What doesn’t kill us …hurts!

The idea of emotions colliding with the physical self is nothing new.

It is often said that the greatest influence on the onset of chronic illness is stress.

Another ‘silent’ killer is again, emotional:

Lonliness.

The heartache of being alone kills more relentlessly than cigarettes and obesity.

“Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.

Douglas Nemek MD chief medical officer for behavioral health Cigna.

If anyone wants to figure out what kills you it’s the insurance Companies.

So life without heartbreak equates to a longer life ?

Think about the heart- it’s that mystical place where the physical and emotional merge.

There is a palpable pain in the chest unlike any other when one is sad. Yet under further medical scrutiny there appears no acute physical source.

So is the goal in making a better past to duck, dip, dive and dodge heartbreak at all costs ?

Not according to the Tin Man in Oz:

“Now I know I have a heart; I can feel it breaking”

After 23 years of being centered around the growth, education and development of our three children, their mother and I have been battered by the emotional impact of something we never saw coming – they have all left home within the space of 30 days.

All three off to begin their lives after a minimum of 20 years of preparation.

This might seem like a time for celebration, but instead I seem to be exclusively aware of the hole in the middle of my chest where the center of my world used to be.

Never saw it coming ?!?

How does that happen ?

The most challenging aspect of life’s changes seems to be my resistance to the change and this one is no exception.

I saunter (sometimes sprint) through thoughts of – Will my I fuck ups impact their lives ? Will they be ok? Will I be alone? And the biggie- Does this hole in my chest ever heal?

The answer is Yes.

And in particular the return to a less painful pressent will occur, however, Yes can only happen tomorrow , if I say NO! to trying to make it all pain free.

I can make that choice to let go or I can hang on until my formidable strength fails and all medical evidence suggests that one day it will, at which point the past that I am trying to make better-by fixing what has been done-will slam into my present.

So why then am I so hell bent on fixing the past? Because I am entranced by the delusion that I can!

And further- if I fix the the things I am ashamed of in my past, by in some mystical time travelling way, then perhaps I can avoid future heartbreak.

Heartbreak like children growing into adults and leaving home.

YA ! That makes sense right ?

If, on the other hand I can take the view of the Tin Man and embrace heartache as a natural byproduct of love, therein lies my only hope of diminishing the impact of heartache, in that the sadness will not be the only emotion I am aware of.

The other will be gratitude.

To be grateful for all of life is so challenging on days when it’s minus twenty Celsius and you have to bend to scoop the poop of the little dog that shares your space. Bending over with warm shit in cold hand is one of the “joys” that accompany pet ownership in Canada. So is euthanasia and everything in between. Like when that little guy rushes to the door to greet you because you are everything to him.

Embracing the frozen shit of life seems counter intuitive …but the alternative is to live alone… and apparently that’s not good for your health.

Embracing the practice of being grateful for heartache is also one of those paradoxical truths that when accomplished, makes tomorrow’s past just a little less painful…and the path to that can be seen as Dorothy boards the balloon to sail off into her future and the Tin Man finds and accepts the only view that will get him through:

To have a heart that is breakable is the very best “proof of a Life worth living

Mad Men at work

In a recent LinkedIn post this Simon Sinek short video on how to express emotion had close to a half million views, and tens of thousands of reactions and comments.

This is LinkedIn people … is it not supposed to be all business?

In another post Sinek spoke of actually replacing the judgement of an underperforming employee with empathy.

Suggesting that leadership is far less about terminating under performers than it is about understanding them!!!

That post had shares in the tens of thousands.

WTF?!? Are we running a day care here?!

Back in the day men lead, employees followed and secretaries served.

If your buddy wasn’t performing you had him into your office for a scotch or two and a smoke and you told him to get his sh*t together and shook hands with a commitment to do better.

Feelings were simply not on the agenda.

Then the damn hippies got involved and all of the sudden we had Foosball tables, hammocks and cappuccino bars. Industrial psychologists and off site bonding – once reserved for the senior execs was made available to the rank and file.

