Stuck In the Labyrinth

pfYou realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past…
From “Survivor” by Chuck Palahniuk

Who am I now?

Who have I been?

Who will I become?

Those “who” questions rattle around my psyche on a regular basis although life experience has taught me it is the first one that matters most. “Who I have been” is a far distant second and the future (“Who will I become?”) is way, way, way back in third place. If I do the “now” part well the past relatively quickly begins to be something I am mostly satisfied with and my future unfolds primarily in a manner I can be content with. While who I am “now” rests on a foundation of my past, the present is all I have any control over.

Life has a way of going in circles. Ideally, it would be a straight path forward––we’d always know where we were going, we’d always be able to move on and leave everything else behind. There would be nothing but the present and the future. Instead, we always find ourselves where we started. When we try to move ahead, we end up taking a step back. We carry everything with us, the weight exhausting us until we want to collapse and give up.

We forget things we try to remember. We remember things we’d rather forget. The most frightening thing about memory is that it leaves no choice. It has mastered an incomprehensible art of forgetting. It erases, it smudges, it fills in blank spaces with details that don’t exist.

But however we remember it––or choose to remember it––the past is the foundation that holds our lives in place. Without its support, we’d have nothing for guidance. We spend so much time focused on what lies ahead, when what has fallen behind is just as important. What defines us isn’t where we’re going, but where we’ve been. Although there are places and people we will never see again, and although we move on and let them go, they remain a part of who we are.

There are things that will never change, things we will carry along with us always. But as we venture into the murky future, we must find our strength by learning to leave things behind. Brigid Gorry-Hines

Being in the “now” is a process of on-going wrestling I have to still do mentally; always will. However, the more I work at it the more successful I become at winning each bout. That sure beats how I once spent most of my life as John Green described it in “Looking For Alaska”; You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking how you’ll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

Most of the time I like living in the present and have been amazed how much better the future turns out when I do. I am grateful to understand my life tomorrow is being built by what I think and do today!

The past is a ghost,
the future a dream
and all we ever have is now.
Bill Cosby

“Now” Is ALL There Is

string_vibrations2A man is as great as the dreams he dreams,
As great as the love he bears;
As great as the values he redeems,
And the happiness he shares.
A man is as great as the thoughts he thinks,
As the worth he has attained;
As the fountains at which his spirit drinks
And the insight he has gained.
A man is as great as the truth he speaks,
As great as the help he gives,
As great as the destiny he seeks,
As great as the life he lives.
C.E. Flynn

The way is forward. There is nothing to be found behind but cinders of days burned already. There is only the fire of today to forge living from. I’m thankful for the certainty of those words. “Now” is ALL there is.

You can’t go back to how things were.
How you thought they were.
All you really have… is now.
Elizabeth Scott

To Learn and Grow

Beautiful-Nature-beautiful-nature-1600x900Another new day has arrived I am blessed to get to live. Some things I do will be well done. Others mediocre at best. Through it all I will try to live the hours better than yesterday. I will do my best and be content with it, yet knowing life will continue to improve me day by day if I live with intention.

 “The true measure of greatness is our capacity to navigate between our opposites with agility and grace — to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never to stop trying to get better.”

Constantly seek to learn and grow, but accept yourself exactly as you are.

Learning and growing require a willingness to look honestly and unsparingly at our shortcomings. Start with your own greatest strength. When you overuse it, it’s almost surely a window into your own greatest weakness.
In my case, the strength is drive and passion. Overused, it turns into aggressiveness. By being aware of my inclination to overuse a strength — by recognizing my own vulnerability — I was able to make a different choice.

Add Value to Others and Take Care of Yourself

Gratifying our most immediate needs and desires provides bursts of pleasure, but they’re usually short-lived. We derive the most enduring sense of meaning and satisfaction in our lives when we serve something larger than ourselves. Giving to others generates an extraordinary source of energy.

Selfishness is about making your own gratification paramount. Self-care is about making sure you’re addressing your own most basic needs, so you’re freed and fueled to also add value to others.

Focus Intensely and Renew Regularly

Unlike machines, however, human beings aren’t meant to operate at the highest intensity for very long. Instead, we’re designed to pulse between spending and renewing energy approximately every 90 minutes.

The world’s best performers — musicians, chess players, athletes — typically practice the same way: for no longer than 4 ½ hours a day. They also sleep more than the rest of us, and take more naps.

These great performers figured out that when they push for too long, their attention wanders, their energy flags, and their work suffers. But because they’re so focused when they are working, they get more done, in less time. Taken from “Six Ingredients of a Good Life” By Tony Schwartz

To find balance between who I am and who I wish to be is my intention this day. To wish for no more than I am, but know it is made possible by living each day well. For the every breath I take today, I am grateful!

