When you can’t do it for yourself
Do it for those who never had a chance
Who died before their time
For those who had to push through the pain
Or trudge through battle fields, cold, and rain
For those who kept going when there was no light
Who kept fighting
After they had lost the fight
Do it for them, if you can’t do it for you
Be the ball, take the shot, cop the attitude
You’ve always had enough to master today
Now go and give it away
Whatever it is
You got this.
When I am with someone who says something critical about another person or group, I immediately;
1) Regret the times I have spoken harshly about others (without giving them an opportunity for rebuttal or explanation)
2) Feel compassion for the person or group being criticized
3) Feel compassion for the person criticizing
4) Hope for a more generous world where tolerance and the benefit of a doubt are readily available
If we only say things about others, in a manner that we wouldn’t mind someone saying the same about us, what a big shift in the airspace there would be…
Upon seeing the anger in the eyes of a menial laborer working in atrocious conditions, author Gregory David Roberts says to the fry cook with his eyes, “I’m sorry that you have to do this work, I’m sorry that your world, your life, is so hot and dark and unremembered, I’m sorry that I’m intruding…”
With those lines, the author not only captured my interest in the book, but, most importantly, the kinship of my agony for the “incarceration” of countless souls who live unremembered and hopeless in darkness and drudgery.
Even though my personal agony was small by comparison, for years I felt imprisoned in mediocrity and anonymity, doing a job I didn’t like. Now, I cannot stand to see anything in a cage. I feel the silent rage of so many: refugees, strangers I encounter, and others I know well.
My prayer is that those of us who remember the pain will bring…
However and whenever we can.
I hold these truths to be self-evident (and freeing):
1. None of us are normal.
2. All of us are more screwed-up than we realize.
3. It’s okay to be a work-in-progress. (Embrace criticism.)
4. We make things worse by pretending to be normal and projecting blame and shame on everyone else.
5. Delighting in each other (and ourselves) in spite of the crazy is the way out of self-inflicted torture.
6. “The only way to beat my crazy was by doing something even crazier.” (from Silver Lining Playbook) Translation: By focusing fanatically on a larger goal and larger world outside of my suffocating angst, I overcame it.
Accept it and laugh on.
Thinking, thinking, thinking of all the ways I have screwed up, relationships I had marred, the many flavors of stupidity I let fly out of my mouth, and my inaccurate estimations of myself at the root of all these embarrassing displays of weird. In the middle of the night I can quickly label myself as unredeemable or I can remember that it is the middle of the night when I am most prone to be out of whack.
I can wait until morning for judgement, when rested, when I will see that I am more than this: still a work in progress, a mixture of bright and dull, awesome and not so awesome, light and dark, sunshine and shadow.
My romantic relationships and my work relationships improved when I quit worrying about how I was being perceived, or how I was being treated, what had just happened, or what was going to happen next. So did my tennis game. And my relationship with my kids and in-laws. And my health. And my joy. And my ability to have a good night’s sleep.
It took me over thirty years to figure that out with relationships. Over ten with something as inconsequential as tennis. Still working on it with new clients, new challenges, and strangers.
Most of us spend our waking hours splintered out in so many directions that we don’t even know what true focus is. People who bring their complete attention and focus with them wherever they go are so rare that when we are lucky enough to meet one, we cannot forget them. They are distilled and refreshing power: the power we have always longed for.
If you haven’t seen this delightful 2013 movie About Time, it is a refreshing reminder to relish life, one ordinary day at a time. If you don’t want to see the movie, or feel like your life is too ordinary to get excited about, try this:
- Look out your window as if you were on vacation, traveling to your city and your neighborhood for the very first time
- See your family and friends as if for the first time
- Forget about what you want them to do differently and delight in them just as they are
Stay tune for great joy. And…it’s about time!
With ample supply of this amazing elixir, I can:
- Overcome pain
- Disregard criticism
- Persevere through obstacles
- Smile at the future
- Heal my dis-ease
- Accomplish goals
- Forgive others’ faults
- Love fully
What is the elixir?
Confidence in my own worth;
Knowledge that my value is equal to the value of any and every created being that ever lived or will live; knowledge that even death cannot destroy my eternal presence and purpose; awareness that my value is something given freely to me. My value does not have to be earned or defended.
What time, energy, and sanity I would have saved if I had taken this elixir early and often.
(originally posted in 2013)
When I am preoccupied with the faults of exes, politicians, competitors, or relatives, I may be with the majority, but it is the mediocre majority.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of others, I will be tied and bound to ineffectiveness, derailed from happiness, and blind to my own culpability.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of anyone, I will miss the best opportunities of my life while groveling for my own self-worth at the muddy feet of jealousy.
And even worse, by my example, I will pull others down with me, to wallow in the smug and dirty alleys of vanity.
No hustling for worthiness.
No valuing myself by someone else’s measurement.
Shouldering responsibility for my own happiness.
Allowing others to belong to themselves.
Drawing nourishment from the one and only, unique relationship with my Creator, from which all sustaining relationships are born.
Honoring the fleeting, fertile moments in this body, here and now.