Was it coincidence that the Mad Men leadership soon became passé and “cool” companies like Google and Facebook, with their environments and culture eclipsed the former icons of Wall Street?

The pendulum had swung and those left in the former culture stood judging from across the room.

“It will never last”

“Ya it’s fun to work there but will they really accomplish anything?”

“I’d like to see their revenue model!”

I bet they get a lot done sitting around talking about their little feelings- NOT!”

Like all those who judge, there is but one practice that prevents them from greater accomplishments – contempt prior to investigation.

And what typically causes that?

The fear that arises our “reptile brains” when we see visible differences in leadership and success.

Enter the female CEO.

During my career I have had the privilege of working with and for several women.

Some were great leaders and others were a&$holes.

Just like men.

But different.

The primary difference was the women I worked for, as a group, focused much more on emotions than their male counterparts.

They did NOT focus only on emotion but they were more intuitive toward and ready to address emotion than men, who often completely overlooked or worse consciously ignored the influence of emotion on a team members performance.

The conclusions of an article in Scientific American suggested that women convey the emotions of Happiness and Sadness more effectively then men who typically have a narrower emotional repertoire.

Men are great at expressing – wait for it- Anger.

Surprised?

Nor should it then be surprising that people don’t know how to confront owner/bosses, with less than favorable comments about their leadership and areas they need to improve upon.

The corporate culture is rife with the “egos of accomplishment” which fuel the fear that if a boss/owner is questioned and truly confronted then mutiny is just around the corner.

So they create an artificial culture that confuses respect with infallibility and iron fisted leadership. Which then cycles into repressed feelings and resentment. Followed by employee theft (of both time and objects) and corporate politics.

But I am not suggesting a case here for male entitlement or feminism.

In my view, this is about recognizing what the behavioral scientists confirmed in the aforementioned study.

Women have a skill that is a competitive advantage and worth emulating.

And rather than sitting on the other side of the boardroom table in judgement and designing a corporate structure with a glass ceiling, those currently in power might consider another option- learn how to leverage fearless vulnerability to express a broader range of emotion.

I wonder if the race to artificial intelligence is about efficiency or avoidance?

We have tried to mask the avoidance of listening to how are employees feel with a culture that espouses “this ain’t a daycare we need to make widgets -I have a family to feed”.

But avoidance is never authentic and clearly employee turnover disillusionment, office politics and an “us versus them” are all examples of the results of that approach.

So maybe the dot coms are not the utopian corporate cultures we once hoped they would be – the pendulum movement rarely ends at it’s fullest arc– but perhaps we can stop avoiding our feelings by encouraging leaders to have the courage to learn the emotions skills they struggle with and be open to being confronted.

After all, though it wasn’t day care, it is said we learn everything we need in kindergarten .

Here’s that Sinek post:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dCkxgICCVWU

And here is the Scientific American article:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-women-more-emotionally-expressive-than-men/

2 Loves

My Father was known for saying “I have had 2 loves in my life- my shoe factory and my family – and not in that order

I guess he said it once in the company of my mother and he had the presence of mind to add the last part before he sat back down beside her after receiving an award, to avoid losing one of those loves right there!

To be sure, Dad had a profound influence on me in so many ways, but these days upon reflection, I have come to realize that none greater than in these words I heard countless times.

While the words inspired me in so many ways, what Dad failed to share was that the limitations of the focus of one’s love in this way will also lead to crushing heartbreak.

There have been moments where my family and career have not evolved in the direction I had aimed for.

I don’t for one second believe this to be unique, it happens to us all and I know it happened to him.

However depending on the perspective I take, those episodic detours are rarely more than Montreal potholes, and thankfully by comparison, fewer and farther between.

Unless of course, my perspective is oriented from the view of perfecting family and career as my destination. In which case the journey will feel more like permanently driving along St Laurent in the spring,

Dad got that part right, he understood the “journey not destination” idea.

He focused on the principle that yesterday’s damage could be the source of regret or the inspiration of learning and growth. So as he remained focused on his two loves, he evolved and learned

The heartbreak I speak of is more along the lines of limited focus colliding with the advancement of years. And further the identification of one’s self uniquely through these pursuits.

