Friday, October 25, 2013

I'd live differetly if I knew I was going to live 1000 years.

     The time frame of our human existence matters. And since it's so short, I'm living in a way that is in sync with that brevity. In other words, life's shortness has me focusing on what's important NOW.
     They say that one of the most valuable things about having a pet is that they remind us of our mortality. Think of dogs' seven years for every one of ours. We see our beloved dogs so rapidly heading into the end of their lives, their muzzles graying, sleeping longer, their gaits shortening, and it reminds us that the same fate awaits us.
     So yeah, I'm human. I want all kinds of things humans want. Security, success, companionship, esteem of others--these are all things I want. But when I think in terms of my imminent mortality (and by that I mean even if I live another 100 years!), I live differently. I start asking myself the question:  "What's really important?" I say to myself, "If I had a terminal disease, would  I  be doing this or that, or worrying about this or that?"
     Isn't that the truth? You live your  life chasing after all these things that seem so incredibly important, and then you get a test back from your  doctor confirming the worst. Then your life changes on a dime. You have different values. You spend your time differently. You waste no time. You do what has the deepest meaning. You take the chances you were too busy or afraid to take before. You seek out love and friendship. You seek what has meaning and what lasts.
      So as far as I'm concerned, that's the key--live right this moment as if you've got that bad diagnosis. Value what truly has value right now.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beware of those who KNOW the answers.

     When someone says they know the answer, you can take it to the bank they don't. Saying you know the answer is analogous to saying, "I'm not human." No one can know the answer. Which isn't to say that people can't say, "This is the way it seems to me." Or "I think this is what that is." But "I know." Run from those people like the plague. Why?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Full speed ahead or throttle back?

     Most conventional wisdom is to go for it. Give it 110% 100% of the time. But then some say "let go and let God." So is a happy medium the answer? I don't think so.
     The poet Rumi wrote:

I don't know whether the union I want will come through my effort, or my giving up effort, or from something completely separate from anything I do or don't do.

     Sounds like a Catch 22 but it's not.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What would life be like--if you never took a risk?

     That's from the back cover blurb of a book called Risking by David Viscott M.D. I just find that question so provocative—and helpful.
     For we all want to be safe. It's our natural state. For life is precarious. Make the wrong decision, you could be dead. So safe is a good thing. Limit risk. That's another good thing.
     And safety is a good thing. We all need it. But then again, what would your life be like if you never took a risk?

Friday, August 16, 2013

On a losing streak? Read this.

     There's nothing profound here. Just the simple fact of life that everything changes. You know it's true. And so if you're on a losing streak, guess what, it has to change because nothing stays the same in this world.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Is goodness enough?

     Seems simple. Yes. But is it?
     Some years back my ninety-four-year-old aunt was in a nursing home, and she developed a severe case of pneumonia. I really thought she was dying, and I really wanted to visit her, but having frequently gotten bronchitis for years I was dreadfully hesitant. Finally I talked to another aunt who said, "When you do something good, God protects you." That decided it for me. I went.
     I comforted my sick aunt. I stroked her forehead as she gasped for breath. I tried to turn away when she hacked. I was very afraid, but I was hanging on to what my other aunt had said about Divine protection when doing something good.
     To make a long story short. My sick aunt recovered. And I got the worst case of bronchitis (nearly needing hospitalization) I'd ever gotten.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Succeed by seeing the invisible.

     "He's got eyes in the back of his head."
     The Hindus talk about "the third eye."
     And then there's "second sight" or clairvoyance.
     And some people sleep with their eyes open (and so clearly, the ability to see is not solely in the eyeball).
     In other words, there is a lot of information out there (granted, many would call it speculation) that we can see more, perceive more than what we can just with our senses. And I think we can.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Always right on the edge of success yet no further?

     It's maddening—being right on the edge of succeeding and yet never breaking through. Here's a quote from Deepak Chopra:

...we were created to achieve our aspirations rather than simply circle them.

     And one from the golfer Arnold Palmer:

I wasn't going to live a life of dear and near misses.

     One more (for the younger generation) from the musical group Faith No More's song "Epic":

You want it all but you can't have it/ It's in your face but you can't grab it

     So one thing is clear—the frustration of being close but shut out of success is brutal. But what can you do about it?

Monday, July 22, 2013

If you try to please everybody you'll end up a nobody.

     Everybody wants you to be a certain way. "Be like Mike" was a slogan for a TV commercial. Your parents want you to live this way. Your friends want you to live another. So and so didn't like that you did this. This one didn't like that.
     If you lived the way everybody wanted you to live, you would be out of your mind in no time flat.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

On people who are always late.

     Politics aside, they say President Clinton (and this may have to be updated in a couple of years to be clear about which one) was always late to appointments, whereas President George W. Bush was always impeccably on time. The speculation went that Clinton made people wait to show them who the 'big dog' was, who had the most power. It was a message.
     But what sort of message does being chronically late send?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Are we boring ourselves to death?

          I can't tell you how many times I've heard my little nephews and niece say: "It's boring." To them it seems like anything that's not online is boring, including sunsets, nature and life. "It's boring." "That's boring." "I don't wanna go. It'll be boring." A popular song by Collective Soul called "Run" has the lyrics:

Are these times contagious? I've never been this bored before

     So is this the "age of boredom"? Do we need some flashing technological bauble, some racy movie, non-stop 4th of July fireworks to hold our interest?
     Or are we boring ourselves?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Do we have spiritual radar? (Can we know what's coming?)

