Archive for June, 2007

Carpe Diem

>I read on CNN that yesterday, while playing a round of golf, a 73-year-old woman jumped into a lake on the course and successfully saved a drowning dog. It seems not all dogs can swim.    
   I think there are two important lessons in that event.
   First, we all make assumptions based upon stereotypes, culture, or our own pre-conceived biases.  Here are two: 1) old women are old, and as such, simply don’t do certain things…like jump into lakes with their clothes on to rescue anything; 2) all dogs can “doggy-paddle”(which we take to mean “swim”). So much for relying on assumptions. 
   But what is the real harm in thinking that way?  Well, when it comes to others, we tend to attribute thought and motive to them that may or may not be true and then we act or re-act based upon those assumptions, thereby setting into motion a whole series of events that may or may not be in the interest of all concerned.  
   When it comes to ourselves, assumptions about our capacity to process new information or respond to new challenges can be limiting  In reality, both our capacity to process and our ability to create are unlimited.  
   Take the woman who singlehandedly lifts an automobile off of her child trapped underneath it.  In her rational mind, given her own and society’s routine beliefs and biases, she would never think she had the strength or ability to perform such an act. But outside of those assumptions (and limiting beliefs) she simply does what she sets her will to do.
   The second lesson is that everything that is put in our way in life is an opportunity. I recall when one of many bystanders who witnessed the crash of a commuter airplane in the Potomac River many years ago  jumped into winter’s frigid waters to save a drowning woman even though he himself could not swim. Everyone watching the crash survivors from the nearby bridge had the same opportunity, but only one man seized it. I am certain his daring and success forever changed many lives. I know that image remains with me so many years later.
   Of course, it’s not always that dramatic. Sometimes the opportunities are more subtle. Like the homeless person whose path crosses yours and how you respond. Or a new day’s opportunity to relate and interact a little better with your child.
   The point is that everyone and everything that crosses your path today is there for a reason. The reason is your opportunity to push past self-and-other-imposed limitations and by so doing, create a new and uplifting story.
   Daring and creativity are their own reward. But try telling that to the 73-year-old who saved the dog, dried herself off and went on to play the best 18 holes of anyone in her set.
   She and the dog had a great day!    

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From the Cave to the Marketplace

>    Co-operation is a lot like co-creation.  It takes the combined efforts of two people to blend and successfully manifest a harmonious outcome.  I am reminded of the Buddhist parable where the monk retires to a cave and meditates for 20 years to gain supreme Enlightenment.  Finally, achieving his goal and complete inner peace, he descends from the mountain.  Arriving at the local market place teeming with people, he proceeds to get into an argument with the first person he meets.       
    Inner peace and Enlightenment, it seems, are much easier in a vacuum.
    It’s the rest of the people on the planet who make it all so difficult. Or are all those other people here precisely to challenge our beliefs and require us to live them as well? 
I suspect that if we were not meant to learn co-operation and co-creation…each of us would have had our own planet.  The mere presence of everyone else must mean something. I suspect that what it means depends upon what we do with it.  If we see everyone else as separate from us and, basically, an intrusion upon our plans and our reality, then the meaning we give to their existence is one of annoyance and distraction.
    If, however, we see them as part of an overall Creation in which we jointly co-operate and co-create new outcomes, then the meaning we give to their existence is one of gratitude and support.
     I am many things, none of which is delusional.  It’s one thing to know all of this in theory. It’s even one thing to believe it deeply.  It’s quite another to put that belief into action, especially where and when our interests and goals differ.
    Perhaps the best way to approach those differing interests and goals is to remember that each of us has patterns of thought and behavior that, like muscle, solidify and become stronger with use and over time. Its takes both effort and time to modify or adapt these patterns
     Simply put, it’s called patience.  We must have patience with ourselves and others as we try and change patterns to better serve ourselves and others.
    I had been listening to some very profound, spiritual tapes this past week and reading a great book on healing through thought. As a result of both, I was feeling very peaceful and grateful for all the spiritual guidance.
    This morning my 14 year old daughter behaved in a way she would like to change, but has not yet been able to master. I responded in a way that I would like to change, but have not yet been able to master. My husband reacted to both of us in a way he is working on changing but has not yet been able to master.
    I felt like the monk in the marketplace and wanted to go back into the cave.
    Instead, I’ll just be patient.

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Angels and Demons

>In 2001, when President Bush first met Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was quoted as saying, “I was able to get a sense of his [Putin’s] soul…” thereby determining that Putin was a “good” man. Since then their relationship has taken many turns, not all in the direction “good” men might proceed. Most recently, the two have been posturing and exchanging less than friendly and certainly not “soulful” remarks.
    This wouldn’t be the first time world leaders, whom we once deemed good men and allies, turned out to be something other…although it might have been the first time our judgment was openly and simplistically based upon a reading of one’s soul.
    This turn of events between Bush and Putin brings to light a quality we all share in our more mundane, daily lives and one which could benefit from some introspection. It’s our tendency to judge others and thereby make them “good” or “bad” when, in reality, at any given moment we are all just doing the best we can based upon the state of our consciousness and our beliefs.
    I know that I have spent a lifetime trying to overcome my tendency to judge everyone and everything. All judgment ever got me was separation and distance. It took me the greater part of 50 years to realize that judging sets ups barriers to connection, harmony and intimacy.  Since we as human creatures have an intrinsic need for all three, it couldn’t be more counterproductive than to judge (and thereby distance) the very people with whom we’re hoping to connect.
do it in our political dialog where Republicans and Democrats
judge each other and fortify an “us” against “them” mentality. We do it in the name of G-d and if the consequences weren’t so disastrous, it would actually be funny. Imagine, in the name of the One Creator, the single Source of all that is, we divide (and too often conquer) claiming as the basis for our actions that “our way” is the better way.  And it really doesn’t matter whether it’s the Crusades or the Taliban. In the end its the same capitulation to judgment with the same unproductive result.
    So what can we do? More specifically, what can you do?
    In mystical Judaism there’s a belief that when you arise each day and set out on your way, there is an angel who goes before you proclaiming “Behold, the image and likeness of G-d.”  Beautiful, isn’t it?  Well, that’s half of the belief. The other half is that proceeding in front of every other human being is also their angel, proclaiming “Behold, the image and likeness of G-d.” 
    Perhaps today you could suspend judgment and simply see and hear your own angel, and everyone else’s as well.  It might also be helpful to remember that you’re doing the best you can, based upon where your consciousness is and what you believe. And so is everyone else.
    If President Bush had simply seen the image and likeness of G-d in Vladimir Putin, he might not have had to spend the next 6 years changing his mind about him.

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