Another thing he used to say was ” I can only do one thing at a time”

While this seems like sound advice, the challenge for him came when the 2 things he focused on naturally and organically ran their course.

There is a life cycle to everything and one day “children” leave and businesses change.

Anything left in a state of perpetual growth soon overshadows the realities of natural selection and becomes a threat to itself.

Whether ego, lust or greed is at the source of the quest for more, so often we witness how, what was once simply the desire to do our best refracts our light into the warped and self blinding delusion of endlessly more.

Thankfully I never witnessed this in my father.

What I did learn from his heartbreak was lost on me until a recent conversation with my eldest.

When the shoe factory closed and the family scattered my father’s “2 loves” became only memories.

His passion for people and his joie de vivre faded.

For the longest time I blamed the natural results of the aging process. But in truth that was an unsatisfying answer for decades.

Because by contrast I saw one of his friends lit up well into his eighties.

Morty and Dad were close because they shared the values of work ethic and family.

The difference was Morty prepared for the natural changes in focus, that life forces upon us. And he did so prior to their arrival. Yet Dad chose not to be distracted by the inevitable, thinking he would muscle through it.

On the other hand, long before he handed the reigns of a thriving retail concern to the next generation, Morty made sure he had another “love” into which he could invest is passion.

My Father’s “two loves” definitely defined his focus and ergo his life. And doing “one thing at a time” certainly made him the best father I have ever met and successful in business.

However neither of these roles were destined to be lifetime positions in the way he hoped.

My eldest is moving out on Monday.

The void I feel already reminds me of the hole my dad left us in my world.

The feeling is similar but the reality is that the stark difference between the source of the similar feeling, is my father’s life ended and in many new ways my daughter’s is just beginning.

Nonetheless one of “my loves” is now changing.

Prior to her departure she and I have been getting together in part fueled by my fear of “who will I be in the absence of my family?”

As we sat for lunch this week she helped me understand that work ethic may be a competitive advantage in the labour force but cannot be leveraged to avoid life’s twists and turns.

I agree dad, that loving what you do for work is the ideal career path- but where we differ is the ideal career path is not a replacement for love” she shared.

She went on ” I want to leverage my career skills to live life to the fullest, I want to use my career to experience all I can of life”

My dad’s paradigm shifted in my head.

At that moment I saw my father who lived life through his career and I saw my daughter who wants to use her career to live her life.

I understood the heartbreak I saw in my father after he retired and his family left the nest.

For me it instantly became about seeking to experience other passions, memories and lessons.

We are inundated by media and politicians about the nobility of lives focused on Family and Career. Yet based on everything we know the integrity of media and politicians should be out first clue that this is a dangerously limited influence.

So perhaps once again i should call into question the source of my perspective and ask myself the question- why would I want to experience only those two loves when the options are limitless ?

Anticipointment

A while ago I spoke of a cousin who realized a dream by writing and directing a great film titled “Moments Of Clarity“.

Check it out!

It’s a very cool story about a sheltered young woman, an agoraphobic and a porn star and if that synopsis doesn’t get your attention then check your pulse!

Anyway, in her film Kristin Wallace coins the term – Anticipointment.

Which is suggested in the film as one of the perils of planning…anything.

Recently, a moment I had long since looked forward to came to pass, and I collided into the face of disappointment.

As the event ended, I found myself snapping at a person very near and dear to me.

” I was disappointed in you that we didn’t watch the credits roll or go for coffee and discuss it, and the whole performance wasn’t long enough…ok…maybe it was a couple hours, but the author could have put more effort into developing some of the players … anyway, why do we need to rush off now ?

Later, I was alone, thinking about, and feeling, disappointment.

Then it struck me, how incredibly ridiculous it is to express disappointment in someone or even some thing!

To say I’m disappointed in any thing clearly limits that very thing in the possible influences it may have in my life.

And as far as disappointment is concerned, the path by which I am most often disappointed is the one where I attempt to manage the outcome of a particular moment by gambling on the actions of people, places and things – both human and beyond – like say even weather!