     I wonder sometimes. Remember the days before radar? How you'd just listen to the radio and they'd say: 'Today there's a 50% chance of rain.' Well, what the heck does that tell you? Now we click on our live Doppler radar screens on the Internet and see just about every raindrop there is to be seen. But what about our spiritual lives? Can we have "radar" there too? Can we sense what's coming around the corner for us?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Afraid to make a mistake?

     Ah! The world will come to an end if you do! That's the way I used to think anyway. Not anymore. Funny, yesterday I touched on mistakes and then last night I came across all this stuff about mistakes. So, being an expert on this subjekt (yes, I made a MISTAKE),  here goes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

How would you live if you could live your life over again?

     That's the entire premise of a novel called Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by the Russian writer P.D. Ouspensky. It's a fascinating book and I won't give away the ending in case any of you decide to read it. But suffice it to say it's quite a surprising conclusion Ouspensky comes to.
     So what about you? How would you live if you could live your life over again?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Frustration is a killer.

     Anybody dealing with frustration out there? Man, I feel like I've been enduring enough frustration for ten million lifetimes. You know, isn't it supposed to be that life gets easier as you go along? I don't know, sometimes it really doesn't seem that way. It's like the question I'm thinking is, when is it going to get better? When am I going to be able to breathe a little easier? When will life cease to be such a struggle.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The only way out is through.

     Wouldn't it be nice if we could dodge our pain? I'd love it. And we really try to convince ourselves that we can, don't we? But there's a deeper part of us that knows we can't.
     But can we really embrace our pain? Doesn't that seem masochistic? Well, no actually, because what you can do is not embrace your pain but embrace the results that come from embracing your pain.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Where are you at in the tunnel?

    Everybody knows the analogy. Life is like a tunnel. You just have to keep chipping away until you break through to the other side? But how do you know where you're at in the tunnel? And if you knew, would you want to continue? ("You have five thousand MILES to go.") So hefting one shovelful of dirt after another, exhausted, surrounded by darkness, what do you do?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Okay, so it's all clear now, right? We go for it!

     Or do we? Don't we have to back off sometimes. I know I'm usually like "maximum effort all of the time!" But hey, I'm realistic too.
     The wonderful NY Times columnist and author the late Christopher Hitchens said one of his guiding slogans was: 'if it doesn't kill me, it makes me stronger.' But when he contracted a fatal illness and his body and strength wore down he realized that his slogan didn't hold.
     So what's the answer?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Living at warp speed.

     I'm not talking about burning the candle at both ends. But I am talking about living at 100%. They've done studies. You can have massive amounts of exertion but you need sufficient periods of time to recover. But that's here nor there for this post. This post is about entering a new dimension, a new realm, via your own effort.

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Aristotelian conundrum

     Okay, a fancy title, but it's still me with your "regular Joe" life-changing stuff. Anyway, here's Aristotle:

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. (from Nicomachean Ethics , bk II, ch I)

But really that's almost like a haiku, isn't it? The things we have to learn BEFORE we can do them, we learn by doing them. So what the heck is that all about?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life without God just isn't fun.

     It's certainly possible to live your life without God, but that's just such a dull way to live. (I mean, obviously there's other considerations besides that, but that's a mighty big one.) Plod along with reason. Like the Supertramp song says: "Grab onto what you can scramble for." What a grind. No fun at all.
     God's exciting.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Are you a good person?

     No you're not. You may do good things now and then, but no one is totally good all the time. No one is "a good person." We're good. We're bad. We're kind. We're mean-spirited sometimes.
     In other words—we're human.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The tiniest little thing can turn a life around.

     You know, if you don't think your life is going to work out, you're right. You've got to believe that things can turn around on a dime. If you're like, 'Oh, that'll never happen for me' then stop reading right now because this post isn't going to do you any good.
     One tiny thing happens and the world changes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Encourage somebody today

We live by encouragement and die without it—slowly, sadly and angrily. —Celeste Holm

Encourage somebody today. And that doesn't mean you have to give them a pep talk or a pat on the back. A simple smile might do the trick or just showing up for something important to them. Sometimes just your attention can be a life saver. And as always, as you give, so you get.

I'm living proof of needing encouragement. There's nothing earth shattering going on in my life right now, but I am working very hard with nothing to show for it. It's okay. I enjoy what I'm doing. But today I just got bogged down in this scary zone, where it seemed nothing I was doing was working, and what little I was doing could be disastrous. I got pretty low.

Then from out of the blue I received a couple of emails. Man, I'm telling you they just  turned my whole day, my whole life around. People need to know that other people care about them. And not just close family members. We all need each other. So say hi to the mailman. Look for the opportunity to encourage somebody and you'll find it, as there are a lot of hurting people in the world. (Like the saying: Be kind to everyone you meet today because everyone you meet has a great big problem.)
     So encourage somebody today and hopefully somebody will encourage you too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Can a person be too enthusiastic?

In baseball if a player is trying to stretch a double into a triple, and he is busting his butt, running hard, and he slides, but he over-slides the base and gets tagged out, well, chances are that third base coach is just going to pat that player on the back. But he made an out, you might be thinking, the coach should be disappointed, so why would he pat him on the back? He'd pat him on the back because the player made "an error of enthusiasm." If the player had been lazy running the bases and got tagged out, then the coach would've been angry.

But is enthusiasm always a good thing?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Well, we've all known the Katie Couric or Richard Simmons sort of perky people. The kind of people that are naturally disposed to being enthusiastic. But for the rest of us...

