grateful for that knowledge and will continue to improve my practice of it.

…the past gives you an identity
and the future holds the promise of salvation,
of fulfillment in whatever form.
Both are illusions.
Eckhart Tolle

Back In Love With Life

his quest

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science.
He to whom the emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe,
is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.
To know what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend
only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge,
this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
Albert Einstein


Mystery appears new again to me. My list of future possibilities grows ever larger much like how a very small child perceives life. I have rediscovered awe, wonderment and a sense of miracles. Through a slow awakening I have fallen back in love with life much like when I was very young, but better and now seemingly more possible.

For a long time my adult life consisted of a continually shorter and shorter list of potential and promise. In reality that was only my perception, not what was really truth. And there in lies the key and one of my more profound realizations about being alive: my quality of living has mostly to do with my perceptions about it. Simple, but magnificent in its magnitude. I am grateful for the weighty insight eluded me until I was ready for it.

What is given to you is what is needed;
what you want, requires giving up what you don’t need.
George Alexiou

Pay Attention In Class

3005147-poster-1960-caught-stress-spiral-innovate-your-day-8-minutes-ready-set-pauseYou can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.
From “Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clearly I recall being in fourth grade dreading the possibility of being in Miss Pittman’s fifth grade class the following year. She was said to be mean, quick tempered and fast to punish students. Knowing she was going to my teacher the next year set me to start playing the anxiety game a half year early.

Actually there were lots of variables that never occurred to a ten year-old boy. The teacher might retire; she might be replaced; she might change jobs; she might start teaching a different grade or maybe she was different that student gossip portrayed. But no other possibility occurred to me except I was going to be in Miss Pittman’s class and she was going to be mean to me. Looking back I can see how my fear seemed to give the future clarity because I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen.

Today I realize taking my fears with a ‘grain of salt’ is always prudent. If the dismal scenarios I frequently think up actually came true it would mean I could predict the future, which of course I can’t (otherwise I would have already won the lottery many times!).

People were always getting ready for tomorrow.
I didn’t believe in that.
Tomorrow wasn’t getting ready for them.
It didn’t even know they were there.
From “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

I ended up in Miss Pittman’s class just like I dreaded I would, but my experience was NOT what I thought it would be. She was stern and allowed no cutting up in class, but she was a good teacher. Her tendency was to favor the “good students”, which I was one of. Consequently, I ended up doing well, learned a lot and still have respect her to this day. She encouraged my love of reading and the sciences; both of which are very much alive even today. Having Miss Pittman as a 5th grade teacher is one of my earliest lessons about my proven inability to predict the future.

I still try to play fortune teller at times, but the future so rarely turns out the way I predict you’d think I would have completely learned better by now. What is different these days is usually I catch my “future tripping” early on before it ‘snowballs’. I am grateful for insights learned the hard way that improve my life. All I have to do is “pay attention in class”.

It’s being here now that’s important.
There’s no past and there’s no future.
Time is a very misleading thing.
All there is ever, is the now.
We can gain experience from the past,
but we can’t relive it;
and we can hope for the future,
but we don’t know if there is one.
George Harrison