The idea is, that by the end of the event I become so caught down the rabbit hole of outcomes anticipated, that I become oblivious to any other perspective other than mine.

Other non rabbit hole views might include: maybe those accompanying me were simply not feeling well and wanted to go. Or shockingly to me, maybe they had different outcomes planned.

Furthermore, I was so “bought into the illusions of my fantasized outcomes” that I allowed the imagined outcomes to become the only benchmark to which I would identify the event as “A success

Clearly, this promises to manifest an extremely narrow vision of success and will by exclusion result in a shallow life experience.

Of course, it’s natural for me to have hopes and even to visualize an outcome, but where I get into trouble is when that outcome becomes the only outcome that will satisfy me.

When that happens I am limiting myself as to how any other outcome might even be better for me or those around me that I love.

Some of us get this, “going with the flow“.

Is it coincidence that they who seem adept at this flow thing, are also the ones who seemingly enjoy each moment?

Could their serenity arise because they choose to position themselves into a witnessing perspective, even in the balcony seats, rather than insisting upon experiencing the performance from the conductors rostrum.

Often we are told “it’s alright to be disappointed- its perfectly natural”

I guess …if disappointment is your goal.

But from where I sit expecting a bunch of people to respond to an experience in the same way I anticipated leaves me with the image of herding cats.

However, if I could learn a life hack that might help diminish how the misdirection of my disappointment impacts others,than perhaps I could stem the contagious epidemic of disappointment!

Bad news is- the only source of disappointment truly lies in my habit of confusing the manifestation through visualization and the illusion of attaching myself to one exclusive outcome for any particular moment in time.

This only results in chaining all participants to my outcome and crossing fingers and toes that they all walk on the stage and play the roles as I choreographed in my limited view.

And rarely does this manifest an award winning moment .

Renovating A Burning Building

The thing about making a better past is that it is really hard to accomplish with your hands full.

When your house is on fire the primary suggestion is to Get the F*ck out !

Rarely is it suggested that one take the time to grab your little flower box of sex toys or take a moment to check if you have your favorite Fedora.

So why is it that I choose to hang on to past moments, as I move toward the promise of a different view, with the emotional structure I built in the past?

The thinking that brought me to today is part of the past I hope to evolve. And a lot like a physical structure, I have the option to just renovate instead of totally demolish.

One problem is that when you give me a sledgehammer it feels kinda good smashing the dusty rose tiles that now seem outdated and that may lead to the conclusion an Italian contractor I worked with was fond of saying … ” Da whola ting ees godda comma down”.

I was suspect of his motivations and certainly of the cost but in a way is that not the opportunity we have every day?

As difficult as it may seem to be every day I have the opportunity to look at my yesterday from a whole new view … if I so choose.

But that process is limited to the degree to which I attach myself to yesterday’s.

If I stay stuck I am missing life’s panoramic vista.

That’s like an architect rooting himself in one limited view … the facade may look good but the overview of the project will look like a Hollywood back lot or ( or more precisely) an “L.A. starlets front lot“- great from the front but not much depth behind the backdrop.

Do one thing every day that scares you

For me that starts every day with the challenge of recognizing that yesterday’s view is gone… that my life experience is one day further deepened.

I can leverage those two facts to truly experience a new view today or I can trap myself in the illusion that the limitations of yesterday’s perspective are all I can hope for.

The challenge for me is architectural.

Like all renovations, it starts with deciding what to hang onto and what to release, all the while I have to consider the limitations of my ability to get the work done as I juggle with the only two hands I have.

Not to mention while seeking the most seamless way to do the “finishing“, right down to the baseboards, between what was and what I envision the future structure could be.

Everyone who has lived through a massive renovation knows it’s the ‘finishing’ that takes the most time. Yet the only way it’s accomplished is by focusing on the smallest details.

And while that requires continually backing up and looking at how the past sides against the present, one truth remains inévitable:

It will look different.

And good thing! ‘Cause sitting outside a burning house may be warm for a little bit but it won’t leave you enlightened for long .

What’s in YOUR wallet …

People do things to others that hurt.

