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Now Thyself!

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A Thought for the New Year

The phrase “talk is cheap” is probably especially relevant this time of year, when we’re making our New Year’s resolutions.

We often resolve to do more than we can actually deliver. Our intentions are good. But life happens!

Another problem with making resolutions, according to comedian and film maker Mel Brooks, is that we tend to “future ourselves”—to live more in the future than in the now. Here is his prescription:

“Let’s have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves more. ‘Now thyself’ is more important than ‘Know thyself.’ Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It’s crazy…Listen now is good. Now is wonderful.”

Now, that may not be the most profound idea ever, but I think it’s valid. After all, all we ever have is now! And now tells us:

Don’t live for “someday when.” Live now.

Don’t postpone joy. Go for joy now!

Don’t wait until circumstances are ideal. Act now. You might even create the right circumstances.

Don’t wait until you’ve got all your questions answered. Live the questions now!

Don’t put off doing the thing that really matters to you. Do something about it now.

Strive to be completely present in the now. Today. In these precious moments.

And above all, “let’s have a merry journey.” Starting now.

Wishing you a joyful New Year,

Geoffery Moore

Give Yourself the Gift of Appreciation

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Dear Soul,

I just got stomped on today.

Dear Life,

Is it possible that you’re wearing the word “Welcome” across your back? Is it possible some people are confusing you for a doormat? Whatever the cause, here’s the cure: appreciate yourself. For if you don’t appreciate yourself, neither will others.

The Mirrors of Meaning

A beautiful, white-haired woman stands, looks at her art students, and says, “The message of the entire universe to you is, ‘appreciate yourself.’ In this class, you will learn to begin to look at the world—and yourself—in a new way. Every aspect of nature—every leaf, cloud, snowflake, drop of rain, every bird in the sky—is a mirror. Every brush stroke of every painting—every expression of the human imagination—is a mirror.

“Together, nature and art represent millions of mirrors. These mirrors exist to provide the possibility that, at some point in your life, in one of those mirrors, you will truly see yourself and appreciate yourself. Once you appreciate yourself, then, and only then, can you become a true appreciator of life and love. Only then can you make your life a work of art, creating your own mirrors of meaning.”

Today, I’ll give myself the gift of appreciation. I’ll appreciate myself—for that is always the place to start…or start over. And who knows, I may feel so good about myself that I can also appreciate you, and you, and, yes, even you.

 *The Dear Soul/Dear Life dialogs are a product of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization and were written by J. M. Hawkins. They were used in discussion groups across North America in response to the Life That Loves to Happen seminars with Landon Saunders.

The Adventure of Livedness vs. The Drag of Unlivedness

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Monday’s post urged us to take “the road less travelled”—a line taken from Robert Frost’s famous poem.

For some, this refers to choosing a career path—and that’s valid. But when the therapist Scott Peck wrote his bestselling book, The Road Less Travelled, he showed that there is much more to this idea.

The Road Less Travelled vs. The Well-Beaten Path: Peck shows that this is actually a deeply human choice that confronts us daily, in ways large and small.

It may mean listening longer and harder to a spouse, a partner, a teenager, a coworker, as opposed to just taking them for granted.

It may mean taking time to tell a story or say something meaningful at the dinner table, instead of rushing through another meal.

It may mean finding ways to liven up the deadly routine, to find ways to keep things interesting and alive for yourself and others.

It may be a choice to not join in the gossip when people at work are piling on about a boss or co-worker.

Last month, I quoted Henry David Thoreau explaining why he took “the road less travelled” and chose to live in a cabin by Walden Pond for two years.

Thoreau saw people around him living lives of quiet desperation, and he didn’t want that for himself. So he said:

I went to the woods to learn to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what is not life, living is so dear.”

That’s really what choosing the Road Less Travelled over the Well-Beaten Path is about.

It’s about finding ways to live more deliberately and more thoughtfully as opposed to living on auto-pilot.

It’s about finding places in our daily routine where we can replace the drag of unlivedness with the daily adventure of livedness.

It’s about, day by day, replacing quiet desperation with a quiet recommitment to let nothing keep us from living the life that is “so dear”.

The Road Less Travelled

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Dear Soul,

On my way to work this morning, I took the freeway—but I felt anything but free.

Dear Life,

Any thoroughfare may lead to despair. They all become dead ends unless you—at some point in your day, your life—get off the well beaten path and onto your own unique path.

It’s like the story of The Superhighway and the Road Less Travelled.

“I hate to admit it,” said the Superhighway, “but the high-speed sameness of my existence and the boredom of those that travel over me almost makes me wish for a good wreck once in a while—anything to liven things up!”

“Well, at least you’ve got traffic,” said the Road Less Travelled. “I’ve made it into a famous poem and a best-selling book title, and yet, almost no one comes my way. I guess just reading about me satisfies most people. They like knowing I’m out there, I guess, but they never leave their safe, predictable path in search of a more fulfilling way to live. It seems to me that just mindlessly following everyone else’s paved way is a good way to be very, very lost.