2 things:
If it makes you happy, do it.
If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Full Power Ahead

letting go

If “holding on” was a class one could take, I’d get an A+ without having to study. Being a world-class practitioner of the tightly gripped past I have both benefited and been hurt by my stubbornness. It’s takes strength and wisdom to look into the murk of what was and clearly know what to let go and what to hold on to. Sometimes it’s impossible.

There is a danger in hanging on to what is unhealthy. Gerald D. Jampolsky was focusing on the potential peril when he wrote, When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear… When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.  The key thought in all that is “forgiveness”. When I have truly forgiven my the pain becomes exorcised, but love remains untarnished.

Like most of us, often a past chapter of my life was a combination of joy and love mixed with heartache and pain. More than I care to admit I have swirled the two together and killed the good memories burying them with the bad ones. Doing that strips my recall of not only sorrow, but happiness as well. What works much better is to find some sort of equilibrium between the two where the focus can be the reminiscent joy and love. But the sadness is not forgotten for in many ways it is the pain that makes the good all the more meaningful, like night gives meaning to daytime. This only works if my forgiveness is genuine and complete. Grief, pain and sorrow are important landmarks for my life and to completely try to make any of them vanish is to deny myself wisdom earned the hard way.

Such thinking is nowhere more important than on the subject of romantic love. In “Never Let Me Go” Kazuo Ishiguro said I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. Often there is a story after the story where the same river brings the two who drifted apart back together at a later time . What once was can not be recreated, but with letting go new possibility is created.

A second chance is not feasible until the contents of the initial possibility are cleansed by releasing it. That does not mean to deny any part of what once was, but instead to hold memories with reverence in a past tense. Sometimes in your life you have to leave some precious things not because you don’t deserve it but because you deserve something better than that and it’s just like creating space for some bigger and much better things waiting for you in your life ahead is how Shubbanshu Tiwari explained clearing the path for new possibility. Precisely, what might be bigger and better can not come to be until what was has been let go.

I am grateful for what Ray Bradbury said: Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That’s a triumph.

Well written Mr. Bradbury! I am grateful that your words are exactly what I needed to read this morning. My past is at peace (at least much more so than ever). I gratefully have hope for the future that the best of my life lies in front of me. Full power ahead.

…Love is easy, falling in love is even easier,
but letting that love go, is the most difficult thing
you’ll ever have to do. Some of us never let it go
and sometimes it takes a while to realize what you want.
But your heart will always have the right answer in the end.
You just have to figure out what it’s telling you.
Marie Coulson

Kissed My Comfort Zone Goodbye

comfort zone2Over time my comfort zone has become something of a trap; safe and comfortable, but stifling to my growth and realization of my dreams. My ‘rut’ is a sweet pill similar to “Soma” that Aldous Huxley described in “Brave New World”: … a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and… mind…

A little rhyme Huxley included about “Soma” is:
Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I’m in a coma;
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love’s as good as Soma.

Psychologists have long told us that “man tends toward pleasure and the path of least resistance”. There is some deep down desire to get benefits without any more work or discomfort than absolutely necessary. Given a choice between something that is neutral and something that gives pleasure, humans most often choose the latter.  Today I throw off another layer of the old to embrace the new that comes with a fresh year tomorrow. 2 0 1 3 is going to be a remarkable year!

I used to have a comfort zone
Where I knew I couldn’t fail.
Same four walls and busy work,
Were really more like jail.

I longed to do the things
I’d never done before,
But I stayed inside my comfort
Zone and paced the same old floor.

I claimed to be so busy with
The things inside my zone,
But deep down inside I longed
For something special of my own,

I took a step with new strength
I’d never felt before.
I kissed my comfort zone good-bye
And closed and locked the door.
Taken from “I Used to Have a Comfort Zone” – Author Unknown

Just because a tendency is “normal” does not mean I must succumb to it. However, it takes a conscious leap of faith to move past my comfort zone. I am ready to make it and grateful that 2013 will be the year where I take big steps to break free and embrace my dreams.

It does not take a new day
To make a brand new start,
It only takes a deep desire
To try with all our heart.
So never give up in despair
And think that you are through,
For there’s always a tomorrow
And the hope of starting new.
From “Another Chance” by Helen Steiner Rice

True Hope Is Made of This

2570539380102335886S425x425Q85Writing yesterday about a great love of long ago and mentioning losing her was the beginning of my demise into dysfunction has turned out to be an interesting piece of serendipity. The spiral that began back then is illustrated by what I was writing in the early to mid 90s. Purely by chance while looking for an old file, I came across these last night


Why do I love those incapable of loving me as much in return?
Why do those who profess love to me hurt me so easily?
Why do those I love have to say “I’m sorry” so much?
Why can’t they just do different instead?

Why do I care if I live,
Since I care the most if I do.
I yearn for someone to make me live,
and want to be,
and give me a future to believe in.
Life without hope,
Without possibility,
Is such nothing.

Then, WHY am I?