Mistakes, misguided conclusions, disregard for the feelings of others, thoughtlessness and sometimes willful expressions of darkness.

These things just role through our lives and we have no power to avoid them.

There you are a happy little Shad fly moving through the air one minute and the next you’re splattered across the windshield of someone else’s Mac truck.

Woefully careening down the highway out of the drivers seat. Completely impacted by someone else’s journey. You want to just fly off but it’s too late for that … you’re splattered.

You have no control over the feelings and the experience.

Or so it seems.

For days …months … sometimes years that word unspoken festers inside.

The mention of the name of the offender calls forth emotions that turn the most otherwise calm individual into a ranting, seething warrior.

I know someone who has harbored such pain for literally decades.

She refuses to view forgiveness as anything other than the power she wields over the transgressions she feels were committed against her.

I’ve heard the story, countless times… admittedly some of the things that were said were hurtful.

But that was a generation ago.

Life has continued to flow, children have been born and raised and even death has visited her family.

So why then does she refuse to release the past after suffering the weight of resentment for so long?

I think we do this because we think we learn so early that forgiveness is the final power we hold over a people who hurt us.

I will forgive you if you crawl/buy me something/go harm someone else

We feel powerless when we get splattered! Our response from some sort of shortsighted perspective is to imagine that by withholding forgiveness we hold the power to never be hurt by that person again.

And this requires work.

Almost invariably the offender starts cow towing to the victim, birthing a toxic relationship with a short life expectancy.

it’s short because not many of us will choose to endure the shitty feelings of being judged on past “learning opportunities” for an indeterminate time.

And so the offender exits the highway and the victim is left with nothing but the one side of the story, which permanently traps her in the pain of the moment that happened long ago at the moment of the perceived transgression.

I’ve literally heard people say... I will hate that guy til they bury me.

in so doing the victim mindlessly squanders every tomorrow canvas they have to paint, with the splatter of some putrid color they really are not fond of.

Why?

Because to forgive would force me feel the vulnerability to reoccurrence of pain by surrendering the power.

News flash … The ONLY Power I have over the past is the power to choose to not let it burden me today so that I might bring my full self and ergo make tomorrow’s past better.

This also takes work !

Sometimes the lust for power seduces me in dim lights with sexy underwear.

It breathlessly whispers to me: “they don’t deserve my forgiveness. ” it moans “If I let them off the hook they will just do it again

While both of these ponts may be true, it is the victim who ultimately carries the toxins of anger while the offender hardly feels the ankle bracelet he has been condemned to by the victim.

Forgiveness can only work it’s magic when BOTH the person seeking forgiveness and the forgiver want to feel better.

The problem is that in some deep dark recessed place in my mind …I kinda like sexy underwear… I forget that power over others is not my prerogative and that I am actually taxed by the weight of harboring resentment.

And so by not forgiving I join the team of people that do things that hurtME!

Only thing is that in this process I also hurt other people … like the ones closest to me.

I do so by hanging on to past transgressions so they do not see my fullest light, since some of it remains hidden behind the weight of yesterday’s mistakes.

I deny those I am closest to the manifestation of my best self.

Making tomorrow’s past less than it can be.

Sometimes I feel I need to decide to never expose myself again to that person.

But as I walk away I have to remember – do I want to start my journey today with the added weight of yesterday’s pain?

Or do I want to take the energy I would invest in that goose chase and direct it to lightening my load by learning how to forgive those who hurt me?

Making tomorrow’s past better.

Up from the river… “DeeNile”

The movement toward “making a better past” came not in a minuscule way.

It came with a cataclysmic crash the day we buried my father.

Because that day I found myself with no other option but to accept he was gone.

I loved him so deeply, for so long that I had really kinda created a denial based defense mechanism..

Incapable of conceptualizing my life without him, I never really consciously accepted that one day he would not be anywhere I could see him.

Then in a flash I was left with only the hole I felt in the place where I once thought my heart was.

The pain and sense of loss that day literally drove me to my knees beside the hole into which they were lowered him .

And Bam! I was lowered to one of the darkest moments I have experienced.

There was very little light defining me when I finally got home that night.

