Beware of the Illusion

Beware of the illusion on those days when…

  • you feel too high or too low
  • it seems like you’ve finally got it all together
  • everything falls apart
  • you feel just a tad superior or inferior
  • it seems you never get a break
  • you’ve decided life is too much or not challenging enough

You have just bought into the illusion that life is conquerable and understandable, instead of a confounding mystery that defies your explanations. You have been taken to the cleaners by a life that will bring you what you need and not necessarily what you want. You have been duped by the illusion that life is about what you do and have, instead of about what you will learn and become inside.

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Prepare for a Shock

I was critical of The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis who writes in a difficult-to-follow, stream-of-consciousness style until I realized the book had casually exposed my own pattern of random patchwork thoughts; pin-balling around from topic to topic, past to future, pointless to profound, and noble to profane.

Afterwards, I was easier on Kathryn Davis, but harder on myself; shocked by the sheer absurdity of my…

  • Re-runs  (experts say that a very large percentage of our thoughts are the same every freakin’ day!)
  • Petty gripes
  • Overestimating my own understanding
  • Limited awareness of others

But, shock precedes improvement, so I am better for the experience.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work I go…shocked into better thinking and a more productive future…thanks to a book that was difficult to read.

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Cry Baby Alert

Nothing shakes me out of my self-centeredness, ethnocentrism, and poor-me problems more than reading biographies and fiction about the struggles of passionate men and women in other times and places. The first book that called me out on my bull#h*t was Les Miserables. When I read it many years ago, the plights of Jean Valjean, Fantine, and Cosette, representing the real problems of the time period, shook me hardily out of the illusion of my “difficult life.” Other books followed suit: Roots, Tale of Two Cities, A Good Earth, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Man’s Search for Meaning, The Hiding Place, etc. And, more currently, Jungle of Stone, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Endurance, Pillars of the Earth, Outlander, The Glass Castle, Same Kind of Different as Me, and countless others.

I hope you don’t have the same tendency that I have to become a small-minded cry-baby. But if you ever do, I hope you will let a book rescue you.

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Yes or Know

“The only ‘no’ in my vocabulary begins with k.” My friend, Joann, got this response when she asked for help. I loved it! The person she asked for help, went on to say, “Just let me know what you need.” 

Great philosophy…

Okay, well, I admit it is not a good philosophy for those of us who have a problem setting boundaries, or for those of us who hang out with sociopaths, or, for those of us who are already in trouble with authorities for saying yes too much, but for those of us who tend to say “no” too quickly, or need to learn generosity, what a concept!

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If You Want to Find a Hero

Men complain about their female exes, romantic interests, bosses, and co-workers being the b-word, manipulative, or impossible to please. Women complain about men being selfish, self-centered, and shallow.

If we want to stop repeating the madness and find movie-quality soulmates, partners, or heroes, here are the rules:

  1. Quit assessing people by their outward beauty or body type (when I meet a man whose primary measurement of a woman is how fit, pretty, or built she is, or a woman who obsesses about bald, overweight, or old, I know I am in the presence of the immature and lonely)
  2. Look at all people the same (don’t measure by what they are or do, $$, or possessions)
  3. Forgive everyone (bitter people are not attractive)
  4. Honor your suffering instead of complaining about it (the nicest people in the world are often those who have suffered most)
  5. Give generously (and forget about getting something back)

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Atoms of Ozygen, I Owe You an Apology

I have taken you for granted.

I am surrounded by you everywhere and have forgotten to notice you.

I have used you, haven’t I?

I have used you to complain, to sigh, and to curse

Instead of laugh.

And have ignored the refreshment you give to my one trillion cells.

Without you, I can’t go on living (and that is not a metaphor).

Please don’t leave me.

Give me another chance (or several) to show you the gratitude your deserve.

Right now, I apologize.

I breathe in a breath full of you and promise to thank you more often.

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It’s a good place to start.

Name Written on Water

The early death of love poet John Keats was probably from his misguided medical treatments as much as from Tuberculosis. The tragedy and pain of his death (without significant success at the age of 25) was further complicated by his financial struggles, even though he had a substantial inheritance that could have greatly helped him, but was never made known to him.

Upon his deathbed, he asked that his epitaph be, “Here lies One/Whose Name was writ in water.”

This insight into the absurdity of taking our existence too seriously, his work, and the frustrations of his life and death, too many to recount, often rescue me from despair when I am confronted with senseless injustice or confounded by seemingly random or easily preventable pain and loss.

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Life only makes sense in this context. Learning to love.

Happy V-Day.

And Can It Be?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in fear and nature’s night

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray (what the heck?)

I woke. The dungeon flamed with light

My chains fell off and my heart was free

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee

These are words to a powerful, ancient song by John Wesley. Many of us can relate to the imprisoned spirit and dungeon parts. But, this morning, I thought for the first time about the very strange “eye diffusing a quickening ray” line and (from personal experience) translated it as…You focused a laser of life-giving power directly upon me and, in a millisecond, I was free…

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So, if today I need freedom (miracles, hope, direction, wisdom, forgiveness, power), can it be that the laser of life-giving power might focus on me, one more time?

“I Thought Complaining Made Me Appear…Intelligent”

“I thought complaining made me appear sensitive, insightful, and intelligent.” I actually read this confession in a Carlos Castaneda book.  But, unfortunately, he is not the only one who has held this erroneous belief. From reading Facebook and blog posts, it seems most people believe it, or else they don’t care if others know how petty and immature they are.

Sub-consciously, I must have believed complaining sounded smart too, because I certainly never missed an opportunity to populate the airspace with my static. It took massive energy to learn to check my negativity at the door and keep conversations productive, but what a difference it made…for those who had to listen to me.

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A Balanced Inventory

I may not be happy with numerous things in the world…but, I am happy with a gazillion other things (like clean water and internet access).

I may have aged a lot in the last few years…but, my face has fewer bumps (because I have a dermatologist who took them off).

I may have  a larger waist…but, I have a larger purpose too (because being attractive was never a sustainable project).

I may have fewer admirers…but, I have learned to do the admiring (because, after all these years, I have finally accepted myself, which, by the way, gives me more time to admire others).

Because, it is so important to give myself a broader perspective (on issues both large and small), I have made a pact with myself to always balance the info I allow in my head. If I am fed bad news, I feed myself good news. It’s that simple. It’s not being Pollyanna positive, it’s being productively practical; just opening my eyes a little wider.

I am in charge of the feed.

Thank you Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield for your example: http://www.interestingshit.com/nature/good-news-stories/

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