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.

Everything Will Go Sideways Eventually

My plans.

My possessions.

My successes.

My failures.

Things I am sure about.

My body.

My health.

People in my life.

That might sound pessimistic, yet, after reading countless biographies and observing the lives of generations of family, friends, and associates, it is simply realistic. Even the most accomplished politician, star, athlete, entrepreneur, or inventor has been (or will be) subject to the ravishes of time.

Once I have accepted this, I can live without drama.

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The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive.

– Carlos Castaneda

Minions, Opinions, and Illusions

Some of the biggest falls I have taken in my life have been associated with ignoring the following important facts:

  • What I think people think about me and what people actually think about me are generally two different things.
  • What people say to me is not usually what people say about me (especially when I am their boss, family member, or competitor).
  • Who I think really agrees with me and who really agrees with me are far from the same.

To avoid a rude slap in the face from reality, I must…

  • find my security from within vs. from without
  • remember that we humans, in order to avoid conflict, often say and do what is expedient vs. what is completely honest
  • work daily on an inner life (based on awareness vs. illusion)
  • solicit, accept, and reward honest feedback from peers, employees, and family

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Starting with a New Baseline

Weekend challenge: let go of inaccurate opinions of myself…

Two-Minute Tune-Up

“When a person attains a new, more realistic understanding of who he (or she) is, a quantum jump occurs in our ability to perform, whether in sport, business, or personal relations. We are able to express a new dimension of our self that we have just grown into.” -Timothy Galway

Or we can just keep deceiving ourselves and stay where we are.

All those years of butting heads with my accusers, opponents, and family members (instead of hearing and processing their feedback) just added bricks to the wall of my ego, fear, and self-deception. When the wall came down, I saw the baseline behind the wall and began to make rapid progress.

Previously, I protected an illusion that I called myself.

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Find the Space

When it feels crowded in my head

And I can’t find a moment to rest

When things do not seem to be going well

 Or improving

When obstacle after obstacle is ahead

With wild dysfunction and disconnect

There is one thing that will help

(Even though I am skeptical

And it appears disturbingly counterproductive)

 

Give stillness the space it demands.

 

Stop talking, plotting, searching, texting, scrambling, and working

 

Give stillness the space it demands.

 

Go quickly, without resistance to that wide place

Where, inside me, I can find a cooperative universe

Unveiling a path into silence, acceptance, order, and confidence

 

Why, oh why, did I waste so much time getting there?

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(For those who have pin-ball brains similar to mine, stopping it is no easy task. Try this: Sit quietly and notice your breathing. With every breath in, think “just.” With every breath out, think “this.” Repeat as long as it takes for “just this” breath to be all you are thinking about.)

Connection and Contribution

Everyone is looking for a way to distinguish themselves.

Everyone wants love.

We can deny it or hide it, but all of us crave connection and a way to contribute our gifts.

When I feel the lack of these things, I can choose to withdraw. I can choose to rage against those who seem to have what I lack. Or I can choose to make a difference for those who are also in need of connection and contribution.

These people are everywhere. They are my neighbors. They are my enemies or my competitors. They are the strangers I fear or the friends I have yet to meet.

 

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If I remember this when my own plans (for who should love me, or who should value my gifts) crumble, I will thrive.

What Pearl Harbor Day Can Do For Me Today

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  1. Remind me that life is much larger than my own drama.
  2. Confront me with my need for historical knowledge.
  3. Challenge me to care about the millions everywhere who suffer in the wake of war.
  4. Confirm the fragile nature of life as I know it.
  5. Give me a sense of urgency to contribute good to the world.

Those of us who are younger than WWII most likely will think of the movie or give the day a passing nod. But, if we choose to give it more than that, we will be the beneficiary.

Our short lives are pleading for us

Begging for us to stop and care

Our mission here might simply be

To be aware

The Life-Changing Question

It seems I have the same two choices everyday:

  1. I can live as if my own needs and priorities are critical and urgent, or
  2. I can live as if the needs and priorities of those around me are just as important as my own.

Selecting the first option, in the grocery store, I see my list and the most efficient path to getting what I need. My subconscious might ask questions such as, “Why won’t people get out of my way?” or “Why doesn’t he get a job?” or “Why doesn’t she take better care of herself?”

When I select the second option, I notice the skinny, young man using his last dollar to pick up a prescription for his sick kid. I see the frail woman with Alzheimer’s being led around by a detached caregiver. I notice a depressed and angry man buying one-portion sizes. I see the subconscious, unattractive woman who won’t make eye-contact. And, I ask the life-changing question, “What more can I do to help?”

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Not on Any Map

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This quote from Moby Dick came to mind when I took out a map of the world with the intention of marking all the places I have worked and traveled. Truly grateful for having gone places I never thought I would, I am also keenly aware that the most transformative places I have been are not on any map.

This awareness, more than any other, helps me to look at other people with reverence and gentleness, even those people I don’t understand, agree with, or particularly like. Who could chart their journey through sadness, loss, love, discovery, disappointment, and change?

“Tread softly

For this is holy ground

Could we see with seeing eyes

The place we stand on is paradise”

– Christina Rossetti

Did Someone Say “Mortality?”

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It’s difficult to get our head around it

We think we have lots of time

We think we will not fade after the flash

We think we are more than a flicker

Then

When our friends start to fall off the planet

Or when we see ourselves start to fade (and no effort to change that succeeds)

We panic or despair

Even though those before had known and warned us

We would only live in the flicker

We had forgotten

As we had forgotten until now

That we were flying through space at one thousand miles an hour