I think for the rest of us, to have enthusiasm is work. I mean that in a good sense. Just like to have hospitality is work. If people come to your house and find it clean and welcoming, if they find food and beverages in the fridge, well, that doesn't just happen. It takes work.

It's the same with enthusiasm. Most people don't wake up bursting with a zest for life. They have to work at it. Oh, I'm sure over the course of time, enthusiasm builds and develops a momentum of its own, but in general it is self-called-up.

But can you have too much enthusiasm? Well, if you've ever seen a Richard Simmons exercise video you would say, "Undoubtedly, yes." But I don't think you can be too enthusiastic. If it's genuine, that is.

Many people resent other people's enthusiasm. They do so because it reminds them of what they lack. Or perhaps of what they've abandoned years ago. And the flip side of the coin is people who work at being enthusiastic often feed off of other's enthusiasm.

So no, you can't be too enthusiastic.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ever feel like the "Dumbest guy/woman in the room"?

     You know, kind of like the opposite of "the smartest guys in the room." Lately I've been feeling pretty dumb lately. I've never been great at grasping thing in a comprehensive way, but lately I've been hitting new lows in that area. It's humiliating.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Getting it done.

     I used to be a real estate agent. I liked certain aspects of being one, but what I really took away from the job was the expression: We got it done! The notion is that real estate deals are often hard to put, and hold, together. Both buyers and sellers think they're not getting a fair shake. Often they resent the real estate agents' commissions (I think they may have something there), and all kinds of things can go wrong to wreck the deal. Through it all the agents (for both the buyer and the seller) maintain a camaraderie, a bond—despite being on opposite sides—in hopes of completing the deal. It may be nerve wracking. It may be ugly. The deal may have been hanging by a thread. But when all is said and done and the deal finally closes, ahh, what sweet satisfaction to say: "We got it done!"
     And there are broader parallels.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mystics vs. Rationalists.

     I'd like to see that one. It would be an epic battle. Kind of like the Cubs vs. the White Sox. Or like you always wonder about animals facing off in the wild. What would win in a fight between an alligator and a Grizzly bear? Really if you think about it, in a sense both mystics and rationalists are freaks. But do they know something the rest of us don't?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do you believe in destiny?

     It's such a great concept. This from the German poet Schiller:

There's no such thing as chance; and what to us seems merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.

     Yes, destiny is such a great concept. I wish it were true. I hope it's true. But I'm just not so sure it is. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Can you win by losing?

     We all know the "tough guy" cliches about winning and losing. "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser." "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." etc. etc. Read the sports magazines and newspapers and you'll hear more tough guy talk about winning and losing. They'll feature the hockey fights and show the bloodied, humiliated losers. But if you ask me, those people are the real losers.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Should you keep going when nothing EVER seems to go right?

     Everybody can deal with occasional disappointments. We know disappointments are a part of life. But how do you deal with disappointments when they are seemingly endless. You know what it's like. You keep fighting and fighting and battling through—and what's your reward? More battles to fight.
     I have no easy answer for this one. If you're looking for one from me you can quit reading now.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seduced by technology?

     I'm really just a writer. But eight months or so ago I was going to use this commercial service to format and distribute a novel of mine as an e-book. It was all so easy. They formatted it. They were going to give me a copy of the e-book. I was going to check it for errors. Then they were going to distribute it, keep records of the sales, etc. etc.
     Then, being ever diligent in my preparation, I just did some additional research into it and found that it really wasn't that difficult to format the book on my own. So I checked into that a little more. And I found, hey, they were right—it really wasn't so difficult to do the formatting.
     And that led to a little more googling and downloading some free formatting software and joining a forum where people helped each other with the formatting. And then I got interested in doing my own e-book covers and I downloaded some photoshop software and joined another forum to help with that. And then I got interested in...
     Bottom line: I haven't written hardly a word for the last eight months.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Anti-depressants anyone?

     I'm not a psychiatrist. I'm not dispensing medical advice. I don't pretend to fully understand serious depression. But  I can speak from my own personal experience dealing with depression.
     The American medical model is pharmacological. It  is reactive, rather than preventative. Doctors need to diagnose a disease and then they treat it (almost always  with drugs). The notion of preventative medicine or maintaining optimal health is completely foreign to most American doctors. Bottom line: if  you're depressed, chances are overwhelming that they're  going to give you anti-depressants.
      The question is—should you take  them?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can obsession be a good thing?

     I admire scientists, mathematicians, inventors. They all seem so utterly and endlessly and categorically committed to their pursuits. This on the mathematician Archimedes in Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Romans:

And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him) the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science.

     Could you see this this guy at the beach, tracing Isosceles triangles and Venn diagrams on his belly slathered in Coppertone?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The futility of judging.

     I had a neighbor once. Every time she left her apartment she'd slam her door. I was like, 'She is so angry. What is her problem?'
     Ironically, the woman seemed quite nice whenever I would run into her. But then more door slamming. And again, I was like, 'What is her problem?' For over a year this went on.
     Then the woman moved out, and a janitor was in the hall working on her door. I stopped to talk to him, thinking he was repairing all the damage the slamming had caused. But when I asked him what he was doing, he said, "I have to shave one side of the door down. The door got warped and you couldn't close it without slamming it."
     Ha! So all my thoughts about my neighbor's anger: DEAD WRONG AND A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Give away to get.