I said things to one of the most important people in my sphere left on the planet that night.

Hurtful, ugly, painful things that could only have been said from a place where I was consumed by fear.

Fear of how would I be in his absence.

The light that defines me flickered very dimly that night and I said things that changed my world .

It is a past I want so much to make better.

News flash… No can make a better past!

I’ve had a few years now to figure out how I might have approached it differently.

The first thing I do now is to accept.

Acceptance is the very first step to a better past.

Acceptance of what is allows me to avoid taking an active role in making life messier.

The only place from where a better solution might be discovered is a place that is not rooted in denial.

Denial is only a prolongation of the suffering, since I can’t move on from what I don’t recognize.

If I steadfastly deny the inevitable I may delude myself into moments of temporary distraction but in the end the inevitable is exactly that …inevitable.

In 19 days my eldest daughter is leaving home and moving to the west.

And this time the hole will not consume me.

As this time I will approach the same fear from a different view.

Instead of denying the pain until reality slams over me, this time I am choosing to take it on the chin in daily sparring matches with acceptance.

Only instead of one giant Muhammad Ali right hook I am leaning into small jabs to the chest.

Mindfully allowing myself to feel just a tablespoon of sadness now, has allowed me to right size the the inevitable.

I will miss her more than I can say.

That is just a fact.

She has been one of my anchors in the last couple years and we have had some deeply rewarding conversations as she emerges presenting the beautiful spirit she is to the world.

Yet, I must accept that her life is calling now and while I might want to deny the day will arrive, I really don’t want a repeat of the last time I tries that!

So every day I take a small dose of acceptance in whatever form it comes…bitter pill of fear and sadness or joy in the recognition of the woman she has become.

Both touch the familiar fear of …

what will I be in her absence

This practice of allowing bite size chunks of the fear has served me well…so far.

Acceptance allows me to feel and digest small portions of emotion every day. Like filling some small bags of sand on the banks of the river of my life, in order to prevent a tsunami from washing away my heart again.

It has not been pain-free, but it has lead me to believe that I will not be ill prepared and caught off guard nor will there be a second cataclysmic clash.

Choosing to take small bites of what scares me, leaves me feeling like I have the power of choice.

And choosing to surrender is the last/best gesture of power I will ever make!

So every day I let a little out, lean a little in and prepare to make tomorrow’s past better.

The Chubby Scotsman’s I Italian shoes.

My father was a man who lived his dreams large.

In 1955, he bought what was a marina on 6 acres in the Montreal suburb of Rosemère.

In honor of the deepest love of his life, he built a colonial mansion right out of “Gone With the Wind”

He built a business crafting women’s shoes from a small run of 55 pairs per day to more than one thousand.

Many times he remembered being laughed at for being the “chubby Scotsman making Italian quality shoes in Canada.

Then he drew the attention of Coco Chanel and Roland Jordan. His reputation for acumen and fairness preceded him in the world of business.

But long before the accolades began, he told me the story of showing up at the bank to open this first commercial account and found himself without a cent to make the initial deposit to open the account. The manager at the time, Mr. Russ Scrim, looked at him and smiled, reached into his pocket and handed him a fiver with the words:

Something tells me I will see a return

Think that happens often in today’s banking world?

We are so caught up with protecting ourselves on to walk, covering our ass or acquiring some participation awards, that the ability to judge risk versus reward (common sense/intuition) that grows from vulnerability, is an talent that has atrophied within our society from lack of practice.

We claim to admire those who reach and strive for excellence but often those are the first at whom we smirk.

“Hang with the ‘winners‘ ” we are told.

When did failure and having nothing become such a leprosy-like condition?

Why, when people need us the most, do we trust their experience (good or bad) the least?

It is precisely at that moment that the wisest among us demonstrate the ability to discern between shame and guilt.

Do they have past evidence of moral corruption (shame) or did they make a bad choice (guilt).

When businesses come to an end we all too often look to blame and almost always the fault is associated with one single strategic error made by the leadership even in the wake of years of sage choices.