“Wait, this is incredible! I hear someone coming my way! I’ve got to go welcome this fortunate traveler and guide them on their adventure of fulfillment.”

Today, when my inner life says, “My way or the highway?” I’ll choose my way, a way with heart, a way of aliveness. I’ll leave the safe, predictable path and look for a way to live that makes me excited to get up each day. I’ll find the freedom—and the adventure and fulfillment—that the less-travelled road has for me.

*The Dear Soul/Dear Life dialogs are a product of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization. They were written by J. M. Hawkins and used in discussion groups across North America in response to the Life That Loves to Happen seminars with Landon Saunders.

The Greatest View In The World

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Dear Soul,

I’ve actually been memorizing some of your words.

Dear Life,

Parrots memorize. I’d be much happier if you’d said, “I’ve been looking through your words—looking beyond them. I’ve discovered in each word a microscope for better loving the near and a telescope for better loving the far.

Which reminds me of the story of The King’s New Draperies.

A king invited his nobles to a party to celebrate the opening of the Tower Palace, a palace with the greatest view in the world. But the king was appalled when person after person, in the presence of the greatest view in the world, only talked about the new draperies.

Finally, the king spoke: “In the presence of the greatest view in the world, you speak of draperies. And when you look at each other, you see only fashion, makeup, and external beauty—or lack of it. Looking into your eyes, I see that inside each of you there is an undiscovered country. I command each of you to go discover that country. Then, when you return, you will know how to look out of the windows, to look beyond yourself and look inside each other. Go and discover the greatest view in the world—your one and only life!”

Today, I’ll do more than hear a new word for my life. I’ll use the word like a microscope to better love the near—all the small moments of my life. And I’ll use the word like a telescope to better love the far—the me I most want to become. Then I will be able to better appreciate and admire the greatest view in the world—my life!

 *The Dear Soul/Dear Life dialogs are a product of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization. They were written by J. M. Hawkins and used in discussion groups across North America in response to the Life That Loves to Happen seminars with Landon Saunders.

“We Lost! We Lost!”

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Monday’s post was about Fighting Sadness With Joy—that there are ways to find joy even in embracing the sadness and setbacks of life.

But just to be clear: this does NOT mean that we should charge into a room where someone has just lost a loved one and try to cheer them up with a chirpy little attitude or empty words.

Instead, I like the line that says we are to weep with those who weep…and rejoice with those who rejoice. The word “compassion” literally means “to suffer with.” I admire those who know how to “be with,” who bring a calm, quiet, genuine human presence to painful situations. They don’t try to solve, they just share.

But in our own everyday lives—with all of the slings and arrows and garden variety setbacks we experience—we may sometimes forget what a healing resource joy can be.

I often share the story of Coleman Barks, the expert on the poet Rumi. He took his granddaughter, Briney, to a soccer game, things got a little lopsided, and Briney’s team lost 10-0. Afterwards, Coleman and Briney got back into his car, a convertible with the top down.

 

About that time, the girls who had won came marching up the sidewalk chanting, “We won! We won! We won!” Little Briney stood up on the seat of the convertible and started yelling, “We lost! We lost! Ten to zero! Big time! We lost!” Well, that stopped the winners in their tracks! They didn’t know what to do.

 

Coleman commented, “That day, we learned that the losers don’t just get the last laugh. They get to laugh all the way home!”

Walter Reuther said, “He who is not big enough to lose is not big enough to win.”

Now, I like to win. But this reminds me that life is about something larger than winning—that the joy of living is big enough to embrace the whole range of human experiences.

Fighting Sadness With Joy

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Dear Soul,

Today, I feel sadder than the bladder of a dehydrated camel carrying the ghost of Ponce de Leon across an endless desert in search of the lost fountain of his lost youth.

Dear Life,

That’s pretty sad—almost as sad as waking up feeling like a dead rooster with his last crow still stuck in his throat. See, we did it again—we made each other laugh! We fought sadness with joy.

Once upon a time, there was a wooden puppet who thought he had a brain tumor, but actually it was a termite. Every day there was less and less of the puppet until finally, all that was left was the puppet’s wooden, hinged smiling mouth. A little girl found the hinged mouth and moved the teeth together to make the puppet’s mouth laugh. When she did this the termite, which had wedged itself between the puppet’s teeth to make its last stand, was cut in two.

The little girl grew up and became a famous doctor, and she often told her patients this story of the puppet and the termite, and how a good laugh can kill what’s killing you. And she always kept the puppet’s wooden smile on her desk to remind herself that no matter what gets taken away from her, like the puppet’s smile, her smile will be the last to go.

Today, I’ll “bust out laughing or bust.” And day by day, I’ll let laughter find me. More and more, I’ll use my sadness to climb out of sadness. I’ll use it as a ladder to laughter.

 *The Dear Soul/Dear Life dialogs are a product of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization. They were written by J. M. Hawkins and used in discussion groups across North America in response to the Life That Loves to Happen seminars with Landon Saunders.