     Today I was playing golf with a friend. I was pretty hot, pretty tired, but we were having fun. Then my friend hit a shot into the woods. He was like, "Oh, I really hope I find my ball. It was a good one." Well, he never found his ball, and I could see how disappointed he was. Not making a big deal out of it, I reached into my golf bag and tossed him a really good ball and said, "Here, you can have this one." Well, he hit his shot and when I started walking I hardly even took a single step and there, right in front of me, nestled down in the grass was a brand new ball that was way better than even the really good ball I'd given my friend.
     That is the principle of give away to get.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We're all the same.

     Haven't you ever thought to yourself: 'Gee, how come I'm like this?' Or 'How come my family was at such a disadvantage that I couldn't do the things other people did?' Or 'Why couldn't I have the talent or the looks or the brains of so and so?' Or 'I'm so different than others. I just don't fit in.'
     Although I've spent most of my life thinking that way, I can tell you that this sort of thinking is absolutely false. Life's not as mysterious as it seems. There are no superpowers out there. People all have the same flesh and blood, the same fears, desires and dreams. The only difference is in the degree.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Are you simple?

     No, I'm not dissing you. lol The composer Chopin wrote:

Simplicity is the hardest thing. It is also the final thing.

     From a book called Living Deliberately by Harry Palmer:

A staggering amount of complexity and confusion began to dissolve into simplicity.

     And General Electric CEO,The  Jack Welch:

The important part for me was going down all the blind alleys, repeating myself, feeling frustrated, until I got to where it was simple. I'm a firm believer that simple is the most elegant thing one can be.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ever have an unsolvable problem?

     If you have, you  know how frustrating it can be trying to overcome it. You just keep banging into it over and over and over and the darn thing just won't  give. You could give up but you're not going to. So you keep banging away at it. Still it doesn't give. So you try new tactics. Nothing. You're just about beat and you're thinking that having this unsolvable problem is the most unfair thing in the world. You can't  beat it! that necessarily a bad thing? Consider this from novelist Iris  Murdoch:

A problem is a star. An unsolvable problem is a sun.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Who's steering YOUR ship?

     There's this business book by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman called Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will. That's quite a title. Is it true though? You bet it is.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A different kind of spirituality.

from the character Reverend Jim Ignatowski on the TV show "Taxi"

I meditated for hours on end. Chanted. I was finding God all over the place. He kept ditching me. You gotta understand, I thought I was on my way to Nirvana. All I ended up with was recurrent flashbacks of the original Mouseketeers.

     Come on. It is funny. And sometimes we just gotta laugh at how crazy spirituality can be. I used to compare it to playing the board game Monopoly.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

     You sure you don't have what you want right in front of your nose? Oh, sure, it's easy to say, No. But look a little closer. You might surprise yourself. This from William Least Heat-Moon's Prairy Erth :

What I cherish I've come to slowly, usually blindly, not seeing it for some time...

     Don't we do the same thing sometimes? Not see what's (good) coming. Being blind to it for a long time before realizing what we've got.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is failure your friend? (It should be.)

     I'm a golfer. (Please don't hold that against me.) Just recently professional golfer Adam Scott won the Masters golf tournament after a crushing, disheartening defeat in another big golf tournament, the British Open. On the PGA Tour (and other tours similar to it) 150 golfers play every week and 149 lose. Tough odds, don't you think? But the interesting thing is—the guys who lose most often eventually win—and they end up winning more often too.
     Ironically losing is the fastest way to winning.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Want to be a diamond?

     If you do, you're going to be under a lot of pressure and you'll have to withstand a lot of heat because that's how diamonds are formed. And if you want to be a human diamond, really want it, the Universe will make you into one. And how it will do that will be by blasting you with heat and putting you under the most intense pressure. 'Well, that doesn't sound like fun,' you say. Well, if you wanted to be an ice cube, it would have to be below freezing, wouldn't it? If you wanted to boil, you'd have to be 212 degrees.
    You want to be a diamond, you're gonna have heat and pressure.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What is true spirituality?

     Every group thinks it's got the true spirituality. The born-agains, the 12-steppers, the Jews, the Catholics, the Muslims, the Buddhist, the Hindus, the Mormons the New-Agers. Pretty annoying, isn't it? Or how about this notion that all fundamentalism embraces—follow our doctrine and you will have peace. Well, maybe you will, but it will be a false peace, a peace built on avoidance and fear.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ever feel like you're invisible?

...I began to believe that I was a ghost no one could see. (from Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Certificate)
     I've felt invisible in my life. I mean just about literally invisible, not just ignored or overlooked. And I have a theory about it (that sort of invisibility). I don't think it's a bad thing at all. In fact, I think it's a good thing. I think that sort of invisibility is an indication that a person is very spiritual. In the literal sense: you're more spirit than body.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Does money really matter?

     Here's a news flash: you're going to die some day. (I'm not trying to be morbid. Just hear me out.) And you're going to die whether you have a little money or a lot. And really, what is money anyway? Somebody said: What is being rich? Being rich is being able to do what you want all day.
     And somebody wrote: Money talks, but does it tell the truth?

I've always been a loner.

    I figured I could do everything on my own. And it worked pretty well for a while. Like I said "for a while." Then I ran into some problems I couldn't fix on my own, and that's when a lifetime of being a loner really worked against me because I still tried to do everything on my own even though I needed help. Now I'm quick to embrace help and really see the benefit of NOT going it alone.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Get ready.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
—Abraham Lincoln
     Ever try to cut something with a dull axe or saw? It is an absolute frustration. And what makes it particularly maddening is that the axe or the saw can look sharp (and like it will cut) but it doesn't. And really that's like life.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Numbers don't matter.