Rarely do the pundits, academics or bureaucrats even recognize let alone applaud the “failed” entrepreneur for swinging for the bleachers or finding themselves following an outdated business model right to the last gasp of financial life.

True Entrepreneurs by nature – risk it all.

Ideas fail.

Businesses die.

And just like Mufassa and Simba that’s just how life rolls.

To accept that is to “accept life on life’s terms”

But it ain’t easy as we are surrounded mostly by images of everyone’s best moments!

Happy laughing pictures of well suited smiling people eating fabulous meals driving badass cars to the world’s most beautiful panoramas.

And photoshop fucks with our ability to see life as it really is and to forgive ourselves for our losses.

I, for one, have experienced the challenge of forgiving myself for a past I wish could have been different.

One evening, my daughter Morgan and I were exchanging on self forgiveness:

I just don’t know how to do it without feeling lame… like I am excusing myself for messing up and setting a precedent for future excuses” I shared

” Ya, I get that” she replied.

I struggled with the same thing and then I shifted the focus.

I found the concept of self-forgiveness so dauntingly lame that I couldn’t wrap my head around it until I broke it down.

I have to take it in steps.

Firstly, I have to acknowledge that from today’s perspective, yesterday’s problems look so easy to solve.

Then step two is to try to recognize how the ‘wrong’ outcome (in my view) actually serves me in my pursuit of trying to be a better version of me.

Finally, I have to make the conscious choice to accept that I have learned more from the knocks and bumps than I have from my nicest teachers, and forgive myself.

Placed in three simple steps, even I am able to digest and begin to practice self forgiveness – funny how the second gen freed me.

The end result is that with my hands less filled with obsessively trying to undo the past, I now have my arms outstretched and my hands free to reach for the best I can be with what I know today.

Yes, one’s reputation, which of course is based on the past, is often all that some look at. Further, there are even those who deliberately poke at the scar tissue of our past in a sick attempt to exercise control over us through our past pain. But are these the most enlightened amongst us? And a better question – Why do we allow them around us?

Expressed in today’s vernacular:

Haters gonna hate

That’s just what they do.

In my world, I would rather reach. Receiving the participation award and the experience of a pristine life played safe at the cost of never experiencing the self-confidence of recovery and rebuilding from nothing is far less appealing to me.

And as far as the haters go?

Well, the way my dad raised me …

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn

On Becoming

Back in the day, my mother who hails from the Deep South used the expression “that’s not at all becoming” in reference to attire or behavior that she felt detracted from the standard of appropriate she had established in her world.

It’s a quirky use of the word, in that when placed in first person context it really doesn’t make sense. Who can one be becoming ? Is is a verb or a noun?

She had a number of those colloquialisms that often gave me irritated pause yet also inspired my fascination of words.

To become, seems to me, the most accurate description of a life worth living .

Like the start of every day when we lay there, eyes first peeling and we wake to a blank slate of choices.

Starting with: Will I get up or snooze? Will I exercise or rush to the office? Will I build myself further today or will my past define me? Will I wear pants ?

In these choices I become something that heretofore didn’t exist – an ever so slightly different edition of me .

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying,

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Yet many of us thrive and flourish on routine.

Prompt adherence to predictability has a soothing and calming effect on one’s being.

However, when the fear of risk and pain fuels the desire for calming and soothing sensations, replacing the will to evolve and grow despite the potential risk, then I run the risk of proving Einstein’s hypothesis.

The reason it is insanity to repeat the same behavior (dare I say whether it be socially approved or not) is that it attempts to control the limitless opportunities to feel all that life offers.

And Is life not defined by feelings ?

Not sure ?

Walk to a graveside snd ask “how do you feel now?

In the absence of a voice from the other side, all we are left with is the balanced equation of our existence through our thoughts and feelings.

And actually ” thoughts” are a poor second influencer, between those two, simply based on the chaotic neighborhood of my mind, from where they emerge.

Thoughts are all to often from the wrong side of the tracks.

By conspicuously limiting myself to one view is like having only one dessert …ever …or quitting something that’s harming us, eventually we pine for something to stimulate ourselves alternately.

