Focused Intention and Effort


In looking backwards life mostly can appear as a single line moving from point to point while looking ahead is a something of a confusing muddle. So I settle comfortably into ‘today’ where there is clarity of purpose. Life is so much easier when I center myself in the ‘Now”.

Up high on my ‘list of things to do” is to ‘continuing to grow as a human being’. American Spiritual leader A.W. Tozer’s wrote down his “Rules for Self Discovery” around seventy-five years ago. His inquiries are as contemporary today as when he created them. (Off the top of my head my honest answers this morning are in parentheses).

1. What we want most; (peace and love)

2. What we think about most; (personal growth, romance and travel)

3. How we use our money; (mostly to indulge myself)

4. What we do with our leisure time; (write, listen to music and be with loved ones)

5. The company we enjoy; (intelligent people with kind hearts)

6. Who and what we admire; (thinkers of all ages who left their wisdom behind)

7. What we laugh at. (Natural silliness of children or dark humor about living)

So, in paragraph form: Peace and love is what I want most. Romance, travel and growing as a person take up the most space in my thoughts. I use money mostly to indulge myself. My leisure time is spent writing, listening to music and hanging out with friends and family. I am drawn to intelligent people with kind hearts. My admiration is greatest for thinkers of all ages who teach by what they left behind. Children being children make me laugh the easiest, but dark humor can bring relief about the absurdities of life.

I’m pleased with my answers EXCEPT “money: to indulge myself”. While it’s not a complete negative, a good bit of my tendency to spoil myself is not a positive thing. That inclination is rooted in feelings of lack and insecurity that I am grateful for being made aware of (again). With focused intention and effort a man grows.I will!

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.
We grow sometimes in one dimension,
and not in another; unevenly.
We grow partially. We are relative.
We are mature in one realm,
childish in another.
The past, present, and future mingle
and pull us backward, forward,
or fix us in the present.
We are made up of layers,
cells, constellations.
Anaïs Nin

NOW, it’s your turn to answer the seven questions.

Fitting In


In high school, everything revolves around “fitting in.” Adolescents are basically children in bigger bodies (with some hormones sprinkled in). If one does not fit in, one does not get to play in all the reindeer games. It’s lonely not to be allowed to join in with the others, and no one wants to be lonely.

About two weeks into their freshman year, most high school students figure out that the more they “fit in,” the greater the benefits and privileges — and this makes it much easier to get all those things they need to feel like they matter… to feel loved. They wear the same clothes, they “hang out” in the same spots, they talk the same, they act the same . . . and, as a result, there is very little tension among them. Something for everyone; and most everyone ends up finding the clique that’s right for them.

Soon, however, all the students discover that, no matter how well things are going in the clique, they still feel like they don’t “fit in” because their clique isn’t accepted by everyone else or because not everything about them fits into the clique – if they were really showing all of themselves to those around them.

Even the most popular kids feel lonely much of the time because being popular means they have to hide a lot of who they really are from other people. They know, on one level or another, that the reason they are so well liked by so many people is because most of the people don’t really know them at all — they only see the outer persona (the image of something that may or may not exist within the person behind the mask). So, they live in fear much of the time – fear that the other kids will find out their secret… that they are not perfect.

The point of all this is that most of us are not in high school anymore. We’re out here in the “real world” trying to earn a living, find and keep mates, take care of families, and more. These are extremely challenging and time-consuming (and often frustrating) tasks to accomplish. And, on top of all of that, we’re also trying to find purpose and meaning for our lives . . . to be happy, to find joy, and more. We need to experience all of these aspects of being human to find peace and to find fulfillment – to feel complete.

What we have discovered, however, is that being grown up is even harder than being in high school! But, we learn and grow with the passage of time and experience. Eventually, we begin to take our lives into our own hands, even if it means not always fitting in. That’s when things really start getting interesting.

The older and wiser we become, the more we realize that accomplishing all of these worthwhile goals involves a whole lot of letting go of the things that allow us to “fit in” with the majority. And that isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s pretty darn hard. It means becoming more self-aware and identifying those aspects of our egos… it means facing the fears that inhibit us; it means accepting ourselves and other people, regardless of differences and imperfections; and it means finding the courage and strength to be the person we want to be, even if that person doesn’t get to be the king or queen of the prom. By Sloan

It is not that I don’t care what others think of me, it’s that I don’t care very much. I am not completely immune to the desire to fit in, but such wants are far down the list underneath needs such as “happiness”, “contentment”, “peace of mind” and “a life lived well”. Simply my attitude is “I hope you like me, but if you don’t that’s your loss”. I am grateful to care, but not that much, about what others think of me. I am far more interested about “fitting in” with my ideals and hopes for myself.

Nothing we can do can change the past,
but everything we do changes the future.
Marcus Aurelius

My Reason to ‘Rise and Do’

When viewed as a whole, my life has been richly blessed. From love to a child to success and much more, life has been good. My life has had an ample share of heartache and difficulty but when viewed as a part of the whole, those times add contrast and color to the happier times. There are many splashes of color yet to be, but something to get up in the morning for is what keeps me going.

“A Man Must Want” by  Edgar A. Guest

It’s wanting keeps us young and fit.
It’s wanting something just ahead
And striving hard to come to it,
That brightens every road we tread.

That man is old before his time
Who is supremely satisfied
And does not want some hill to climb
Or something life has still denied.

The want of poverty is grim,
It has a harsh and cruel sting,
But fill the cup up to the brim,
And that’s a far more hopeless thing.

A man must want from day to day,
Must want to reach a distant goal
Or claim some treasure far away,
For want’s the builder of the soul.

He who has ceased to want has dropped
The working tools of life and stands
Much like an old-time clock that’s stopped
While time is moldering his hands.

I’m truly sorry for the man,
Though he be millionaire or king,
Who does not hold some cherished plan
And says he does not want a thing.

What is the spur that drives us on
And oft its praises should be sung,
For man is old when want is gone
It’s what we want that keeps us young.

It is my ‘want’ to express myself, be understood and contribute something positive that drives me these days. For each and everyone who even once reads what I write here, thank you. You are part of my reason to ‘rise and do’ each day.

My formula for living is quite simple.
I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.
In between, I occupy myself as best I can.
Cary Grant

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