     Honestly, isn't it the quality of the people you're involved with, rather than the sheer number of people? I mean, wouldn't you rather have somebody really kind and intelligent interested in you, than a thousand mindless people? They say the masses only like ordinary stuff because that's all they have the capability to appreciate. Whereas the greater intellects and the greater artistic sensibilities can, accordingly, only be appreciated by those with the capacity to appreciate them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

When nothing's going right.

     You know the feeling: no matter what you do, you run into one failure, one roadblock, one more disappointment after another after another after another. No easy answer for this one. It could be the old 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' and although that's good advice to an extent, there's much more to it than that.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anybody want to be great?

     I do. I mean, why the heck not. I just talked to a friend who said, 'I know it's silly, but I want to do something great and be really famous some day.' I said, "That's not silly at all." Last year's Masters champ Bubba Watson was asked if he really tried to hit heroic shots. He said, 'Heck, yeah, that's why I play golf—to hit heroic shots.'
     Being great is not the same as being grandiose. In fact, true greatness would be just the opposite. When you're truly great you don't need to be showboating your ability or touting your achievements. You don't have to be knocking anybody else down.
     When you're truly great just knowing that you're great is enough.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Nobody can beat you. Nobody can top you.

     You know why? Because they're not you.

What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it; written as well, do not write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself—and thus make yourself indispensable. —Andre Gide

Thursday, April 11, 2013

You can't leave a place you've never been.

     That almost sounds like a Country & Western song title, doesn't it? (Speaking of which, one of my favorites is: "I've Fallen in Love (and I Can't Get Up)") But seriously, there's a lot to acceptance. But our minds, our egos often fight it at every turn. Haven't you ever been at a place in your life where you're like: "I can not be this messed-up." Or "I can't have that far to go." Or "I can't be that far behind everybody else!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Does God have a dream for us?

     And if he does, is it better than the one we have for ourselves? I was going through this little book called The Prayer of Jabez and I came across this:

Do we really understand how far the American Dream is from God's dream for us?

     That got me thinking.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things getting hard? That's a good sign.

     When life gets tough it usually means you're in for something good. Friedrich Nietzsche (who knew some tough times) wrote:

Life always gets harder toward the summit—the cold increases, responsibility increases.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Are you afraid?

     Who isn't? It's the human condition to have fear. If you don't have fear in your life, you're not sane. The mentally ill and psychotic often have no fear. Be glad you have fear. It's part of life. But don't use fear as an excuse.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The "genius" fallacy.

     Most people love to look at the life of somebody like Mozart and say, 'Oh, Mozart was a genius. He was born with genius. Heck, he was composing music at five-years-old.'
      Do you know what those people are really saying? 'Well, you either are born with genius or you're not, so I obviously am not, so there's  no real reason to work hard at developing whatever talents I may have.' In other words, it's an excuse and a rationalization not to try.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Are you a hero?

     Life is hard. If you expect extended stretches of blue sky you're deluding yourself. Life is pretty much non-stop struggle, and you need a fair amount of anger to rise up and deal with it. At least I do. Sometimes life just seems stupid. Like, Why are we here? I mean, really, what's the point?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Are we eternal beings?

     Some people say we're animals. Just glorified apes. Well, I would agree that some people are (I'm just kidding). Do we resemble apes? Sure. But I imagine a nuclear warhead must look pretty similar to a non-nuclear one and yet the difference between them is huge. So, we're not animals. But then what are we? Bodies or spirits?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Life as a series of shocks?

     Doesn't it seem that's the way life is sometimes? You go along and you're pretty stabilized, then pow! something knocks you out of the water. It's quite unsettling. Now I'm not just talking about once in a blue moon type shocks. Everybody gets those. I'm talking about shocks you get on a nearly daily basis.

The big "MO"

     Momentum. It exists in everything and it's a very good thing that it does. Have you ever felt like, 'What's the use of trying to take on that huge problem in my life? I just don't have the wherewithal to overcome it'? I know I have. I used to let bills pile up and then be like, 'That's going to take ten hours to do so forget it.' But the thing is the effect of effort is cumulative and no honest effort is ever wasted. And so once you start storing up all the cumulative effort that's when the magic of momentum kicks in and that's when the fun starts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be a big empty cup.

     If you're an empty cup you can be filled up. If you're already full, there's no place for anything new. So don't be so full or sure of yourself that you're not open to new ideas or to help.  And if you want to take in a lot, you need to be a big cup. So work on building a bigger cup. Then make sure it's empty.

Monday, April 1, 2013

You've got to hang.

     It's those last few seconds that make all the difference. Well, it's not always seconds. It could be minutes or months or years, but the principle is the same— hanging tough, especially when things are going against you. I don't understand why good things come when you hang tough when things are going against you, but I know that they do.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Want to know how to stay safe?

     Here's the answer. Marcus Aurelius said it:

I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured.

     But is that a true statement? And just what is the truth? Who decides? Is there a Truthmeister somewhere handing out edicts? Is the truth relative? Absolute? The same for everybody?
     A lot of questions to be sure, but the truth is still out there and still reliable.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Is it strange to be a human being or is it just me?

     You don't have to answer that. It's just we think it's so typical, so ordinary to be a human being. We take so much for granted. Personally I think it's very strange to be a human being. Take drives (hunger, thirst, sex). People don't think about it but it's strange stuff. It's like you've got an alien in your body pulling the strings.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time is running out.

     If you live another hundred years it's going to go by in a flash. It's a blip in terms of eternity. So what are you going to do with that blip?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hard work pays off.