Is there a woman who can love me as much as I love her?
Is there a woman who can believe in me as I do her?
Is there a woman who can support me as much as I do her?
Is there a woman who can help me as much as I do her.

Where is the woman who could hold me when I need to be held?
Where is the woman who can make my trouble go away?
Where is the woman that can give me strength?
Where is the woman who won’t doubt me?

Where is the woman who can love without demand
and know I would give all if she did?
Where is the woman?
Are you her?

Reading these was a pleasant wake up call to how far I have come, how much more peace is in my soul and how much better I understand love between a man and a woman. I no longer look for value and esteem outside myself as I once did. What a miracle! Gratitude washes over me as I write. I am highly thankful!

Though our hearts are not together,
Sweet fondness dreams of this:
I long to hear her laughter,
I long for just a kiss.
Though her eyes are elsewhere shining,
And warm embraces do I miss,
Yet passion’s song is mellow still,
For true hope is made of this.
“Absence” by Danny Rowden

Memory of the Heart

gratitude 20Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries.

The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Simple things I am grateful for this morning selected randomly from top of mind:
– At night in bed how good the cool side of the pillow feels when I turn it over.
– The taste of coffee from the pot at home I am most accustomed to.
– Getting to skip shaving on the weekend and on vacation.
– Reading that takes me all around the world; to the future and the past.
– How good it feels to see a good friend I have not seen in a long time.
– A favorite food prepared just like I remember it from childhood.
– Cold weather on the first chilly day of the season.
– Clouds when I notice them they are always beautiful.
– My favorite flavors of ice cream
– Getting hugs from people I care about.
– Offers of help without having to ask.
– Music, music, music. I can’t image life without it.
– Poetry that soothes my heart and brightens my imagination.
– Quiet moments at home when I can sit, meditate and hear nothing.
– Rain! It is one of my favorite things about nature.
– Showers. Few things feel so good you can talk about with just anyone.
– Indoor toilets (I was ten years old before we had one growing up).
– Fresh flowers. 98% of the time there’s a vase full in my home.
– My computer that allows me to write this.
– Laughing because it always makes me feel better.
– Air conditioning and central heat.

Begin your day by feeling grateful. Be grateful for the bed you just slept in, the roof over your head, the carpet or floor under your feet, the running water, the soap, your shower, your toothbrush, your clothes, your shoes, the refrigerator that keeps your food cold, the car that you drive, your job, your friends. Be grateful for the stores that make it so easy to buy the things you need, the restaurants, the utilities, services, and electrical appliances that make your life effortless. Be grateful for the magazines and the books that you read. Be grateful for the chair that you sit on, and the pavement that you walk on. Be grateful for the weather, the sun, the sky, the birds, the trees, the grass, the rain, and the flowers. From The Secret Daily Teachings

I am thankful to have learned about the great gift of being grateful. It has changed my life beyond my ability to explain it.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.
Jean Baptiste Massieu

Right Here, Right Now

Once upon a time there was a man who spent his life in a hurry. He was always headed toward something or getting away from something else, but never seemed to arrive anywhere.

He would drop things because he’d bump into stuff or accidentally let his hand brush against what he was walking by just enough to dislodge what was in his hand. He was not drunk, didn’t have balance issues nor was particularly uncoordinated. He was just never mentally precise about where his body was.

The man often thought about where he should be and who he should be with. He yearned for love, yet had walked through being loved many times.  His habit was to always run past love before he actually realized how deeply he cared about someone and they about him. Only when the present became the past could he see much of anything with clarity.

There were small scars and scruffs on his hands and legs from moving in haste. Working with his hands he’d often get ahead of himself and end up with a small wound to show for the haste. His legs were often bruised in small places. When he noticed one usually he had no idea what he did to get the bruise.

Was he running toward what was in his mind or running away from something lodged there? Could it be he was doing both at the same time? Yes, I think. Stretched between the past and the future there was so little of him actually in the present.

Eckhart Tolle wrote exactly what going on with the man,  You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now. Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening.

The year, the day, or the time,
It is not important,
Yesterday is gone,
Tomorrow does not yet exist.
Only now do you have the chance
To be whoever you are.
Only now can you live
With the passion of spirit
And the spark of inspiration.
This is where everything ends,
And where everything begins,
Right here, right now
In the flow of what is.
This is all that you have.
Hold on, but let go.
Connect, but be separate.
There is pain in growth,
But there is also wisdom.
To know is to know not.
Every movement, every transition is a risk,
It is an opportunity to transform.
It does not matter what it all means,
It is a play that exists in eternity.
From “The Play” by Conny Jasper

The man written here about is mostly me as I used to be. While far from perfect and constantly bouncing from ‘Now” into the past and the future, I do spend a lot of time in the present than ever before. And it is those moments when I am happiest, enjoy life most and feel gratefulness the deepest.

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