And that’s where we give up mindful choices and start “mindless reaction”.

Like eating our one dessert choice with ketchup in a Moo Moo. Or more typically quitting the diet gorging ourselves and gaining twenty pounds.

Further evidence of the insanity of boredom coupled with the power of choice, can be witnessed daily in the lives of the Uber rich or celebrities.

The absolute debauchery people with money and power seem capable of often can’t be even fantasied by those of us with less fame and fortune.

Why is that ?

Could it be because they stopped becoming?

They have arrived !

When we have all that we imagined we need to isolate us from our fears of insignificance and make us different/ above/ better than –what next ?

Clearly, therein lies the measure of success, for it’s not about who we became to position us where we are, as that is past tense.

No, it would seem that it is far more about the choices me make and the conclusions we accept about where we are today.

Uber rich/ broke … old/young … afraid/at peace whatever the state I am viewing myself from when my eyes first peel will initiate the orientation of my actions- for the only day I ever have – today.

Ultimately … (and here is the big reveal on my choice of website names)- the only way I can have a hope of making a better past is by consciously making different choices today.

By building a present I can be more authentically comfortable with, I have a hope of being in the future and looking upon a past with the eyes of contentment.

I’ve been blessed in life to have had far more than my share of material things and also extended periods where I didn’t know how I was going to provide for those I love.

I have lived nights in the opulent hotels of Europe and mornings where the ceiling has literally fallen in above my head in my home.

Yet neither position, in the moment, provided me with the same growth and learning that the juxtaposition of the two experiences in one life, have taught me.

It’s particularly challenging to lose things and people we assumed defined us.

However, when we do and choose to get up and dust off, we open ourselves to the boundless options and feelings available to us in life.

We learn first hand that who we thought we were is nothing in the pale light of who we are becoming.

The eyes have it ?

When I was a kid I remember defending myself for some transgression before my dad and saying;

Can you tell me what’s on the wall behind you without looking?”

To which he replied;

No I don’t have eyes in the back of my head

Without skipping a beat I quipped;

Me neither-so we can agree that the view from my seat is different than yours

He smiled.

point taken…

I still got grounded though.

The experience however, was not in vain.

Fall Light.JPG

Inspiring since that time a fascination with the intensity with which we each will defend our own perspectives.

And  further, how the degree to which we defend the perspective has an inverse effect on the accuracy of it’s reflection of reality.

The most succinct way to summarize my observations would be as follows;

The more attached we become to our perspective, the more narrowed our view and experience of life becomes.

Speaking of view … I have often marveled at the accuracy of our vision.

The eyes seem to be able to funnel in all of our panorama, most often without limitation.

So how is it conceivable that at any point in time we become limited to only one narrow view. And while we are on it, how is it possible that music can be almost universally appealing and simultaneously aggressively divisive?

I will listen to anything BUT rap/country/ opera/ metal/bladideeda “

How is it possible to drive past a forest of trees, leaves each riddled with imperfection- on the cusp of death and yet the driver only sees the brilliance of autumnal splendor?

Or look at our sons first ever written alphabet and comment ” Almost perfect! … You just neglected to dot your j !

J.gif

Clearly it’s far less about the observed and far more about observer. But how to distinguish “who” within us is actually observing is often a very messy, convoluted and confusing process.

The difference between the “Autumnal” and “Alphabet” perspectives (described above) is the place from where the observations that inspired the emotional response, were interpreted.

Agreed, it is the eyes most basic job to bring information inward for us to first ascertain any threat to survival, to inspire reaction (fight/flight).

Yet to “react” we need emotion.

Emotion clearly is felt in the heart but unfortunately all too often falsely fictionalized in the mind.

And therein lies the distinction, when the mind is thinking through the data interpreted from the eyes, ears et al and cross relating it within the extensive database of past experiences and future threats, it can over season the experience.

And any reactions overly influenced by mind’s perspective, run the risk being less representative of the heart’s true intention.

But the best news is ..

Conversely, if the heart is simply open to a drive on a fall afternoon, the experience of the ever present natural beauty, overshadows the actual reality of the individual leaf’s life cycle.