     That seems like a real given, right? But it's not. How many times do people get in ruts where they're just working hard and working hard and working hard and they're not getting any of the benefits they should— and lots of times when that happens they get jaded or exhausted or defeated. The key thing to remember is— we work hard for things to pay off. Don't ever lose sight of that. Even when things aren't working out the way you planned.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who does the work--us or God?

     I have a hard time getting up on Mondays. It's like leaving behind the fun and relative ease of the weekend and facing the seriousness of your life, and you have to do it fifty-two times a year. Well, this last Monday I woke up early and I lie there in bed, not wanting to get up, not wanting to do anything. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice if God just took over, gave me energy and got me going?'
     So what did I do? Was I wafted up out of bed by some supernatural power? What do you think?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Can we be "supermen" or "superwomen"?

     I think so. I met somebody, a very nice woman, on one of those dating sites. We corresponded a bit, were both interested in writing, so I ended up telling her about this blog. A couple of days later she wrote back and said she didn't think we were a good match and she didn't think it was healthy to try to live in a zone or be superman.
     Well, I disagree.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Living in the magical.

     You know, the whole vampire/zombie/Harry Potter craze just says one thing: people are enthralled with the idea of being able to live beyond ordinary human experience. And do you know why. Because people can live beyond ordinary human experience. But you're not going to find out how from Harry Potter. Oh no.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Something small could really be huge.

     Let's face it: we tend to look for the big things in life. We want to know what major changes are on the way for us. Big big big: it's the American way. But the small things can be where the beginning of something huge may be taking place. So when you see something small, don't brush it off, looking for something bigger, because you don't know where that small thing might lead.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Everybody's doing it. So what!

     Okay, here's a fact. Your life has a fixed number of heartbeats left. That's it. Now the human heart will on average beat 2.5 billion times during the course of a lifetime, but still, the point is: our time here is fixed. Period. No wishing or dreaming or hoping or denying or blanking out is going to void that fact. And if you're wise you'll embrace it.
     So how are you going to spend those heartbeats? Just recently two different friends told me they were going to read Fifty Shades of Grey. I said to the first friend: "It's about S&M, isn't it?" She said, "Yeah, it's 'Mommy Porn.'" I said, "Well, why are you going to read it then?" She said, "To see why everybody's talking about it." It was virtually the same thing with the second friend.
     What a waste. What a waste.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You've got enough.

     Ever feel like you just don't have enough of what it takes to live successfully in this world? I feel that way sometimes. In fact, I've felt that way a lot in my life. But it's a fooler because whatever you've got to give is enough. Whatever you've got to give is perfect.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Act Now

Act now— there's no "later." If I could go back, I wouldn't talk as much about writing a book— I'd write it. Don't wait around for anyone. Do whatever you can yourself. If you wait you'll be dead.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You gotta make decisions.

     I'll admit it. I have the hardest time making decisions. I was at a Kohl's department store trying to buy a pair of shoes. I like have to have everything just perfect in the shoes because so many times I've bought shoes that felt great in the store and gotten them home and after a while they've hurt my feet, and I've been stuck with crappy shoes. Anyway  back to Kohl's. This young woman was helping me, feeling my shoes to see that my toes fit, that the shoes weren't too narrow, that they had sufficient arch... And I, after every fitting, and with every pair of shoes, would walk around Kohl's, testing them out— extensively. Well, the young woman who'd been helping me must've gone to lunch and I must've been there now for hours because when she came back in the shoe section she said: "Are you still here?!"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Want to perform on the super-human level?

     This one's for anybody that wants to live at the level of the supernatural. And who wouldn't? So this one's for everyone. The baseball pitcher Steve Carlton once said he didn't like the term 'human being' because it implied limitation. Now I don't know if I agree with that one, but I agree with the sentiment of transcending ordinary human capability. And the way to that transcendence is...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Can you be yourself for a single second?

     Sure, it's easy. Anybody can be themselves for one second. Can they? Can you? Can you absolutely, categorically, 100% be the real, true, core person who you are in your soul? If so, when was the last time you were? Are you sure your self  wasn't clouded a little bit by people's expectations? By your own self consciousness? By your fear of letting that real self out, what it might do? No, being yourself isn't easy, even for one second. But if you can do it, the payoff is ecstasy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When disappointment is constant.

     I'm a realist. For the most part I'm a very positive, upbeat person, but I'm also realistic. I know some people are going through prolonged suffering that no amount of 'the power of positive thinking' or self-help or psychological cliches can fix. So what happens when you're suffering all the time?

Life's going to press you until you make up your mind.

     There's no easy way through this thing called life. I wish there were— I'd take it. But there isn't. So you have two choices: #1)Avoid life's challenges #2)Take on life's challenges. In Claude Bristol's classic book The Magic of Believing he had some people that came to him for help stand in front of a full-length mirror and look into their eyes. "I made them look into their eyes," he wrote, "and tell me what they saw there— crybabies or fighters?" Well, which are you?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hey, go jump off a cliff.

     Now you know I'm kidding, right? Well, for the most part I am.
     Have you ever heard of the Buddhist concept of Bardo? Oh, maybe it seems a little out there, I'll admit, but hang with me a bit because there is serious magic in Bardo. Bardo is about the world of the in betweens, and that world is where everything happens. That's where the magic is. The Tibetan Book of the Dead says:

The concept of bardo is based on the period between sanity and insanity, or the period between confusion and the confusion just about to be transformed into wisdom; and of course it could be said of the experience which stands between death and birth. The past situation has not yet manifested itself so there is a gap between the two.

     I'm no Buddhist. I'm not into reincarnation. But I am into winning. And Bardo is money. I'll tell you why.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Things not working out in your life? Yeah, you better give up.

     Like hell, you better! This is The Underdog's Corner. Remember, us underdogs are underdogs! (Talk about deep.) And this post I'm writing is for myself— because I need to hear it (I'm an underdog too), because things ain't working out in my life either. But see, the thing is I know the magic word. And the magic word is things ain't working out...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Change your mind.

     I could never be a preacher. You know, you're scheduled to preach on Sunday, and you just had a really terrible week and have almost no faith, you're really wondering if God really even exists at all, and you're supposed to get up there and tell them how great everything is and how God's doing such wonderful things in your life. No, I'd never make it as a preacher. I'd get up there and be honest and the people in the congregation would start throwing things at me. Me, I need to be free to change my mind.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Is God just waiting to zap us?

     Like if you make one false move, God goes, "Aha! You messed up, so now I'm going to punish you!" I gotta tell you I'm kind of scared to write this blog post. (If you don't see any posts after this one, you'll know what happened.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Who you are is shouting louder than what you say.

     It's the truth. What you say is not nearly as important as who you are. I've had people swear at me and it made me feel good; and I've had people say nice things to me and it felt like pure poison.

The important thing to remember is, it is not whether your words or actions are tough or gentle; it is the spirit behind your actions and words that announces your inner state. — Chin-Ning Chu

     It's like when dogs sense a person's spirit. They cut right through what a person's wearing, whether they've showered that day, what language they speak, what color their skin is. They cut through all that nonsense and see straight through to a person's spirit. We do too.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Got rage?

     I do. Tons of it. But the thing is, I never knew it. And even now that I know, for the most part, the rage stays hidden deep in my unconscious. (I only get glimmers of it.) But just knowing it's there— even if I'm not regularly consciously aware of it— is freeing. It can even be life saving.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Go after what you REALLY want.

     It's like, duh, isn't that a no-brainer? Not really. People don't realize the power of pursuing something that they REALLY want. They settle instead for what they think they can get. They settle for "good enough." Ah, but what they don't realize is that there is absolute magic in pursuing what you REALLY want.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What do I think? Let me check a book.

     Isn't that what fundamentalism is all about? In fact, there's no need to talk to a fundamentalist because if you want to know what they think, all you have to do is read whatever book it is they adhere to. The question is: is that anyway to live?   
     I don't blame anyone for being a fundamentalist. They're scared. And life is scary so it makes sense to be scared. But oh, the cost in what they pay in terms of their freedom. Cat Stevens wrote a song called "Ruins" where he talked about "freedom at what cost." That's the thing, fundamentalists are so afraid, they surrender their freedom. And ironically, especially considering the lyrics of the song, that's exactly what Cat Stevens did. He panicked and embraced fundamentalism. And what a loss that was to all of us. Cat Stevens in a sense is gone to all of us. Replaced by a book.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Are you a murderer?

     Are you so connected, so invested, so insecure in your belief in a particular religion or ideology that you would insist upon its truth even if it was hurting someone? Are you so bereft of the ability to think, to reason, that you must point to some book for definitive, indisputable, infallible answers to life's questions? Would you not draw the line, that if your belief system was harming, possibly fatally harming, a fellow human being, that it is time to back off insisting that your beliefs be true for that person?
     If not, then you are a murderer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Anybody ever tell you you can't do something?

     This from Mike Alstott (former NFL football player):

I'm a never-say-never type of person, you know what I mean? Always believe in your abilities to do whatever you want to do. It's a mindset. A lot of people told me I couldn't be who I am today. I'm a guy who says if you want to do something and you have dreams, you have to have that confidence and believe in yourself and work hard. I've lived that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are you afraid?

     Sure you are. So am I. It's the human condition to be afraid. Life is tenuous. Challenges are everywhere. Threats to our survival. Disease. Violence. Old age. Accident.
     So it's natural to live in fear? Un-uh.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Just say yes.

      I don't know who said it first, but the saying is, 'There is a fine line between anxiety and excitement.' But if you look at that even closer, the issue is about change. The question is really: "How do you look at change?" I heard somebody say once, "If you want people to hate you, make 'em change." And there's a lot to that, isn't there? We get settled in our ways and don't want to change them. But ah, if we can look at change differently...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Live five miles deep.

     Ever hear the saying, You're a million miles wide but only one inch deep? Isn't that the case with a lot of people today? With the internet there is so much exposure to information that people do know an awful lot of stuff. But is it working for them?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

When people dis you online.

     We've all had it happen. People dis you when you've done absolutely nothing to them or anything to merit it. Of course, the temptation is to rip them right back. And that is the last thing you want to do. Instead, you can take their dis as a compliment. (Yes, you read that right.)
     Because it is a compliment. People who dis you for no reason see something in you that they lack. Perhaps you're moving up in your field of endeavor. Perhaps you're friendly and they're not. Whatever the reason, unjustified, nonconstructive criticism is nothing but an acknowledgment that you're doing something very right.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Boundless energy is yours.

     'I'm tired.' 'I'm not up to it.' 'Maybe later when I feel better.' Any of these sound familiar?
     I'm not doubting that you believe those statements are true when you say them, but that does not make them true.
     Our psyches become so burdened with so much baggage as we grow up that, quite honestly, who we think we are and who we really are can become two completely different people. The key is to starve the former and feed the latter. Question and challenge the former and embrace and celebrate the latter.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What you see is what you are.

     It's simple really. Who you are on the inside is what you will see on the outside. Consider:

Any idea, person or object can be a Medicine Wheel, a mirror for man.
—Hyemeyohsts Storm

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

100% guaranteed love in your life.

     Mystics can be pretty funky people. Pretty hard to understand. And pretty darn insightful.
     Bernard de Clairvaux was a Christian mystic living in 12th century France. He was writing of the marriage possible between God and the soul, but the principal involved is universally applicable. He wrote:

"There is no unreturned love."

     That's from a poem by Walt Whitman. So just what does it mean? I don't pretend to know, but I can tell you what it means to me. It means if I put love out into the world I will get it back. Guaranteed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Are you waiting to live?

     Be honest. Are you going to really start living when you graduate from school, retire from your job, get social security, get your driver's licence, lose that weight, make that money, get the guy, feel better, feel stronger, have more support, get your health back, your family straightens out (fill-in-the-blank here)?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You better believe it!

     We've all heard the saying. So what's to it? Just a catchy saying? Some religious fanaticism? Why do people at baseball games hold up signs that say it? Is there anything at all to it?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The sickening feeling of having to start all over again.

     What happens when you thought you were further along only to be rocked by the fact that you are at ground zero, the starting line, the absolute beginning. It can be a real eye opener, can't it?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is goodness rewarded or do nice guys finish last?

     Come on. Be real. Goodness is for saps. It's for that big stupid puppet Barney on TV. Nice guys finish last. Look out for number one. Right?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It ain't over yet.

     Gloom. Doom. Psychologist Nathaniel Branden said why do we have to equate growing up with giving up? I agree. But giving up is a complex problem. What causes a person to give up? That too is complex. 
     This from Scientology: A New Slant on Life by L. Ron Hubbard:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The most dangerous time of all.

     Think you've got your life all figured out? Know how it's going to play out from here? More ho hum boredom? You've seen it all?
     I just finished reading a book called Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It was all about how we can't possibly know what's coming, and if we think we know, we put ourselves in the most vulnerable position of all.

When you get burned for doing the right thing.

     If you do something wrong and something bad happens, it's expected. No, you're not happy about it, but you're not surprised either. The trouble comes when you do the right thing and something bad happens. Or how about when you really do the right thing, you do things perfectly, and still something bad happens. That, my friends, is a very tough one.
     When it happens your first reaction is, 'That's not fair!' Or if you're like me, 'There is no God. There is no justice in this world.'

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to fight back when you're down.

     It's one of the great ironies of life. Think of when people come into Alcoholics Anonymous. Their life is a wreck. Often with work, relationship, legal problems galore. Plus they're an emotional, mental and physical wreck. And that's the critical point at which they need to make their greatest effort to stay sober and turn their lives around.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What to do when things go against you.

     Ever feel like you're the only one who hasn't figured it all out? I'm feeling that way right now. The key for me though is not giving up at times like this.
     Check this out from Chin-Ning Chu's Thick Face, Black Heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toughing out the pain.

     Going through a hard time? Don't blank out on it. It has something to show you. And even if you can't figure out the lesson it brings you, you can rest assured that if you stay conscious throughout it, it will bring you growth. And the more dreadful the experience (again, if you stay conscious through it), the more massive the growth.
     The natural instinct when pain hits is the opposite. Run away from it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lightning can strike your soul too.

     All this talk about growth and change being 'little by little.' Well, for the most part it's true. But then again it's also true that growth can be explosive, instantaneous.

Friday, February 15, 2013

If you were God who would you help?

     I remember sitting by my apartment window on a late autumn day, the wind pleasantly sighing, leaves swirling outside. I was day-trading commodities at a computer terminal— and not doing very well at all. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a lady bug crawling up the window pane. But the market was crazy and I had to keep a close eye on it, but even so, I did notice that after the lady bug made its long, slow climb up the window to the wooden divider that it fell all the way back down to where it started from.
     The market was ripping the wrong way

What happened to your fire?

     Wasn't there a day in your past when you were just burning with life? The world was yours to conquer, to enjoy, to improve. You were confident, perceptive, alive to life's endless beauty and potentialities.
     What happened to that person?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Change from the inside out.

     That's the key. Changing from the inside out.
     The trap is to think the opposite. Oh, I better do this or I better do that. Look how long I've been procrastinating on this or that. I really should...

Character is destiny.

     You know, I believe it. All this scampering around to make money. 'Look at me! Look at me! Please buy my product!' I'd rather be poor than live that way. I'm just interested in getting all I can out of myself.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What matters most.

     I just gotta say something. All these blogs. All these forums. All these websites. That are all just about making money, getting readers. Now I'm not saying it's not important to have a livelihood, but you can't neglect the rest of your life either. People hustle around at their jobs, in their businesses or their writing careers— and sometimes it's great fun. And there's nothing wrong with that— as long as you don't lose an eye toward what's really important.

First they ignore you--but not for long.

     The focus is: how are we going to win? A saying:

"First they ignore, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." —Gandhi

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In the beginning...

     Well, it's been a while since I've actually done any writing since I've been so busy formatting my e-book and then getting settled in on the social network sites, but here goes. First of all, thanks for stopping by. I don't take your visit for granted. And, as the title of my blog suggests, this blog is dedicated to underdogs everywhere. Underdogs, down and outers, people lost or just plain down on their luck.
     I look forward to getting to know you, and I look forward to you getting to know me. Because, see, I've been foremost amongst the underdogs of the world.